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Ana H.
August 9th, 2016, 09:00 PM
I’ve been sulfate free for about two years and recently had a very interesting experience. I was away from home and so I washed my hair with a SLS, twice with two different shampoos. My shedding decreased DRAMATICALLY. I shed like 10 hairs! The reason I’m wondering if it’s the lack of SLS is because I’ve tried about 13 sulfate free shampoos in the last two years and they all, except one which I mention below, gave me about the same amount of shedding (40-60 hairs which seemed normal to me).


I spent a fair amount of time comparing ingredients today and the sulfate-free shampoos I’ve tried are very different and there is no common surfactant that runs through them all. So I don’t think I’m sensitive to a particular detergent. The only thing I noticed is that all but 2 contained aloe vera.


Thinking back, I also feel like the moisturizing ones caused more shedding than the clear ones. Perhaps it’s a problem with oils and butters? (I do remember when I tried a sample of Shea Moisture’s Fruit Fusion I also shed almost nothing. It was a sample so I thought it was a fluke and didn’t get to test it again. Maybe it wasn’t. It’s sulfate free but it’s clear, not pearly, and doesn’t have any heavy moisturizing ingredients.)


It’s definitely not build up because my hair was squeaky clean and I washed it with my sulfate free shampoo today and the shedding increased again.


Any idea what this is? What direction should I go in? Try a ‘harsher’ sulfate free shampoo? Switch back to sulfates? I’m concerned about my itchy scalp though, it seemed itchier after using SLS.


Thanks guys!

Decoy24601
August 9th, 2016, 09:06 PM
Could it be that the sulfate-free shampoos just did a better job of loosening up follicles that were already going to shed soon?

I'd go with whatever gives you less shedding honestly. Sulfates aren't evil, as long as you don't have major issues with them irritating or drying out your scalp and skin on your body, there's no reason to stop using them, unless you just like how your hair feels better with no-sulfate or shampoo free options that rely more on your own sebum than conditioners. So, if you don't have a huge preference against thoroughly cleaning the oils and sebum off your scalp hair, why not switch back to sulfates?

Ana H.
August 9th, 2016, 09:12 PM
I wondered about that but wouldn’t I have noticed more shedding later when I combed over the next three days? (I wash twice a week) Because I definitely did not notice any increase in comb shedding, if anything I shed less. Perhaps I’ll try sulfates for a while and see how my scalp feels. I do think the SLS dries my hair out a bit but hopefully I could mitigate that with pre-poo oiling or CWC.

Does anyone know which sulfates are least irritating/drying?

Decoy24601
August 9th, 2016, 09:13 PM
Here's a good list and some other information on sulfates: http://science-yhairblog.blogspot.ca/2016/05/detergents-which-remove-silicones.html

Ana H.
August 9th, 2016, 09:20 PM
Here's a good list and some other information on sulfates: http://science-yhairblog.blogspot.ca/2016/05/detergents-which-remove-silicones.html

Thanks so much! That is so helpful. I love science-y hair blog. :o

Decoy24601
August 9th, 2016, 09:21 PM
Thanks so much! That is so helpful. I love science-y hair blog. :o

You're welcome :). Oh, and you can always dilute your shampoos to in water (there's some information on that in that blog too) to keep them from being harsh on the length of your hair.

vampyyri
August 9th, 2016, 09:23 PM
I haven't experienced either of these when I used my Nature's Gate Aloe Shampoo, which is both sulfate-free and aloe. Perhaps the extra rubbing you need to do to get your scalp clean is simply freeing up the extra strands that were bound it shed anyway?

Ana H.
August 9th, 2016, 09:30 PM
I haven't experienced either of these when I used my Nature's Gate Aloe Shampoo, which is both sulfate-free and aloe. Perhaps the extra rubbing you need to do to get your scalp clean is simply freeing up the extra strands that were bound it shed anyway?

Hmm... I don’t think so. I still rubbed a lot with the SLS shampoo... I’ve heard good stuff about nature’s gate, that it cleans better than most sulfate-free shampoos. Do you think this is true? Is the shampoo pearly or clear?

vampyyri
August 9th, 2016, 09:35 PM
Hmm... I don’t think so. I still rubbed a lot with the SLS shampoo... I’ve heard good stuff about nature’s gate, that it cleans better than most sulfate-free shampoos. Do you think this is true? Is the shampoo pearly or clear?

I personally love my Nature's Gate Aloe Shampoo/Conditioner during the colder months when I'm not so oily. It's clear, and it really does clean very well, and it lathers really well for sulfate free!

