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Clarifying Shampoos Free of Sulfates

Clarifying Shampoos Free of Sulfates

Even if you follow the Curly Girl Method, you are likely to experience some type of build-up from products including no poos, conditioners, oils, mousses, leave-ins, gels, etc. This is even more important if you do any variety of the LOC (leave-in, oil, cream) method and often use oils and butters.

If you don’t regularly clarify your scalp and hair, you will be effectively trying to moisturize dry hair, because moisture is blocked and can’t get in!

A co-wash or Apple Cider Vinegar rinse will not remove all of the build-up resulting from these products and if certain ingredients remain on the scalp and hair, you may experience a dry, itchy scalp in addition to stringy, matted, dull, frizzy, or sticky hair. 

Clarifying is recommended no more than 2-4 times a month, but obviously, your hair and scalp will let you know when it’s time!  

Follow a clarifying shampoo with a deep conditioner to add back moisture as clarifying shampoos may be drying.

The best non-sulfate clarifying shampoos you can use contain:

  1. C12-14 olefin sulfonate 
  2. C14-16 olefin sulfonate or
  3. C14-26 olefin sulfonate

If you have hard water, it is wise to pick a shampoo with EDTA or some other chelating agent. For more information on this topic, go HERE.

Some popular options are: 

Shampoo with C12-14 olefin sulfonate:

Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo


aqua (purified water) with *tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia) oil, *peppermint (mentha piperita) oil, *eucalyptus (eucalyptus officinalis) oil, *rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) oil, *nettle (urtica dioica) oil, *thyme (thymus vulgaris) oil, birch leaf (betula alba) oil, *chamomile (anthemis nobilis flower), *clary (salvia sclarea), *lavender (lavandula angustifolia), *coltsfoot leaf (tussilago farfara), *yarrow (achillea millefolium) oil, *mallow (malva sylvestris), *horsetail (equisetum arvense) oil, *soybean protein (glycine soja), c12-14 olefin sulfonate (coconut derived), cocamidopropyl betaine, tocopherol (vitamin e), trace minerals, citric acid (corn), sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, sodium chloride (sea salt), grapefruit seed (citrus derived). *organic

Some shampoos with C14-16 olefin sulfonate:

Aveeno Scalp Soothing Oat Milk Blend Shampoo 


Colloidal Oatmeal Extract, Water (Aqua), Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycol Distearate, Hydrolyzed Milk Protein, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Extract, PEG-7 Amodimethicone, Polyquaternium-22, Polyquaternium-39, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, PPG-2 Hydroxyethyl Cocamide, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Laureth-4, Sodium Hydrolyzed Potato Starch Dodecenylsuccinate, Linoleamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Propylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Hexylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Fragrance (Parfum)

Boo Bamboo Strengthening Shampoo


Water/Aqua/Eau, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycol Stearate, Glycerin, Polyquaternium-55, Panthenol, Polyquaternium-10, Polyquaternium-7, Bamboo (Bambusa Arundinacea) Extract, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Natural Flavour, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citric Acid

Hask Tea Tree Oil & Rosemary Invigorating Shampoo


Aqua/Water/Eau, Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate, Cocamide MEA, Cocamidopropyl betaine, Glycerin, Glycol distearate, Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil, Menthol, Panthenol, Polyquaternium-68, Polyquaternium-7, Ethylhexylglycerin, PEG-150 distearate, Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, Sodium hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, Sodium benzoate, Magnesium nitrate, Sodium chloride, Methylisothiazolinone, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Citric acid, Magnesium chloride, Parfum/Fragrance, Limonene, Linalool

Woman washing her hair with shampoo

Ion Wellness Strengthening Shampoo


Water, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Fragrance, Ammonium Chloride, Polyquaternium-10, Cetrimonium Chloride, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycol Distearate, Dmdm Hydantoin, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Laureth-4, Hydrogenated Castor Oil/Sebacic Acid Cop, Citric Acid, Glycerin, Disodium Edta, Cyclodextrin, Jojoba Esters, Bambusa Vulgaris Stem Extract, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Biotin, Hexyl Cinnamal 

