Choosing Shampoos that don’t contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Finding a shampoo you’ll like is never easy. Finding a shampoo that is gentle to your skin, is even harder. If you have rosacea, you probably are already preventing shampoo suds to get onto your face when washing your hair, in order not to aggravate your condition.

Many shampoos on the market today contain ingredients that can be considered “toxic”. One of the shampoo ingredients that can be hurting your scalp and skin, is sodium lauryl sulfate.Sodium lauryl sulfate, which in the scientific community is known as sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), is a powerful detergent that is able to strip your skin of important oils and proteins. Sodium lauryl sulfate is used in science to denature proteins (disrupting the protein’s native shape), so that biologic samples with many different proteins can be separated according to size by gel electrophoresis.

Sodium lauryl sulfate is used in many personal care products (shampoos, liquid soaps and shower gels), because it is cheap and produces a rich thick lather. However, if you are using shampoo that contains sodium lauryl sulfate, you may be damaging your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Sodium lauryl sulfate has a slightly less reactive cousin, sodium laureth sulfate. Sodium myreth sulfate is related to sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, but would be the better choice if you had to pick between the three.

Walking down to my local drugstore, I wasn’t able to find any shampoo on the shelf without sodium lauryl sulfate. Looking at a shampoo’s ingredient list, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are usually the second or third ingredient mentioned.

After doing some research online and at my local organic food store, I have compiled the following list of shampoos that are free of sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, and may be safer to use if you have sensitive skin:

  • Alba
  • Alaffia
  • Avalon Organics
  • Aubrey Organics
  • Beauty Without Cruelty
  • Burt’s Bees
  • Dessert Essence
  • Elave (UK & Ireland and online)
  • EO
  • Jason
  • John Masters
  • Kiss My Face
  • Pureology
  • Shikai
  • Whole Foods Market (Premium Body only)

This list will probably change over time as more and more beauty brands are eliminating harsh chemicals from their products. Feel free to let us know about your favorite shampoo (without sodium lauryl sulfate).


41 thoughts on “Choosing Shampoos that don’t contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

  1. Wow! I didn’t realize shampoo could add to face problems! I’ll track this, as well, & change brands!

  2. It’s important for all of us to know about harmful ingredients, whether it’s to deal with rosacea or not. Anything we put on our skins gets to internal organs quickly – I read one place that it can take only 30 seconds! We already breathe and eat enough toxins, so thank you for providing the names of shampoos that eliminate some of the worst ingredients.
    There’s a list of other harmful/toxic ingredients on my website at

  3. How interesting… I knew of the harmful effects of this but not necessarily in conjunction with Rosacea. It makes perfect sense though, and I am trying to figure out my worst triggers right now because I am having a lot of extra problems that seem to be curious as to why now. I had gone back to using traditional shampoo because of the cost of the specialty shampoos and the fact that it is harder to get hair clean with less quantity of product using the non SLS type. But I guess I better go back to the Shikai I was using, it’s so expensive !
    Any thoughts from anyone about whether or not the SLS causes the problems from actually being on the skin during the shampooing process, or it lingering in hair after dry and being against face at night for example, or more harmful from just being “in” the bodies system… I am very curious on anyone’s “take” on this…..
    Thanks and I’m enjoying your website, by the way….
    I gotta get this condition under control- it’s ugly :(

  4. Theraneem shampoo is also without SLS, and has therapeutic value. I have been ‘researching’ candida. Candida overgrowth may cause rosacea, dandruff, chronic sinus problems, autism??, etc. I am becoming convinced Candida is the cause of many health problems.

  5. I accidently went to the Made from Earth skin care website when looking for something for my research paper, and it was one of the best accidents i ever had. I tried their Organic Tea & Protein Shampoo and loved it. It has a great scent and is gentle on my scalp. Compared to the $30-40i I used to spend on organic shampoo this is an even match at a cheaper price. Best for use to make your hair fuller and fresher.

  6. Another shampoo/conditioner brand you forgot to list as being organic and safe is Naked Naturals. It can be bought at Walgreens,CVS,Rite Aid,and other stores listed on the website I provided. I have just bought the Awapuhi & Lavander shampoo & conditioner for colored treated hair and it smell really good + seems promising in my 1st use. The description says that the lavander stimulates hair growth,my hair is long,but stops about 8 inches past my shoulders and I want it to grow longer,hopefully this shampoo does help it to. Plus Naked Naturals has a pure natural plant protein called Keravis helps strengthen hair 7X more in shampoo and 3x more in conditioner. The whole info on Keravis is on their site.

