View Full Version : People with scalp issues: does your hair prefer sulfate or non sulfate shampoos?

November 8th, 2013, 02:43 PM
I haven't been formally diagnosed with scalp psoriasis but it runs in my family and I get the same itchy red spots that they all get. Anyway, has anyone noticed a difference between using sulfate free shampoos? Do you think they would be less irritating?

I only tried sulfate free free once and it was pretty "meh" I didn't even use the whole bottle.

November 8th, 2013, 02:49 PM
My scalp breaks out in red bumps (like acne) if I don't use sulfates for a prolonged period of time. I can use sulfate free stuff for a little while, but then the red bumps appear. It's like my scalp isn't getting clean enough or something and then I get the bumps. They're painful and irritating. So, I use sulfates. I never have that issue while washing with sulfates. I wash every 2-3 days.

November 8th, 2013, 02:50 PM
If you're having red itchy spots on your scalp I honestly would stick with sulfates. Your scalp would probably benefit more from the cleansers. If I go a long time without sulfates my scalp pretty much has break outs idk if it is clogged dirty follicles or too much sebum. You'll only know once you try :confused:

November 8th, 2013, 03:14 PM
I need sulphates for my sensitive scalp skin. I have a theory that soap (like bar soap) would also work, as my body needs bar soap. In a pinch I could wash my hair with it.

My husband has sebhorratic dermatitis, and really likes a sulphate based moisterizing dandruff shampoo. He uses suave scalp solutions. He has attempted to use a sulphate free dandruff shampoo, t-sal, and it didn't help his condition at all.

November 8th, 2013, 03:27 PM
My husband has sebhorratic dermatitis, and really likes a sulphate based moisterizing dandruff shampoo. He uses suave scalp solutions. He has attempted to use a sulphate free dandruff shampoo, t-sal, and it didn't help his condition at all.

My boyfriend has eczema and really bad dandruff. I've had him try CO, stretching washes, and many dandruff shampoos. Only the T-Gel with tar in it worked slightly and it is pretty expensive and comes in this teeny bottle. He has a lot of hair and a big head. Do you know exactly what suave scalp solutions your husband uses? Is it 2-in-1? Is it the coconut on the bottle? Sorry for being so picky but I gotta know :(

November 8th, 2013, 03:31 PM
My scalp does not develop bumps, but is extremely dry and flaky. Really severe dandruff. Luckily, no one can see it because I brush all of my hair back in my braid so that I don't have a part (scalp isn't visible).
Anyway, I refuse to employ sulfates to help with my poor scalp. They only make it flake worse. What I use is a shampoo bar.

November 8th, 2013, 03:36 PM
I have the same issue as the OP, occasional red spots, scabby flakes and my dad has psoriasis. I've found that sulfates work best for me, but they can't be too harsh. For instance, I've found that Pantene shampoos aggravate my scalp really badly in this respect, but a different sulfate shampoo will be perfectly fine, such as Herbal Essences. Sometimes a bit of oil on my scalp before shampooing prevents overdrying from sulfates so the flakes are minimized.

Sulfate free makes me shed like mad, so it's not my preferred method.

November 8th, 2013, 03:44 PM
Sulfate free works best for me. I have psoriasis and sulfate shampoos have always made me shed heavily and dried out my hair and irritated my scalp.

November 8th, 2013, 03:50 PM
I have seborrheic dermatitis. Chagrin Valley shampoo bars really help me, like the neem & tree tree. I just got some samples to try before jumping to the full size bar. I use their soaps and butters for my sd face and it's all in the clear!

November 8th, 2013, 04:05 PM
I have scalp psoriasis and I use sulphates with no problems. TBH I refuse to try going sulphate free as my scalp is happy with the current regime so why risk upsetting everything by switching things up?
I use the Lush Soak and Float/Ultimate Shine shampoo bars.

November 8th, 2013, 04:12 PM
I don't have scalp issues per se, but I definitely get an itchy, dry scalp from sulfates. Once I switched to mostly CO with the occasional non-sulfate shampooing (and rare clarifying), the itching was markedly reduced.

heidi w.
November 8th, 2013, 04:25 PM
Scalp issues are nothing to play around with. It sounds as though you may have seborrheic dermatitus which I have. I"ve done different things through the years, but now it's okay. My hair is also a lot shorter than it used to be.
First, see a dermatologist to get a diagnosis.
Second, get the shampoo Nizoral, prescription strength is best but it's pricey.
Third, wash the scalp hair with the Nizoral and length with a better shampoo. That's what I used to do. Then I'd vinegar rinse before conditioning the length ONLY. Only the length, never the scalp as well.
And vinegar rinse before conditioning such as 3 Tablespoons blended with a whole 8 oz glass of water at best.
Avoid scratching the scalp with your bare hands as hands carry lots of germs, and can spread the problem.
heidi w.

