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Is Sulfate Free Better? 5 Products & Brands to Avoid Today

Are sulfate-free products worth the extra effort?

Best natural face wash brand

This article features sulfate-loaded products that might surprise you. Discover the worst popular brands that are irritating and drying out your hair & skin.

Scroll down to the numbered category that interests you:

1. Shampoo

2. Toothpaste

3 & 4. Face wash & body wash

5. Hand soap


what's sulfate & what is it used for?

So long story short, sulfate is an ingredient that makes things bubble and mousse up (the technical word is surfactant).

bubbles = sulfate

Think about all the products that foam- toothpaste, face wash, & shower gel just to name a few.

Most shoppers assume that they're in the clear by avoiding sulfate shampoos. What if I told you that shampoo is the least of your worries?


1. Sulfate in shampoo

dry + damaged hair

Sulfate-free shampoos are popular today, but they aren't always less aggressive on your hair & scalp.

What sucks about it?

  • Scalp irritation

  • Strips the hair's natural oils

  • Stresses hair follicles

  • Breaks down hair dye

Instead of using sulfate, many mainstream brands are replacing it with ingredients that we've never heard of that are just as irritating such as:

  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate

  • TEA Lauryl Sulfate

  • Disodium EDTA

  • TEA-dodecylbenzenesulfonate

  • Sodium Alkylbenzene Sulfonate

For more harmful shampoo ingredients you should know about, you'll learn a lot from this article.

Avoid sulfate in your shampoo ONLY if you have:

  • Damaged hair (split ends, breakage, dullness)

  • Curly hair

  • Sensitive scalp (psoriasis, eczema, etc)

  • Color-treated hair

  • Permanently straightened/curled hair

My recommendation?

If (and only if) you have one of the above sensitivities, switch to a sulfate free shampoo OR a regular shampoo that doesn't list sulfate as one of the first 5 ingredients (so that it's less concentrated).

Popular shampoos that contain sulfate:

Try these shampoos


Avalon Organics

for normal hair

restores nutrients to dry hair, helps prevent hair loss

should i use sulfate free shampoo?

these blue links in this article take you to Amazon to shop ^

I had to mention Avalon Organics because it's a quality brand that's easy to find in stores around the world. These bottles are filled with invigorating ingredients that are free of parabens, harsh preservatives, animal testing, synthetic fragrances, phthalates, sulfates, or artificial colors.

This organic shampoo is sold worldwide and it's affordable. They offer different scents but I chose lavender because of all the extra hair benefits! (Lavender softens, hydrates, and nourishes strands while repairing damage and promoting hair growth!)

Avalon Organics

For damaged hair

lather on extra nourishment with

the Avalon Organics hair therapy line

is sulfate in shampoo bad?

This shampoo is a game changer for anyone looking to get fuller, thicker, & healthier hair. All Avalon Organics' haircare products have certified organic, pH balanced, cruelty-free ingredients.

It's formulated with biotin, plant proteins, & vitamins so you should notice how it'll give your hair body, deep nourishment, and stronger strands.


2. Sulfate in toothpaste

temperature sensitivity + canker sores

Most toothpaste brands these days list sulfate as one of their main ingredients.

What sucks about it?

Using a toothpaste with sulfate can cause side effects like:

  • Canker sores (aka cold sores of the mouth, gross)

  • Dry mouth (which causes bad breath & promotes the growth of harmful bacteria)

  • Creates more acidic pH levels of saliva

  • Temperature sensitivity of the teeth

  • Strips layers of protection of the enamel

  • If swallowed: Upset stomach & diarrhea

ALL these side effects just for a little foam in our toothpaste?

Popular toothpaste Brands that contain sulfate:

Is your toothpaste full of toxins besides sulfate? Check out my latest post on the best & worst popular toothpaste brands of 2018 here to know for yourself!

Try these toothpastes instead:


luxury feel + exotic wasabi flavor

Like I mentioned in my last post, Aesop is a luxury plant-based brand from Melbourne, Australia. It's the perfect choice for anyone who loves pretty packaging as much as they love the natural ingredients inside.

