4 Best Drugstore Shampoos for Keratin Treated Hair and The Ones to Avoid
By Tina Moretti
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I checked out the so-called best affordable drugstore shampoos for keratin-treated hair to see whether they live up to their claims for being sulfate-free and salt-free.
And here’s what I found…
They are undoubtedly cheaper and easier to buy …
When I looked closely at the ingredients, I realized that some of their claims were misleading – meaning you could have easily compromised the integrity of your keratin treatment from the very first wash.
Let me show you a few examples of what I found:
Table Of Contents
I’ll start with a popular brand that people ask me a lot of questions about:
OGX has a variety of shampoos ranging from coconut milk to argan oil to Brazilian keratin smooth.
If you search for drugstore shampoo for keratin-treated hair on Google, you’ll most likely see one of them in the list.
And I can guarantee you’ll always find them on the shelves of your local shop too. But don’t be mistaken by the OGX Brazilian keratin shampoo.
At first glance, it looks like a good sulphate free shampoo for keratin-treated hair. However, upon close inspection, it flatters to deceive.
It only took me 2 seconds to identify what was wrong with it.
I walked into my local Boots store, picked one of them, and looked at the back of the bottle.
Check out what it says:
The OGX keratin shampoo contains Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate right at the top.
What is sodium c14-16 olefin sulfonate bad for keratin-treated hair?
According to the EWG Cosmetic database:
Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate is a mixture of long chain sulfonate salts prepared by sulfonation of C14-16 Alpha Olefins. It consists chiefly of Sodium Alkene Sulfonates and Sodiumhydroxyalkane Sulfonates.
The primary function is to work as a surfactant – Cleansing Agent*
The fact that it contains surfactants and salts (sodium chloride) is a big NO for me.
You should be looking for sulfate and sodium-free shampoo for keratin-treated hair.
Sulfates in Shampoos
Sulfates are surfactants that strip keratin from the hair prematurely. They also leave the hair dry and frizzy.
Sodium Chloride in Shampoos
Also known as salt, sodium chloride is an exfoliator that can strip keratin from the hair. You should only use it if you want to undo a keratin treatment that has gone wrong.
So to answer most people’s questions about using Organix shampoos for keratin treatments …
Are OGX Organix shampoos sulfate free?
No. Not all of them are. The only OGX sulfate-free shampoos are:
- OGX Nourishing coconut milk
- OGX Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco
- OGX Collagen and Biotene
Although not advertised as post-keratin treatment shampoos, they may be safer than the Brazilian keratin smooth.
My next encounter: L’Oreal EverPure Sulfate Free Shampoo
Another popular shampoo you can find at your local chemist is the L’Oreal EverPure sulphate-free shampoo range. All cleverly marketed.
But are they really sulfate-free?
After checking the ingredients list, I found 2 risky ingredients:
- Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
Although they are not the same as sodium lauryl and sodium laureth sulfates (which you should avoid altogether), they are still considered as cleansing agents.
What is Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate?
According to Aisha Crump, a chemical engineer and the founder and CEO of Honey Baby Naturals:
“Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate is a cleansing agent also known as a surfactant, but it is not considered a sulfate. It is a common chemical found in many “greener” or more natural formulas that are used to replace the harsher sulfates because of its non-irritating yet effective properties. It is found in many shampoo and cleansing formulas and is used for its degreasing, foaming, and emulsifying benefits. It is known to be extremely gentle to the skin and hair even at higher concentrations.”
What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate?
Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSA) is a better alternative to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). Derived from coconut and palm oils, it conforms to Ecocert’s natural and organic cosmetic standard.
In other words, SLSA is less harsh than SLS with a larger molecular size that doesn’t irritate the skin.
Even though it is considered mild and gentle, it is still a surfactant.
Now, as much as L’oreal tries to dress up its ingredients list, what customers think about the product is the only thing that matters.
Here are more L’Oreal sulfate-free shampoo reviews »
I am not entirely convinced with L’Oreal’s range of sulfate-free shampoos, so I am skipping this one too.
You’ll never fail to spot a Tresemme shampoo at your local Boots, Superdrugs, or Walmart store near you. They come in huge bottles and definitely give you the impression that you’re getting a good bargain for your bucks.
It’s one of those shampoos that sell like candies.
You will even find a keratin smooth shampoo that is supposedly good enough to use after a salon keratin treatment.
But is the Tresemme shampoo sulfate free?
No. The Tresemme keratin smooth sulfate-free shampoo is not 100% sulfate-free. It does contain sodium laureth sulfate. It also contains sodium chloride.
I’ll be honest with you, I do not like Tresemme shampoos.
They make my hair feel heavy and itchy after a while. Same as most Head & Shoulders shampoos.
So please do not go anywhere near these shampoos if you’ve had a keratin treatment. You’ll regret it.
Other Drugstore Sulfate Free Shampoo Brands List
I can go on and on about a massive list of easy and cheap products at Walmart, Boots, Superdrugs, etc., but we don’t have time for this.