November 8th, 2013, 04:43 PM
I have scalp psoriasis. It is necessary for me to have a moisturized and lightly oiled scalp at all times. Sulfate shampoos would be a nightmare. If you've experimented with different sulfate free products and have tried CO-washing and your hair still responds most positively to sulfates, try to compensate for the harshness by diluting the shampoo or oiling your scalp the night before a wash.

November 8th, 2013, 05:10 PM
I have scalp psoriasis, along with dandruff. I have no idea if sulfates are better for my hair because I have not used them in so long and I am terrified of switching back in fear that I might damage my hair.

November 8th, 2013, 06:01 PM
I'm starting to suspect that years of the sulfate-free shampoos I've been using have caused a lot of damage to the skin barrier on my scalp. My scalp has been getting worse and worse every year for the last 7 years, which is right around the time I switched to more natural, sulfate-free shampoos. The only time I would get a great scalp was for two weeks after I used henna. Then it would start all over again. I think that perhaps the henna was healing my skin barrier, but using the same shampoos would just irritate it again, causing constant flareups. I get to test that theory on Sunday when I will be hennaing my roots. Last week I switched to Alaffia Neem & Shea Scalp Recovery (which is liquid African black soap), and I have no more itch and the flaking has greatly reduced. I am also experimenting with sea salt water for healing my skin barrier. Last night I mixed some sea salt in purified water and misted it on to my scalp. I let it dry and washed it out this morning. My scalp feels remarkably good. Salt is amazing for healing, so I'm hoping that I'm on the right path. :)

November 8th, 2013, 06:23 PM
I dont have scalp issues until I use sulfate. I started co washing for this reason

November 8th, 2013, 07:45 PM
I've had seborrheic dermatitis for years, and sulfates seem to aggravate it. I do better with non-sulfate shampoo/conditioner. Actually, what really seems to be helping is Monistat!

November 9th, 2013, 01:50 AM
I have a sensitive scalp with its own likes and dislikes. SLS, SLES, Sodium coceth sulfate, basically sodium-anything-sulfate (even if it's in shampoos that are labelled as "delicate" or "natural") will cause at least some dandruff. On the other hand, when I tried CO washing, my scalp broke out and shed more hair than normal. My scalp does just great with delicate shampoos that contain ammonium lauryl sulfate. I use my shampoo diluted and I noticed that the more I dilute it, the longer my hair stays clean.

November 9th, 2013, 01:55 AM
My SO has a sensitive scalp (we are not sure if it is psoriasis, eczema, or simply dandruff) and he sticks to CO washing, which doesn't make it worse, but doesn't relieve the scalp itching and flaking. I will let him know about the results of sulfate-free and ALES shampoos you guys all had to see if his scalp will improves. Thank you!

November 9th, 2013, 07:24 AM
I get flakes, usually oily, and itchiness.

I use Suave Naturals shampoo that has sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). (Note: "Naturals" is a misnomer, it's regular shampoo with a couple plant extracts.) I have used sulfate-free shampoos and shampoo (soap) bars as well with some success, but the SLES seems to work the best.

It's more important for me to avoid putting any conditioner or 'cones on my scalp than the kind of shampoo I use.

ETA: I also use Nizoral if I get a flare up of flakes, but it happens less often since I've been using the Suave Naturals. I also make sure to scrub my scalp well with the pads of my fingers.

November 9th, 2013, 07:40 AM
My scalp issues have always stemmed from the alcohol in shampoos and other hair care products. As soon as I cut out the alcohol all my itching, dandruff, and sore spots went away.

November 9th, 2013, 07:56 AM
I have to use harsher sulfates, non-sl(e)s is just too mild for me. I have a scalp condition (SD), so I have to be really careful and use a harsher cleanser (twice even).

November 9th, 2013, 08:45 AM
I have mild eczema, which generally doesn't bother me as long as I use sulfates, keep my scalp reasonably clean, and don't leave wet hair on it for too long. It was okay with shampoo bars, but it's better since I switched back to sulfates.

November 9th, 2013, 10:28 AM
While using shampoo with sulphates I suffered from itching 24/7. It was the worst just after washing. Now I've used SLS free shampoo and conditioner over a month, no itching! I must be allergic or something...

November 9th, 2013, 10:40 AM
I have super sensitive, dandruff/dryness prone scalp and I can't even look at a SLS packed shampoo from a moving train ... 200mph.

November 9th, 2013, 03:17 PM
I need sulphates and often. Like someone else wrote, I get red acne bumps on my scalp and hair line if my hair gets dirty. (I also have acne prone skin in general). Also: conditioners irritate my scalp making it worse, as do oils. And many styling products give me dandruff. Fun times :D

I have yet to find a routine/products that would work, but right now it's almost daily sulphate shampoo with minimal conditioner (for allergy prone skin), avoiding getting conditioner on scalp. No oils and using styling products very rarely.

