14 sulfate-free shampoos that won't dry out your hair - all under $30

NMC4MEV_azNeiman Marcus

  • Shampoos with sulfates can strip the hair of its natural oils leaving it dry, and can break down the chemicals that make moisturizing treatments like keratin effective.
  • If you're looking for gentler options, you'll find 14 great sulfate-free shampoos below - all under $30.

While typically a safe and effective cleanser, sulfates can sometimes be simply too good at their job - washing away more oil than needed, and leaving hair feeling dry and brittle or the skin and scalp feeling itchy and irritated. For those who have just undergone a keratin treatment, regular use of sulfates can contribute to the breaking down of the chemicals used - giving you less proverbial bang for your (typically quite expensive) buck.

However, you're probably safe to keep using a sulfate shampoo you love if you're solely concerned about color; experts like cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller have said it's not the culprit behind fading color, though stripping your hair of essential oils doesn't help the damage.

If you're looking for a solid sulfate-free hair care regime, check out some industry favorites below - all under $30.

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OUAI Repair Shampoo

OUAI Repair Shampoo
OUAI Repair Shampoo, available on Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, $28

OUAI — the haircare brand by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin — has a variety of sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners. This moisturizing cleanser is a favorite of Nordstrom shoppers, using the brand's Smart Technology complex to aid in protecting breakage-prone strands.

Pantene Gold Series Argan Oil Shampoo

Pantene Gold Series Argan Oil Shampoo
Pantene Gold Series Argan Oil Shampoo, available on Amazon, from $8.79

Pantene's affordable Gold Series Argan Oil Shampoo uses Argan oil to soften and hydrate dry, damaged hair while gently removing buildup — without the sulfates, parabens, or silicones that can often accompany popular under-$10 shampoos.

Verb Ghost Shampoo

Verb Ghost Shampoo
Verb Ghost Shampoo, available on Sephora and Amazon, from $16

Verb Ghost Shampoo is infused with moringa seed oil, which, if you haven't heard of it, is a new MVP in the natural beauty community. It hails from the highly versatile Moringa oleifera tree which is known for everything short of performing miracles; it's drought-resistant, its seeds can help purify water, and its leaves are believed to contain more calcium than milk. The tree's seed oil is full of hydrating monosaturated fatty acids, and Ghost Shampoo is meant to naturally smooth frizz and promote shine. Sunflower seed extract is included for natural UV protection and less color fading.

L'Oreal Paris EverPure Moisture Shampoo

L'Oreal Paris EverPure Moisture Shampoo
L'Oreal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Moisture Shampoo, available on Target and Amazon, from $6.79

Made specifically for color-treated hair, L'Oreal Paris' Moisture Shampoo uses rosemary to pump and shine up dull hair without stripping the surface. According to the company, it's a close (and, if so, notably cheaper) peer of Bumble and Bumble and Kerastase.

OGX Nourishing + Coconut Milk Shampoo

OGX Nourishing + Coconut Milk Shampoo
OGX Nourishing + Coconut Milk Shampoo, available on Amazon, $11.08

Treat yourself to a hydrating cocktail of creamy coconut milk, coconut oil, and whipped egg-white proteins to bring back strength, shine, and moisture.

Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo

Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo
Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo, available on Amazon and Sephora, $28

Olaplex hit fast fame in the beauty community with its three-step Hair Repair System that claims to use a patented active ingredient to repair broken strands right at the molecular level. Its shampoo — free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates — works to repair and protect hair from everyday stresses. It's also color-safe, like many sulfate-free shampoos.

However, if you're here for post-keratin treatment options, it may not be worth the high price: Olaplex notes that since said treatments seal or laminate the hair, you'll need to wait two to three weeks before Olaplex can be effective.

Aveeno Pure Renewal Hair Shampoo

Aveeno Pure Renewal Hair Shampoo
Aveeno Pure Renewal Hair Shampoo, available on Amazon and Walmart, from $5.97

Aveeno's Pure Renewal Hair Shampoo is meant to leave hair healthier after every wash, thanks to naturally derived cleansers and Seaweed Extract that's rich in vitamins and proteins.

Kiehl's Damage Repairing & Rehydrating Shampoo

Kiehl's Damage Repairing & Rehydrating Shampoo
Kiehl's Damage Repairing & Rehydrating Shampoo, available on Kiehl's and Nordstrom, from $20

Also infused with oil from the moringa tree (as well as hyaluronic acid and ceramides), Kiehl's Damage Repairing & Rehydrating Shampoo was specially formulated to bring dry, brittle, damaged hair used to stressors like chemical processing and heat styling back from the brink. Post-use, hair should appear stronger, better hydrated, and shinier.

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Shampoo

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Shampoo
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Sulfate-Free Shampoo, available on Amazon, $26.89

Bumble and Bumble products like this one aim for the fine line between deep hydration and lightweight, barely-there oils. This sulfate-free shampoo, like many on this list, was whipped up specifically for coarse and brittle hair to make it smoother, softer, and silkier post-use. Six oils — including sweet almond and grape — soften and add shine. It's also cruelty-free.

You can also find it for a bit more ($31), or in travel size ($12), at Sephora.

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Shampoo

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Shampoo
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Shampoo, available on Sephora and Amazon, from $16.50

Living Proof is another cult-favorite brand with a gentle, patented process for reviving damaged hair. The company's proprietary "Healthy Hair Molecule" works to smooth, polish, and protect strands for stronger, healthier hair that doesn't sacrifice its volume. Living Proof says its formula also repels dirt and excess oil, meaning hair stays clean for longer. That adds uo to fewer washes and longer-lasting color for you.

Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Volumizing Shampoo

Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Volumizing Shampoo
Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Volumizing Shampoo, available on Sephora and Amazon, from $17

Natural beauty darling Briogeo — best known for its its cult-favorite Don't Despair, Repair! hair mask — has a line of gentle hair-care products reliant upon oils, antioxidants, and vitamins.

Its vegan Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Shampoo works to create fuller hair with a 98% naturally-derived formula that gently cleanses without stripping strands. Its ingredient list includes ginger, ginseng, and biotin as well as vitamin B5 and a natural sugar starch to strengthen and thicken strands.

SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo

SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo
SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo, available on Amazon and Ulta, from $10.61

A longstanding sulfate-free favorite, SheaMoisture's Raw Shea shampoo uses organic shea butter, Argan oil, and vitamin E to smooth and balance hair that's dry or been damaged. The company traces itself back to 1912 in Sierra Leone, and it's been a historical leader in black-owned hair care. Today, it's committed to ethically traded ingredients and sustainably produced products.

Function of Beauty

Function of Beauty
Shop Function of Beauty, from $18 per bottle

Find a comparison of Function of Beauty vs. Prose here

Function of Beauty is a custom haircare brand founded by MIT engineers and data scientists that lets you design your own personal shampoos and conditioners. You self-report what your hair is like and what you'd like to achieve with your products, and the company pulls from hundreds of ingredients to create unique formulas that should work particularly for you. Everything is sulfate-, paraben-, and cruelty-free, and it's made in the US.

Prose

Prose
Shop Prose, from $18 per bottle

Find a comparison of Function of Beauty vs. Prose here

Prose also creates made-to-order shampoos and conditioners based off of an online consultation. According to the company, your formula will be one of over 50 billion possible outcomes. Ingredients range from heavyweight natural ingredients like plum seed oil, fermented rice water, and spirulina extract to man-made alternatives that are simply the most effective options on the market. They're also all free of sulfates, GMOs, parabens, and a host of other potentially toxic ingredients.

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