Best Salt Free Shampoos: Sodium Chloride-Free Shampoo List

Published Categorized as Beauty Tips

Think about this – have you ever been to the beach and gotten saltwater in your hair? You probably noticed that your hair felt dry and crunchy after you went for a swim. Many people don’t know that salt is a drying agent, actively used in tons of products to reduce moisture and help preserve goods. When you use hair products with salt – typically listed as sodium chloride – you run the risk of over-drying your hair and causing breakage. Luckily, however, there are plenty of products that don’t use salt as a thickening ingredient at all! If you’re looking to help improve the quality of your hair and reduce issues with dryness, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn about why sodium chloride is in many shampoos and discover the best salt free shampoos available today.

Table of Contents

Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner Set Sulfate Free – Deep Nourishing Hair Products for Men and Women - for Normal Oily Curly Dry Damaged Colored and Keratin Treated Hair

The Best Sodium Chloride Free Shampoos For Your Hair

We’ll talk a bit more later about how you can benefit from shampoo without salt as a thickening agent. But you might want to start looking for your ideal product that’ll keep your locks more moisturized and healthy.

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Luckily, we’ve rounded up some of the best salt-less shampoos to keep your hair fluffy, hydrated and happy!

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Best Salt Free Shampoo: Editor’s Pick – Keratherapy Keratin Infused Moisture Shampoo

Keratherapy Keratin Infused Moisture Shampoo, 10.1 fl. oz., 300 mL
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About this Shampoo

  • Made of all-natural ingredients
  • Both sulfate and sodium free, making it safe for color treated hair
  • Helps control frizz and restore natural shine

We love this Keratherapy shampoo for so many reasons.

As we mentioned before, keratin treatments are often pretty expensive. While this shampoo is a little on the pricey side, it utilizes keratin therapy to help your hair become luscious, soft and totally manageable. It removes the dirt, grease and bad oils from your hair while restoring the natural proteins and good oils that keep your hair healthy and promote its natural waves.

It’s best for people with hair that is naturally frizzy, color-treated or excessively dry.

What Buyers Say

  • You’ll see the differences after just one wash
  • The bottle design can be kind of slippery and difficult to hold on to
  • It smells nice and leaves your hair feeling soft for several days

Best Sulfate and Sodium Chloride Free Shampoo: The Jerry Lambert Experience Luxe Hydrating Shampoo

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About this Shampoo

  • 100% organic and vegan
  • Utilizes lavendar and other essential oils
  • Designed to prolong the effects of keratin treatments

One of the more luxe items on the list, this hydrating shampoo is great for individuals who suffer from extremely dry hair.

It helps restore hydration to strands using natural vitamins and minerals, alongside natural proteins to recreate the hair’s moisture barrier.

Best Salt-Free Shampoo and Conditioner Combo: ArtNaturals Organic Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner Set

ArtNaturals Organic Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner Set - (2 x 16 Fl Oz / 473ml) - Sulfate Free - Volumizing & Moisturizing - Gentle on Curly & Color Treated Hair - Infused with Keratin
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About this Shampoo

  • Uses argan oil, keratin and aloe
  • Safe for color-treated hair
  • Made to reduce frizz and increase hair health

This shampoo and conditioner set from ArtNaturals uses argan oil alongside keratin treatments to give you naturally full-bodied, soft hair. Combined, they remain affordable and provide salon-quality results from home.

Plus, they smell incredible!

Best Shampoo and Conditioner Without Salt: Damila Sulfate & Salt Free Shampoo & Conditioner Value Set

Damila Sulfate & Salt Free Shampoo & Conditioner Value Set, Post Keratin Hair Treatment, Professional Keratin Hair Care Treatment for All Hair Types- Natural & Nourishing Hair State, 16.9oz
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About this Shampoo

  • Designed to enhance effects of keratin treatments
  • Removes dirt and oil without stripping hair of its natural proteins
  • Helps hair stay hydrated and frizz-free

When it comes to salt-free shampoos and conditioners, this set from Damila has a great fanbase.

It’s perfect for individuals who have just recently had keratin treatments, and it leaves your hair soft and shiny. Using a variety of natural minerals and proteins, it helps enhance the effects of keratin treatments.

Best Salt-Free Argan Oil Shampoo: PUREnature Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo

Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo SLS Free Sulfate Free, for Damaged, Dry, Curly or Frizzy Hair - Thickening for Fine / Thin Hair, Good for Color and Keratin Treated Hair
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About this Shampoo

  • Keratin treatment and color safe
  • Repairs heat damage and hydrates hair
  • Affordable compared to other hair care products

Argan oil shampoos use natural ingredients to restore the hair’s moisture barriers. It leaves your hair feeling soft, looking shiny and keeps it healthy without removing good oils.

