Whether you choose to shampoo or not is a very personal decision. Some people absolutely hate it and some people (like me) couldn’t be without it!
My advice here is do whatever works for your hair! You may hear everyone telling you to strictly co-wash as there is a widely held view that shampoo can be far too stripping for natural hair. However, I have to disagree (You all know how much I love doing that :P), some people neeeed to cleanse/clarify otherwise the product buildup will cause more dryness and breakage than a sulfate ever could.
As Jennifer Rose stated in Taren Guy’s Salon Series, “Would you take a bath in lotion?”
It Depends On Your Hair Texture
Take a strand of hair and rub it between your fingers. If the hair feels almost like wire, then your hair is what is defined as coarse. If you can barely feel the strand as you rub it between your fingers, then the hair is fine. If it feels like plain old hair, then it’s medium.
As you can imagine, product build up is more likely to weigh down fine-medium hair. Leading to limp, heavily coated curls. Expect styling or achieving volume to be a challenge when there is heavy product build up.
Fine-Medium hair needs a cleanse for this reason, whether it’s regular washing with a sulfate-free shampoo or a clarifying shampoo once a month. Co-washing alone will not keep this hair texture looking at it’s best.
Product Buildup is a big no no as I discovered earlier on this summer. The coating on your strands will block out any additional moisture and nutrients that you are trying to add back into the strand whilst the hair underneath the coating slowly dries out. As the hair dries out leaving it less elasticised and nourished, breakage is more probable.
The way to know if you have product buildup is when the hair continuously feels dry no matter what you do with it and your products stop working the way that they used to. If you are a regular co-washer, this is when you’d do your 4-6 weekly clarifying shampoo. Removing the barrier of product buildup will instantly enable your hair to re-absorb the moisture and allow your products to work effectively again.
Whilst it is true that avoiding certain ingredients such as mineral oil, petroleum and silicones will help; regular conditioners, leave ins and styling products will also gradually build up on the strand as they all leave a residue on the hair to do their jobs……
Product Buildup and Co-washing
Conditioners contain cat ionic surfactants which are atoms with a positive charge….meaning that they cling to the surface of the hair, unlike shampoos which have anionic surfactants which have a negative charge. They repel from the cuticle and take any coating, dirt and oil product with it.
The short of it….conditioners are not designed to clean your hair. They will merely coat dirty hair with a film that is intended to moisturise by leaving more residue.
Leave in’s and styling products also contain cat ionic surfactants, clinging to the hair and creating a film. Do you really want to carry layers upon layers of film on your strands which naturally attracts more dirt and germs? Ewwww! Shampoo is your friend here, and just like everything else, it should be used as part of a balanced hair care routine.
Dirt, Grime and Germs
As I just stated, the positive charges of conditioner mean that they cling to the strand…..and so will any dirt and grime along with it.
Shampoo is necessary for the maintenance of a healthy scalp. Neglecting to cleanse can lead to much worse than just limp hair….scalp infections my friends! These can be so severe that it’ll make you pray that it was just a case of dandruff! In rare cases (rare!) scalp infections can lead to alopecia and hair loss.
Your scalp is just skin, would you go weeks or months without washing your skin? This man did…….!
For those so against shampoo that this article hasn’t even managed to tempt you to try out the sulfate free versions…..there are a FEW alternatives (not many though!).
Apple Cider Vinegar Rinses, apple cider vinegar is a good cleanser. It’s also a good PH to maintain your hair health. Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle to 4 parts water. Spray on, massage through hair. Leave for 10 mins and then rinse out. Whilst this is a good cleanser, avoid products containing ingredients such as silicones and mineral oils. ACV will not be able to remove that!
Cleansing Mud/Clay, cleansing mud/clay has been used for thousands of years to wash away dirt, excess oils and grime. It is also known to be very good at this job as well as being all natural and almost spiritual. Apply the cleansing clay to the hair like a mask, leave to coat the strands for 10 minutes and then rinse away. Cleansing clays are most popularly seen in face masks and skincare. Again, whilst this is a good cleanser , avoid silicones, mineral oil and other heavily coating ingredients found in styling products. Cleansing clay works best with an all natural hair care routine.
DO NOT USE BAKING SODA OR CASTILLE SOAP, The PH is far too high. Remember that alkalines open up the cuticle (bleach and relaxer) whilst acids seal the cuticle and lock in moisture. Over time washing with these substances will cause damage similar to bleach, leading to dry, brittle and breaking hair. The only exception here is low porosity hair, and even then these cleansers should be used with utmost caution!
So I hope this article has given you a little insight as to why shampoo is not the devil. Just because the current status quo is to co-wash with Herbal Essences/Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle/Tresemme Naturals, doesn’t mean that it’s something that you yourself have to do. Identify what works for you and stick with it, even if that is the dreaded sulfate! (btw, all sulfates are different, I personally like to use sodium laureth sulfate as it doesn’t dry out my hair).
Here is a list of my favourite non drying yet moisturing shampoos, as they are very very hard to come by!
1. Palmers Cocoa Butter/Coconut Oil/Olive Oil shampoo
2. Design Essentials Curl Cleanser
3. Mizani True Textures Curl Balance Sulfate Free Shampoo
4. Mizani Botanifying Shampoo
5. Garnier Ultimate Blends The Nourishing Repairer Shampoo
Let me know what you think below! Do you fear shampoo?