You've likely already heard that shampoos and conditioners with sulfates in them aren't great for dry or keratin-treated hair. Matt Fugate, a Kérastase Paris consulting hairstylist, gives us the lowdown on the damage they can do. "They strip the outer layer of the hair, and then they can strip off that layer of keratin that is trying to support your strands," he says. That means for those of you with smoothing treatments or dry hair, continuing the use of sulfates will essentially cancel out the money you spent on keratin and dehydrate strands even more.
Although, just cutting hair-stripping ingredients from your shampoo and conditioner won't help you if your styling products contain those harmful chemicals. Shampoos were the frontier of sulfate-free cosmetics, but now the movement is expanding with hair masks, texturizing sprays, and other styling agents. At this point, there's no excuse to not get on board with a totally sulfate-free regimen—since sulfate shampoo isn't good for frizzed-out hair, chances are a mousse or hairspray with sulfates won't do you any good, either.
But you shouldn't pick out just any product on the shelf. "The problem is that not all products (even those with good sulfates) are equal," Fugate says. "There are 'sulfate-free' products out there that are worse on the hair than a high quality product which has sulfate properties," he adds. Fugate suggests that consumers be more educated on what they put into their hair. "It's important to talk to your stylist about what is a quality product and what is garbage to the health of your hair," he says.
Make sure to seek out trusted, recommended brands and again, go to your hairstylist with any questions.
Don't waste another minute attempting to decipher the gibberish phrases printed on packaging in the beauty aisle. Instead, take your picks from our suggestions below. Your hair will be all the shinier, healthier, and happier for it.