by Jc of The Natural Haven
The main discussion when it comes to products for natural hair revolves around conditioner and oils. However, shampoo is really an integral part of the cleansing routine. The principle function of shampoo is to clean hair and it does this by dissolving oil and the dirt that oil carries with it.
Taking you on a trip down memory lane, in school we all learned that oil and water do not mix. Running water alone over your hair will not clean it. Shampoo is the essential ingredient needed to drive the oil (and dirt!) into the water.
There are three main classes of shampoos (and a side note on mud washes)
1. Clarification: SLS/SLES
SLS shampoos commonly referred to as ‘sulfate shampoos’ are often black listed as they can make hair and the scalp feel dry.
Effect on Skin: It is absolutely true that SLS on its own as a shampoo ingredient can be very irritating to the skin. This is because SLS is very effective in its role as a shampoo and dissolves oil very easily which leaves the skin feeling dry (irritated, red, itchy). It is not related to pH as SLS shampoos often have a slightly acidic pH (around 5.5 to 6) which is similar to skin and hair.
Effect on Hair: SLS shampoos have a large negative charge as a result of the ‘sulfate’. This charge accumulates on the surface of hair and can cause the cuticle to slightly rise. This is the reason why a hair conditioner (which generally contain positive charges) should be used to correct the charge and smooth the cuticle.
Advances: Manufacturers will often combine SLS with SLES which greatly reduces its irritancy. Many shampoos marketed as ‘gentle to skin/hair’ will contain this combination.
When to use: Excellent for clarifying, if you use a lot of oil, swim regularly in chlorinated water or have build up as a result of another product or co-washing.