Why use silicone and sulphate-free shampoo?

Choosing shampoos and conditioners can be a minefield. Luckily shampoos and conditioners free from silicones and sulphates are finally coming out of the murky shadows of dusty health food shop shelves and into the mainstream. I say luckily because they are SO much better for your hair.

Silicone-loaded shampoos, serums and hair styling products are great for the temporary illusion of soft, shiny hair, but there’s a catch. These products, masquerading as miracle workers can actually weigh hair down and dry it out.

Silicones are synthetic ingredients that give products a silky slip. It’s the ‘luxurious’ feel you’re fooled into believing is good for your hair but regular or over-use of silicone-loaded products could mean bad hair days are just around the corner. Why? Because…

– Silicones can form a think layer on the surface of the hair that stops conditioner and hair treatments from penetrating through. So after spending all that money on an expensive hair mask, it’s pretty much useless with layers of silicone in the way. Hmmm.

– Silicone is also thought to act as a barrier to hair dye (which most of us spend a fortune on too) because similarly, it can block hair from retaining other ingredients such as colour pigments.

Over to Sulphates – these are synthetic detergents that can irritate sensitive scalps but also strip hair of essential oils and moisture – in the same way as over use of soaps and shower gels loaded with SLS can strip skin of its natural oils. So expect dry, damaged hair in the long-run too.

For the past few years I’ve stuck to shampoos that are a little off the beaten track but are genuinely worth seeking out. Hair doesn’t feel as loaded with gunk and it stays fresher and cleaner for longer. You also don’t need to use as much – quite often a 10p sized piece is enough.

Shampoos that are silicone or sulphate-free do feel a little bit different – less foamy and creamy because they don’t contain synthetic foaming agents but that’s just something I got used to. However, the new generation of shampoos coming out are clever enough to lather up and feel just as moisturising to use.

Annoyingly ingredients you may want to avoid are not always easy to identify as silicones have a multitude of names but the ones to watch and avoid if you want to take care of your hair are non-water soluble silicones. As the name suggests, they do not wash out so keep an eagle-eye out for:

  • Dimethicone
  • Cyclomethicone
  • Phenyl trimethicone

My current favourite shampoos that contain no or less silicone and sulphates are: 

Australian Native Botanicals 

Discovered at the launch of Marks & Spencer’s new beauty department in Marble Arch – where you can shop for niche brands, usually restricted to online retailers – this clear shampoo feels good and smells so fresh and uplifting. I love the pump dispenser too.

Reasonably priced at £7.50 I would easily choose this as my daily shampoo especially as the ingredients are organically grown, formulas are boosted with essential oils and it looks pretty good too. Buy it here.

Australian Native Botanicals shampoo

Alterna Professional Caviar Repair X Re-Texturising Protein Cream

Ideal for dry and mature hair, this Caviar Repair X range contains caviar oil so I’m guessing it’s not vegetarian (but I will check). The shampoo and conditioner, however, are free from sulphates, parabens and sodium chloride which makes me trust the brand as one that genuinely cares about hair’s condition. Please note, Alterna products do contain some silicones but I’ve been told by the in-house team they are ‘smart-silicones’ which means they are water soluble and graded so finely they do not damage hair. 

Re-Texturising Protein Cream has become my hair hero – it literally looks like I’ve just stepped out of a salon after I blow-dry with it. Hair is bouncy, soft and looking healthy – you would never guess I have an inch of dry, ugly split ends! Buy it from 01925 578000.

Alterna Caviar Repair Protein Cream

Organic Surge Volume Boost Shampoo

Great for small budgets (at a brilliant £5.10) this shampoo is large in size and makes hair look full of life. It contains plant extracts to scent and nourish with no synthetic foaming ingredients. It’s also suitable for vegetarians and vegans, hoorah! Buy it here.

organic surge volume boost shampoo

Kae Argatherapie Repairing Shampoo

Just love this French brand with products based on organic argan oil. An impressive list of natural ingredients caught my eye in the Repairing Shampoo: coconut, nettle, argan, rosewood and ylang ylang – sounds delish! There’s also a serum oil which looks divine and would treat hair far more naturally than a certain brand’s frizz eaze. Buy here.

Kae Repairing Shampoo

Green People Sun & Sports Shampoo

Get this on your beauty shopping list if you’re embarking on a winter sun or ski holiday. Sulphate, alcohol (ethyl alcohol, ethanol), paraben, phthalate and artificial fragrance-free you would never need to worry about drying hair out. Organic avocado, plant proteins, jojoba and artichoke act as great natural conditioners too – sounds good enough to eat. It’s also veggie and vegan. A trusted, fail-proof choice.

green people sun and sports shampoo

Ojon Shampoos

Last but not least is Ojon – fantastic shampoos on the higher end of price scale (£18-£20) but they last a really long time because a 20p-sized amount is plenty for a head of (shoulder length) hair. The Volume Advance and Colour Sustain are ones I’ve tried and loved so definitely worth considering the latter if you’re looking for colour-care. Check them out here. Please note, some Ojon shampoos contain some silicones but the new Ojon Rare Blend is free from sulphates and silicones. 

ojon colour sustain shampoo

Which natural shampoos have you tried? Let me know and feel free to recommend! Thanks for reading.

Follow me on Twitter for more updates @YanarBeauty.

7 thoughts on “Why use silicone and sulphate-free shampoo?

  1. I tried Ojon for coloured hair, and it made my hair feel like straw. Australian botanicals was not much better :/. Am now reading about Alterna hair care, which seems to have received a lot of great feedback, however reading the ingredients list for the Alterna Seasilk Moisture Shampoo, doesn’t it contain sulfates (sulfate derivatives, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate)?

    Aqua/Water/Eau, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide, Decyl Glucoside, Lauryl Alcohol, Glycereth-26, Glycol Distearate, Amodimethicone, Wasabia Japonica Root Extract, Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Seed Extract, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract, Hydrolyzed Algae Extract, Algae Extract, Caviar Extract, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Par


    1. That’s a shame you didn’t like Ojon, I really like their products and there us a totally sulphate free option called Rare Blend that’s just launched. Check it out > http://www.ojon.co.uk/products/8949/Shop-by-Ritual/Shop-by-Ritual-Name/Rare-Blend/index.tmpl

      Australian botanicals is quite a basic shampoo so if your hair needs ultra conditioning it’s probably not enough.

      Alterna is great, not totally silicone /sulphate free but low level and fine grade so it shouldn’t damage hair. They are luxurious products – especially the styling range – would be great to hear what you think if you try them.


  2. Hi,

    Thanks for posting this because I am very interested in switching to silicone and SLS free hair products. Do you know that Alterna and Ojon both have silicone in them? I am going to check out the one from M&S today as I couldn’t find a full ingredients list online. I really like the sound of Kae though, shame they’re not as widely available!

    Thans again!


    1. Hi there – yes, those brands do use some silicones and granted, are not as natural as the others I’ve mentioned. However, following various questions back and forth with the brands for magazine features that I’ve written, from what I understand, they use soluble silicones (which wash out) and new technologies that mean these silicones are super lightweight and don’t weigh hair down or gunk it up. The formulations feel very clean on the hair and I do recommend spending more on good shampoos that have access to better formulations such as Ojon and Alterna, even if there are traces of silicones. But I alternate with more natural shampoos to give my hair a break. It’s like not always wearing your richest moisturiser..
      I know Alterna is sulphate-free as this ingredients is a known scalp irritant and a concern for many people and they’ve recently explained this to me. I’m just checking with Ojon now.
      I have lots of other suggestions if you’re looking for totally silicone free options. Thanks for your comments!



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