In the natural hair world, shampoo can be a polarizing product. While many Naturals have a shampoo they swear by, you’ve probably also met someone who doesn’t shampoo at all (maybe it’s you!) Some shampoo once a week, once every two weeks, once a month, or less. Needless to say, we have a LOT of questions when it comes to shampoo, which is why Team NaturAll Club has dedicated this entire blogpost to answering these questions.
1. How often should you shampoo (if at all)?
People have different washing routines because everyone’s hair is different. Just because your sister or friend washes their hair every two weeks doesn’t mean you have to. However, there are two washing routines you should avoid.
First, don’t be the person who never washes their hair! No matter what you’ve been told, you do need to regularly cleanse your hair. If you don’t, dirt and product buildup will eventually keep moisture from penetrating your hair! The result is dry, brittle hair that looks dirty and lacks shine.
Secondly, don't wash your hair every day, or even every 2-3 days. Your scalp produces a natural oil called sebum, which travels down your hair strands to seal in moisture, preventing dryness. If you have curly or coily hair (type 3 or 4), your curls cause the sebum to travel down each hair strand more slowly.
Shampoo cleans dirt, product buildup, and oils out of your hair and scalp, which is why you need to use it from time to time. However, it also removes the naturally-produced sebum. Most Naturals find that using shampoo more than once a week leaves their hair dry, since sebum doesn’t have time to travel down the strand before it’s cleaned out again.
So what should you do? Listen to your hair! Start by washing it once a week, and if that works, try extending that week by several days to see how your hair feels. If it feels itchy, dirty, oily, flaky, or it feels like no product is able to moisturize it, it’s probably time for a wash. With a little experimentation, you should be able to find out the interval of time that your hair likes best. Once you do, stick to it!
2. What should you do before and after shampoo?
Remember, shampoo will clean sebum and other oils from your hair. These oils seal moisture into your hair and keep it from drying out. So anytime you shampoo, it’s essential to moisturize and seal afterwards. Use a daily conditioner in the shower (after the shampoo) to make your hair easier to detangle. Out of the shower, try using a leave-in conditioner followed by an oil. We also recommend using our Fresh Avocado Deep Conditioners to moisturize and nourish your hair before shampooing, to add extra moisture that will make your hair easier to detangle!
3. What are sulfates and do I have to use a sulfate-free shampoo?
As we mentioned before, all shampoos contain ingredients that clean your scalp and remove oil and dirt. Sulfates are the best cleaning agent. Like a detergent, they attract and strip out any oil and dirt in your hair and scalp. If your shampoo creates an immediate foamy lather, this is probably sulfates at work.
BUT if you have tighter curls and coils, sulfates are too harsh and will leave your hair dry and brittle (Sulphates are usually formulated and work better for straight hair that is thin and gets oily quickly). That's why we recommend a sulfate-free shampoo.
4. What’s the best shampoo out there?
Your hair is UNIQUE, which means it has its own characteristics and will respond differently to different products. However, some shampoos are better than others. Look at the ingredient list before you buy a shampoo, and check for harmful ingredients (Take a look at our list of ingredients to avoid in natural hair products here.)
One great option for sulfate-free shampoo is NaturAll Club's Cleansing Avocado Shampoo. We formulated this product carefully and handpicked the ingredients to make an all-natural shampoo, free from all the harmful ingredients commonly found in shampoos.
5. What about co-washing and apple cider vinegar?
Co-washing is a term for washing your hair by scrubbing it with conditioner. Many Naturals have found co-washing to be a good treatment in-between shampoos. Co-washing allows natural oils to cleanse and condition your hair, resulting in a very mild cleanse. We recommend making co-washes part of your washing routine, whether you alternate shampoo and co-wash, or co-wash several times in-between using shampoo. This is an especially good solution if you exercise frequently and want to keep your hair clean without over-washing. However, we don’t recommend replacing shampoo completely with co-wash, since it doesn’t fully clean your hair.
Many have also substituted shampoo for apple cider vinegar (ACV). ACV is an extremely beneficial treatment hair treatment, but if you want to completely substitute it for shampoo, we recommend using it with baking soda or another product that can cleanse your hair. ACV functions more like a conditioner, rather than a full substitute for shampoo. Read more about ACV here!