Nique1202
August 10th, 2016, 05:53 AM
If the sulfate free shampoos weren't cleaning your scalp as effectively, or especially if they had either oils in them or some other conditioning agent (as so many sulfate free shampoos do) then it could be that you have one of those scalps that's sensitive to that kind of stuff. If sulfates makes you shed less, then that's what I'd stick with and not go playing with sulfate-free again. Some folks just plain need the sulfates for a healthy scalp, just like some folks need sulfate-free for a healthy scalp. You gotta follow where your scalp leads you because otherwise you may not be growing your best quality hair. :blossom:

lapushka
August 10th, 2016, 07:53 AM
I had more shedding with sulfate-free & CO-washing as well! I don't know why. I'm guessing because they are just too mild for me, and my scalp needs a good cleanse (SD).

Dark40
August 10th, 2016, 10:06 AM
I use sulfate free shampoos, and it my hair hardly sheds from it at all. Perhaps, they help to moisturize my hair.

Chromis
August 10th, 2016, 10:06 AM
You mentioned that you were away from home. I would like to suggest something that has not been brought up. It might not be anything to do with the shampoo! My hair behaves much better when I visit places with softer water or unchlorinated water. Chloromine seems even worse than chlorine for my scalp, so even with a water softener to help with the hardness, my hair still acts better away from home. If you are not having the same luck with those shampoos at home as you did elsewhere, the water is the most likely culprit to me. (There are people who have scalps that prefer harder water too, although that seems less common.)

lapushka
August 10th, 2016, 11:32 AM
You mentioned that you were away from home. I would like to suggest something that has not been brought up. It might not be anything to do with the shampoo! My hair behaves much better when I visit places with softer water or unchlorinated water. Chloromine seems even worse than chlorine for my scalp, so even with a water softener to help with the hardness, my hair still acts better away from home. If you are not having the same luck with those shampoos at home as you did elsewhere, the water is the most likely culprit to me. (There are people who have scalps that prefer harder water too, although that seems less common.)

I'm one of those less common people. I've had hard water all my life. I did however notice a difference between my sulfate shampoo and the sulfate-free one & CO-washing, but I do have seborrheic dermatitis (SD) and that kind of a scalp *needs* to feel clean or it's out of sorts.

Chromis
August 10th, 2016, 02:20 PM
I'm one of those less common people. I've had hard water all my life. I did however notice a difference between my sulfate shampoo and the sulfate-free one & CO-washing, but I do have seborrheic dermatitis (SD) and that kind of a scalp *needs* to feel clean or it's out of sorts.

I think there are probably more people who have trouble with hard water than SD though :flower:

Ana H.
August 10th, 2016, 03:53 PM
Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences! Iím thinking it might be the oils and butters in the sulfate-free shampoos. 40-60 hairs isnít considered abnormal but if I can shed only 10 using sulfates then I think thatís much much better! Especially since Iím still recovering from hair loss and really want less scalp to show.


You mentioned that you were away from home. I would like to suggest something that has not been brought up. It might not be anything to do with the shampoo! My hair behaves much better when I visit places with softer water or unchlorinated water. Chloromine seems even worse than chlorine for my scalp, so even with a water softener to help with the hardness, my hair still acts better away from home. If you are not having the same luck with those shampoos at home as you did elsewhere, the water is the most likely culprit to me. (There are people who have scalps that prefer harder water too, although that seems less common.)

This is a really good point. I hadnít thought of that. I do use a filter at home and our water is on the soft side. I was in Dallas TX and have no idea about the water there. Iíll have to see what happens when I wash with sulfates at home. Iíll report back. Sometimes, I wish I washed my hair every day just so I could figure out my experiments faster. haha! =)

CarrotTop
August 11th, 2016, 04:42 PM
Hm, interesting. I almost always avoid sulfate-free shampoos or anything with aloe. I've noticed that there are a lot of sulfate-free shampoos out there that are very thick and concentrated, while there are lots of SLS/SLES shampoos that are pretty runny and diluted. I didn't notice much less shedding when I went to SLES non-aloe shampoo, but my scalp stopped being so irritated. I'd definitely go with whatever gives you less shedding! :)

meteor
August 11th, 2016, 05:50 PM
I'd definitely go with what gives you less shedding and if it's sulfates, so be it. :) I don't know how it happened that for many people "sulfate-free" label started signalling automatically "better"... there are just so many types of sulfate-free cleansers, some aren't that gentle at all, and a lot depends on % concentration and specific formulation and, more importantly, how your scalp and hair react to it.... Some do better with more thorough cleansing anyway, while some react badly to specific cleansing ingredients.... There are just too many variables, so IMO it's just easier to stick to what works in this specific case and note the ingredients for future references. :)

