Why you should consider using sulfates every now and then

This post is also available in: German

Using sulfate and silicone free products seems to be the number one rule in the curly hair community. However, you might want to consider using a shampoo with sulfates in it every now and then!

I know, I always write about not using sulfates and silicones at all. However, my post about some fun facts about my curls got me thinking that maybe using a “real” shampoo once might actually help my curls.

Now, why would I think that?

Lately, I’ve been paying attention to how long I need to rinse my curls with water until all of the shampoo and previous product residues were properly washed out, meaning until the water coming out of my curls looked clear (you can only see this when you wash your curls with your head upside down) and strangely enough I kept rinsing for what felt like a really long time, so I decided to stop before I got to the point, at which the water was actually clear!

Using sulfates seemed like a good solution

At the same time I’ve noticed some small flakes at my roots, that weren’t dandruff because my scalp and my curls felt well moisturized. Actually, they felt over-conditioned! So, I needed to get my curls and scalp to be less moisturized. The one ingredient that is known to dry out curls, are sulfates – which is why I decided to give it a try!

The next time I washed my curls, I used a really small amount of shampoo with sulfates in it. I made sure to only apply it to my roots and not to my ends. At this point I was still a bit worried that I would end up with frizzy curls for at least a week but…

…my curls turned out perfectly!

They didn’t only look as the usually do, but the sulfates also helped me to get rid of the flakes at my roots. Using a shampoo with sulfates was just what they needed – I am really happy to have given it a try! If you’re thinking about doing the same, be careful when using sulfates on your curls (we all know our curls sometimes are not that forgiving) and only do this if:

  • your curls are over-conditioned
  • you are suffering from product residues
  • the problem can’t be fixed by using more proteins

I am sure to use sulfates again, as soon as I notice the above described symptoms. I just hope it won’t be necessary too soon!

What are your thoughts on using sulfates – is avoiding them your number one rule? Or maybe you’ve already been using sulfates occasionally?

11 Comments
  • Rachel
    March 18, 2016

    This is an interesting point. I guess I never really thought about using sulfates once in a while. Since going natural I stopped using sulfates and silicones except at the hairdressers where they don’t really know much about curly hair so I would just grit my teeth and tell myself I would do a clarifying rinse at home afterwards! At first I was using Tresemme Naturals shampoo before realising there are still sulfates in the ingredients, but I do remember that my hair was quite nice with it. Did you mix it with any other product? Or was the small amount you used enough to make your hair and scalp feel clean? Thanks!

  • Sophie
    March 19, 2016

    Interesting post! I haven’t used a shampoo with sulfates in a really long time- the closest I’ve gotten is SheaMoisture’s African Black Soap shampoo, which is pretty harsh as far as sulfate-free shampoos go. But thanks for this idea! 🙂

  • Perle
    March 19, 2016

    When mu hair has residues or feels over-conditioned, I just add a spoonful of baking soda to my shampoo and massage my scalp with it. Works juste fine, and I don’t have to buy a sulfate/silicone shampoo!

    • Vulcan Princess
      April 6, 2016

      I was just thinking as I read this about if baking soda would work. I wonder if there’s a way to make a dry shampoo to sprinkle on the roots that’s also sulfate free. I got the dry shampoo idea from this gal’s channel, which also has this video on how to safely straighten curly hair WITHOUT HEAT! I’m tangenting a bit but read on if you’re interested!

      I figured I ought to share for fellow curly hair folks. Also, a great community is reddit.com/r/curlyhair.

      The technique of putting dry shampoo in hair https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwdPeyS_DdE (she uses it with heat straightening to keep it straight for longer but i’d bet it could be used without the heat and in general, it keeps the hair from producing too much oil? I’m not sure if that would help or hurt flakes)

      The straightening technique without heat! (pretty brilliant I must say) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWHG4m16rCM&feature=youtu.be

    • Elizabeth L Smith
      June 17, 2016

      Be sure not to use baking soda on the hair very often, it’s more alkaline than shampoos, it can make the hair dull!

  • Vulcan Princess
    April 6, 2016

    I just wanted to add this as a regular comment as well as the reply I wrote originally, for anyone to see! Because there is a way to straighten curly without heat, thus without damage!

    here it is! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWHG4m16rCM&feature=youtu.be

  • DrLHairLab
    April 16, 2016

    I would not use baking soda or apple cider vinegar in general, those agents are too harsh chemicals in terms of pH and Baking soda, in particular, behaves like a caustic agent. I suppose most people see good results initially, if they want to straighten or define; but on the long run it will only cause breakage or alopecia (bald spots, loss of hair) if used repeatedly. 🙂
    Sulfate shampoos are a less aggressive alternative to clarifying rinses and shampoos and off course to baking soda. Love that people are writing about sulfates again.

  • Fabian bine
    June 3, 2016

    I’ve been switching product lines a lot recently and up until now, I was using very cheap ones that although didn’t contain silicone, left my hair feeling a bit… ew so I would shampoo every 2-3 weeks followed by a protein treatment, now that I’ve gone too a higher end line, I don’t think I’ll need my shampoo for a very long time, and my hair hates shampoo, my 3a curls act like 3c curls in terms of loving moisture and I never can leave too much conditioner in

  • Eli
    October 16, 2016

    Hey! Same here. I jumped too on the no-sulfate bandwagon until I realised my scalp getting disgustingly covered in some sort of gooey slimy substance even if I washed my hair every other day, so I had to wash my scalp with dishwashing liquid to get rid of that coat of dirt!!! My hair is very fine and it tends to get overconditioned easily so I need to use sulfates at least once a week.

  • SouthernGal
    December 31, 2016

    I have found that I like using silicones. I try not to overdo it, but they simply make my hair look better and less frizzy. I don’t think this is the end of the world, since they are easy enough to remove.

    I am also not opposed to using a shampoo with sulfates about 1 time per month or as needed. Doing this removes any residue that might be weighing down my curls. My hair is shinier and my curls are more defined with this routine.

    I don’t stick to any hard and fast rules. I co wash most of the time, use lo poo about once per week. I do avoid excess heat and only use sulfates on a limited basis.

  • DC2C (and 3a)
    May 11, 2017

    Never! I only shampoo every week or two, and even doing that with a very creamy sulfate-free low-poo formula feels very harsh if I don’t oil my hair first. Sulfates just cause knots. Even my salon doesn’t use sulfates, so I guess the color treatment (won’t give that up — I’m graying prematurely) and the scalp massage during their shampooing is enough once a month.

    Now, if anyone could tell me why my gel is too drying, but L.O.C. is too heavy unless I do a protective style, that would be great…

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