  7. I personally love Kiss My Face hair products because they feel so natural and smell amazing. It leaves your hair feeling smooth and you can tell the stuff in it doesn’t damage your hair.

  8. Thank you so much for this list! My daughter has a tough time with shampoos with sodium lauryl anything. Her hair gets very oily and her scalp stinks! I did an internet search to find that it is a common problem. So, we are always trying to find shampoos with SLS. This is very helpful. I would also like to add that I’ve read a couple of other recent blogs that say some of these products are no available at Walmart!

  9. I’ve found a great range of products that don’t contain any perfumes, petro chemicals, SLS or parabens. It’s by a company called ‘Essentially Yours’
    and the range is their ‘Fragrance Free’ line. They do a great shampoo that only has 4 ingredients and cleans great! It’s ¬£6.99 for a 250ml bottle. It’s a shame all these special shampoos are so expensive for us who sufer from rosacea/allergies etc.I often wonder too, if the shampoo in ones hair when dry, aggrovates our skin? I asked my derm and he said no. It’s just the hair brushing against the sensitive skin that annoys it but I’m not totally convinced…

  10. I also have a chemical sensitivity to shampoo from the smell (weakens my muscles and makes my nerves more sensitive) and a problem with rosacea on my nose. I have noticed that my nose feels oily and smooth after washing my hair.

    I am so excited to learn that Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Laureth Sulphate cause rosacea in some people with sensitive skin.

    But I wonder if the other shampoos listed have the other ingredient that is causing my more serious problems when using shampool.

  11. Most of the above shampoos also have paraben which is just as bad. Sephora carries shampoos with no chemicals only natural fruit oils and such. I am very willing to pay a higher price for shampoo and soaps that are free of these bad chemicals.It’s a not so funny joke from products that claim to moisturize while drying out and otherwise harming your skin.

  12. I have cradle cap, i’ve had it almost all my life. But I can’t get rid of it. The best shampoo I have tried was Clairol Daily Defense. It Doesn’t Contain Sodium Lauryl or Laureth Sulfates, but does contain Ammonium Lauryl and Laureth Sulfates. They probably are still just as bad being sulfates and all, but i was reading that sodium lauryl and laureth sulfates could be to blame for my scalp condition and i noticed my hair was mostly flake free when i used this shampoo. but now, they no longer make this shampoo. I also just found out that these chemicals can also cause hair loss! also i know to avoid shampoos with waxes and silicones as well- like tressemme, pantene, garnier fructise, sunsilk, and aussie. even the clarifying versions of these add build ups. thanks for listing some shampoos without these aweful chemicals!

  13. just looked through some shampoo samples i saved and found a few that do not have SLS: Dove and Salon Selectives have Ammonium Lauryl and Laureth Sulfates instead. Also, I have some Aveda Rosemary Mint Shampoo, i used it once, but LOVED it. Also, my Sun Dog Hemp Oil Shampoo doesn’t have SLS in it. It’a a bit watery and i’m not crazy about the smell, but it will get the job done. Plus Hemp Oil is really good for dry skin conditions. I use Hemp Lotion and Body Butter from The Body Shop on my psoriasis and it works better that the nasty ointment I got from my doctor.

  14. I have had Rosacea for a long time and I don’t think it has anything to do with shampoo, but perhaps it does. The big issue for me is: Can you suggest a “safe” shampoo that is also a volumizer? If I don’t use volumizing shampoo, my fine, naturally curly hair lays flat to my scalp and looks awful. But with volumizing, it fluffs up beautifully. Can you help with this??

  15. Judy,

    Shampoos that contain SLS may aggravate rosacea if you use the shampoo daily and the shampoo runs over your face when you rinse your hair. It’s often better to use a more gentle shampoo if you can find one. I cannot recommend a safe shampoo that also adds volume, but perhaps some of the readers can make a suggestion.

  16. I would like to add that another great shampoo + conditioner is from L’Bri Pure n’ Natural. These are ALOE based skin care products. Body Wash, shampoo, lotions, face washes….Check it out! Also, these products dont have water as one of the first ingredients. Natural Scents, no dyes…
    Here is my website if anyone is interested!

