Here at team Allure, one of our favorite brands is, without a doubt, The Ordinary. The budget-friendly skin-care brand has tons of affordable options that perform just as well as pricier luxury skin-care finds (Exhibit A: the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, an Allure Best of Beauty- and Readers’ Choice Award-winner).
Now that the brand has dominated the skin-care scene, it’s finally ready to expand its hair offerings. The Ordinary’s hair-care line now includes an in-shower duo: the Sulphate 4% Shampoo Cleanser for Body & Hair and Behentrimonium Chloride 2% Conditioner. As its name suggests, the former is formulated with sulfates, a surprising ingredient that might not deserve its questionable reputation.
The Ordinary’s latest hair-care launches take a scalp-care approach, much like the brand’s first-ever hair product — the Multi-Peptide Serum For Hair Density, which was released in 2018. Since I have a pretty flaky scalp, that was enough to entice me. But what really convinced me to try out the shampoo-conditioner duo were their ingredient lists, which are pleasantly short. (The conditioner only has seven ingredients, whereas the shampoo has 11.)
The Ordinary Sulphate 4% Shampoo Cleanser for Body & Hair
With that being said, the shampoo is infused with sulfates, an eyebrow-raising group of surfactants known for creating a rich lather in your products. Yes, sulfates do have a bad reputation for causing irritation and stripping pigment from color-treated hair, but that doesn’t mean you should ditch this surprisingly gentle cleanser altogether. According to cosmetic chemist Ginger King, a low concentration of sulfates can actually cleanse your scalp without any issues. “[Shampoos with a concentration of] sulfates 10 percent or higher can dry out hair or the scalp, as well as cause color-fading,” she says. At its four-percent level, King says this shampoo is mild enough for most consumers to use.
Rita Silva, the science communications associate manager at Deciem, the parent company of The Ordinary, adds that the brand infuses this shampoo with sodium laureth sulfate, also known as SLES-2, a milder counterpart to the more-common sodium lauryl sulfate. Though both of these sulfates have been deemed “not clean” under Allure‘s clean beauty standards, both experts agree that the low concentration of sodium laureth sulfate in this product shouldn’t irritate your skin. With that being said, sensitive skin types should patch test this shampoo before washing their hair with it. “The use of a milder surfactant like SLES-2 is necessary for a shampoo or cleanser as the water-insoluble dirt, sebum, and build-up cannot be effectively removed by rinsing with water alone,” she says. King also backs this up, stating that sulfate-based shampoos “do a great job at cleansing the hair” as long as the concentration is low (which, yet again, it is).
Like other color-treated hair types, I myself have recoiled at the thought of using a sulfate-infused shampoo, but this newfound information made me all the more eager to try out this shampoo — and I was delightfully impressed with the results. This hair cleanser has a clear gel consistency that you only need a little bit of, but don’t expect a heavy lather. Silva notes that this shampoo has a light, barely-there lather in order to contain cleansing sulfates at a non-abrasive concentration. “With this minimalist approach, this formula remains gentle while having the ability to adequately clean the hair, skin, and scalp,” she says.