A hair care ingredient that I always use in conditioning hair cleanser formulas is Behentrimonium Methosulfate (pronounce bee-hen-tri-mone-ee-um methosufate). This is NOT a “sulfate” as we have come to know the term. It is not a detergent. It is a “cationic surfactant” – a positively charged conditioning agent that is attracted to hair’s (especially damaged hair) negative charge. The attraction bonds the conditioner to hair so it actually stays on and creates a conditioning film on the surface of the hair. This film makes hair easier to comb, improves its feel by making hair softer, decreases tangles and reduces static in hair. This ingredient also helps hair retain its color longer.
While it provides all this lovely conditioning, it also gently cleans hair and so is perfect for regular hair cleansing. There really is no need for detergents (which is what sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and their brethren are), unless you have fallen into an oil-covered swamp, then you may want some detergency.