Beauty Clinic: Help me find inexpensive sulphate-/silicone free haircare


Q. I am looking for budget haircare (under £10) that does not contain sulphates or silicone. Can you help? A. The good news is that since natural shampoos and conditioners started to come on the market some 20 years ago, the choice has grown hugely – albeit mostly at the more expensive end of the market. In general, the way these products perform has improved tremendously. You may not always get lots of foam – but you will get perfectly clean hair.

Just to clarify: the ingredients you want to avoid are the sulphates – these are detergents that act mainly as foaming agents and can be irritating to the scalp (and skin in general) – and silicones – which are intended to coat each hair and add shine, as well as protecting from moisture loss, but may attract dirt and pollutants and be difficult to remove. Also, some hair care experts maintain that the shine silicone imparts is ‘plastic’ rather than the natural gloss that comes from properly hydrated healthy hair.

The most common sulphates are sodium lauryl sulphate, ammonium laureth sulphate and, less often, sodium laureth sulphate.

The silicones usually have a –methicone in their name thus dimethicone, cyclomethicone, phenyl trimethicone, amodimethicone and dimethicone copolyol.

Natural/organic hair care will generally exclude these synthetic chemicals but it is always worth checking the ingredients listings.  When we checked the ingredients in several ranges, we found some surprising synthetic chemicals in natural products (bear in mind that there is no legal definition of ‘natural’).

So, if you are a cosmetic ingredients geek (like us), you may want to check ingredients at EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database at

Bentley Organic offers a range of generous 250 ml shampoos and conditioners for £5.20. However while it excludes the ingredients you specify, some products contain other synthetic chemicals – but the ones we looked at on are listed as of low concern for toxicity.

If you can possibly run to £12 for 200 ml, we strongly suggest trying Odylique by Essential Care Gentle Herb Shampoo, the first shampoo to be certified by the Soil Association, which is 100 per cent natural and 70% organic. It is free from all sulphates, fragrance, artificial preservatives and salt, also wheat, dairy, soy, and common allergenic nut oils. The plant actives are horsetail, coconut oil, chamomile, nettle, rosemary and aloe vera juice.

You can try a 20ml sample size of Gentle Herb Shampoo for £2.50, from