Outstretched hand holding bubbles

Sulphate-free shampoos are on the rise, and they’re widely becoming a haircare staple for many people.

But what are sulphates, and why would you choose to use a sulphate-free shampoo? Our handy guide can tell you everything you need to know without getting in a lather.

What are sulphates?

Sulphates are chemicals used as cleaning agents, and they’re widely found in shampoos, shower gels and shaving gels to create a bubbly, foaming texture.

The most common sulphates used in personal care cleansers and cleaning products are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).

Hairdresser washing a woman's hair

What is sulphate-free shampoo?

Put simply, sulphate-free shampoo is a gentle cleansing shampoo made without sulphates.

Sulphate-free shampoos still effectively clean hair that has a mild to moderate accumulation of oils, dirt, or styling products - handy for people who like to wash more frequently. For people who wash their hair less frequently or use lots of leave-in products, shampoos containing sulphates are more appropriate.

What is sulphate-free conditioner?

Since sulphates are typically found in cleansing agents, conditioners tend to already be sulphate-free.

Sulphate-free shampoo benefits

  • Gentle cleansing for your scalp and the skin around your hairline
  • Hair feels conditioned immediately after washing
  • Leaves hair soft and smooth
  • Kind to curly hair, which tends to need more conditioning

Woman using a deep-conditioning hair mask

How to use sulphate-free shampoo

When you switch to using a sulphate-free shampoo, you’ll find it’s much less foamy than your sulphated shampoos – don’t be tempted to use more product than you normally would to get the same amount of lather.

Make sure your hair is thoroughly soaked – add a small amount of shampoo onto your scalp and roots, and apply it from the nape of your neck upwards for a thorough clean. Spend extra time gently massaging the shampoo into your scalp and lengths – an easy way to boost sulphate-free shampoo’s cleaning abilities is to work it well into your hair. You can add a little more water to create extra lather.

If your hair is dirty the first time you use sulphate-free products, you won’t see that much foam as the shampoo will be cleansing your hair, not producing lather. Once your hair is clean, you’ll see more foam.

Close-up of a shampoo bottle being squeezed into an open hand

Can I use sulphate-free shampoo?

Anyone is able to use sulphate-free shampoo - it’s great for your hair’s overall visible health and can help to improve the condition of your hair in the long-term.

Sulphate-free shampoos deliver deep care with a rich lather. People with naturally curly hair may find that they help with curl definition, reduce frizz, and smooth their hair.

Can I use sulphate-free shampoo on coloured hair?

You absolutely can – but remember that cleansing your hair may cause hair dyes to fade. Water opens your hair’s cuticle, which lets colour escape faster during washing.

Which John Frieda shampoos are sulphate-free?

The following John Frieda shampoos don’t contain sulphates:

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