The Lowdown on Shampoo

The Lowdown on Shampoo

Posted by Lisa C. on

You have probably read somewhere that shampoo and the Curly Girl / Curly Hair Method are a no go.  Maybe you’re in a FB group that doesn’t allow shampoo to be discussed.  Or you just don’t know which shampoo to use, what the differences are or how often to use it.

If you are strict with the method and only cowashing (see my past Blog on the Pros and Cons of Cowashing) and it works for you, keep going.  You might be adding in a vinegar rinse every now and then to remove build up and help out your scalp.  Remember to dilute it as 15-30 mls (1-2 tbsp) per 250mls (1 cup) of water.  I won’t get more into the science of this so let's stick with shampoo for today.

Using shampoo is pretty common now in a lot of groups and it is just referred to as a modification to the method.  Some people find they can’t cowash as it is too heavy for their fine hair or it aggravates their scalps.

a woman shampooing her dark hair

No Poo

In its truest definition this means using nothing but water or it references a specific brand that has a cleansing conditioner.

In most circumstances it is now referred to as cowashing.  This is simply washing with a cleansing conditioner or a regular conditioner.  A cowash is a specially-designed product containing the ingredients to both wash and condition the hair, like the As I Am Coconut Cowash.

Low Poo

Okay so perhaps you tried a shampoo and your hair is already dry so this made it worse.  And you also tried cowashing but your scalp was unhappy.  This is when you want to look at adding in what is commonly referred to as a low poo.  This falls in between clarifying and cowashing and is considered by some as another approved modification.  These shampoos contain combinations of a few milder cleansers that are gentle on the hair.  They will lather some but usually not as much as the clarifying shampoos.  Depending on your hair you will be able to use a low poo as often as you want, even daily, especially if your work or lifestyle means you just need to wash your hair.

Some of the gentle ingredients you might want to look for in a low poo:

  • Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Sodium Cocoyl glutamate
  • Glucosides (Coco, Decyl, Lauryl)
  • Sodium Sulfosuccinate

Here are a couple of nice low poos you can try from Curl Warehouse: As I Am Curl Clarity Shampoo or Jessicurl Gentle Lather Shampoo.

Clarifying Shampoo

Clarifying shampoos will lather up and effectively remove build up from conditioner and stylers to reset the hair, usually allowing you to go another 4-8 weeks before doing it again.  They might dry your hair a little so most people tend to do a deep conditioning treatment after.

The list of cleansers that will remove build up is pretty long and most shampoos have a combination of ingredients to clean your hair and scalp.  Strong sulfates like Sodium Lauryl or Laureth and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (which aren’t Curly Girl Method approved ingredients if you're following the method) work well and are used on occasion as a final washPretty Curly Girl's Reset Shampoo is the perfect example of a shampoo for this purpose.  But these work so well at removing build up, oil, and other things like silicones that they are also very drying to the hair and not recommended for regular use on hair that is naturally dry, like our curls usually are.

So what are some other options?

For clarifying look for an olefin sulfonate in your product.  These cleansers have been proven to effectively clean hair and scalp without that stripping feeling.  How often should you use it?  Well it depends…. maybe you only need it every month or two or perhaps your hair and scalp like it more frequently.  Don’t ever forget that this is your routine and what works for others may or may not work for you but never ignore an itchy scalp!  There are clarifying shampoos out there that have moisturizing ingredients in the formula to help your hair and scalp from getting too dry if you have to use them more frequently.

An example of these clarifying shampoos would be the Cantu Cleansing Cream Shampoo or Aunt Jackie’s Purify Me CoWash Cleanser (don't be fooled by the title - this is a clarifying shampoo that contains additional moisturizers).

The Best Shampoo For You?

Always remember that you can combine shampoos.  By that I mean you might use a stronger one on your scalp and a milder one on your hair.  Or blend the two that you like together to get the formula that you like. Or feel free to dilute your shampoo (5-10mls /1-2tsp) in 250mls/1 cup of water to make a stronger shampoo milder.  Bonus…. is it will last longer!  Please dilute in a separate container and not directly in the bottle as you will disturb the preservatives and potentially contaminate the product or cause mold or mildew to grow in the bottle.

I think a lot of us also enjoy a nice bubbly shampoo every now and then.  Shampoo will cause the hair to swell but then again so does water so no need to avoid it.  For those of us with scalp issues I will always recommend use of low poo and clarifying shampoos to keep this under control.  You can also purchase cleansing products specifically designed for dry, itchy scalps like the As I Am Dry & Itchy Scalp Care Shampoo.

Finding that special shampoo that cleans well and leaves your hair and scalp feeling good is what we are all looking for.  Don't be afraid to alternate between shampoos to find the right balance for your hair and scalp.



← Older Post Newer Post →