How often should I wash my natural hair? Should I use a sulfate-free shampoo or one with sulfates? Is it better to co-wash or shampoo your hair? What is the difference between a clarifying shampoo and a moisturizing shampoo?
For those of us wearing our natural hair, we battle with these questions a lot. For a long time shampoo has been pointed out as the culprit for dry natural hair and scalp in the natural hair community.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a surfactant used in shampoos that is harsh on natural hair. The natural hair community learned quickly that sulfates are a bad rep for natural hair especially coily and kinky hair. Shampoos that contain sulfates are good for Caucasian hair as this type of hair can quickly get oily.
To co-wash or not to co-wash
For some years back, co-washing became part of almost every natural’s hair routine since shampoos containing sulfates were known to dry natural hair. Some naturalistas still prefer to co-wash their hair.
Co-washing from time to time is not a bad idea but there are cases when your hair needs a good shampoo and a fresh start from all the heavy styling products, such as gels, mousse, silicone serums, grease etc.
How do you know when it is time to wash your hair
Lately the styling products you are using do not seem to work and they stay on top of your hair forming a film that coats the hair and stop the products from penetrating the cuticles. Then you are experiencing product buildup. Your hair will benefit from a deep cleansing shampoo. A lot products for natural hair are laden with silicones, because silicones form a protective barrier by preventing moisture from the air to enter the hair, thus preventing frizz. And frizzy hair is every curly girl’s nightmare!
If you exercise a few times a week, you will need to shampoo your hair often. When you exercise you sweat not only on your body but also on your scalp. Shampooing your hair will help get rid of the smell from the sweat and prevent scalp issues such as scalp fungus and seborrheic dermatitis. If you have low porosity hair, you hair is easily prone to product buildup, hence washing your hair is important.
When it comes to washing natural hair, it is all about preference. Some people wash their hair every week, some bi-weekly or once a month.
However, if you choose to co-wash your natural hair, it is advisable to use a clarifying shampoo once a month to avoid product buildup and other scalp issues.
For those who have high porosity hair, it is best to wash your hair less. You will also benefit from pre-pooing with an oil before shampooing because even natural and organic shampoos contain mild surfactants that can strip your hair of its natural oils.
I have high porosity hair but since I exercise during the week, I wash my hair weekly with a moisturizing shampoo as it does not strip my hair of its natural oil.
Different types of shampoo for natural hair
Do you find it difficult to know what shampoo to choose for your hair? Reading the ingredients list to know what products to avoid can be a daunting task. However, this is important because you will know what ingredients your hair like and the ones to steer clear off. When choosing your shampoos, look for mild surfactants such as Cocamidopropyl betaine, Decyl Glucoside, Coco glucoside, Sodium Coco-sulfate, Sodium cocoamphoacetate and Lauryl glucoside that are natural and are gentle on the skin and scalp with excellent foaming and cleaning properties.
To make it easier, here is a how to identify the various type of shampoos.
This type of shampoo will effectively wash and clean your natural hair without stripping the scalp and hair of its natural sebum. It contains emollients and oils that condition your hair.
The term “nourishing” is a cosmetic term to suggest that the shampoo is conditioning as this type of shampoo contains ingredients that nourish and strengthens your hair without drying it.
This type contains surfactants and conditioning agents to clean your hair and keep it conditioning. However it can still dry out natural hair.
This type of shampoo is to make sure that your hair is “squeaky clean,” by removing dirt and oils from your hair and contains SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)
Shampoos that contain sulfates should be used once a month to clean the scalp and remove product build up completely. If you wash your hair weekly, it is best to stick to moisturizing shampoos and nourishing shampoos.
Deep cleansing shampoo
It is also another term for a Clarifying shampoo because they deeply cleanse your hair and scalp to remove excess build up, dirt and oils.
An alternative is to use natural herbal powders such as Aritha or Reetha, Shikakai or clays such as Rhassoul clay and Bentonite clay to gently cleanse your hair and remove product buildup. Herbal powders contain saponins, a natural and gentle surfactant that comes from natural plants. They do not foam like natural or synthetic surfactants, but clean your hair without side effects and may be the best choice for people who may issues with traditional shampoos.
Click here to see how I make this Ayurvedic shampoo that cleans your hair effectively.
Shampoo bars are also the trend now as they are economical, safe for the environment which means less usage of plastic packaging, easy to travel with and longer lasting.
Shampooing and scalp issues
Not washing your hair regularly can lead to scalp issues such as:
Scalp issues such as scalp fungus (pruritus)
Dry, itchy and flaky scalp
However, if you experience constant dry and itchy scalp even after shampooing your hair, it is time to consult a medical professional or a trichologist to determine the root cause of the issue.
Do you have issues with your natural hair? Contact us for your natural hair consultation by clicking here.
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