Definitive Guide of the Best Drugstore Sulfate-Free Shampoos – 2022 Complete Reviews

The shampoo is now a staple part of everyone’s grooming routine, both men, and women. But why do we use it? Our primary objective in using a shampoo is to eliminate dirt in the hair without removing so much sebum and making it difficult to manage.

How it’s made?

Well, a shampoo is made by mixing a surfactant, which is often sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate, together with a co-surfactant, commonly known as Cocamidopropyl betaine mixed in water.

The ingredients in shampoo aim to maximize certain qualities such as desirable foaming action, causes less irritation on the skin and eye, a little acidic, pleasant fragrance, non-toxic, can be rinsed easily, biodegradable, thick or creamy consistency, can cause no damage or harm to hair and can repair hair damage.

SLS safe or not?

While these effects are desirable, the ingredients may have side effects. SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate) is a chemical that is the topic of heated debate among hair experts. Some say that it poses no threat to the average person while others say that it is a dangerous chemical that should not be allowed in any personal hygiene products. We believe that it is better to be safe than sorry, so we have written this article to encourage the use of sulfate-free shampoos.

The best part?

After reviewing all the best drugstore sulfate-free shampoo available, we’ve selected our top 6 picks in the comparison table below. We’re confident you’ll find the perfect model for your needs.

Comparison table

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Image of It's a 10 Haircare Miracle Volumizing Shampoo
best price cta
It's a 10 Haircare MiracleEditor's Choice

Image of Pharmaceutical Specialties Free & Clear Hair Shampoo for Sensitive Skin
best price cta
Pharmaceutical Specialties Free & Clear9/10
Image of Argan Oil Shampoo, Sulfate Free
best price cta
Argan Oil8/10
Image of NaturOli Soap Nut Soapberry Shampoo
best price cta
NaturOli Soap Nut / Soapberry8/10
Image of Argan Oil Shampoo from Majestic Pure
best price cta
Argan Oil Majestic Pure7/10
Image of It's a 10 Miracle Shampoo plus Keratin
best price cta
It's a 10 Miracle Shampoo plus Keratin7/10


Sulfate-Free Shampoo vs. Traditional Shampoo

drugstore sulfate free shampoo image

In recent years, traditional shampoos have come under fire for containing too many synthetic chemicals, particularly sulfates. These chemicals have developed a bad rap due to unfounded rumors that they cause cancer.

In addition to this, they are blamed for causing fizziness and for causing damage to color treated hair. Dr. Rebecca Baxt, a dermatologist based in New York, explains, “I think there are so many chemicals in our personal hygiene products, foods, and environment that people have become more aware and rightly concerned about the effects of all of these chemicals. Anything with fewer chemicals has become more popular.”

So although sulfates are not as dangerous as some sources would have us believe, it is still considered a better idea to go sulfate-free. It is actually prescribed by dermatologists for those who suffer from skin allergies, eczema or skin irritation on the scalp.

The biggest difference between sulfate-free shampoos and regular ones is the lack of bubbles. Sulfates are the reason behind the foamy lather that regular shampoos produce and sulfate-free shampoos obviously do not have this ability.

Besides this, there are no visible differences between the two. It may feel as though the sulfate-free shampoo is not as effective as the traditional shampoo but this only is because of the absence of lather. Sulfate-free shampoos are equally effective in cleaning the hair as any other regular shampoo.

Check our reviews of the best sulfate-free dandruff shampoos here

Are Sulfates Carcinogenic?

As we have already said, this rumor is unfounded and was spread by emails and websites, mainly out of a sense of paranoia due to the fact that these compounds are harsh chemicals that are used to clean garage floors and the like. This claim was further pushed by manufacturers who wanted to market their natural products.

However, there is hardly any proof at all that sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate can cause cancer. The quantities used in shampoo are minuscule and the advisory to minimize contact with these chemicals is only to prevent irritation of the skin and the eyes.

6 Top Sulfate Free Drugstore Shampoo Reviewed

1. It's a 10 Haircare Miracle

This product is designed to remove buildup while maintaining volume and nourishing and strengthening the hair. It is ideal for fine, short or pixie-like hair and does not weigh the hair down over time. It is one of the famous drugstore shampoo without sulfate and intended for daily use.

Many people who bought this shampoo found it to be so gentle that they did not need to use a conditioner after shampooing their hair. Many customers who had thin, frizzy hair claim that this shampoo single-handedly transformed their hair into the healthy, nourished and bouncy hair. Many found it to be lightweight and easy to use, especially on the long hair.

Some critics of this product claim that it does not do what it is advertised to do, i.e. add volume to the hair. However, most reviews of this product are positive; this seems to be a case of a mismatch between product and hair type. There is no one size fits all formula for shampoos. What works for some will not necessarily work for others. It is best to experiment a little before deciding on a shampoo to use on a regular basis.

