Ingredients are a good start, but they do not always tell the whole story, especially if you are only focusing on one ingredient in a list of many (such as cocoaminopropyl betaine). One ingredient cannot tell you what category a product "should" be in or how it will act on your hair. Especially considering there are so many types of surfactants out there (anionic, cationic, amphoteric, nonionic), and even more formulaic combinations that a product can possess. So imo going by feel and what results you want is a better take.
Case in point, there are a lot of sulfate-free shampoos on the market that strip the hair because they have a higher concentration of surfactants, causing it to lather just as much as a traditional shampoo, just like there are non-lathering conditioning cleansers ("no-poos") that are more cleansing than others. Ingredients are typically listed in order by concentration, but they don't indicate percentages. This makes comparing one product to another kind of tricky (aside from the obvious fact that a company can label products whatever they choose, but you'll know what category it fits in for you when you use it on your hair).
Since there are a lot of folks who discuss things in terms of Lorraine Massey's Curly Girl (CG) Method, it makes sense to talk about it within that context and what she's written and spoken about. So, the descriptions I wrote earlier are based on Lorraine's Massey's point of view and how her cleansing products are formulated. According to her and her people, No-poo = no lather. Low-poo = low lather.
It's easy to get excited about learning the science of hair care but you don't want to look too hard at the details and miss the overall point. Subjectivity plays a large role which we see in every thread and article we read on this site.
4a/3c, fine strands, low porosity, medium density
Last relaxer: Jan 2010 - BC'd: 2/27/11
Last edited by artemis513; 11-11-2012 at 10:55 AM.