"The LORD is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?"

- Psalms 27 : 1

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Natural Hair ABCs : To Shampoo or not To Shampoo


It was as a newly natural that I first heard about not using shampoos. I asked myself, "who wouldn't want to use shampoos?" having myself used it all my life until now, I thought it absurd.
But I soon realized it was not as absurd as it seemed.

Before deciding whether shampoo is for you or not, you have to know what shampoo is all about.

First of all : a shampoo is a cleansing agent for our hair. There are different types of shampoos and they contain a variety of ingredients. From the moisturizing ones to the clarifying ones. Before deciding to use a shampoo or before ruling it out, you have to understand what is does. An average shampoo is supposed to rid the hair of all the dirt and excess grease (from multiple products) and also remove any microbial agent on the scalp or hair. Now, that is what a basic shampoo is supposed to.

Secondly: The big question we naturals are supposed to ask, after the basic requirements of a shampoo is fulfilled is : in what state does this shampoo leave my hair? Of course clean, yes, but what else? Most shampoos leave the hair dry and brittle, especially our lovely kinks that are already prone to dryness. Now the root of the resluts we get from any product, is directly linked to the ingredients it contains so the reason so many shampoos are so drying, is because they contain unsuitable ingredients. Unsuitable ingredients include, Sulfate Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate etc. These are in fact surfactants (please consult this post for more information on surfactants) that are ridiculously stripping but I think (and hope) all you lovelies already know about this but if not, there are tons of blogs and website that explain more about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and the like.

Thirdly : Not all shampoos can be used in the same way. Of course all shampoos cleanse but some shampoos are better for certain situations. Let me bring it home : say it's summer time and the moisture in our hair is great, using a moisturizing shampoo whenever you wash your hair is not really suitable because we don't need any excess moisture all we need is a cleanser but that does not mean we'll use a drying shampoo!! And during the winter, we'd take more care to use a moisturizing shampoo. Some people also use clarifying shampoos whenever they have major build up. Such shampoos are more potent and cleanse the hair of practically everything but a shampoo like that cannot be used every time, because it would just end up drying the hair.

Now that we know what a shampoo is all about, we can go on.

Before you can say whether you need a shampoo or not, you need to review your hair regimen and the products you are using. What do I mean? Well, if you are using three products with a lot silicones, and style your hair with at least one of these products a day and you do not want to use a shampoo, then, I have to advice you to rethink.
You see, a "no poo" regimen as we so often hear it being called, depends on the hair regimen. You just cannot decide over night to stop using shampoo just because you do not like your own anymore, in that case, buy another one.
Not using shampoo is a decision naturals that see they do not need it take but it is not a preference for anybody.

There are questions you need to ask yourself before finally deciding you do not want to use shampoo :

- How many products do I use on a regular basis (excluding shampoo and conditioner)?
- How many gels do I use?
- How many of my products contain silicones?
- How many of my products contain petrolatum or mineral oil?
- How many products do I use a day (excluding shampoo and conditioner)?

These are the type of questions you need to ask yourself. Of course, the more products you use, the more chances that you might need a shampoo. And the more of them contain non water soluble ingredients such as silicones, the more you'll need a shampoo.

At this point, you should be able to say if you really need a shampoo or not.

If you do, but you don't like shampoo much, you might want to try a clarifying shampoo at least once every three weeks (depending on your hair routine and products) and maybe use a shampoo alternative in between.

If you do not need a shampoo but still want to use one you should think about a moisturizing shampoo and try not to use it every day.

If you do not need a shampoo and do not want to use one then try a shampoo alternative.

Here are a few (commercial) shampoo alternatives :

 - Black soap

- Apple Cider Vinegar rinse

- Mayonnaise

- Beer

While some natural divas do use these alternatives, some actually don't use anything and only wash their hair with conditioner.

At the end of the day, it really is up to you, just be informed and try and make a decision based on your hair needs.

Do share your experiences and additions!

Stay blessed and funky sisters!


  1. Great tips! Thanks for sharing!



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