Let’s talk about Shampooing: Sulfates, No Sulfates or Cowashing!!

Recently, there has been so much hype regarding the ingredients in our usual daily use Shampoos that somebody needs to clear the air (on cleaning the hair!:-D) and make sense of it all. Nowadays, we cannot buy any product without looking at the ingredients list first. From our shampoo to toothpastes and soaps and detergents and foundation to nail polishes for everything we check the ingredients first and buy them later. Well I do not call this a hype but an outcome of being more informed. However, more often than  not, some of us tend to question such behaviours.  Before going all sulfate and silicone free on my hair, when I read about the curly girl hair routine (like a third person not affected by it!) I couldn’t phantom the thought of not picking up my usual shampoo. Not choosing by the look or packaging or the color of the bottle. It was such an inconceivable thought to change the very basic thought of our routine life that I felt, “I like the idea but its not for me”. I totally overlooked it for almost 2 years (how I wish I had not!). After going for sulfate-free shampoos, I feel that some of the much hyped stuffs make so much sense once you get the logic of it or once you try it out.

For certain things, I am easily convinced. But for some, like asking me to not choose that cute mint colored bottle of shampoo over the pale white boringly packed one was gonna need some serious explaining. After all my hair loved those shampoos (at least I thought so!)…my hair used to feel a little dry and frizzy and untamed looking…but I thought, “What had my shampoo got to do with it? “Everything”, said a whole community of naturally curlies out there. And that’s when I started digging deep to know if it was worth.

I couldn’t find anything that supported sulfates. Almost all articles and information that I gathered mentioned that sulfates are harsh on the scalp and hair. There was no denying it. The more I read that sulfates are harsh,  drying and damaging, the more lost I felt. After all, alllll the shampoos that I had ever used were sulfate containing ones. If you are one of those newbie curly or wavy who is so confused and scared and irritated with the thought of letting go of your usual shampoo, I understand….I completely understand….I have been there and faced all that…I know how it feels….

Now that I knew sulfates were drying out my hair, then came the major question of, “What next?! how to shampoo my hair? Using sulfates, no sulfates or Cowashing?!”
First step was to decide what I wanted to use on my hair! So I considered my options…..If you are a newbie reconsidering your shampoo preferences, this is what you would be having on your mind right now…..

Sulfate shampoos – But those have been drying out my hair. After ages of using these shampoos, I had nothing extra to say but that these shampoos gave me squeaky clean scalp and hair.


  • Gives squeaky clean hair and scalp
  • Easily available..everyyyywhere
  • I have always used these..like forever…


  • Very strong shampoos. Strip hair of all its natural oils and makes hair dry.
  • Triggers excessive oil production by the scalp which makes scalp oily on non-wash days. Though ends remain dry.
  • Not-so-friendly for curly/wavy hair as with scalp’s natural oils being stripped, hair get more dry and frizzy.
  • Hair did feel dry and frizzy after use


Sulfate-free shampoos  these contain surfactants which are not as harsh as sulfates (and hence are milder on scalp and hair) and yet are effective in cleansing the scalp and hair.


  • Are considered milder than sulfate shampoos.
  • Do not strip scalp of natural oils as much as sulfate shampoo.
  • Are considered curly hair friendly as curly/wavy hair needs more moisture and more of the natural oils produced by our scalp.


  • Not as easily available as sulfate shampoos (But now with online shopping and many health and beauty stores stocking these up, this is not that much of a con!)
  • Never really used these so not sure…and it is very rare that someone known to us would have knowingly already used these…
  • costlier than normal sulfate shampoos
  • Scalp needs a little adjustment period on shifting from sulfates to sulfate free shampoos.


Silicone-free Conditioners (Co-washing) – Using a conditioner instead of shampoo (Yeah skip conditioners all together!)


  • Keep hair and scalp very moisturized
  • Do not strip scalp of its natural oils
  • Curly hair friendly. Recommended to those who have very curly hair.


  • Scary thought for first timers! (but there is nothing to worry..there are zillions of people who have been co-washing for years and their hair have gotten only healthier.)
  • Might weigh down wavy hair.
  • Scalp might misbehave when you shift to cowashing directly from sulfates


Considering all these points and further more that I had been using sulfate silicone products all my life but it didn’t really make my hair feel the way I wanted it to feel. So, I decided, “whats the harm?! lets shift to sulfate free shampoos…atleast it will combat the dryness that my hair feels.” This is what I considered while I was taking the plunge into sulfate and silicone-free hair care. You need to decide for yourself! 🙂



I shifted from usual sulfate shampoo to Sulfate free shampoo first. I still do cowash occasionally in between washes. Being a curly-wavy in a very humid city, I feel that it is easier for me to be on weekly once sulfate-free shampooing regimen. You can decide based on your hair, oiliness of scalp, climate and personal preference and decide to cowash or go sulfate-free.

Oh btw! Remember, if you move to sulfate free regimen, you will have to let go of your silicone containing hair products, since silicone forms tight coating on hair that can be removes by using sulfates alone!! 🙂


Sooo….. Would you want to stick to your sulfate shampoo or take the plunge to sulfate free or shampoo regimen? Do let us know in comments below!!


If you have any feedbacks, comments, queries or reviews then please feel free to join the forum and update or leave a comment down below!!


4 thoughts on “Let’s talk about Shampooing: Sulfates, No Sulfates or Cowashing!!

  1. That’s a good read Divya. Thanks for the post. One more reason why we refrain from switching from the usual over the counter shampoos is the quick fix provided by them…like dandruff control, hair styling, etc.
    Switching to sulphate free shampoos means developing habit of using organic and homemade remedies. And this needs patience which is of course,worth the effort

    1. I totally agree with you, Gargi! Quick fixes and our lack of patience (and may be abundance of laziness :-D) are one of the major reasons for not switching!

      Following diy, organic and better hair care routine is definitely worth! 🙂

Would love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment.