Over the course of the re-evolution of natural hair, shampoo by and large has gotten a bad reputation. It has been written off as harsh, drying, trifling, scalp irritating, and more. Trust me, I’ve had some less than savory experiences myself. But fortunately, as time moves along and the concern for kinky and coily hair rises among product manufacturers and small businesses, more shampoo options that are SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) and/or sulfate-free become available.
You don’t have to dramatically shift your regimen to incorporate shampoo. If you are a fan of regular co-washing or natural alternatives like ACV or Clay, you can definitely still utilize those for the bulk of your cleansing. However, if you are beginning to feel like they just aren’t getting the job done, or you feel like you may have misjudged shampoo, now is the perfect time to switch it up. In fact, there are some substantial benefits to the occasional (or regular) shampoo:
1. Buildup Removal from Hair
To quote Jc of The Natural Haven, “In the grand scheme of things, shampoo will remove more oil and dirt than conditioner, conditioner will remove more oil and dirt than using plain water.” Translation: working shampoo into your regimen (at whatever frequency you feel comfortable with) will catch all of the product, dirt, and oil buildup that co-washing can leave behind on your hair.
2. Clean Scalp
Healthy hair grows out of a healthy scalp. In order to optimize healthy hair growth, the scalp needs to be free of clogged follicles that can occur as a result of sebum production (which is good) combined with product buildup, environmental dirt, and oils applied to the hair/scalp (which is bad). When follicles are clogged, it can cause flaking of the scalp, and even stall hair growth. Conditioner can remove *some* of this buildup, but not as effectively as a shampoo that is designed to do so.
3. Conditioners & Deep Conditioners Will Work Better
Without getting too scientific, the general rule is that hair carries a slightly negative charge that is enhanced by use of a shampoo with a negative charge (anionic surfactant). Conditioner has a positive charge (cationic), and of course, opposites attract. The ingredients in your regular and deep conditioners are designed to stick to the hair (adsorb), smooth the cuticle, fill in chipped areas (if there is protein), and can do so better when exposed to completely clean hair and scalp.
If you’re looking to dive into shampooing again, here are a list of more gentle cleansing ingredients to look for that are likely to not strip your hair as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
- SLES (Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate)
- C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
- Castile Soap
- Decyl Glucoside
- Sponified Oils (click here for more info on shampoo bars)
To make things a little easier, here are some high-quality, gentle shampoos that won’t break the bank:
I can personally vouch for this one. This shampoo has quickly become one of my favorites, and for good reason. It leaves my hair feeling clean, yet super moisturized and not stripped in the slightest. It has tons of slip, making it really easy to work through wet hair. Many naturals sing its praises — and they’re absolutely telling the truth.
I especially recommend this for transitioners. Both are incredibly gentle and mild, and won’t strip the hair. Both of these shampoos got me through the first year of my transition. They are both affordable, and accessible — and the 32oz Allafia bottle will last you a lifetime.
4. Koils By Nature Refreshing Anti-Dandruff Tea Tree Mint Cleanser
Another personal favorite of mine. Koils By Nature is known for knockout products, and this shampoo does not disappoint. It has great slip, and cleanses but doesn’t strip the hair. The tea tree and peppermint essential oils are a bonus, especially for those with itchy scalp.
5. Qhemet Biologics Egyptial Wheatgrass Cleansing Tea
The Cleansing Tea is especially mild, but still very effective. It does not have as much slip as some of the others mentioned here, but it is still a great contender — especially if you like the Qhemet Biologics line. A small amount of the Cleansing Tea goes a long way, so an 8oz bottle will last for months.
Camille Rose Naturals is another really great natural product line to consider. Although I have not personally tried this product, the ingredient list looks stellar. Gentle surfactants, humectants (honey and glycerin), essential and carrier oils. If you have tried it, let me know! I’m on the hunt for some.
If you’re still a little hesitant to try shampoo head-on, here are a few tips that will help you ease into the suds:
- Pre-poo your hair with oil, conditioner, or a mixture of both. Using oils like Coconut Oil will help prevent protein loss, and conditioner can help prevent your hair from becoming more stripped than it would be without it.
- Always detangle your hair prior to shampooing. Always.
- If full strength shampoo is still too much for you, dilute it in an applicator bottle with a slanted nozzle. That way, you can concentrate on your scalp more than your hair.
Will you begin shampooing your hair? How frequently?