The Ordinary Sulphate 4% Cleanser Gave Me the Soft, Oily-Free Hair of My Dreams

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The Ordinary Sulphate 4% Shampoo Cleanser for Body & Hair

The Ordinary Sulphate 4% Cleanser for Body and Hair

Byrdie / Irene Richardson

What We Like
  • Effectively removes oil, dirt, and product build-up

  • Lightweight

  • Smoothing

  • Lengthens days between washes

  • Short ingredient list

What We Don’t Like
  • It can feel a bit drying

  • The product slips out of the bottle too easily

The Ordinary Sulphate 4% Cleanser for Body and Hair is a straightforward shampoo and body wash that effectively removes product build-up and softens strands—giving you shinier and frizz-free hair in the process. Although it contains sulfates, the fragrance-free formula only uses 11 ingredients, and it feels gentle on the hair and body.


The Ordinary Sulphate 4% Shampoo Cleanser for Body & Hair

The Ordinary Sulphate 4% Cleanser for Body and Hair

Byrdie / Irene Richardson

Our writer was given The Ordinary Sulphate 4% Cleanser for Body and Hair to put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.

I’m not trying to be self-deprecating, but I rarely get compliments on my hair. It has heat damage from years of straightening my natural curls, is prone to frizz, and I still haven’t figured out my bang situation. So, you can imagine my glee when during a Zoom meeting, the first comment Senior Beauty Editor Kaitlin Clark made was, “Wow, your hair looks amazing—I just want to reach out and touch it.” A few days later, my esthetician said the same thing.

Excitedly, I told them the only recent change I’d made was adding the Ordinary Sulphate 4% Cleanser for Body and Hair to my routine. The product challenged my biases against two-in-one formulas and rewarded me with super soft hair that allowed me to stretch my days between washes.

Read on for my full review.

The Ordinary Sulphate 4% Cleanser
  • Best For: All Hair Types
  • Can Be Used On: Straight, Wavy, Curly, and Coily
  • Uses: Cleansing hair and body
  • Byrdie Clean?: Yes
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Price: About $9
  • About the Brand: Under the Decium umbrella, The Ordinary is a budget-friendly skincare brand that creates highly effective products using cruelty-free, vegan, and science-backed formulas. The brand expanded to haircare in 2018 with the widely-popular Multi-Peptide Serum for Hair Density.

About my Hair: Thick, curly, and oily 

I rarely have the time (or patience) to let my type 3A curls dry into their natural loose ringlets, which means I’m blasting them with a hairdryer about three times a week. Consequently, I ask a lot from my shampoo. I want one formulated for the density of curly hair, which gives me the smoothing finish of a blowout, and holds the looks I create with styling tools. Additionally, since my skin overproduces sebum (read: it’s oily) it’s a bonus if the shampoo reduces dandruff.

While The Ordinary designs its Sulphate 4% Cleanser for all hair types, I agree with many reviewers that oily scalps might benefit the most from it. Not only does it give me luxuriously soft strands, but the cleanser also cuts down on my wash days—no greasy mane or flakes here. 

The Feel: Lightweight, thin, and liquidy 

Like its TikTok-beloved Multi-Peptide Serum (and first foray into haircare), this The Ordinary formula ditches heavy silicones and waxes in favor of a lightweight formula that glides across your hair and body. As you work the cleanser through your hair, you won’t see it get sudsy, so initially, I was unsure how much to use. The “Goldilocks” amount for my medium-bodied, shoulder-length hair is a quarter-sized dollop, but those with fine or short hair could get away with using less.

Despite my skepticism about the lack of foam, the cleanser gave my scalp a super deep clean—and, fortunately for my water bill, it rinsed out of my hair quickly. Quite the achievement considering days-old products (dry shampoo, leave-in conditioner, hairspray, you name it) live rent-free on my scalp. 

Word to the wise, be careful how much you apply: The gel-like consistency slips out of the bottle easily and can cause you to waste extra product.

The Results: Smooth, shiny, and oil-free

I won’t lie: I felt like a fraud trying a 2-in-1 cleanser—didn’t I chastise my ex-boyfriend for buying the same kinds of products? However, having used this shampoo about every other day for over a week, I can confirm they deserve a second look (at least in this case).

It only took one wash—my hair typically requires a double-rinse—for the cleanser to boost volume and smooth my hair from root to end.