2. Pharmaceutical Specialties Free & Clear

This fragrance-free formula is designed for people who have sensitive skin on their scalp. It helps remove flaking and scaling, helps control oiliness on the scalp, helps remove buildup from conditioners, hair sprays and other hair products, and leaves the hair clean and manageable.

This Free & Clear Shampoo has been a blessing to many buyers who suffer from eczema and psoriasis. They claim that as soon as they made the switch from a regular shampoo to this product, in particular, their irritation vanished instantly. It leaves the hair soft and odorless and works equally well with or without conditioner.

For some, though, the irritation became worse, and for others, the shampoo actually made the hair dryer than before. This is because this product does not work for these individual cases. As always, one size does not fit all, and it is up to you to experiment until you find the shampoo that works best for you.

3. Argan Oil

This argan oil shampoo hydrates the scalp helps cleanse your hair follicles gets rid of flakes and rejuvenates the hair. It is made with botanical ingredients that get rid of frizz and makes even the healthiest hair stronger and more vibrant. It is fee of sulfates, silicone, and parabens and is safe to use on even the most sensitive skin types.

This product has worked wonders for many people who struggle with thin, frizzy or damaged hair. For some, its effects are felt overnight, while for others it takes a while (up to a month) for the effects to be felt. It leaves the hair feeling soft and silky without making it feel heavy or oily. It keeps the hair healthy even in humid conditions, even for people who have naturally frizzy hair. The fragrance is also well appreciated by people who bought this product.

A few people found that their bottles emitted a foul odor once they opened them. This sounds like those individual bottles might have been past their expiry date. Needless to say, it is good practice to check the expiry date on any product you buy, not just shampoo.

4. NaturOli Soap Nut / Soapberry

This vegan shampoo is free of gluten, sulfates, and fragrance, and is safe for color-treated hair. Made from organic soap nuts and soap berries, it stabilizes the release of oil in the glands while getting rid of extra oil and dirt on the hair without removing the natural nutrients in it. It relieves itchiness on the scalp and removes buildup from styling products. Its Ayurvedic formula rinses the hair clean leaving it with more body, shine texture, and volume.

Many people who bought this product found that it instantly cured them of their itchy and oily scalps. For some, it did take some time for the oiliness to dissipate completely but it worked nonetheless. It does not leave the hair dry and tangled up – after partially air drying it, it becomes soft enough to lightly comb into place.

A few critics of this shampoo complain that it made their skin itchy, which is the opposite of what is advertised. This is probably due to an allergy that is specific to each of these individuals, and not due to the product itself. If you try out a few different shampoos, you are bound to find one that works for you.

5. Argan Oil Majestic Pure

This shampoo made from Moroccan Argan Oil is enriched with vitamins that make the hair healthy and shiny, and proteins that soothe dry and irritated areas on the scalp. It is designed for all hair types, including color treated hair, and can be used on a daily basis by both men and women.

Most people who bought this shampoo loved the way it made their hair shine. It also has a wonderful fragrance that is very pleasing and relaxing, and it does not require a conditioner after rinsing out this shampoo. It tackled the oily hair of many customers very effectively and leaves hair feeling very smooth and clean. Many of these customers have committed to using this Argan Oil shampoo for the rest of their lives.

A few detractors of this product said that they were underwhelmed by the results they got after using this shampoo. It kind of worked but also left the hair feeling a little dry or a little oily. This is because the shampoo did not work for them in particular, and it must not be assumed that the whole line is faulty.

6. It's a 10 Miracle Shampoo plus Keratin

This product is free of sulfates and parabens and effectively locks out humidity. It protects the hair from heat damage that may be caused by the sun or by thermal styling tools such as straighteners and curling irons or wands. It is also infused with keratin protein and preserves the hair color.

Many people who bought this product were thrilled with its results on damaged and frizzy hair. It leaves the hair silky smooth and smells wonderful without overpowering the senses. It protects hair color even if it is only semi-permanent.

A few people who did not care for this shampoo said that it was “nothing special” in the sense that it did not give results that made it stand out from any other shampoo. This may be because their hair type was not suited for this particular shampoo.


If you are still on the fence about switching to a sulfate-free shampoo, we highly recommend that you make the switch, at least temporarily. If you find that you don’t like it, or that it does not offer anything vastly better than your regular shampoo, then you can always switch back without a problem.

However, we recommend it because of the fact that it is free of sulfates and that many of them are free of parabens and silicone as well. We know we said that these chemicals are not actually harmful to the skin, but there is no harm in reducing the number of synthetic chemicals that come in contact with your skin if those chemicals are not particularly useful.

What that means is that if a sulfate-free shampoo can give the same results as a regular shampoo than the sulfates become redundant, and it makes sense to use the one that is free of sulfates.

If you are in doubt as to which one to try first, then may we suggest that you go for the It’s a 10 Miracle Shampoo plus Keratin? From our research, we find that it gives the best results across all hair types, and even protects hair color. Also, the most negative thing we heard about it was that it was “nothing special”. And that has to mean something good for the product.