  17. I have color treated hair, so I need a sulfate shampoo to protect the color, and make it look glossy and shiney

    People complain that sulfate free shampoos the lack of sudsy action, which sometimes happens with sulfate-free shampoo, but you can try the Shielo Color Protect Shampoo, which is sulfate free and it lathers up and is better than any sulfate free shampoo I have tried. Definitely best to make your hair look great while being sulfate and chemical free…

  18. Pingback: rosacea shampoo
  19. I tried Alaffia products and it was not safe for my skin. I was red for weeks. Whole Foods let me return the products.

  20. this is very helpful for me. its been almost a year now that i have this irritating red marks around my mouth. i’ve applied ointments & petroleum jelly but it doesn’t work. so from now on i’ll try not to use products with SLS and get back to you soon. im so desperate looking here in the net on how to solve this problem of mine.

  21. is ammonium lauryl sulfate, the same as the sodium lauryl sulfate? what are the differences?

  22. Ammonium lauryl sulfate is similar to sodium lauryl sulfate, the difference is the positive ion that is produced when it dissolves in water: ammonium (NH4+) vs. sodium (Na+).

  23. What about the itching? While doing research I found out that if there is a great deal of itching it can be caused by the sodium laureth. I have been looking everywhere in my area for shampoo without it and haven’t been successful at all. I had tried Suave which claims to be “hypoallergenic”. Still I had a great deal of itching. I researched online for shampoo without it. I went to an internet site of which I don’t remember what it is now, but they sent me a sample of it. I tried it and my hair was so oily that I couldn’t tell I washed it at all. Do all of these sodium free shampoos do this to a person’s hair? The itching is so bad that I actually felt like it would drive me nuts! So will I be doomed to have hair that looks oily all of the time just so the itching will stop? Does anybody else have a problem like this?

  24. I use Hair One, which I found at Sally’s, after trying and loving WEN, which was too expensive for my budget. Hair One comes in r different varieties: Normal Hair, Curly Hair, Color-Treated Hair, and Dry/Damaged Hair. The only difference between them is the “oil” used. I normally have a “ton” of baby fine, color-treated, naturally curly hair. Breakage in the shower as well as normal, everyday brushing was ridiculous. As for frizz and dryness…as soon as my hair dried I was frizzy, ANNOYING! With Hair One I have a lot less breakage, frizziness…and my scalp doesn’t seem to itch so much if I have to wait longer between shampoos. I’ve noticed my rosacea is quite so “angry” looking either. And at $12/bottle…it fits into my budget.

  25. d-sam your comment about the red itchiness around your mouth – i had the same problem – it was my toothpaste! i was using colgate with max crystals – try something gentler

  26. I began having severe reactions to most other shampoos and conditioners. My dermatologist did some patch testing with Made From Earth’s Tea & Protein Shampoo and my skin is so sensitive to many ingredients in just about everything. I am very sensitive to smells as well and this one was not so strong. I was hesitant because tea tree oil can be pretty pungent but it was actually quite pleasant. The Made from Earth products are fabulous. I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do when I found their shampoo and conditioner.

  27. A really terrific line of hair care products that does not contain sodium laureth sulfate and is very good for your hair, scalp and skin is Eufora. ( Their line of products is organic aloe vera based and even though I do not have rosacea, I do have psoriasis and it has done wonders for that.

  28. These shampoos may be better than the standard, but they are expensive, and still label ingredients that you can’t pronounce. My solution is to make my own skin care products. It is the only way to know exactly what is in the products I use on my hair and skin. I use my hand made soap to shampoo my hair, wash my face, and shave my legs.

  29. Cindy2, I also started making my own unscented soap and use it as a shampoo bar followed with a vinegar/water mix as a rinse. My hair is soft, shiny and clean and my rosacea is totally gone. I no longer suffer from itchy scalp and I think my sinuses are clearing up too.

  30. santoor, pantene pro-v, colgate, dove, clinic plus, clean and clear etc….
    all the famous brands have this SLS thingy!!

  31. I’m very surprised that nobody has mentioned the L’Oreal EverPure line of shampoos. These do not contain sulfates. There are a moisturizing set (shampoo + conditioner), a smoothing set, and even a set for color-treated hair. I’ve been using these for over a year and have noticed that my color lasts longer, even though I am a redhead, which is notorious for fading faster than any other. The best part is, you can buy them anywhere and they cost under $7 each! Try them, you won’t be sorry.

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