How to shop for hair products part 2: Choosing a shampoo
One of the most important part of your hair regimen is what you use to cleanse your hair. There are several ways of cleansing your hair and they include using a normal conditioner, using a cream cleanser/conditioning cleanser or using a shampoo. The last option usually leaves your hair the cleanest and the first option doesn’t really remove much oil and dirt from your hair although some people will argue otherwise. (People that only use conditioner to cleanse their hair call this the ‘no-poo method’. Some others use it in between their regular shampoo and call it ‘co-washing’). Some people even use only baking soda or vinegar to rinse their hair.
For a shampoo to be effective, it has what is called a surfactant which basically helps to remove the oil. Some surfactants ‘foam’ more than others. Some of the most potent ‘foamers’ are sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, etc. Some people argue that these chemicals are very drying to hair and can damage hair when used for long periods of time. This is moreso for African hair because we naturally have dry hair which needs continuous moisture. Some others disagree with this and don’t believe that these chemicals can harm hair.
When I first started growing my hair, I stumbled across this information and I decided to go off these chemicals to be on the safe side. I use Tigi bedhead superstar shampoo for thick massive hair and
Hair one dry scalp formula with tea tree oil any other sulfate-free shampoo to cleanse my hair weekly and I must tell you that my hair feels great. There’s no going back for me!
I only use SLS shampoos when I’m washing away the relaxer from my hair after a retouch and sometimes when I feel that I have a lot of build up in my hair. These occasions are not frequent and I’d rather use water to wash my hair than to use an SLS shampoo to wash my hair regularly!!
So the big question is: If I can’t use sodium lauryl sulfate and similar agents again, what can I use? The answer is this: you can use a shampoo containing COCOAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE or other gentle cleansers/surfactants or you can use a conditioning cleanser.
When shopping for shampoo, look through the ingredients list for sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate. If they are listed, avoid that shampoo as much as possible or use it only once a month. If you must use it, you have to deep condition your hair immediately after.
Take a look at the ingredient list below. This is a good example of a good sulfate-free shampoo.
In addition, look out for the following ingredients:
- Shea butter (adds shine and moisturizes)
- Wheat protein (gives hair volume)
- Barley powder (good for oily hair)
- Panthenol (for volume)
- Coconut oil (if you have light hair, it helps to thicken hair)
- Wheat germ (helps with frizz)
- Sea kelp and algae (adds shine and moisturizes)
- Jojoba oil (has a similar consistency with sebum and therefore rehydrates and restores natural balance of hair oils)
- Shikakai (it cleanses without stripping your hair of natural oils)
Unfortunately, no one product can have everything. The one thing I look out for in a shampoo is panthenol because it gives hair some volume.
Today, I decided to go shopping for an SLS-free shampoo and I found a few in one beauty/pharmacy shop in Lagos (Healthplus pharmacy). It’s called Jason Natural Jojoba Scalp Balancing Shampoo and it contains wheat protein, aloe vera, panthenol, etc. It looks like this:
One more thing I should tell you about sulfate-free shampoos is that they don’t foam the way sulfate shampoos do so if you’re used to having your hair foam before you think it’s clean, you’ll feel odd when you start using such shampoos.
Check out How to shop for hair products part 1 by clicking HERE.
*Post updated 28th August 2012*
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