What constitutes a low-poo vs. no-poo vs. clarifying poo?

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So, as I understand it, a low-poo involves something like cocoa betaine, which is easier on the hair that SLS, ALS, etc.

A clarifying shampoo may or may not contain a standard SLS/ALS sulfate (although I thought that was what was meant); however, I see people defining a clarifying shampoo as ones with cocoa betaine and/or something else entirely. Maybe the something else entirely constitutes a no-poo?

Basically, I'm just confused by all the terminology. Am trying to be as CG as possible, but am finding that I may need to use a sulfate-containing (?clarifying) shampoo from time to time to remove/reduce various types of buildup (mineral deposits from hard water, oils and styling products that get slimy when wet and dull my hair when dry after a few weeks, etc.). I know it's all about finding what works for you personally, whether that is straight-up, pure CG or a modification that suits you...am just confused about the terms used to differentiate shampoos.
tuckersdaughter likes this.
2c, fine, extremely dense, color-treated, high porosity.

CG since 10/12
I thought low poo was any cleanser that doesn't contain sulfates. Then i thought no poo was a cleansing conditioner. Correct me if I'm wrong.
2b/c wavy modified CG since July 2012
medium texture, normal porosity, normal elasticity
hair likes protein, doesn't like oils, easily OC'd

low poo: JCHCC, CJGCS
RO/co-wash/LI: YTCarrots, DB Pumpkin Seed
stylers: a bunch of stylers that are all pretty much the same (KCCC, UFDCM, CRCM, CKCJ) or ArcAngel if I need more hold
DT/PT: CJRM, CNPF
It might be easier to understand if you view the products from their level of lather instead of their ingredients, as Lorraine Massey's CG method is based on this concept. The in-detail focus on which surfactants to use on hair really came about by other folks out there trying to suss things out for themselves...

No-poo = cleansing conditioner (zero lather)

Low-poo = shampoo with mild detergents, mild (read: very low) lather [these can't really contain sulfates if the lather is low] *According to CG method wavies and some curlies could do well with these on occasion if build-up occurs*

"Sham-poo" = traditional shampoos (may or may not contain sulfates, has moderate lather) *According to CG method, most curlies should do fine without this product*

Clarifying shampoo = high detergent shampoos (ie, in higher concentrations than traditional ones) meant to thoroughly strip the hair of oils, dirt and grime (highest presence of lather) *according to CG method no curly should ever need this product*

So the more lather, the more stripping the product, which is why LM emphasizes no lather for curly hair (quotes from her camp: "there's no magic in bubbles" and "your hair will love a bubble-free diet"). Ultimately because every head of curls is different, you will need to make that decision for yourself and do what works for you.

Hopes this helps.

Edit: in terms of mineral deposits, Curl Junkie Daily Fix is a cleansing conditioner that contains chelating ingredients such as tetrasodium EDTA (which aren't the same as sulfates) so you don't need a sulfate based cleanser to get build up out of the hair, just look for that ingredient. You might also want to do a Google search for chelating ingredients to find out other types to look for as well.
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Last edited by artemis513; 10-13-2012 at 11:34 AM. Reason: add'l thoughts
My understanding is that no poo is a cleansing conditioner. Low poo is a sulfate free and silicone free shampoo. I think that a clarifying shampoo may or may not be sulfate free. For example I have a clarifying shampoo that is sulfate free called Avalon Organics Clarifying shampoo. So it is both a low poo and clarifies. I consider any low poo with cocoamidopropyl betaine to also be a clarifier. So I would consider SM Hibiscus a low poo but not a clarifier.
How often do you guys use a clarifying treatment. I'm getting a lot of build up. Presumably the protein in my gel. I just cleaned yesterday with baking soda and acv rinse. It seemed to help clean it without shampoo. Idk. I have no idea what I'm doing.
While I really like the explanation that artemis 513, a product is anything that the manufacturer wants to call it. Several of the cleansing conditioners have mild surfactants.

