Soap-Free Shampoo: Do You Really Need It?

Jennifer Hussein | 28 November 2017

Can switching to a phosphate free shampoo really make a difference?

One of the biggest trends in haircare is using the phrase “phosphate free,” or sulfate-free, with shampoos and conditioners. Similar to the paraben-free trend, beauty and haircare brands across the world have been jumping on this phosphate free shampoo trend, supposedly as it’s a great switch for your hair if you have dry or color-treated locks.

But what exactly are sulfates and phosphates, and how do they affect the quality of your hair? Well, we’re here to give you some tips and enlighten you more on the sulfate-free and phosphate free shampoo trend so you can make smarter, hair-friendlier purchases on your next beauty haul trip. Read on:

Sulfate and Phosphate Free Shampoo: The Ultimate Guide

phosphate free shampoo
Find out everything you need to know about phosphate and sulfate free shampoos.

What exactly are these ingredients? Well, sulfates and phosphates are chemicals that cause shampoos to lather. These chemicals are oftentimes used to create the feel of having a deeper, sudsier and more satisfying cleanse. Although these are relatively safe to use, on some hair types however, overwashing with these soapy ingredients can induce dryness, frizziness and color fade.

Many hairstylists recommend the switch to sulfate-free hair if you have color-treated locks, since doing so can help prolong the vibrancy of your hair color. While sulfates overall are not harmful, they’re a stronger cleanser and can strip natural oils from your hair and induce dryness, and if your scalp is sensitive, some irritation.

If you have a sensitivity to shampoos and conditioners with sulfates and phosphates, try out some sensitivity-friendly alternatives. One obvious choice is choosing phosphate free shampoo and conditioner. These shampoos give you a clean wash and condition. You can also opt for shampoos and conditioners with lower amounts of sulfates, like Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Smoothing Shampoo and Conditionerif you want a sudsy lather.


Another option for a gentle cleanse is pH-balanced shampoo and conditioner. Low pH shampoo is a gentler alternative to keep your locks healthy and clean. Try Suave Essentials Daily Clarifying Shampoo and Conditioner for their pH-balanced formula that helps clean hair of any residue without sucking out moisture and hydration.


If your skin gets irritated easily or is acne-prone, another great alternative for your scalp is non-comedogenic shampoo. These shampoos are formulated for extra-sensitive scalps, and it’s a much gentler alternative to soap free, sulfate free shampoos. A caveat: These shampoos can run a bit expensive, so it’s best to try all alternatives to find the option that best fits your hair type, lifestyle and budget.

Now that you know all about these shampoos, check out our list of best sulfate-free shampoos to try on your hair.