Kinky Curly Come Clean 


Purified Water, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis / Organic Mandarin Orange Fruit, Organic Marigold Flower, Salix Alba / Organic White Willow Bark, Ascophyllum Nodosum / Organic Sea Kelp, C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine (Coconut Derived), Phytic Acid, Citric Acid, Sea Salt, Phenoxyethanol, Natural Fragrance

Manic Panic PREPARE TO DYE® / Clarifying Shampoo


Water/Aqua/Eau, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Glycerin, Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate, Peg-150 Distearate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium Edta, Ethylhexylglycerin, Propylene Glycol, Fragrance (Parfum), Sodium Chloride, Coconut Acid, Sodium Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Sodium Sulfate, Sodium Benzoate, Dimethylaminopropylamine, Hexyl Cinnamal

MopTop gentle shampoo  


water, sodium c14-16 olefin sulfonate, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamide mea, glycol distearate, steareth-4, glycerin, hydroxypropyltrimonium honey, silk amino acids, hypnea musciformis extract (seaweed), gelidiella acerosa extract (seaweed), sargassum filipendula extract (seaweed), sorbitol, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, salix alba (willow) bark extract, urtica dioica (nettle) extract, tocopherol acetate (vitamin e), panthenol (vitamin b5), guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, polyquaternium-10, fragrance (phthalate free), sodium phytate, sorbic acid, sodium chloride, ethylhexylglycerin, phenoxyethanol, citric acid

OGX Vitamin E Shampoo 


Water (Aqua), Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, PPG-2 Hydroxyethyl Coco/Isostearamide, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Panthenol, Polyquaternium-10, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, Sodium Chloride, Citric Acid, Butylene Glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Fragrance (Parfum), Yellow 6 (CI 15985)

Ouidad Curl Shaper Good As New Moisture Restoring Shampoo 


aqua/water/eau, sodium c14-16 olefin sulfonate, sodium cocoamphoacetate, propanediol, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, peg-12 dimethicone, glycerin, fragrance (parfum), polysorbate 20, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, citric acid,
silicone quaternium-8, polyquaternium-10, peg-150 pentaerythrityl tetrastearate,
cetrimonium chloride, chlorphenesin, starch hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride,
peg-6 caprylic/capric glycerides, panthenol, cocodimonium hydroxypropyl silk amino acids, disodium edta, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, citrullus lanatus (watermelon) seed oil, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil,
macadamia ternifolia seed oil, raphanus sativus (radish) root extract, trichilia emetica seed butter, ,passiflora edulis seed oil, oryza sativa (rice) bran oil, euterpe oleracea fruit oil, benzyl salicylate

Pure Zero Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo 

Water (Aqua), Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Polysorbate-20, Acetic Acid (Apple Cider Vinegar), Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Disodium Cocoamphodipropionate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Polyquaternium-10, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance (Parfum)

Renpure Apple Cider Vinegar Clarify + Shine Shampoo


Water/Aqua/Eau, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Lauroyl, Sarcosinate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Polyquaternium-7, PEG-4 Rapeseedamide, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Apple Cider Vinegar, Fragrance, Panthenol, Citric Acid, Disodium, EDTA, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol

Soapbox Tea Tree Clean & Purify Shampoo


Water (Aqua), Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Glycerin, Cetrimonium Chloride, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Panthenol, Polyquaternium-11, Polyquaternium-7, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Fragrance (Parfum), Sodium Chloride, Citric Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol


Aqua/Water/Eau, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Parfum/Fragrance, Cocamide MIPA, Phenoxyethanol, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, PEG-150 Distearate, Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate, Polyquaternium-7, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Panthenol, Lauric Acid, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Benzyl Salicylate

Uncle Funky’s Daughter Squeaky

Water, Sodium C14-26 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cetyl Betaine, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Fragrance, Menthol, PEG-55 Propylene Glycol Oleate, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey) Leaf Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Kelp Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail) Extract, Polyquaternium-10, Cetrimonium Chloride, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Annatto

For a much more extensive list, go to SHOP and get your copy of the Ultimate Guide to 100+ Clarifying Shampoos without sulfates.

Scientific Resource We Found Useful:

Chapter 21. Functional materials for hair. Rocafort, C. M., Cosmetic science and technology: theoretical principles and applications (2017): 321-335.

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