This argan oil shampoo from PUREnature is great for people with curly, wavy and frizzy hair.

Best Salt-Free Hypoallergenic Shampoo: Nature Nut Dry & Damaged Hair Repair Shampoo

Nature Nut Dry & Damaged Hair Repair Shampoo - Hypoallergenic Hair Cleansing Moisturizer with 5 Nut Hydration Boost Formula for Hair and Scalp
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About this Shampoo

  • Uses macadamia, shea butter, argan oil and coconut oil
  • Helps detangle hair while washing
  • Perfect for individuals with frizzy hair

This shampoo from Nature Nut is all-natural and allergen tested, making it safe for individuals with sensitivities.

It helps remove oil and dirt buildup from the hair and repair dryness and damage.

Best Salt-Free Shampoo for Chemically Treated Hair: Paul Brown Washe Elite Shampoo

Paul Brown Washe Elite Shampoo,for Chemically Treated & Damaged Hair (10 oz.)
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About this Shampoo

  • Perfect for individuals looking to increase texture of their hair
  • Uses kukia nut, which provides essential fatty acids to the hair
  • Made with all-natural ingredients

The Paul Brown Washe Elite shampoo won’t strip hair of chemical treatments. The ingredients help enhance keratin treatments’ effects without stripping hair of its natural color or undoing perms.

It also helps heal damage and restore the natural shine.

Other Sodium Chloride Free Shampoos to Consider

Here are some other shampoos we also think are great runners-up:

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What Is the Definition of Salt Free Shampoos?

There are two classifications for shampoos in this regard:

  1. Unsalted shampoos: meaning they do not have the addition of NaCl (sodium chloride) which acts as a thickener
  2. Sulfate-free shampoos: sulfates are surfactants, the components that will promote the removal of dirt from the hair). There are several types of surfactants, and sulfates are one of them.

Elaborating on surfactants, they come in 3 categories: mild, moderate, and strong.

Mild surfactants do not have capabilities to remove excess healthy fat from the body:

  • Cocamidopropyl betaine
  • Cocamidopropyl oxide
  • Sodium lauriminodipropionate
  • Disodium monoleamie MEA sulfosuccinate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
  • Sodium cocoamphoacetate
  • Disodium cocoamphodipropionate
  • disodium capryloamphodiacetate
  • Cocamphocarboxyglicinate-propionate
  • Sodium cocoyl glycinate
  • Potassium cocoyl glycinate
  • Sodium lauroyl glutamate
  • Sodium cocoyl glutamate

Moderate surfactants do a medium job at cleaning:

  • Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
  • Ammonium laureth sulfate
  • Sodium cocoglyceryl ether sulfonate
  • Sodium trideceth sulfate
  • Sodium c12-14 olefin sulfonate
  • Sodium c14-16 olefin sulfonate

And the strongest surfactants, that have the potential to dry out and irritate the skin due to its harsher cleaning capabilities, are:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • TEA (Triethanolamine) lauryl sulfate
  • TEA dodecylbenzene

What You Need to Know About Salt Free Shampoos

At the end of the day, it’s there are pros and cons to using salt-based products in your hair and it’s hard to say for certain if it’s truly “bad” for you. However, salt can be drying and damaging to the hair, in general. To help you get a better understanding of why companies include salt in their shampoos and how they impact your hair, we’ve gathered all the information you need to know.

Why Is There Salt In Shampoo?

You may not have looked too deeply into the ingredients on your shampoo bottle. However, one component in many main-stream hair care products is sodium chloride, better known as salt. At face value, it probably seems weird that salt is one of the main ingredients in many hair care products. However, salt is a great preservative and serves as a thickening agent, helping keep shampoo from becoming runny. That’s why you’ll often see sodium chloride in shampoo.

Can Salt In Shampoo Damage Your Hair?

As we discussed before, sea salt can damage hair, leaving it dry and brittle over time. Salt in shampoo, however, is less concentrated and less likely to cause significant damage to your hair. Still, if you suffer from naturally dry and brittle hair, you’ll likely find that many shampoos leave your hair feeling lackluster.

Additionally, if you’ve had a keratin treatment for your hair to improve its volume, shine and health, using salt-based shampoos can cause the treatments to be less effective and not last as long. Salt leeches the water out of your hair, causing it to evaporate faster than necessary.

What Does Sodium Chloride Free Shampoo Mean?

There are tons of hair products without salt, which will reduce the chances of excessively dried, brittle hair. Often, you’ll find these products in the organics section. Shampoos that do not contain salt are often softer, lather less and are less likely to strip the healthy oils from your hair. For those who have recently invested in a keratin treatment, salt-based shampoos are one of the most important things to avoid.

