Why is My Hair Greasy After Using Sulfate-free Shampoo? (Find Out Here!)   

Why is my hair greasy after using sulfate-free shampoo

The odds are good that right after making the switch to a sulfate-free shampoo your hair is going to feel a little “off”.

Maybe your hair is going to feel a little greasy. Maybe it’s going to feel a little weaker or brittle. And you might even start to feel like your hair doesn’t take color – or keep color – the way it used to when using shampoos that had sulfate in them.

Why is that?

Is it just your mind playing tricks or is your hair really a little oilier, a little more brittle, and just doesn’t “behave” when you put color in it anymore?

Let’s dig in a little deeper to discover why your hair is acting different after you start shampooing with sulfate-free products, how long it takes your hair to readjust, why you’d want to use sulfate-free products in the first place, and more!

Why is My Hair Greasy After Using Sulfate-free Shampoo?

If you started to feel like your hair has gotten oilier and is drowning in grease since you’ve made the switch to a sulfate-free shampoo you aren’t alone.

Not by a long shot.

The overwhelming majority of sulfate-free shampoos (the high-quality ones, anyway) take advantage of much more mild cleaning agents than shampoos that include sulfate ingredients.

Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS) are incredibly powerful detergents and backbone ingredients for a lot of shampoos beloved on the market for leaving hair squeaky clean – and feeling like it, too.

The problem with sulfates, though, is that those powerful detergents go a little bit beyond deep cleaning your hair, to the point where they actually strip out the natural and essential oil your hair needs to be healthy.

Use sulfate shampoos for too long and your hair is going to lose a lot of body. It’s going to lose a lot of volume and a lot of bounce, but it’s also going to look duller, be harder to style, and has a tendency to be pretty frizzy.

When you switch to a sulfate-free formula you’re going to be dialing back the cleaning capabilities of your shampoo a little bit, leaving behind some of that natural oil that your hair wants to remain in the first place.

This is going to have you feeling like your hair is a little greasy right out of the gate. It’s a big transition to be sure (going from no oil to a healthy level of oil after shampooing), but it’s one that you get used to relatively quickly.

How Long Does It Take for Hair to Adjust to Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

Truth be told, how long it takes for you to acclimate to how your hair feels after using sulfate-free shampoo really comes down to you yourself.

Some folks find the switch takes a couple of days, maybe a week or more – and then all of a sudden they’re just not thinking about how different their hair feels after washing it any longer.

Other folks, though, are a lot more sensitive when it comes to the way their hair feels. These people usually spend a lot of time styling their hair in general and have come to expect their hair to feel a certain way after they’ve shampoo.

At the end of the day, it might take you a week, couple of weeks, or even a month until your healthy hair cleaned with sulfate-free shampoo starts to feel “normal”.

And once it does feel normal you’ll wonder why you ever stripped and ripped essential oils from your hair with sulfate shampoos in the first place!

Why Would I Want to Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo to Begin With?

There are a couple of big benefits to using sulfate-free shampoos, and we have a much better understanding of what sulfate based shampoo formulas due to our hair (not just in the short term but in the long term, too).

It’s pretty obvious that sulfate-free options are the way to go, and here’s why:

A Clean, Healthy Scalp – Perhaps the biggest benefit to switching to a sulfate-free shampoo formula is that you’ll have a cleaner, healthier scalp than you would have using sulfate based products.

Sulfate shampoos will dry your scalp out, forcing your body to ramp up natural oil production. This causes your hair to go from no hydration to almost too much hydration and then back again every time you wash with sulfates.

That’ll never be a problem with sulfate-free options.

Softer, 100% Frizz Free Hair – Because you won’t be robbing your hair of all its natural oils and moisture you’ll have softer, healthier hair (without any frizz).

You won’t have to use quite as much conditioner anymore, too. That means exposing your hair to fewer chemicals, helping it stay healthier over the long haul.

Perfect for Color Treated Hair – While the initial switch to a sulfate-free shampoo can leave your hair looking a little duller at first, it doesn’t take long (maybe a week) for the color to come roaring back and often look bolder and even better than it did before.

Because sulfate-free shampoos are so gentle on your hair you don’t have to worry about your shampoo stripping and ripping coloring agents right from the hair follicles themselves. Sulfate-free options will protect your color, helping it last a little longer.

What Are the Problems with Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

This isn’t to suggest that all is sunshine and roses with sulfate-free shampoos, especially not right out of the gate.

For starters, your hair is likely going to feel a lot greasier for the first few days (maybe even for the first few weeks) after you make the switch from sulfate based shampoo formulas to sulfate-free options.

Some folks really don’t like the way their hair looks or feels during this transition. It’s something you’ll have to push through, though, if you want to reap all the benefits sulfate-free products offer.

Secondly, some of the sulfate-free options on the market right now include a harsher cleaners than the sulfate products they are promoted as being gentler than.

Anytime you see a sulfate-free formula that includes “olefin sulfonate” you want to be a little careful. This ingredient can clean even deeper than sulfates, resulting in drier, more brittle, less healthy hair from a product that supposed to be helping you restore things.

Why Does Sulfate-Free Shampoo Leave My Hair Greasy?

Truth be told, sulfate-free shampoos aren’t really leaving your hair greasy – it just feels that way compared to sulfate products that are peeling every drop of moisture and hydration from your hair before.

As we mentioned a couple of times already, sulfate products do a fantastic job of deep cleaning your hair. Too good of a job, some would say.

By eliminating all of the healthy oil in your hair (not leaving just some behind the way that sulfate-free shampoos will) you’re actually damaging your hair, drying out your scalp, and wreaking havoc on your long-term hair health prospects.

Switch to sulfate-free shampoos, though, and you’ll be better hydrating your hair even if it feels a little “off” at first.

That’ll go away in a couple of days (a couple of weeks, maximum). You’ll love the way your hair and scalp look and feel if you push past this awkward transition phase.

Closing Thoughts

So there you have it, the root core reasons why your hair feels greasy after switching to sulfate-free products, the benefits and drawbacks of these shampoos, and whether or not it’s a smart move for your hair health to make the switch in the first place.

As always, anytime you are changing things up with a hair care routine you’ll want to do your research into the products you’re going to be using.

Read the sulfate-free shampoo ingredient labels closely. Make sure they aren’t going to be drying out your hair worse than sulfate formulas would.

Our last bit of advice is just to kind of “go with the flow” during the couple of days your hair needs to transition from sulfate backbone shampoos to sulfate-free ones.

You’ll love the end result if you can push past that awkward, oily phase!

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