Both CJ Daily Fix and Deva Low-Poo contain Cocamidopropyl Betaine. One's a cleansing conditioner and one is a lowpoo. It's all how your hair reacts to the product.
poemaXX likes this.
3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity
modified CG, since April '07
CG since 3/11/08

SE PA

HGs: Anything Sevi; Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; UFD Curly Magic (now Hello Curly Curl Stimulater); Botanical Spirits Jellies, CJ Repair Me, Marie Dean Leave Ins and Curl Creams
Just to throw in a little more confusion , Devacurl No Poo also has coco betaine.
gardencurls likes this.
3a (normal-porosity/elasticity/density)
Cleanse: CHS TS+oil, poo bars, Sevi pumpkin poo, Co-wash
LI/RO:MD RCLI, GDLI-GVPCB, DB pumpkin, Tresemmé Naturals
Stylers: LALSG, Volumax styling, CHS CK, BRHG, KCCC, Gel-les'C, JC Spiralicious, AOMM, FSG, SSCEJ

$5 off 1st order under $40, $10 off over $40...at iherb use code KEY066
What ingredient(s) makes it a "cleansing" conditioner appropriate for "co-wash" then? Are Cetyl Alcohol and Cetearyl Alcohols cleansers?

Is a DevaCurl No-Poo a "co-wash"? I ordered a product from Ouidad called Ouidad Co-Wash (contains Behentrimonium Chloride), which I thought was a "no-poo", but now I think I have no idea what I'm using...

Are the products that call themselves "cleansing conditioners" (Hair One, Wen, Daily Fix, etc.) "co-washes" but not"no-poos"?

I think I've had these definitions wrong all along...maybe...
3b/c, Coarse, Low Porosity, Desert Climate
CG since August 2011/Occasionally Modified since 2013
Favorites:KCKT/KCCC/CHS Curl Keeper/Camille Rose Curl Maker/
ORS Curls Unleased Second ChanceRefresher/
It's a 10 Leave-in/BRHG/
Jane Carter Nourish & Shine butter/
Ouidad Double-Detangler Comb
What ingredient(s) makes it a "cleansing" conditioner appropriate for "co-wash" then? Are Cetyl Alcohol and Cetearyl Alcohols cleansers?

Is a DevaCurl No-Poo a "co-wash"? I ordered a product from Ouidad called Ouidad Co-Wash (contains Behentrimonium Chloride), which I thought was a "no-poo", but now I think I have no idea what I'm using...

Are the products that call themselves "cleansing conditioners" (Hair One, Wen, Daily Fix, etc.) "co-washes" but not"no-poos"?

I think I've had these definitions wrong all along...maybe...
Originally Posted by gardencurls
It's very confusing. Cetyl alcohol is a "lubricant and thickening agent." Behentrimonium Chloride "is used as an anti-static agent and a disinfectant. In water treatment, it acts as an algaecide."

Couldn't find the exact ingredients for the Oudid cowash; however, the website said it contained a "naturally-derived coconut cleanser for a truly unique experience that never dries or strips hair." That's a definition of coco b.

In reviewing the Wen ingredients, I couldn't find that I could identify as a cleansing ingredient. It does have the "a cone," so many of us wouldn't use it.
3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity
modified CG, since April '07
CG since 3/11/08

SE PA

HGs: Anything Sevi; Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; UFD Curly Magic (now Hello Curly Curl Stimulater); Botanical Spirits Jellies, CJ Repair Me, Marie Dean Leave Ins and Curl Creams
As always, thanks so much kathymack!

Here are the ingredients for Ouidad Co-Wash: Aqua (Water/Eau), Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Nigella Sativa Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Fragrance/Parfum, Citric Acid, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Limonene, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone

So, from what I understand now,
Wen and Hair One products really are "co-washes", as in "conditioner wash", because they don't have ingredients that work as cleansers. They are "no-poos" as well, because they don't have shampoo ingredients, but DevaCurl No-Poo is not a co-wash.

In that case, I think I have had my terminology correct, and I have been "co-washing". At this point, it's "modified CG", but it's not low-pooing. I'm pretty sure the only time I've "low-pooed" is when I do "clarifying" washes every six weeks or so.
3b/c, Coarse, Low Porosity, Desert Climate
CG since August 2011/Occasionally Modified since 2013
Favorites:KCKT/KCCC/CHS Curl Keeper/Camille Rose Curl Maker/
ORS Curls Unleased Second ChanceRefresher/
It's a 10 Leave-in/BRHG/
Jane Carter Nourish & Shine butter/
Ouidad Double-Detangler Comb
As always, thanks so much kathymack!

Here are the ingredients for Ouidad Co-Wash: Aqua (Water/Eau), Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Nigella Sativa Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Fragrance/Parfum, Citric Acid, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Limonene, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone

So, from what I understand now,
Wen and Hair One products really are "co-washes", as in "conditioner wash", because they don't have ingredients that work as cleansers. They are "no-poos" as well, because they don't have shampoo ingredients, but DevaCurl No-Poo is not a co-wash.