In most cases, sodium-chloride-free shampoos will also be sulfate-free, making them less harsh on dyed hair. These products use all-natural ingredients to remove dirt and grease from the hair without excessive drying or color stripping.

Damila Sulfate & Salt Free Shampoo & Conditioner Value Set, Post Keratin Hair Treatment, Professional Keratin Hair Care Treatment for All Hair Types- Natural & Nourishing Hair State, 16.9oz

Salt in Shampoo: An Expert Weighs in

We asked a specialist to explain and shed some light on the topic of salt in shampoo. Dr. Roberta Rocha, Chemical Engineer and Doctor of Polymer Technology, helps us understand salt’s purpose, importance, and damaging capabilities in hair products.

What Is the Role of Salt in Shampoos?

As we may be familiar with, salt is used as a drying agent in many processes due to its ability to suck up moisture and water. Why then is it used in shampoos when it can dry out and damage hair? Is salt in shampoo actually harmful?

According to Dr. Rocha, salts serve different purposes in a shampoo:

Salts (usually NaCl) are placed in the shampoos as thickening agents. And they really thicken, and are the cheapest. However, a shampoo can only handle a salt concentration of around 1.5%, a good balanced formulation. Salt concentrations higher than 1.5% destabilize the shampoo and therefore no higher concentrations are used.

Are Salts in Shampoos Really Bad for the Hair?

But if most shampoos have only 1.5% concentration, is that amount harmful to your locks? Dr. Rocha explains this in great detail below:

This idea that salt in shampoos causes harm came from a simple principle based on the characteristic of salt’s hygroscopicity, or ability to absorb water. We already know salts are very hygroscopic, and they tend to dehydrate the surfaces they are exposed to. That’s why when we go to the beach, dive and have our hair and body in contact with sea salt – of which there are actually several present in sea water – we feel both skin and hair get super dry.

In research I’ve done, this process of bathing with sea water leaves a residual of about 5% of salt on the hair, considering the hair mass. And this salt stays in our hair for as long as we’re on the beach. And we usually spend hours on the beach, with this salt in our hair, on top of the incidence of sunlight, a fantastic catalyst for dehydration processes. This is an extreme situation.

Now imagine a shampoo, which has 1.5% salt in its composition; that is, in 100 ml of shampoo we would have 1.5 g of salt. When we apply the shampoo, we use a maximum of 20 ml of shampoo. In this 20 ml, we have an amount of salt of 0.3 g of salt, which is very small, isn’t it? And for how long do we leave a normal shampoo (not a treatment shampoo that already has other compositions) in contact with our hair during its washing? The most exaggerated time would be a maximum of 10 min. Without adding to the fact that we rinse afterwards, we remove all the salt and replace the water. So, given this amount of salt exposed to our hair for such a short period of time, do you think it’s capable of causing a lot of damage?

In laboratory studies I did, where we evaluated the gravimetric water loss caused by hair washing processes with normal shampoos with salt, the water loss was 0.0023%. In other words, tiny.

We are saying that pure salt (dry and in isolated conditions) is capable of absorbing water. When the salt is in aqueous solution, meaning it is already in the middle of the water, it has already absorbed all the water it needed. Of course this causes a reduction in water activity, decreasing the ability to dissolve other substances.

But we are talking about a balanced shampoo formulation, where the concentration of other components is sufficient to be dissolved by the water present. In this condition – that is, salt completely diluted in water – it does not have the ability to dry anything, unless it is in very high concentrations. In this high concentration saline solution, by osmotic balance, it causes the removal of water from any substance or surface that is in contact with or submerged in this high concentration. However, we are talking about shampoo with salt, where the concentration of salt is very low, and we still have the hair rinsing process afterwards, which favors the removal of any salt present in the hair. There may even be residues of other substances present in the shampoo (such as surfactants, emollients, carbohydrates, and carbomers). But salt, as it has a high affinity for water, is easily removed.

Another aspect is that I have not found any scientific evidence or serious publication proving that the presence of salt causes damage to the hair.

Thus, we conclude that the problem with shampoos is not in the salt used to thicken, but it is in the surfactants used.”

Damila Sulfate & Salt Free Shampoo & Conditioner Value Set, Post Keratin Hair Treatment, Professional Keratin Hair Care Treatment for All Hair Types- Natural & Nourishing Hair State, 16.9oz

What Are Surfactants? Are Surfactants Harmful for the Hair?

Dr. Rocha elaborates on the importance and effects of surfactants:

Among the main ingredients of a shampoo are surfactants, which have the simple mission of removing dirt. This dirt is most of the time what we call , like the sebum itself that we eliminate naturally throughout our body; these are often healthy and help to maintain our hydrolipidic layer.