November 9th, 2013, 03:37 PM
I have mild psoriasis on my scalp. There doesn't seem to be a big difference between sulfate and nonsulfate shampoos for me in general. I think I did a bit better with CV poo bars, but I haven't been able to use them since before my skin all over got more sensitive, so I am not certain. My joints got worse at the same time my skin got worse, and it just became more mechanical work than my hands could take.

I did find that stretching my washes to once a week was helpful, though.

November 9th, 2013, 03:42 PM
It's interesting how diverse these answers are. Ofcourse conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema, allergies, SD etc etc are all very different beasts. For me, stretching washes, for example, is bad news as is diluting shampoo (or going without).

November 9th, 2013, 03:48 PM
I've got scalp psoriasis and have tried whatever possibly to deal with it. Am now using an organic product without SLS (and all kinds of other crap) and it's working really well. I went through all our soaps and body products a few months ago and found that they all contained the same skin irritant. My husband has eczema on his body and his scalp tends to flake like mad and switching all out products to this new brand (by Pure Nuff Stuff) has helped loads. I suppose it's all about experimenting. I think most time they advise against SLS for people who suffer from psoriasis, but maybe it's just one of those things where there isn't really just one way to deal with it.

November 10th, 2013, 08:32 AM
Wow! It's great reading all of these responses!

I just bought a suave shampoo that says it has "lower sulfates" so I hope that will help. My scalp definitely needs me to switch up shampoos every once in awhile. I use head and shoulders for a month and then it suddenly stops working, so then I switch to a normal shampoo and my scalp is suddenly fine! Weird? So I was wondering if one type of shampoo could be the best.

November 10th, 2013, 11:07 AM
I haven't been formally diagnosed with scalp psoriasis but it runs in my family and I get the same itchy red spots that they all get. Anyway, has anyone noticed a difference between using sulfate free shampoos? Do you think they would be less irritating?

I only tried sulfate free free once and it was pretty "meh" I didn't even use the whole bottle.

Psoriasis is an auto-immune disorder. Basically, your body gets confused and decides some harmless stuff is actually harmful. For psoriasis, it's some of your skin cells. There's *lots* of other auto-immune disorders ranging from common ones like asthma to really exotic stuff.

For psoriasis, there's a couple different issues with products. Since the scales and patches can be really itchy (because the skin there is growing very fast) a lot of psoriasis patients will scratch and wind up with open wounds. Bonus, because the skin tends to be pretty dry and the growth cycle is off, the scaly and patchy areas will sometimes crack open and form cuts even if you don't scratch. So they're a *really* easy route for skin infections. So that's not so cool, and it is important to keep any torn or cut open skin clean to avoid infections making the whole thing worse.

Most hair and skin care products are tested on people with intact skin. No raw spots, no scrapes, no sores, no cuts. An ingredient that is fine on my intact skin may feel horrific on a cut. Itching, burning, all kinds of fun reactions. Someone with psoriasis will often have trouble with products because they hurt.

And of course, if your body is doing the over-active attack harmless stuff with your immune system thing, it's not going to stop at just one thing usually. Chances are it gets out the defenses for all kinds of stuff, not just spots on your skin. Working out what all sends your immune system into overdrive can be hard, and working out what the right way to handle all your own weirdnesses is even harder. Fragrances are often an issue, but common food intolerances like lactose or gluten are well... common.

I don't think sulfate detergents vs other cleansers is a major factor for psoriasis (or most people really). Preventing skin infections is a big deal, and mitigating the effects of the patches, and ideally not triggering any additional immune responses are the biggies. For my partner's psoriasis, that tends to mean being very fussy about what products we keep on hand. Fragrance free bath oil is something he loves, and we've found a couple fragrance free lotions that don't irritate any bloody spots. T-gel shampoo and a pine tar soap, not because they're perfect products but because they don't hurt or make him itch worse (they're both fragrance free). He can use my favorite fragrance free conditioner (Alba Botanica's leave in) with no irritation tho his hair is short enough that usually it's not worth it to him. The weird/non-obvious one is we use fragrance free cleaning products. No scent in our laundry or dish detergent. No scented fabric softener. Between the severity of his psoriasis and my asthma, it's better to keep scented stuff to a minimum.

He can use things like fragrance free soap, shampoo with other detergents and no fragrance and so on. The cleansing agent doesn't matter a whole lot one way or another for him. It's the presence of fragrance or other ingredients that irritate his skin. (the fragrance is comparatively easy to get rid of... working out other irritants, not so much)