October 17, 2020 8 min read
We know that the process of switching to a sulfate-free shampoo can feel intimidating. So many people refuse to give it a shot because of bad experiences with other sulfate free formulas which are often the result of user error and/or not giving the transition process enough time.
User error is the #1 reason that people struggle with sulfate free shampoos. And we're here to arm you with the know-how to start your sulfate free transition smoothly OR troubleshoot if you're currently having trouble.
We want to make your transition to sulfate free shampoo as easy and painless as possible. By the end of this blog post you'll understand:
Let's get into it.
If you're like most people, you've probably been using sulfate-based products for years. They're cheap and available everywhere - you'll find them in most mass produced shampoo and body wash. They're very strong cleaning agents, and your scalp has become accustomed to overproducing natural oils to keep up with your habit of stripping them.
Sulfates (and even some non-sulfate cleaning agents that foam) strip your hair of the majority of its natural moisture. We have been trained to associate a complete lack of oils as being "clean," but ultimately that's not how our hair, scalp, or skin work.
Our scalp and skin need natural oils to be their healthiest. Oils lubricate the skin, help it maintain its normal barrier function, and keep it glowing, healthy, and resilient. Your scalp is skin after all, and healthy hair requires a healthy scalp. Stripping all of your scalp's oils is not doing your hair any favors.
When strip our skin and scalp of all oil, we can cause a host of problems.
At this point, you might be thinking, "Ok sure but I can't stand feeling even a little bit oily." It's hard to dismantle the fallacy of "lack of oil means I'm clean," we get it.
Often times the psychological part of transitioning and not having a sudsing product is a big challenge. But trust me: you will feel clean when you use sulfate-free shampoo properly. You will have an appropriate amount of natural oils on your scalp.
PS - all of this above advice also applies to people who use the "no-poo" method of baking soda and apple cider vinegar rinse. To read more about why the no-poo method is actually a no-go, read more here.
Sulfate free shampoo will get you feeling clean, but not stripped of moisture. The results?
If you've been used to using a sudsing shampoo with sulfates (OR if you've been using the no-poo method of baking soda and apple cider vinegar) it usually takes 2-4 weeks for your scalp and hair to adjust. This "detox" period is normal and expected.
It's very important to set your expectations from the beginning - the adjustment will not happen overnight, but you will adjust! Knowing what to expect will reduce frustration and make it easier to stick with the transition.
While all hair types can successfully adjust to sulfate free shampoos with the right product, method, and time, some people adjust more quickly than others.
Some people will adjust more slowly than others.
User error is common, and many people get frustrated and give up too soon. The trick? Give it enough time, and apply using our methods described below in our "How to Use" section. Your hair and scalp will thank you.
Quick note before we get into the how-to: if you are switching away from silicone-based conditioners at the same time you're switching to sulfate-free shampoo, cut out the silicone conditioner FIRST. If you try to cut sulfates + silicones out at once, you will be left with a stubborn silicone film that is hard to wash out and will likely become gummy in your hair with the gentler cleaning agents in sulfate-free shampoo.
Cut out the silicone-based conditioner and continue using the sulfate shampoo with a silicone-free conditioner for a few days. Once you feel that the silicone film is gone, then switch to the sulfate-free shampoo.
Now, let's get into the best practices for sulfate-free shampooing:
Note: You'll notice that our sulfate free shampoos (and most other sulfate free options) doesn't suds and foam like the sulfate-based stuff. This is by design! While bubbles are fun, they're usually a sign that you're stripping moisture. You'll find that you'll be able to get a bit more lather by adding a little extra water as you massage your scalp.
A key tip: do not go back to a sulfate-based formula while your hair is transitioning. You're helping your hair break a years-old habit of over producing oil. Like breaking any bad habit, this process might take a little patience! It can be tempting to wash with your old standbys but this will reset the clock on your sulfate-free transition.
We recommend washing your hair up to every other day, and if you can go longer than that between wash days, even better!
I'm running through product really quickly.
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