Maybe I'm an idiot, because after attempting to use sulfate-free shampoos, oh, I don't know—a dozen times?—I never could figure out the big deal about them... let alone why they were allowed on store shelves.
Let me explain: sulfates are bad in that they can strip colour from your hair. But they're also a good thing because they produce the lather which—duh—helps spreads the product around and gets your scalp clean. Now I know all these new, sulfate-free shampoos say they contain other types of surfactants that do the job, but when I used them, my hair just did NOT feel clean. And really, that's the point of this whole process, yes?
Anyway, I FINALLY figured out why these puppies weren't working for me.
How to Use Sulfate-Free Shampoos
You have to wash twice! Yes, it's a bit wasteful, but you only need a small amount for the first application. Work it through your scalp, not your ends (and don't worry that it's not lathering). Rinse, then apply a bit more shampoo—you can use a more generous size this time. The second application should lather up nicely, leaving your scalp squeaky clean, just like normal shampoo (but better).
I've yet to find a scientific explanation for this double-shampoo method through extensive Google searching, but so what? It works. (Who knows, maybe it's similar to the double-cleansing theory put forth by Dermalogica when they launched PreCleanse.)
The Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos
Wondering which shampoos are sulfate-free? Here are the top ones I've tried:
$25.50 for 250 mL
$22.50 for 250 mL
$15.95 for 400 mL
$10.99 for 250 mL
$18.50 for 250 mL
(Haven't tried Moroccanoil yet? Read my review and find out why Moroccanoil is a miracle-worker for any hair type!)