Their vegan toothpaste ditches the fluoride and replaces it with an orange, antioxidant-rich arctic berry called sea buckthorn, plus warm cardamom and aromatic wasabi to maintain fresh breath.


ancient ayurvedic ingredients

Himalaya also made it over from my last post thanks to their powerful selection of natural ayurvedic ingredients.

This toothpaste contains neem & pomegranate - two powerful botanical ingredients for clean teeth without any aggressive chemicals. I recently found this toothpaste at an oriental store. After testing it out, I find that it tastes really similar to a "regular" toothpaste like Crest, only without the harmful ingredients. So if you're making the switch for the first time, you'll have an easier time getting used to the taste of an all natural, fluoride-free toothpaste with Himalaya.


3 & 4. Sulfate in face wash

& body wash

dry skin + blotchy redness

Fun fact: sulfate is actually so aggressive that it's the main ingredient in heavy duty stain removers for carpets, steel, and rusty shower tiles! Why should we accept that as the main ingredient in our face wash or shower gel?

What's so bad about it?

Sulfate disrupts the pH levels of your skin, which can commonly cause side effects like:

  • Irritation

  • Blotchy redness

  • Dried out skin

  • Strips skin's natural oils

Popular Face washes that contain sulfate:

Try this face wash instead:


korean beauty, low pH

CosRX Low pH Good Morning Cleanser

Cosrx is a bestselling Korean brand that offers botanical-based products for brighter, healthier skin. This foaming cleanser has a nice jelly texture and a low pH which works on even the most sensitive skin.

This daily face wash uses some of nature's most effective ingredients like tea tree oil to clear up unwanted pimples, soothe redness, remove makeup, and can be used morning and night for squeaky clean (but never dry) skin.


Popular body washes that contain sulfate:

Try this body wash instead:

Dr. Bronner's

minty feel + 4 in 1 use

(for hands, face, body, & hair)

Dr. Bronner's Organic Sugar Soup

Where do I start? I have much to say about Dr. Bronner's but I'll try to keep it short. It's rare to find a bestselling brand that's actually able to mass produce AND keep their ingredients clean AND help thousands of local farmers AND be as sustainable as possible with all their 100% recycled packaging.

Their entire collection is fair trade, organic, cruelty-free and vegan. This sugar soap is super moisturizing, gently cleansing, and leaves you feeling super fresh with all the pure mint essential oil inside. Read the ingredients here if you're interested!


5. Sulfate in hand soap

dry + crackly hands

Washing your hands is necessary, but dried out, crackly hands don't need to be.

What sucks about it?

After using a hand soap with sulfate, you might expect:

  • Dried out hands

  • Disturbed pH levels

  • Crackly skin

  • Skin stripped of its protective natural oils

Popular hand soaps that contain sulfate:

Brands like these make millions off consumers like us by marketing their soaps as "soothing" and "natural," when they're in fact loaded with ingredients like synthetic sulfates that dry out your hands and strip natural oils off your skin.


Try these hand soaps instead:

Mrs. Meyer's sweet fragrances + easy to find

Mrs. Meyer's is a huge brand found all over America, so it's natural to be suspicious of their quality. And yet, despite their mass production, their liquid products are still biodegradable and don't contain ammonia, chlorine or phosphates. Plus their products are cruelty-free and certified vegan unlike many of their competitors.

Their hand soaps come in so many sweet scents like fruity rhubarb, floral peony, and even herby parsley. These liquid hand soaps are composed of natural ingredients like aloe vera and pure essential oils like grapefruit and olive oil to restore moisture back to dry hands.


warm scents + makes donations for each purchase

Puracy is known as one of the most transparent and honest brands out there today. This Austin-based brand even has a separate website dedicated to explaining every single ingredient in each of their products and what they serve for (like the list of ingredients for this hand soap).

This foaming liquid cleanser is made from plants, minerals, and essential oils. The biodegradable, non-toxic formula comes in warm and dreamy scents like lavender & vanilla and leaves your hands feeling cleaner without drying them out.


This post isn't sponsored. All thoughts are my own.


Shoot me a comment if you have any requests for new posts or recommendations for brands I should add to the list!

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