Wash day is a big event for naturalistas, and the right shampoo can make all the difference to your natural hair. While it’s a time-consuming process, it is the foundation on which any healthy hair regimen is based.
Shampooing and conditioning set the entire tone for your hair regimen and how well your hair thrives. Choosing the wrong shampoo can cause knots and tangles during the wash process, making it harder to detangle the hair and lengthening the amount of time required to wash and condition.
The wrong shampoo could also cause your hair and scalp to become dry, doing your hair more harm than good. This means it is imperative to choose the correct shampoo for the job and the right one for your hair type.
There are many different types of shampoos: Clarifying, sulfate-free, moisturizing, and more. Here are five things to think about when buying shampoo for your natural hair:
1. Nix the Sulfates If You’re Natural
TGIN Moisture Rich Sulfate Free Shampoo
Sulfates are universally loathed in the natural hair community though not everyone avoids them. Cheap lathering agents like Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate are known to be harmful and drying to the hair and skin.
These harsh cleansers can be found in everything from dish washing liquid to automotive degreasers; making them an overkill for our curly tresses. Sulfates strip natural oils from the scalp and hair—oils that natural hair needs to thrive.
As the natural hair movement grows and evolves, many naturalistas make their own rules, and this may or may not include using products containing sulfates. All in all, when choosing a shampoo for your natural hair, sulfate-free shampoos are likely to benefit your hair more.
2. Do you Have Product Build-Up?
Kinky Curly Come Clean
Some ingredients linger on the hair even after you shampoo. For example, many manufacturers formulate conditioners to leave a coating on the hair, and many styling products also have ingredients such as silicones, mineral oil, and petrolatum that coat the hair shaft.
Typically, products that coat the hair require shampoos that are stronger than regular and sulfate-free cleansers to remove the product build up. This is where clarifying shampoos come to the rescue.
How often should you clarify? It depends on which products you use and how quickly they accumulate on the hair.
Clarifiers are not for daily, weekly or even monthly use for most naturals. It’s an occasional treatment that should only be applied when you feel the buildup, or see a whitish coating on your hair or scalp.
Another sign is that your tried and true products stop working. If the buildup accumulates on the strand and prevents products from reaching the hair shaft, you won’t get the same effect from a product.
Using a clarifying shampoo will restore the hair to its buildup-free state. Kinky Curly’s Come Clean is a popular sulfate-free clarifying shampoo.
Shea Moisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo
Shea Moisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo is another great shampoo that will also clarify the hair. Especially if you suffer from dry and itchy scalp.
This shampoo will help to calm all irritants to the scalp. Just be sure to follow it with a pH-balancing conditioner, like Shea Moisture Balancing Conditioner as this shampoo can cause the hair to feel dry.
Keep reading to find out more about pH balancing your hair.
3. Use shampoo that is infused with peppermint
Abba Pure Moisture Shampoo
Shampoos that are infused with peppermint or tea tree oil are beneficial for the scalp since they create a tingling sensation which allows more blood flow to the scalp. This, in turn, promotes hair growth.Abba moisture shampoo gives you a double punch as a thick moisturizing shampoo that is infused with peppermint oil.
4. pH-Balanced Means Less Breakage
pH-balanced shampoos cleanse the hair without stripping away too much of the hair’s moisture. This means you can minimize tangles, dryness, and frizz, resulting in less breakage.
Shampoos with pH values between 4.5 and 5.5 are optimal for cleansing and maintaining the pH of the hair and scalp. You may be tempted to try an easy-to-find shampoo like Dr. Bonner’s Pure Castile Soap.
These soap-based shampoos are sulfate-free but are higher on the pH scale with values at 10-11. While they cleanse the hair well, they can leave the hair tangled and unmanageable.
Follow these types of strong natural cleansers with an acidic rinse like apple cider vinegar, a pH-balanced conditioner or aloe vera gel/juice to restore balance to the hair and scalp.
Giovanni’s pH-Balanced Hydrating-Clarifying Shampoo and Conditioner
Giovanni’s Hydrating-Clarifying Shampoo is an excellent pH-balancing shampoo for naturals when paired with the conditioner. It clarifies too which is a double bonus.
5. Buy Shampoos with Slip
Slip is short for slipperiness. It refers to how slippery a product makes your hair feel.
Slip makes it easier for you to comb or brush through your hair when the product is applied so that tangles come undone quicker and with less potential for damage to the hair. Slip is less important in shampoos because people don’t usually detangle their natural hair with shampoo.
However, it doesn’t hurt to have slipped in your shampoo because it will further help the detangling process. Choosing the right shampoo for natural hair is an important decision that affects the health of your hair and scalp as much as it affects the look and feel of your hair.
You may want to have a handful of different shampoos in your arsenal so that you can give your hair the kind of cleansing it needs when it needs it. However, if your natural hair care regimen does not use products that leave a residue, you may only need a moisturizing shampoo.
One more thing that is important to be mindful of is that shampoos that are labeled as moisturizing might be drying, while another that has made no such claim might leave your hair feeling great. Your hair’s response to a product may seem like a matter of chance, but it’s more likely to be a combination of factors that we aren’t aware of.
Ingredients and how they interact with each other often determine how your hair will react, so always read labels to identify what your hair likes or dislikes. The position of the ingredients on a list determines how much is in the product.
Choose products that have your favorite ingredients listed near the top. Whichever route you choose, listen to your hair and pay attention to its overall health to give it the right shampooing on wash day.
What are some of your favorite shampoos and which category would you place them in?