I’ve been meaning to try sulfate-free shampoo for a while. My dry, poofy, curly hair has always been difficult to manage, and I’ve had the growing sense that part of the problem may be that I’m forcing it into a harsh wash cycle that it’s not suited for. All over the Internet, curly-haired women have been singing the praises of going sulfate-free or, even more impressively, shampoo-free, for years. Since I haven’t had the patience or willingness to go completely shampoo-free, I figured at least dropping the sulfates would be a good first step.
The purported benefits of these shampoos are that they lack some of the harshest chemicals found in hair products. The sulfates, the story goes, strip your hair of not only the “bad” grease, oil, and dirt, but also the good oils that are there to protect your hair and keep it moist. Not only does this dry out your hair, but quickly triggers instant oiliness as your glands/skin/whatever overcompensate.
This is actually just once component of a whole line of thinking that we’re over-washed as a society. And, while I’m no scientist (Dorilys?), this makes sense to me on a basic level. I’ve become cynical enough that I now believe that nothing exists (or, at least, persists) unless someone is making money off of it. So I’m not naÃ¯ve enough to assume that all this shampooing must be good for us. It would certainly make sense that the manufacturers of a product would want to perpetuate its own existence. What’s conditioner for, anyway, but to supposedly replace the moisture that shampoo strips away? Anyway! On to the review!
The brand I chose, since it was sold at my local drugstore and I’m a cheap jerk, was L’Oreal Everstrong/Eversleek Sulfate-Free Shampoo/Conditioner. (I know you’re supposed to pick the same shampoo and conditioner, but I couldn’t choose between “Everstrong” and “Eversleek.” I mean, could you?)
I decided to wait a couple weeks before writing about the results, even though I was pretty much immediately happy with the product. Not only did I want to give my hair a chance to adjust to its new situation, but the first week I used this shampoo was a horribly rainy week here in NY. I had a near-record six bad hair days in a row.
What I noticed at first was that it just seemed to mellow out my hair a bit. Even in the shower I could tell that my hair didn’t have that weird dry feeling (that I think advertisers call “squeaky clean.” Ugh.) after I shampooed. The conditioner, too, was light, not overly thick or greasy. While my hair didn’t look good that day (thanks, spring!), it felt a little different. The roots weren’t greasy and the rest of my hair wasn’t too dry. It’s like everything just met in the middle in a nice equilibrium.
What’s interesting, too, is that the second day was different as well. I generally try to skip a day or two of shampooing per week to give my hair a rest. Those “second days” are kind of a mixed bag; sometimes my hair looks great, and sometimes it’s a combination greasy/frizzy mess. Now that I’ve had a few second days, I can say that they are working out much better. Again, my hair is just a little more calm now; like it had been going from greasy to dry on a parabolic cycle that’s just been flattened out a bit.
So, this looks like a win-win for me. The sulfate-free shampoo seems to be helping my hair relax a little bit, and on top of that it’s empowered me to try skipping the suds altogether more often. If you’ve been wanting to try this method, I’d certainly recommend it, although I’m not sure how it would work out with different hair types. And, if you’re in the mood to splurge, feel free to try some of the nicer brands out there.