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Hair Products 2014: All About Sulfate-Free

With a determined ferocity, sulfate-free hair care products have flooded the beauty landscape.

Sulfate what? Since this is a blog and not one of my more thoroughly researched and reported beauty reports, I wanted to just get a conversation started by talking about sulfates in our hair products. Though I promise to get to the bottom of many unanswered questions as well as shed brighter light on the topic in a more comprehensive story for Now It Counts soon, this sulfate-free blog entry is more my personal take on the subject of scrubbing bubbles in our hair products. Including other harsh detergents that replace the literal words “sodium laurel sulfate” or its more gentle cousin sodium laureth sulfate, and how manufacturers avoid consumer sales declines with misleading labels.

At the risk of sounding so casual for what many people consider it to be a life and death subject matter with regard to maintaining a harsh-no-more zone on their head, sulfate-free hair care has become a literal sport, especially to those with color treated, long hair or curly heads that get moisture zapped easily. Sport for consumers seeking a no-frizz way of cleansing their tresses and sport for manufacturers struggling to find ways to replace the “sudsy sensation” associated with getting one’s hair clean. Hence, staying true to the concept of not harshly stripping the hair during the cleanse cycle while leaving their customers’ feeling as though they have accomplished the task of fresh, soft, unharmed hair has been a difficult task of providing a solution to a chemical-free market demand.

Let’s stop splitting hairs with all the documented facts, HD commercials and glossy ad campaigns showcasing thick, bouncy, lustrous hair that is generally only achieved after a $120 round-brush blowout.

Here’s the bottom line: Not all sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners are the same. I’ve used a couple of reputable sulfate-free brands that still left my wavy, colored and naturally dry hair feeling really dry while stripping my hair color. Disappointing, really. The true test is if you can get your fingers through your hair after shampooing—or not (before applying conditioner). When you’ve used the right product, you’ll know it instantly. That said, when you do find that “It” hair cleanse product, shampooing still isn’t great on a daily basis for most hair types.

How did we ever live without these moisture-infused, color-saving wonder products?

Check back very soon for the follow up story. Better yet, weigh in and leave a comment. After all, hair care is no trivial matter. Believe me, I know.

BONUS: Here’s the real deal about what’s in my shower right now. The photo at the top of this story depicts what’s in Marco Medrano’s shower this minute: Tim Swim, SuperSilk by Sam Brocato, Hapuna by Paul Brown (with Kukui Nut), RUSK DeepShine Smooth KaratinCare, Uberliss Hydrating Shampoo, ECRU Sea Clean Shampoo and Hanz de Fuko Natural Shampoo.

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