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Dear CurlySuzy: I'm a 3a/b, trying to be shampoo free for 6 months now. My current routine is a modified shampoo free (I use Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat shampoo a couple times a week), because my hair gets awful buildup fairly quickly. I've read that having hard water may be the cause of the buildup, not my products, and that products with EDTA may help. So are there any products that are shampoo free friendly that contain EDTA?

Dear Robyn: You are exactly right that EDTA (ethylenediamine tetra acetic acid) will help with your hard water problem. Here are some products that contain that ingredient and are CG friendly. Please email me if you have any questions.

Please also check out this excerpt from an article from NaturallyCurly's CurlChemist, Tonya McKay Becker:

"It is estimated that at least 65% of Americans have hard water at home. The degree of hardness varies tremendously with geography, but those with extremely hard water know intimately the problems associated with it. Pipes can clog, coffee pots die, clothes get a dingy, gray tinge, and the sinks and tubs develop unattractive residue. It is necessary to use more detergent, more hand soap, more shampoo, and more conditioner and fabric softener to get things clean and soft. Perhaps the most aggravating thing for us curly-haired people (and even our straight-haired friends) is the insidious build up that develops on our hair, rendering it dry and unmanageable.

"Hard water contains dissolved minerals, usually carbonates of the metal ions calcium and magnesium. Calcium sulfate and iron deposits are also not unusual. These minerals react with soaps and surfactants, reducing their effectiveness at cleansing, and forming a salt that precipitates onto your hair (and your clothes, your skin, and your bathtub). This means that not only are oils and dirt more likely to accumulate due to your shampoo not working as well as it should, but also a scaly film gradually develops over the surface of the hair. This leads to hair that is dry (due to the inability of moisturizers to penetrate this film) and prone to tangles and breakage (due to the roughened cuticle surface). The best way to remove these alkaline inorganic salts is to use shampoos or rinses containing organic acids with multiple acidic sites (see figures below). These sites form a cage around the metal ion of the salt, and the entire complex can then be rinsed from the hair.

"These acids are called “chelating agents,” and some examples are EDTA (ethylenediamine tetra acetic acid) and citric acid. Organic acids containing only one acidic site can also be used for removal of these minerals, but may be less effective and require higher concentrations. Some examples are acetic acid (vinegar), salicylic acid, and glycolic acid. Installation of a water softener or shower filter is the ideal method of avoiding this type of problematic mineral buildup at home. However, when that is not an option, the best approach is occasional use of a shampoo with a relatively short ingredient list containing EDTA or citric acid and a strong surfactant such as sodium lauryl sulfate. SLS helps remove any oily buildup that has occurred as a result of the mineral film, and a simple formula without lots of additives prevents interference with the chelating agent. For those who prefer to avoid shampoos and the surfactants found in them, a mixture of distilled water and vinegar can aid in the removal of the minerals. Follow up either treatment with a deep, moisturizing conditioner."

You also might want to try a shower water filter to help get rid of hard water.

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