Words by Ciler Peksah
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“Sulphate & Paraben free” has become a common claim in the beauty industry, particularly in hair care products, so we asked Holly’s hair stylist, Ciler Peksah, what the claims really mean for the consumer.
She says parabens are essentially beauty product preservatives. However, they are also xenoestrogens, which means they can have similar composition to human hormones and can upset the balance in your body causing all sorts of issues. Sulphates are a ‘detergent’, and extremely effective at removing dirt and oils. They produce the satisfying cleansing lather.
But, the downside is they can do too good a job, stripping away the natural moisture that keep your locks soft and shiny, which is exactly the opposite of what you want from your hair conditioner!
Following Ciler’s recommendations of the best sulphate and Paraben-free shampoos, here are some of her current favourite sulphate and Paraben free conditioners (and they all do a matching shampoo too if you want to double down on the benefits!)
8 of the best sulphate and Paraben-free conditioners
1. Coco & Eve, Leave-in Conditioner 150ml, £20
Whether it’s for myself, my family or my clients, I always use a leave-in conditioner after shampooing to detangle and defrizz and I love this formulation (and pretty pink packaging). Suitable for all hair types, it’s infused with a maxi pro-nourish complex of Coconut, Avocado Oil and Rice proteins to transform dull, dry strands. The lightweight formula minimises breakage and split ends, with Moringa Seed protecting against pollution and UV damage.
How to use: Apply after shampoo to clean hair. As a guide, I’d say apply 1-2 pumps to short hair and 2-4 pumps to long hair. But ultimately you should use as much or as little as you feel your hair needs.
2. Herbal Essences, Pure Aloe + Avocado Oil Hair Conditioner 275ml, £3.99
This is a super value, creamy, hair conditioner that gently moisturises both your hair & scalp. The Pure Aloe and Avocado Oil ingredients create a gentle, pH-balanced formula that soothes from root to ends. The real botanicals in this formula have been endorsed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – a world-leading authority on plants.
How to use: After shampooing, apply to mid-lengths to ends. Then rinse.
Herbal Essences Pure Aloe + Avocado Oil Hair Conditioner – £3.99
3. L’Oreal Paris, Elvive Bond Repair Conditioner 150ml, £11.99
Bond repair is another term that’s bandied around the hair care industry and for good reason. Our hair is made up of millions of bonds that give it structure and strength. Over time, brushing, heating, bleaching, and styling, weakens and damages those bonds, so brands are working on innovations to restore hair to its original strength.
Suitable for all hair types, this Elvive formula is powered by a 10% Citric Acid Complex to target damaged hair by rebuilding broken bonds from the inside out. L’Oreal promises up to 98% less breakage, 90% more shine & 82% stronger hair! Yes please!
How to use: For best results follow Elvive Bond Repair Shampoo. Apply to wet hair from lengths to tips, leave on for three minutes, then rinse.
4. Olaplex, No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner 250ml, £28
Olaplex isn’t cheap but in my experience (and I’m not alone!) I would definitely say it’s worth the investment – particularly if your hair has been exposed to frequent colouring, bleaching and chemical treatments. The active ingredient works on a molecular level to repair and smooth damaged bonds in the hair, without weighing it down.
How to use: After shampooing, work though hair evenly and leave on for 3 minutes before rinsing.
5. Amika, Normcore signature Conditioner 275ml, £21
Whilst at the higher end of the price spectrum, this everyday S&P Free conditioner works on all hair types. It’s loaded with a cocktail of rich Shea Butter for deep nourishment, vitamins, minerals antioxidants and 5 fatty acids to maximise hydration, softness and shine. I absolutely love this product!
How to use: After shampooing, massage into mid-length to ends. Then rinse thoroughly.
Amika Normcore Signature Conditioner – £21
6. Necessaire, The Conditioner 250ml, £30
£30 is a hefty price-tag for a conditioner, but the first thing to say is that this product has been Awarded the Seal of Acceptance By The National Eczema Association. It contains no Sulphates, no Phthalates, no Parabens, no PEGs, no Silicones and no Synthetic Fragrance. If your skin and scalp is ultra-sensitive and you’re struggling to find haircare that works with your body, this conditioner is a clinical balancing cream infused with Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Panthenol and 1% Avocado Oil – is made to rehydrate and balance scalp and hair. A proprietary Celery Seed Extract minimizes irritation and build-up.
Specialist sulphate and Paraben-free conditioner for hair extensions and wigs
Length Goals has been created using Phyto-Peptides to prolong the beauty of human hair extensions & wigs. This restorative. S&P free conditioner is formulated to soften and nourish hair, offering the rich technology of a mask to leave hair smooth with incredible slip and detangling
How to use: After shampooing, apply to mid-lengths to ends avoiding extensions installation point. Then rinse.
The best sulphate and paraben-free curly hair conditioner for kids
8. Only Curls, Little Curls Detangling Conditioner 200ml, £13
I had to include this conditioner as it’s just great for kids with curls. Only Curls is a brand that’s been created by people with curls, who understand that hair wash day can be a struggle – particularly with kids! They have developed their mild and gentle Little Curls range for all little curl types from 6 months+. It’s 98% naturally derived, containing Coconut, Aloe Vera, Avocado Oil, Provitamin B5 and Mallow to hydrate and nourish…and the formula works wonders on the most knotted of curls!
How to use: Apply to cleansed, wet hair and gently rake through with your fingers to start the detangling process. Rinse.
Cilers top tip: As an extra conditioning treatment for your hair, before you’re about to wash it, put some conditoner into the palm of your hands and apply to the lengths of your DRY hair. Leave it for a few minutes before washing your hair as normal.
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Hair Stylist and Consultant