So here’s the list of drugstore shampoos you must avoid:
- Herbal Essences Sulfate Free Smooth and Shine (Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
- Giovanni Smooth As Silk (Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate)
- Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger (Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate)
- Aveda Shampure (Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate)
- Fructis Curl Nourish (Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate)
- It’s a 10 Miracle Shampoo (Sodium C14 16 Olefin Sulfonate + Sodium chloride)
- Keratin Complex Color Care Shampoo (Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, DMDM Hydantoin)
- Suave professionals keratin infusion smoothing shampoo (Sodium Laureth Sulfate, DMDM Hydantoin, Sodium Chloride)
- Nexxus keratin shampoo – Keraphix (Sodium laureth sulfate, sodium chloride)
- Luseta Keratin Shampoo (Sodium chloride)
Don’t get me wrong. These brands do try to replace harsh sulfates with better alternatives, but the customer reviews have me on edge.
I did all the hard work of checking the reviews, so you don’t have to.
Now, this doesn’t mean you won’t find a good post-keratin treatment shampoo at your local chemist. After a lot of shopping around, I managed to find a few that tick all the boxes:
- Sodium Chloride free
- Safe for color and keratin-treated hair
- Gentle formula
Here are the best sulfate-free drugstore shampoos for keratin treated hair we recommend:
1. Aveeno Pure Renewal Shampoo and Conditioner
Aveeno products are so gentle and down to basic botanical ingredients that they are even safe to use for kids.
At first glance, all the ingredients look spot on.
It looked like a clear winner.
But to make sure I didn’t end up with unexpected surprises, I dug deeper into the list of ingredients to find out what’s in there.
Here’s the full list of the aveeno sulfate free shampoo ingredients:
The Aveeno Pure Renewal is by far the best drugstore shampoo without sulfates. (SLS/ SLES – Sodium Lauryl / Sodium Laureth).
Not only that, I’ve been using Aveeno skincare products for a while, and they are brilliant.
I will definitely vouch for their shampoos too. It’s a trusted brand I have fallen in love with.
I am currently on week 3 using this shampoo, and my awesome done-at-home keratin treatment still looks fresh like it was just done yesterday.
2. Hask Keratin Shampoo
HASK Keratin Protein Smoothing Shampoo is a cheap drugstore shampoo that is sulfate-free and sodium chloride-free.
It contains hydrolyzed keratin which helps to restore the natural strength of processed hair, reduces frizz, makes hair soft and revitalized.
Bonus points for it’s invigorating scent which does a pretty good job at neutralizing the lingering smell after a keratin treatment.
3. Pure Nature Argan Oil Shampoo
Formulated with deeply nourishing natural ingredients, the Pure Nature shampoo is excellent for overprocessed and dehydrated hair.
Compared to the other shampoos on our list, it has the fewest ingredients – all of them organic – making it ideal for all hair types.
It’s sulfate free and gluten free, as well as being paraben-free, so you can be sure that it won’t compromise the integrity of your keratin treatment.
4. Herbal Essences Bio:Renew Shampoo
Herbal Essences BioRenew shampoo is packed with ingredients like real honey and aloe to revive dry, dead hair. Not only will your locks be left feeling silky smooth, but the natural multilayered scents of honey, jasmine and creamy vanilla will make your shower smell delightful.
The scent makes this shampoo desirable as it neutralizes the post-keratin smell that usually lingers in the hair for a few days.
Why Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Keratin-Treated Hair?
Sulfates are surfactants (harsh chemicals) found in many shampoos and other cosmetic products. They are used as detergents to help remove dirt, oils, and other buildups from the scalp and hair. Unfortunately, sulfates compromise keratin-treated hair due to their ability to strip the hair.
Therefore, using a sulfate-free shampoo when you have had a keratin treatment is of utmost importance. Sulfate-free shampoos are milder on the hair and scalp and will ensure that the keratin treatment lasts much longer.
Plus, sulfate-free shampoos contain nourishing ingredients like proteins, natural oils, fatty acids, and vitamins that help keep the hair smooth and frizz-free, eliminating the need to use extra hair products for styling. The fewer products you use on keratin-treated hair, the better.
Another ingredient you should avoid in your shampoos is salt (sodium chloride).
Why Use a Sodium Chloride-Free Shampoo?
Sodium chloride, also commonly known as salt, has an affinity for water, which means it draws out moisture from your strands, leaving them dry and brittle.
Primarily used as a thickening agent, sodium chloride in shampoos helps retain the product’s consistency. But because it has a tendency to strip off moisture and exfoliate, it should be avoided in shampoos meant for keratin-treated hair.
Since hair treated with a keratin treatment already has a reduced amount of natural oils (such as lipids and sebum), any additional exposure to ingredients like sodium chloride can strip away that little oil that remains to create an imbalance of moisture.
So make sure you check for shampoos without sodium chloride when shopping around.
Use the Right Shampoo After Your Keratin Treatment
The Aveeno Pure Renewal is the ideal and most affordable shampoo for keratin treated hair you can buy at your local drugstore.
It’s cheap.It’s sodium chloride-free and sulfate-free.It’s gentle.And it’s available in most supermarkets and grocery stores.
And you can just pick one up on your way home anytime.