Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Now this is a sulfate-shampoo to invest in! This product is marketed toward curly or textured hair, but I think that it would benefit anyone looking for a more natural approach to their shampoo. This retails around $9 per bottle, and you can buy it just about anywhere including Ulta and Target.

The product description cites that this product is paraben free, alcohol free and sulfate free. In fact, this shampoo has one of those ingredient lists that I can actually guess what at least 80% of the input actually is, which is a good start: there are a lot of coconut-based ingredients, and a lot of flower extracts as well. I did end up googling phenoxyethanol, though: today I learned, that it is a glycol ether, not an alcohol. So based on this almost all-natural ingredient listing, my expectations of this product to put moisture back in my hair were high.

This comes out as a clear liquid that’s not as easy to lather as most shampoos, so you may need a little more product than usual based on your hair length. Like several sulfate free or “natural” shampoos I’ve used, it may seem like it’s more difficult to wash out the shampoo completely, to the point where you may wonder if you were ever washing it out at all, but hang in there. The smell of this shampoo is, as the title states, very vanilla-y. Not my favorite scent — but that’s just personal preference. When you step out of the shower and comb through your hair, you’ll notice your hair is pretty darn soft, almost as though you’ve sprayed a detangler or a leave-in through it already.

When my hair is dry, I’ve definitely noticed an increase in how shiny it is. I wouldn’t say this persists through the entire day, but it is very evident the first couple hours of jumping out of the shower. Overall, I felt that my hair has been healthier since using it.

There are a few drawbacks to using extract-based shampoos. Like I mentioned before, you won’t experience a “clarifying” effect, particularly since there are no sulfates. You aren’t going to get a head full of hairspray out easily with this, unless you take a 45 minute shower and scrub really hard. And of course this isn’t going to deliver any miracles if your hair is already damaged — but that would be the case with any shampoo.

Last but not least, my personal jury is still out on the concept of sulfate-free shampoos as a whole. I still feel that I am dyeing my hair at the same frequency that I was before — it seems to become dull at the same rate if I weren’t using a sulfate-free shampoo.

But overall, I really love this shampoo: this is going to be my go-to response whenever someone asks me “What shampoo do you use?” I think it’s best for everyone to try to move toward a more natural-ingredient approach, regardless of hair type. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5


L’Oreal Ever Pure Sulfate Free Volume Shampoo

My first haircare post! Now, haircare definitely isn’t my strong point. My hair is naturally straight, and I can’t really get it to do much other than just lay flat and be straight. But frequent dyeing puts it in the category of “damaged” several times a year, so I’ve been on the hunt for something that won’t damage it more, or wipe out the color as quickly.

So surfactants are the things that are in soap that makes you feel as though all the grime and the build up have gone away. Sulfate is a surfactant. So inherently sulfates aren’t bad if you need a clarifying shampoo. For me personally, although I do use a clarifying shampoo from time to time, I don’t want to strip the oils away too often in order to retain some of the color. For that reason I wanted to add a sulfate-free shampoo to my shower caddy.

But… this shampoo has a few ingredients that would dry your hair and scalp out otherwise, namely benzyl alcohol and peppermint extract. There’s a whole lot of other chemicals in here that I, admittedly, know very little about, but I can’t imagine that it’s good for long term hair health. Still, for the peppermint and benzyl alcohol alone: if I wouldn’t put it on my regular skin, I probably wouldn’t want to put it on my scalp, either.

And it shows. After jumping in the shower and using this, your hair won’t be particularly voluminous. It won’t even feel healthy, in fact, it might even feel a bit brittle. Sure, the peppermint smell is nice, and sure, you get quite a bit of product for $5. But this is just another run-of-the-mill, doesn’t deliver on it’s promises shampoo. Despite claiming to be sulfate free, you will still feel that your hair has been stripped of it’s natural oils, and it will feel dry.

Don’t lose hope for sulfate free shampoos — I’ve reserved one that actually works for my next post! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 1/5

Items to Trash, Volume 2

I’ve been dying to throw these guys out. I’ve been using them for a little bit, desperate to make them work somehow since they have cult status at most of the hair salons I go to. But I guess even hair stylists have to push products to make some commission, right?

Redken Frizz Dismiss Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-In Spray – ANY salon I go to in my town, I swear, they push this line as hard as they can. It’s so bizarre to me, why is it every single salon? I digress. All of these products contain isopropyl alcohol or benzyl alcohol. These ingredients can cause the never ending cycle of needing more of the product to regain the supposed “moisture” it’s putting into your hair.

The shampoo and conditioner I never thought were stand-out to begin with. The shampoo is just, meh: Just another shampoo. The conditioner wasn’t particularly hydrating and made my hair more greasy feeling than soft. But the leave-in is actually pretty decent, at first. It smells phenomenal. It makes my hair soft for the first few hours. But by the end of the day I would notice my hair was incredibly dry.

What’s interesting is that the original Frizz Dismiss line is being clearanced so that they can release the sulfate-free version in February. But guess what still has alcohol in it! You got it, the re-released version still has it.

Garnier Hair Mask – all of them – just skip them. The softness of your hair will be short lived before your hair inevitably feels dried out. Also, another culprit of adding benzyl alcohol. Shame because I don’t hate the smell of any of these, I’m particularly fond of the avocado mask. ~A