And if you suspect aloe, I'd patch-test pure aloe on a small area just to be completely sure. It's just that aloe is in so many products (not just hair care, of course) that it's worth knowing for sure whether you'll have a reaction or whether it's safe for you. :flower:

lapushka
August 12th, 2016, 04:56 AM
Hm, interesting. I almost always avoid sulfate-free shampoos or anything with aloe. I've noticed that there are a lot of sulfate-free shampoos out there that are very thick and concentrated, while there are lots of SLS/SLES shampoos that are pretty runny and diluted. I didn't notice much less shedding when I went to SLES non-aloe shampoo, but my scalp stopped being so irritated. I'd definitely go with whatever gives you less shedding! :)

My Pantene Aqua Light is thick in consistency, and it's a sulfate shampoo. Not all of them are runny. Pantene is a nice thick consistency. As is Herbal Essences. I love that about these shampoos. My Garnier ones are a little less thick and my Nivea one I have right now is quite a bit runny. It depends on the brand and the shampoo, because I've got Nivea shampoos that are thicker in consistency as well, all of them sulfate shampoos.

lapushka
August 12th, 2016, 04:59 AM
I'd definitely go with what gives you less shedding and if it's sulfates, so be it. :) I don't know how it happened that for many people "sulfate-free" label started signalling automatically "better"... there are just so many types of sulfate-free cleansers, some aren't that gentle at all, and a lot depends on % concentration and specific formulation and, more importantly, how your scalp and hair react to it.... Some do better with more thorough cleansing anyway, while some react badly to specific cleansing ingredients.... There are just too many variables, so IMO it's just easier to stick to what works in this specific case and note the ingredients for future references. :)

And if you suspect aloe, I'd patch-test pure aloe on a small area just to be completely sure. It's just that aloe is in so many products (not just hair care, of course) that it's worth knowing for sure whether you'll have a reaction or whether it's safe for you. :flower:

Yes, I agree fully with that! :agree:

I don't know how that started either. Scalp health to me is more important. I remember when LHC was more in favor of "natural" and shorter hair was more frowned upon. I'd like to think we've evolved into a more all encompassing world where people don't feel left out because of the hair that's on their head or the products they (have to) use. I like that! :)

lithostoic
August 12th, 2016, 11:48 AM
Sulfate-free shampoos tend not to lather as well, maybe you need less scrubbing with sulfate ones. Scrubbing can cause more hair loss.

CarrotTop
August 12th, 2016, 03:36 PM
My Pantene Aqua Light is thick in consistency, and it's a sulfate shampoo. Not all of them are runny. Pantene is a nice thick consistency. As is Herbal Essences. I love that about these shampoos.
Oh, yes, plenty of people like the thicker shampoos. :flower: I just meant that, in my experience, there are sulfate-free shampoos that are so concentrated that a more-dilute sulfate shampoo is way gentler. :)

lapushka
August 12th, 2016, 03:48 PM
Oh, yes, plenty of people like the thicker shampoos. :flower: I just meant that, in my experience, there are sulfate-free shampoos that are so concentrated that a more-dilute sulfate shampoo is way gentler. :)

Gotcha! ;)

Ana H.
August 25th, 2016, 09:25 PM
After much experimentation I have not been able to replicate the amazing lack of shedding I experienced in Dallas. Sulfate or no sulfate I shed the same amount at home. The kind of conditioner doesn't seem to affect it either.

So, I've come to the conclusion that either 1) Chromis is right and my scalp likes Texan water better than NY water 2) the reduction in shedding was caused by the reduction in stress I experienced when I was away 3) or it was just a fluke that happened to be repeated twice in a row. Correlation does not equal causation after all.

What is weird about the water theory is that the water at home is soft and also filtered (no chlorine etc.). The hotel water in Texas was not filtered and according to the documents I found in my google search the water in Dallas is moderately hard. I don't understand how "worse" water could give me better results.

There was definitely a big drop in stress levels when I was away from home (for reasons I won't go into here). I was very relaxed and happy just hanging out my friends and my husband. I know changing stress levels have an immediate impact on hormones but I'm not sure if a reduction in stress hormones could impact shedding so quickly. Anybody know if this is a theory worth considering?

