The hair tips, advice and recommendations given on this blog are given based on the experiences of the authors. These tips may not work for everyone and every hair type and it is important to acknowledge this since we are neither hair specialists nor trichologists.

Also many pictures on this blog belong to the authors but there are others that we do not have ownership for and thus we do not claim ownership of the ones that do not belong to us.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shampoos: Hate 'em or love 'em (Part 1)


Shampoos! Sulfates! Surfactants! SLS! These are words that float around the natural hair community. Some say they do not use shampoos because they are too drying. Some use conditioners to wash their hair. Some use sulfate free shampoos. And on and on it goes. I found myself getting confused and not knowing what to do about all this stuff. I am not a scientist and just needed some general information to guide my decisions.So I read up on these things and here is what I found out - summarized.

Shampoos are made for cleaning hair. Shampoos contain surfactants that clean the hair. Shampoos clean the hair by breaking down the oils on the hair which allows the oils and dirt to be lifted up and removed from the hair.

Surfactants are used in shampoos and they are responsible for breaking down the oils on the hair. More specifically, it is because of sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) in shampoos that shampoos clean hair leaving it without oil.

Washing your hair with warm water and no shampoo will not be as effective. Note: sulfates, surfactants and SLS are usually used interchangeably by consumers although they are not really the same thing.

Now, some women with natural hair complain that regular shampoos dry out their hair. Our natural hair is prone to dryness because the oils do not travel down our strands because of the curls and kinks in our hair. So having to deal with something seems to increase the dryness of our hair is not appealing. As a result, some people wash their hair with sulfate free shampoos or with conditioners (i.e. no-poo method). The challenge with these two alternatives is that they are not as effective in cleaning hair as shampoos with SLS.

1) Sulfate free shampoos usually contain cocamidopropyl betaine which is a less irritating surfactant. It will clean but not as effectively as SLS: meaning your hair will not oil free.

2) Conditioners contain surfactants (like behentrimonium chloride, behentrimonium methosulfate and stearamidopropropyl) which are designed to deposit onto hair, smooth the cuticle and create softness. This means that they do not actually clean the hair. They are designed to be used after shampoos to reduce the dryness shampoos may cause. They are not designed to clean.

Some extra reading here, and here.

So what to do when you want clean hair but not dry hair? We will talk about this tomorrow. Till then ...

Keep it natural!


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