The lack of frizz is a huge plus as I grow out my attempt at Anne Hathaway’s The Devil Wears Prada bangs. Equally important, I cut down on hair washes as my scalp felt clean for days after using it. 

I must agree with reviewers that the shampoo is a bit drying compared to more hydrating formulas. However, it doesn’t completely zap moisture, and when I used the shampoo alongside the matching Behentrimonium Chloride 2% Conditioner, dryness became a nonissue. The duo makes the perfect pair by working in tandem to tame frizz and restore hydration—leaving me with the full, glossy, and bouncy hair of a ’90s Julia Roberts. 

As a body wash, I adored how the texture didn’t leave behind a sticky residue, so I felt good using it all over my skin. Although I can’t speak to its effectiveness as an acne-cleansing agent because my skin is not congested, many customers noted they saw blemishes below the neck clear up.

The Ordinary Sulphate 4% Cleanser

Byrdie / Irene Richardson

The Scent: Odorless

Like all of The Ordinary’s products, this one gets down to business—nixing cutesy packaging and syrupy scents from the equation. I appreciated that I didn’t need to worry about a shampoo fragrance competing with my perfume. I also like that as a fragrance-free product, it’s more suitable for those with sensitive skin.

The Ingredients: Minimal 

Only using 11 ingredients, the cleanser brands itself upfront with a slightly contentious one: Sulfates. Since sulfates can sometimes strip natural oils from your hair, I was nervous this formula wouldn’t be the most auspicious choice for my delicate curls. Yet, because The Ordinary formulates the cleanser using a small concentration of the milder surfactant, SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate), it spared me from this fate.

“SLES does generally have a much lower rate of irritation and reaction and leaves the skin barrier less damaged than SLS,” explains Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group. According to Dr. Nazarian, many people can tolerate the use of sulfates, but she cautions that both SLES and SLS can irritate sensitive skin, so always do a patch test before applying any new product.

Despite some claims made during the rise of clean beauty, it also bears repeating that when used in low concentrations, there is no evidence sulfates are linked to cancer or contribute to chronic hair loss.

The Value: Bargain

Simply said: You have nothing to lose by giving this cleanser a go. It gets the job done for about half the price as more luxe formulas by keeping your hair perky, your scalp clean, and your mood boosted for days after using it. My one wish is that The Ordinary would sell the product in bigger bottles, but the affordable price makes me more forgiving of this con. 

To achieve the best results and avoid dryness, I recommend pairing it with Behentrimonium Chloride 2% Conditioner—which does mean buying more products. In my opinion, it’s easier to make the case here considering the duo still clocks in at under $20.

Similar Products: Sulfate-free options

Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Balance & High Shine ($9): This is another affordable product that uses plant-based ingredients instead of sulfates to cleanse your scalp of dirt and oils. The acidity of its hero ingredient, ACV, is especially beneficial for balancing the pH levels of oily scalps, and the included colloidal oatmeal will help soothe irritated skin.

Monday Haircare Smooth Shampoo ($8): With the seal of approval from TikTok and our editors, this product boasts a list of clean ingredients that help combat frizz and volumize strands. The drugstore brand packages its bottle using recycled plastic, making it a kind pick for the planet, too.

Final Verdict

The Ordinary added another results-driven, affordable product to its beauty arsenal. Although any hair type will benefit from The Ordinary Sulphate 4% Cleanser for Body and Hair, it’s great for oily scalps that need a reset. The shampoo’s lightweight and gentle formula does an impressive job of softening hair, eliminating frizz, and cleansing every part of your body. 


  • Product Name Sulphate 4% Shampoo Cleanser for Body & Hair
  • Product Brand The Ordinary
  • Price $8.90
  • Weight 8.1 oz.
  • Ingredients Aqua (Water), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Polysorbate 20, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol, Phytic Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Benzyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Bondi CA, Marks JL, Wroblewski LB, Raatikainen HS, Lenox SR, Gebhardt KE. Human and Environmental Toxicity of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): Evidence for Safe Use in Household Cleaning Products. Environ Health Insights. 2015;9:27-32. Published 2015 Nov 17. doi:10.4137/EHI.S31765

  2. Bondi CA, Marks JL, Wroblewski LB, Raatikainen HS, Lenox SR, Gebhardt KE. Human and Environmental Toxicity of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): Evidence for Safe Use in Household Cleaning ProductsEnviron Health Insights. 2015;9:27-32. Published 2015 Nov 17. doi:10.4137/EHI.S31765

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