Even though I didn't find the magical anti-shedding shampoo I thought I had... I did discover something important. Using sulfates (specifically SLES) takes away all the irritating scalp itchiness! It's awesome! And my scalp doesn't get that yucky sticky feeling it does with sulfate-free (no, I do not use hair products on my head/scalp). So, I'm definitely keeping sulfates in my routine even though they do not reduce my shedding. It seems that sulfates, for me at least, are not as bad as I was led to believe. Also, I can stretch my washes further because I don't get greasy so quickly!

I just want to say to any other newbies... If you've been sulfate-free for a while and your scalp is protesting don't be afraid to try sulfates. Even if it doesn't work it's not going to destroy your hair to try it a couple times. You can always switch back to sulfate-free but maybe just maybe you'll discover your scalp is happier with a harsher shampoo. I'm so glad I was brave enough to try. =)

Shepherdess
August 25th, 2016, 10:08 PM
What was the weather like in Dallas compared to NY? Did you get more sunshine while there than normal? How was the humidity in comparison?

I have found that too much oils on my scalp makes my hair shed terribly at times, and causes itchiness, so a stronger shampoo can really help to remove that buildup. It seems that in very humid weather I have more trouble with an itchy scalp and sometimes shedding. For me it seems that anything that will leave my scalp oily and moist can result in the itchiness and a little more shedding than normal, so I have to be careful not to let products stay on my scalp and to wash it more frequently. I have had shedding related to hormones, so perhaps less stress would make less shedding, if that were the case! I think sunshine helped to make my scalp feel healthier this summer, though I don't know if it actually did or not, but it felt nice. Perhaps it could have been the change in water, like Chromis said, since everyone seems to be affected differently by it!

Tosca
August 26th, 2016, 01:25 AM
I think stress levels can have a major effect on your hair. I have seen stress mentioned as a possible trigger for shedding by just about everyone. I know last year was very stressful for me (living in two places at once is not fun), but since that stress has stopped, I now hardly shed at all, compared to the thick mats I got in my brush last year.

If your scalp is happier on sulphates, perhaps you have seborrheic dermatitis or something similar? Might be worth looking into. I know lapushka has said that harsh shampoos are necessary for her (not sure of pronouns) seborrhoeic dermatitis.

lapushka
August 26th, 2016, 02:42 AM
Even though I didn't find the magical anti-shedding shampoo I thought I had... I did discover something important. Using sulfates (specifically SLES) takes away all the irritating scalp itchiness! It's awesome! And my scalp doesn't get that yucky sticky feeling it does with sulfate-free (no, I do not use hair products on my head/scalp). So, I'm definitely keeping sulfates in my routine even though they do not reduce my shedding. It seems that sulfates, for me at least, are not as bad as I was led to believe. Also, I can stretch my washes further because I don't get greasy so quickly!

I just want to say to any other newbies... If you've been sulfate-free for a while and your scalp is protesting don't be afraid to try sulfates. Even if it doesn't work it's not going to destroy your hair to try it a couple times. You can always switch back to sulfate-free but maybe just maybe you'll discover your scalp is happier with a harsher shampoo. I'm so glad I was brave enough to try. =)

Yes, when I came here I thought I needed to get away from the sulfates too (the vibe here was totally different then, less of a YMMV atmosphere and more of a natural products atmosphere). But that, sadly, doesn't work for everyone.

After decades, I discovered that harsh sulfates where the ones keeping my SD at bay.

Have you tried consecutively using sulfates instead of switching it up with sulfate-free. Switching it up won't tell you a thing, it will all get jumbled up. It's consistent use of one, or the other, that will tell you something conclusive. So I'd stick with sulfates for a few weeks to a month at least to see if things won't improve. Then draw your conclusions.


I have found that too much oils on my scalp makes my hair shed terribly at times, and causes itchiness, so a stronger shampoo can really help to remove that buildup. It seems that in very humid weather I have more trouble with an itchy scalp and sometimes shedding. For me it seems that anything that will leave my scalp oily and moist can result in the itchiness and a little more shedding than normal, so I have to be careful not to let products stay on my scalp and to wash it more frequently. I have had shedding related to hormones, so perhaps less stress would make less shedding, if that were the case! I think sunshine helped to make my scalp feel healthier this summer, though I don't know if it actually did or not, but it felt nice. Perhaps it could have been the change in water, like Chromis said, since everyone seems to be affected differently by it!

Yes, another one here who can't use oils or conditioner on her scalp or I get major itching & shedding (also due to the SD)

Ana H.
August 27th, 2016, 04:11 PM
I think stress levels can have a major effect on your hair. I have seen stress mentioned as a possible trigger for shedding by just about everyone. I know last year was very stressful for me (living in two places at once is not fun), but since that stress has stopped, I now hardly shed at all, compared to the thick mats I got in my brush last year.