For this, we have a very large series of surfactants that can act. They can be classified into: very strong surfactants (capable of removing dirt in a very vigorous way), moderate surfactants, and mild surfactants (which have a lower capacity for removal of dirt).

Excessive removal of lipids (fat or dirt) from the scalp and hair can cause an imbalance of the hydrolipidic layer that covers our entire body (including the scalp and hair), generating excessive dehydration that can generate allergy.”

Are Salted Shampoos Bad for Color Treated Hair?

One of the warnings that we get after visiting the salon for a color job is to avoid shampoo with salt in them. This is because the salt can further damage the hair. But is this true?

We asked Dr. Rocha and she had this to say:

This is a vast subject, and we have to take into account many aspects of trichology and the damage that is caused to hair during a coloring process.

Hair dyed with oxidative dyes, even though they say they have softening agents in their formulations (which is not always true), attack the hair components. Oxidative dyes not only attack the melanins, but also the keratins as well, causing irreversible damage to hair.

We have already verified that salt does not harm healthy hair. But in this case, the hair already has some degree of damage. When the hair is weakened as such, salts ‘may’ have a slightly more aggressive reaction with dyed hair.

As dyed hair is fragile, we should use shampoos that have milder surfactants, so that they do not cause further damage to the hair.”

Dr. Rocha adds a caveat,

However, more scientific data must be collected to have more accurate conclusions.”

Are Salt Free Shampoos Completely Salt Free?

Actually, no. Salt-free pertains to the lack of salt as a main ingredient, rather than in the actual chemical formulation of a shampoo. Dr. Rocha shares,

The neutralization processes of ANY shampoo formula (including those that do not add salt) generate salts as well.”

Dr. Roberta Rocha is a Chemical Engineer, with a masters and doctorate degree in Polymer Technology. She is also a Cosmetic Trichologist, as well as a cosmetics formulator and researcher, with a particular interest in the chemistry of shampoos and hair treatments. Catch up with her on her socials: @roberta_rocha01 on Instagram, and Dra. Roberta Rocha on Facebook.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Salt-less Shampoos

Is sodium chloride a sulfate?

Salt isn’t exactly a sulfate but is part of sulfates. Sulfates form when sulfuric acids react with another chemical, creating a salt. However, it is not traditionally sodium chloride. Salt-free products, therefore, won’t always be sulfate-free, and vice versa.

Can you put salt in your shampoo?

While it is possible to put salt in your shampoo, you probably shouldn’t. Salt is naturally drying and can mess with your shampoo’s overall balance, causing it to work less effectively. Plus, it can cause your hair to become dry and brittle.

Is baby shampoo sodium chloride free?

Many baby shampoos are saltless to avoid potential allergies and reactions. However, not all baby shampoos are salt-free. You should check the ingredients to be sure.

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Best Salt Free Shampoos: A Conclusion

There are many benefits to purchasing a salt-free shampoo and conditioner. If you want your hair to feel shiny and healthy, it’s a great choice. Just remember, not all sulfate-free shampoos are salt-free, so it is important to check the shampoo label and ingredients to ensure you’re purchasing the right product. Using these products on your hair over time can repair damage and restore moisture, leaving you with long, luscious locks. Plus, they won’t ruin keratin treatments or dye jobs, so you don’t have to worry!

For more on hair care, check out our blog:

What are your thoughts on salt free shampoos and what are your favorites?

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  1. You can use this about as often as you use your regular shampoo. It really depends on your needs and how your hair and scalp react to hair products. Maybe do a test first? As for adding rose petals, wouldn’t recommend doing so since the petals can possibly turn bad and contaminate your shampoo. If you want to give yourself a rose water rinse, do so after washing your hair. Hope that helps!

  2. Hello. How often do I use this weekly as an african american woman? Also, can I add dried rose petals to the bottle or do you not recommend that? Will adding dried rose petals not make it natural? Thank you.

  3. All these sounds amazing! I will sure look out for salts in my shampoo going forward. Thanks for sharing!

  4. You’re totally right, Nancy! Great products don’t have to be expensive, for sure!

  5. Oooh! I love that there are better shampoos and conditioners out there these days. It is not about buying the most affordable one, but rather something that is good for your hair. I like that these options aren’t expensive either. A lot of people’s hair reacts differently too. Thanks for sharing these options!

    Nancy ✨

  6. Yes- I learned how damaging salts can be for hair from my stylist! So important to check your products for them!


  7. I’ve never thought about checking for salts before but this is a really good point. I have to use sulfate and alcohol free shampoos as both of those irritate my scalp but I’ll have to check my labels and see what the salt situation is x

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