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A Guide to Finding the Right Shampoo

Avatar • Dec 8, 2011

herbal-essences-hello-hydration-moisturizing-shampoo,-$3.99

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.

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Scientist on a hairy mission!

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Natural Nigerian
8 years ago

I was hoping you would talk about Shampoos that contain EDTA. My understanding is that they provide even more clarification — and as such should be used even more sparingly — for mineral (Chlorine, Hard water e.t.c) laden hair.

Jc
Jc
8 years ago

EDTA is a chelator. This means that it can bind and hold onto certain minerals and metal ions. People recommend it for hard water as it will hold onto and help remove the dissolved salts in the water which then makes the surfactant in the shampoo able to to act more effectively (any surfactant whether SLS or SLS free). EDTA is quite a controversial addition to shampoo. It can be quite irritating to skin and the eyes and if the pH is not well controlled in the product (i.e too low or too high) then the result can be as bad… Read more »

Lacoya S.
8 years ago

I just bought the Grand Poo Bar from Oyin and will be trying it on my next wash. This will be my first time trying shampoo bars, so I am definitely excited to see what the verdict will be!!! 🙂

Ola
Ola
8 years ago
Reply to  Lacoya S.

I’ve just started using it. For some reason it made my hair stiff but once I used the Honey Hemp Conditioner it went away. Idk I’ll finish it off since I bought it but Karen’s Body Beautiful Juicy Shampoo bar is really good. I’m going back to that once I finish off this Grand Poo bar.

E
E
8 years ago

What about for starter or matured Locs? ALOT of these post only focus on loose natural hair. It would be nice to see a loc info post every once in a while

Asea
Asea
8 years ago

I love Shea Moisture’s Black Soap as well as the Shea Butter Shampoo. Granted, I don’t shampoo often, maybe once a month when I get product build up. And I concentrate on my scalp mostly. Otherwise I cowash with Giovanni or Aubreys.

CandyceNoelle
CandyceNoelle
8 years ago
Reply to  Asea

@Asea — C’mon for that picture of ShoNuff!!! LMAOOOO that just made my morning…I know this is off topic but that was hilarious. I literally laughed aloud at my desk…I need that on a t‑shirt haha

Asea
Asea
8 years ago
Reply to  CandyceNoelle

Hee hee 🙂

Grey Poupon
Grey Poupon
8 years ago

See this is why I don’t understand people who cowash instead of shampoo. Conditioners don’t clean your hair and scalp because if it did then they would call it “Shampoo,” right? Lol. I’ve tried it once and it left my scalp white with gunk that shampooing got rid of.

df
df
8 years ago

I read that you only really need to wash your scalp…what if you use alot of products, what do you do for buildup on the hair itself? Also are pre-poos with oils in particular actually beneficial? Thanks JC!

Jc
Jc
8 years ago
Reply to  df

You do need to concentrate on washing your scalp as this is where most of the oil naturally is. Naturally the shampoo will run down the length of the hair as it is being rinsed out.

Buildup on hair itself can be taken care off with shampoo. You can try an SLS free version and if it does not work, then an SLS clarifying shampoo is the way to go.

Pre poos with certain oils are great — http://thenaturalhaven.blogspot.com/2009/07/reader-questions-coconut-oil-before.html

df
df
8 years ago

weird i made a comment but it vanished…

anyway this is for Madame JC… i’ve read in multiple places that only the scalp is supposed to be shampooed but what if you use a lot of product and have product coating the strands. What can you use to clean the hair apart from shampoo or will just washing the scalp be enough? I’ve tried all sorts of shampoos and they all make my hair dry. Also are pre poos with oils in particular actually beneficial? Thanks!

Jc
Jc
8 years ago
Reply to  df

I replied above 🙂

Wowzers
Wowzers
8 years ago

I actually dig Miss Jessie’s Super Sudsy shampoo. It has amazing slip and lather, and works extremely well on my hair and my kids’. From an ingredient standpoint, it may not pass the natural smell test, but it does what it says it will, and that is a promise some other products I’ve tried cannot live up to.

EG
EG
8 years ago

Did anyone else see the post from yesterday by Audrey Sivasothy about deep conditioning? She wrote the ‘science of black hair’. It disappeared today, and i’m wondering why? Basically she was saying we should use heat for maximum penetration when we deep condition.….I know i’m not imagining things.

Black Girl With Long Hair
Reply to  EG

Lol! No, you are not imagining things 🙂 We took it down to review the information because some of it was at odds with previous deep conditioning advice we’ve given.

EG
EG
8 years ago

Thank You! Whew (wipes forehead).…yes, I noticed that as well. I asked the question who should I/we believe? JC said we don’t need heat, Audrey said we do, so does Cathy Howse by the way.…but given that JC and Audrey are both scientist, it does make matters more interesting. Let us know when you guys hash it out, inquiring (sp?) minds want to know.

Jc
Jc
8 years ago
Reply to  EG

Actually I had a deep conditioning panel where one of the participants raised the point that heat can be beneficial for certain ingredients for example proteins in conditioning. I agree with that.

I am not convinced by the heat=penetration argument because for hair penetration begins first and foremost by size (i.e the cuticle is a barrier and only small objects can get through for example,water, certain oils and some amino acids/hydrolysed proteins of a small size).

Lokking forward to the article.

Laila N
Laila N
8 years ago

ok, so i read alot of blogs on natural hair…mainly because i love anything to deal with hair, but I am also a licensed cosmetologist‑i specialize in natural hair care/transitioning, and I like to keep up on current hair trends for my clients. I am really considering starting a blog from a professional standpoint to help assist with some of the question and concerns that women have. On all of my clients, I use a product line called Bumble and bumble and Design Essentials. The are not sulfate free, however, my clients hair THRIVE!! I use a steamer for conditioning… Read more »

Ray
Ray
6 years ago

My shampoo is creme of nature argan oil sulphate free shampoo it works wonders for me and it doesn’t dry out my hair ( my hair is color treated and naturally dry)

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