If your scalp is happier on sulphates, perhaps you have seborrheic dermatitis or something similar? Might be worth looking into. I know lapushka has said that harsh shampoos are necessary for her (not sure of pronouns) seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Yeah, I’ve been under a lot of stress too. But we are moving soon and I expect to feel much more at peace after the change. We’ll see if it affects my shedding. Hmm... I’m going to go google seborrheic dermatitis. I don't know much about it.


What was the weather like in Dallas compared to NY? Did you get more sunshine while there than normal? How was the humidity in comparison?

I have found that too much oils on my scalp makes my hair shed terribly at times, and causes itchiness, so a stronger shampoo can really help to remove that buildup. It seems that in very humid weather I have more trouble with an itchy scalp and sometimes shedding. For me it seems that anything that will leave my scalp oily and moist can result in the itchiness and a little more shedding than normal, so I have to be careful not to let products stay on my scalp and to wash it more frequently. I have had shedding related to hormones, so perhaps less stress would make less shedding, if that were the case! I think sunshine helped to make my scalp feel healthier this summer, though I don't know if it actually did or not, but it felt nice. Perhaps it could have been the change in water, like Chromis said, since everyone seems to be affected differently by it!

Thank you Shepherdess! It was definitely much hotter in Dallas... But I spent most of the time freezing indoors. It seems that hot parts of the country like to crank up the air-conditioning so that it feels like winter inside! :) I think I may have problems with oil on my scalp too. I noticed more hair came out in my comb when I used jojoba oil on my scalp.


Yes, when I came here I thought I needed to get away from the sulfates too (the vibe here was totally different then, less of a YMMV atmosphere and more of a natural products atmosphere). But that, sadly, doesn't work for everyone.

After decades, I discovered that harsh sulfates where the ones keeping my SD at bay.

Have you tried consecutively using sulfates instead of switching it up with sulfate-free. Switching it up won't tell you a thing, it will all get jumbled up. It's consistent use of one, or the other, that will tell you something conclusive. So I'd stick with sulfates for a few weeks to a month at least to see if things won't improve. Then draw your conclusions.

Yes, another one here who can't use oils or conditioner on her scalp or I get major itching & shedding (also due to the SD)

Yeah, it seems that haircare is more individualized than I thought and most ingredients aren’t universally bad or good. There’s a lot of good things about the natural movement. Ingredient safety is important to me but I also feel there’s a lot of fear mongering and exaggeration of “risks” and “toxic chemicals". Not to mention the erroneous belief that natural always = safe and synthetic always = unsafe. It just depends.

Anyway, I did try using sulfates three times in a row but not more than that (wash twice a week). When I went back to sulfate-free (my last two washes) to compare results the itchiness returned.:doh: I bought myself a full size bottle of sulfate shampoo and I’m going to try using that exclusively for at least a month. And maybe only use the sulfate free shampoo just on my length every once in a while (I don’t shampoo the length every time).

lapushka
August 27th, 2016, 04:23 PM
Yeah, it seems that haircare is more individualized than I thought and most ingredients aren’t universally bad or good. There’s a lot of good things about the natural movement. Ingredient safety is important to me but I also feel there’s a lot of fear mongering and exaggeration of “risks” and “toxic chemicals". Not to mention the erroneous belief that natural always = safe and synthetic always = unsafe. It just depends.

Anyway, I did try using sulfates three times in a row but not more than that (wash twice a week). When I went back to sulfate-free (my last two washes) to compare results the itchiness returned.:doh:

I agree with you! :agree:

Stick to the sulfates, by all means. A little more conditioning will take perfect care of the dryness it might cause (some people don't experience more dryness, I do a little). But I double condition after washing, so...

Anyway, good luck on your journey! :D :flower:

Ana H.
August 27th, 2016, 09:34 PM
I agree with you! :agree:

Stick to the sulfates, by all means. A little more conditioning will take perfect care of the dryness it might cause (some people don't experience more dryness, I do a little). But I double condition after washing, so...

Anyway, good luck on your journey! :D :flower:

Thanks so much! I’m so glad I found a way to stop the itchiness! I might try CWC or WCC.:o:flower:

Lavendersugar
August 28th, 2016, 12:55 PM
Could it be that you have more scalp manipulation going on with sulfate free because it requires more to spread it?

I've had extra shedding with all kinds of shampoo sulfate and free. I think it depends on formula. I am a heavy shedder so I tend to avoid anything that I feel causes even more shedding.