How To: Pick a Shampoo Based On It's Ingredients


I was standing in the department store the other day looking at shampoo bottles and wondering which one to buy. I knew the smart thing to do would be to look at the ingredients of any product that interests me. However, doing that didn't help me at all, because I didn't really understand the ingredient list itself.

Another thing I was curious about was if there's really any difference whether my shampoo costs €3 or €20? Obviously, there's a difference in price, but are they really any different in terms of effectiveness and ingredients?

So, I decided to do some research and found that there's actually a really easy and foolproof way to tell whether a shampoo is good, bad or just basic - a detergent.

The Most Common Detergents Used In Shampoos

Sulfates are the most common detergents which almost every shampoo lists second after water. Look up the ingredient list of a shampoo you are currently using - there's a big chance you'll find one or two of these ingredients in it:


There's a lot mixed information available online about these ingredients, but I choose to believe what CosDNA and Paula's Choice say over random webpages. According to these websites the most harsh sulfate out there that can really irritate and dry out both your hair and skin is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is somewhat milder and is actually the most common sulfate used in shampoos & shower gels. It's an inexpensive yet effective foaming agent that can be found in both: cheap drugstore brands as well as in fancy LUSH products. So ultimately every shampoo containing SLES is just basic - it does clean your hair very well, but it's not actually good for it's health in the long run.


So, how too choose your shampoo? Of course, I'm no expert, but here's my personal opinion based on the information above:

First of all, you should avoid all shampoos including sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). That is fairly easy to do, since it's not that commonly used. However, if you’re used to using harsh shampoos, it may take some time for your hair to adapt to the gentler formula. You may even find yourself thinking that sulfate-free shampoos don't wash your hair as well, but in reality your hair is just used to producing more oil because of SLS.

Next step would be to avoid SLES, which is going to be much more difficult. As I already said it's very common and used in most shampoos, so if you're going to buy a shampoo with SLES in it, there really isn't much difference whether you get a 3€ Syoss shampoo or a more expensive one, because in the end neither is actually beneficial to your hair.

Shampoos containing SLS and SLES are both, however, super effective at removing product buildup, so you might want to keep one around if you use a lot of hair styling products.

Lastly, the best thing you could probably do, would be to avoid sulfates completely, but I personally haven't jumped on that bandwagon yet. However, I do think it's good to know which sulfates are less harsh than other.

I also came to a conclusion that you should only splurge on a shampoo if it is, in fact, sulfate-free. Here are some sulfate-free shampoos that are currently on my radar:



Which shampoo are you currently using?

 

10 comments

  1. Thanks for this post, I generally pick my shampoo based on it's smell and if it had pretty packaging (I know it's so bad). I'll definitely be taking your advance in the future.

    Ella xx
    www.ellaselement.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. You're welcome! :) I think many of us (including me!) are guilty of that, so there's no need to feel too bad. But I think it would be nice to put this new knowledge into practice now. :)

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  2. I've used Pureology in the past and I really liked it! Ran out and just never bought it, but I am curious to try the Moroccanoil one. I also haven't jumped on the sulfate-free wagon completely, but I would like to in the future!

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Kassidy! :) I think Moroccanoil is also the one I'm most interested in trying. :D

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  3. I've been thinking about looking into sulfates but never got around to it. Which of the options you have on your radar are available in Estonia?

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    1. I thought Moroccanoil was available in Estonia, but I think I got it mixed with Macadamia Natural Oil, oops. So actually...I think none of these are available here. That's what happens when you read more UK/US blogs haha. :D But Macadamia Natural Oil does have a sulfate free shampoo you could look into!

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  4. I use Aussie hair products and didn't know if they have sulfates, btw I will look it.
    The shampoos you purpose I think are really good.
    So good post, it helps a lot, thank you for share!

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    1. Aussie mega moist shampoo actually includes the harshest sulfate, so I think it's not very good for hair and skin! :(

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  5. I'm one of those people who wash my hair everyday even though I know it's not good for it, which makes having a gentle shampoo really important. The only problem is that I never actually paid attention to the ingredients in shampoo :P This post definitely helped me out and I'm going to keep an eye out to avoid SLS and SLES next time I make a purchase.

    ♡ Michelle from Mapping Milkyway

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    1. I'm so glad to hear this has been helpful! I don't think a shampoo has to be necessarily sulfate-free, but I do think ammonium-sulfates are way better than SLS and SLES! :)

      I've now tried both sulfate-free shampoos and a shampoo with only mild ammonium sulfates in it, and I have to say my favourite is the latter! So maybe the sulfate-free thing is something shampoo companies just want us to belive?

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