18 Jun

- 2020 -

Shampoos: The Lowdown

“Shampoo is shampoo” – ER NO!

There are so many types available for us to buy today. Moisturising, Protein, Clarifying, Volumising, Cleansing…You name it, it’s on the shelf. So what does each one mean and which one should you buy?

As The Science of Black Hair states (and I completely agree with), the shampoo and conditioner you choose are the foundation of your healthy hair regimen. Other than keeping the hair clean, it also cleanses our scalp and gives the basis on how our hair reacts to our styling products.

Moisturising Shampoo

Afro textured hair naturally lacks moisture, so it needs moisture from every product we use. Although you will see many shampoos claiming to be ‘moisturising’, not many are ideal for regular use. Many contain harsh sulfates which strip the hair of the little moisture that it has.  Sulfate free moisturising shampoos gently cleanse the hair without stripping it of natural oils. They are ideal for weekly use.

Clarifying Shampoo

After a length of time, natural hair can feel coated due to product build-up (especially when we do more than one style between washes) that our gentle shampoos cannot thoroughly clean; therefore needing a stronger sulfate based cleanser. For this reason, keep a clarifying shampoo in your hair care regimen and use it approximately once a month. The reason for this is because clarifying shampoos have a higher acid content that strips out left over hair products from your natural hair. This can also leave your textured hair feeling dry and brittle, which can lead to breakage and unnecessary split ends – something you want your natural hair to avoid. Common ingredients include: acetic acid, sodium citrate and trisodium phosphate.

These are usually clear coloured and leave natural hair feeling squeaky clean. Even though there are shampoos specifically made for clarifying, any shampoo that has ALS or SLS can be used for the same purpose. Clarifying the hair once a month is important in any healthy natural hair regimen. However, do it more than once a month and you may experience extra dry hair.

Personally, I use my moisturising shampoo once a week for three consecutive weeks. The last week in the month, I use my clarifying shampoo. It is always followed by my deep conditioner to bring that moisture back in. I adopted this in my regimen after having natural hair for a year and I’ve really noticed a massive difference.

Chelating Shampoo

Before I start, clarifying and chelating shampoos are two different things.

Chelating shampoos are a stronger type of hair cleanser that works below the surface of your hair shaft. Its’ purpose is to remove heavy build-up from not just hair product residue, but also hard water minerals and pool water chemicals. If these build-ups are not removed from the hair, it can weigh the hair down and cause breakage. When looking for a shampoo, using one containing SLS or ALS won’t do the trick. Use a specifically designed chelating shampoo.

Common chelating ingredients include Disodium EDTA, EDTA, HEDTA, Oxalic Acid. Chelating shampoos are generally harsh and should be used sparingly (once a month is enough). Using these shampoos should always be followed by a moisturising deep conditioner. There are gentler chelating shampoos available that you can use in your curly hair, so keep an eye out.

Protein Shampoo

There are many Protein shampoos on the market, most often marketed as ‘Keratin Shampoos’. They are not regularly used by people with natural hair and there is a reason for this. Although our hair is mostly made up of protein, too much of it and it can cause your hair to feel brittle. For this reason, most people instead use protein treatments. Either homemade or shop bought, as they have different strengths. Always follow protein treatments with a deep conditioner to replenish the moisture back into your delicate strands.

Volumising Shampoo

There are several sulfate free volumising shampoos available to buy. I am yet to meet anyone who uses them because afro textured hair is normally thick and plentiful. These shampoos work by NOT weighing the hair down and adding humectants. These humectants help to swell a person’s hair to create the illusion of thicker, fuller hair. The major ingredients include panthenol, what protein, rice protein, silk protein and witch hazel. For those who want more volume or their hair is naturally sparse, this is a good shampoo to use.

No Shampoo Method

Popularly known as the Curly Girl method, this technique is growing in its popularity in the natural hair care community. As well as the Curly Girl method, there are other methods listed below:

*Water Only Method

*Baking Soda Cleansing





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