The Right Way to Wash Your Hair with Sulfate-Free Shampoo


Nothing washes away a bad hair day—or a bad mood, for that matter—better than an invigorating hair wash. But as anyone who has ever made the switch to sulfate-free shampoo knows, there are a few challenges that come along with using a sulfate-free formula when you wash your hair—namely creating that sudsy lather we typically equate with feeling clean.

While sulfate-free formulas may be more lather-resistant than regular shampoos, they are equally effective at removing dirt and excessive oil from your scalp—not to mention they offer a whole bunch of hair-nourishing benefits to boot!

Washing your hair with sulfate-free shampoo simply requires a little more shampooing savvy before you start, and a little extra effort along the way—all certainly worth it! That’s why we’re letting you in on the essential secrets to know for cleaning your hair!

11 Secrets to a Sudsy Sulfate-Free Shampoo Lather 

  1. Pick the Right Sulfate-Free Shampoo

    Aging delicate tresses all have unique needs—so finding the right sulfate-free shampoo for your hair issues is the first step. Thinning, fine hair benefits from the added fullness and lift that a volumizing shampoo offers. Dry, damaged hair requires the restorative ingredients of a repairing shampoo while shampoo for gray hair counteracts brassy and yellow tones. And a curly hair shampoo is the perfect way to bring bounce back to aging curls.

    Need help getting started? Our Better Hair Quiz is designed to help you find your perfect shampoo that’s free of harmful sulfates and parabens.

  2. Wash Your Hair with Warm Water

    First things first, never wash your hair with water that’s too hot. Your aging tresses are delicate and hot water will only dehydrate your scalp and strip your hair of its natural oils, leading to dry, weakened tresses. Warm water helps to loosen dirt, buildup and excessive oil while also helping to open up pores as well as your cuticles so your shampoo (and conditioner) can work their magic.

  3. Wet Your Hair Thoroughly

    Once you’ve wet your hair with water, go ahead and add more water to ensure it’s completely saturated—only now are you ready to apply your shampoo. This essential step ensures a better wash because your shampoo will now lather sufficiently and evenly distribute for optimal cleansing. If you apply your shampoo before you wet your hair completely your hair washing efforts will be in vain and your hair won’t feel as clean.

  4. Begin at the Back of Your Scalp

    After pumping or squeezing your shampoo out of the bottle, rub it between your palms and fingers to create a thin layer—this helps initiate an even lather before you apply your shampoo to your scalp. Then, beginning at the nape of your neck underneath your tresses, use the pads of your fingers to massage the formula in circular motions up the back of your scalp, around your ears and up toward the top of your head.

  5. When in Doubt, Add More Water

    If your shampoo isn’t sudsing up sufficiently, it’s only natural to assume adding more shampoo is the best way to build a more robust lather. But when you add more water, not more product as you might do with your regular shampoo, you end up achieving your goal of more lather more effectively because water works to activate the shampoo and spread it through your hair strands. Not to mention, you’ve now avoided overloading your tresses with too much shampoo, which could lead to buildup on your hair and scalp if you don’t thoroughly wash it all away. And this is especially problematic for thinning, fine hair.

  6. Massage Your Scalp

    Not only does massaging your scalp while you shampoo help build a lather and disperse it throughout your strands so it thoroughly cleanses your hair and scalp, it also stimulates your hair follicles in support of healthier hair. And your hair and scalp aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits: The circular motion of a scalp massage has a relaxing effect on your mind and body, too. We recommend you massage your scalp for at least one to two minutes, but if you have more time, the sky’s the limit!

  7. Wash Strands and Ends Second

    While this tip mostly applies to our ladies with medium or long hair strands, it’s a good shampooing practice for all. When you clean your hair in sections, focusing first on your scalp and then on your strands and ends, you ensure you’re concentrating the shampoo where it needs to go most—your scalp, which is where all the excessive oil is hanging out. You’re also helping to avoid tangling your hair when you wash your hair this way. Whether you have curly hair or straight hair, it’s never a good idea to pile your hair on top of your head as you shampoo.

  8. Pre-Condition Curly Hair

    If your hair texture leans toward tighter curls, sometimes working your sulfate-free shampoo through your curly hair can be challenging despite your best efforts. To make your shampooing easier, add a little conditioner to the ends of your hair. Then, using your fingers or a wide-tooth comb, smooth the conditioner through your strands, loosening up the coils a bit as you move up the hair shaft.

  9. Rinse, Repeat—and Then Rinse Again

    Your first wash is great for removing any dirt and excessive oil. Once you’ve achieved this, you’ll find that your second shampooing produces a lot more lather—and more easily. Rinsing away this second lather, however, is super-important: While your sulfate-free shampoo is packed with amazing hair-boosting ingredients that nourish and hydrate your aging strands, when you don’t wash out all your shampoo, you’re adding back buildup you just took the time to cleanse away. This will only weigh down your tresses, especially fine hair.

  10. Consider a Pre-Cleanser 

    We just explained why you’re able to produce more lather with your second shampooing. Reminder: Your first shampooing was hard at work removing all that excess dirt and oil. But what if there were a way to remove all that buildup before you even applied your shampoo—making your first shampooing as sudsy as your second? Enter our New Dawn Activated Charcoal Scalp Cleanser. The job of this pre-cleanser is to deep clean and detoxify the scalp by brushing away dirt and oil with its unique built-in massaging applicator, leaving the scalp refreshed and stimulated. But it also has an unexpected benefit, too: When you prep your scalp with New Dawn, your shampoo doesn’t have to work as hard during your first shampooing, so it produces significantly more lather.

  11. Don’t Forget Conditioner

    Shampoo and conditioner go hand in hand. So once you’ve finished cleansing, your conditioner becomes the essential next step to your hair washing routine. Many shampoos and conditioners are formulated to complement each other, like our Wake Up Call Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner, which when used together not only boost volume and fullness but also reduce breakage by 98%.

Better Not Younger Has All Your Sulfate-Free Hair Product Solutions

Adding a sulfate-free shampoo to your hair product arsenal is one of the easiest ways to ensure you’re giving your delicate aging tresses the love they deserve. For more sulfate-free hair products designed especially for your aging curly or straight hair concerns, visit Better Not Younger’s online shop for shampoos and conditioners, styling products, inner health supplements and more!

Tell Us: Do you have any sulfate-free shampooing tips you love? Share in the comments below!