In that case, I think I have had my terminology correct, and I have been "co-washing". At this point, it's "modified CG", but it's not low-pooing. I'm pretty sure the only time I've "low-pooed" is when I do "clarifying" washes every six weeks or so.
Originally Posted by gardencurls
I googled Sodium Lauroamphoacetate because I thought that might be the cleanser. It is a mild cleanser derived from coconut.
poemaXX and gardencurls like this.
3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity
modified CG, since April '07
CG since 3/11/08

SE PA

HGs: Anything Sevi; Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; UFD Curly Magic (now Hello Curly Curl Stimulater); Botanical Spirits Jellies, CJ Repair Me, Marie Dean Leave Ins and Curl Creams
LOL! I guess I could have done that myself. Thank you so much.

Now - for the real kicker...does this mean Ouidad Co-Wash is actually a POO?

I've been assuming that "co-wash" means a product does not contain surfactants that create lather. Therefore, a co-wash is a type of no-poo, because it doesn't have a lathering detergent...However, it seems that "co-wash" also means mild cleanser plus conditioner...kind of like vintage Pert Plus...only without the hydrochloric acid, or whatever that stuff seemed to contain.

For me, the formulas of Wen and Hair One can be considered typical "conditioners", as opposed to "shampoos", because they do not contain detergents. Based on this, the terms Conditioner Wash and Co-Wash seem accurate. It seems like DevaCurl "No-poo" falls into the category of "conditioner". (No-poo ingredients list from drugstore.com: Achillea Millefolium (Yarrow) Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Cymbopogan Schoenanthus Extract, Humulus Lupulas (Hops) Extract, Melissa Officinalis (Lemon Balm) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Flower Extract, Isopropyl Palmitate, Cetyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Laureth 4, Grapeseed Oil, Peppermint (Leaf) Oil, Propylene Glycol, Wheat Amino Acid, Soy Amino Acid, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methyl Paraben, Propyl Paraben, Menthol, Fragrance). So DevaCurl "No-poo" is a conditionerwash, in the way that Hair One and Wen are co-washes.

(DevaCurl Low-Poo has coco betaine listed, but No-Poo does not, which is why I called the No-Poo a "conditioner").

But, now a "co-wash" might be a "low-poo" or even a "poo"...depending upon how it is marketed. Very sneaky.

Huh. Just when I thought I had it down.
JanaVicktoria likes this.
3b/c, Coarse, Low Porosity, Desert Climate
CG since August 2011/Occasionally Modified since 2013
Favorites:KCKT/KCCC/CHS Curl Keeper/Camille Rose Curl Maker/
ORS Curls Unleased Second ChanceRefresher/
It's a 10 Leave-in/BRHG/
Jane Carter Nourish & Shine butter/
Ouidad Double-Detangler Comb

Last edited by gardencurls; 10-23-2012 at 06:44 PM.
These are the devacurl No Poo ingredients from their site and the same thing on my bottle..
I believe this is the newest formula.

Water (Aqua, Eau), Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Isopropyl Palmitate, Behentrimonium Chloride, Polyquaternium-7, Laureth-4, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Propylene Glycol, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Triticum Aestivum (Wheat) Peptide, Avena Sativa (Oat) Peptide, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Peptide, Melissa Officinalis Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Menthol, Citric Acid, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Fragrance (Parfum)
3a (normal-porosity/elasticity/density)
Cleanse: CHS TS+oil, poo bars, Sevi pumpkin poo, Co-wash
LI/RO:MD RCLI, GDLI-GVPCB, DB pumpkin, Tresemmé Naturals
Stylers: LALSG, Volumax styling, CHS CK, BRHG, KCCC, Gel-les'C, JC Spiralicious, AOMM, FSG, SSCEJ

$5 off 1st order under $40, $10 off over $40...at iherb use code KEY066
That is bizarre. I haven't kept up with the Deva line so I hadn't realized the formulas were changed! I was basing my understanding of what is "poo" on old products, apparently! I used No-poo a long time ago, and I'm certain it didn't lather. It is still sulfate-free though. Whew!

Now I really don't understand what ingredient means it's "poo". According to mydevacurl.com, the ingredients in No-Poo and Low-Poo are just about the same, but in different concentrations. (And Low- Poo lists cocamidopropyl betaine and coco betaine, but they're the same thing...)

I am completely confused. Not to mention really glad that I wasn't in love with Deva No-poo!
3b/c, Coarse, Low Porosity, Desert Climate
CG since August 2011/Occasionally Modified since 2013
Favorites:KCKT/KCCC/CHS Curl Keeper/Camille Rose Curl Maker/
ORS Curls Unleased Second ChanceRefresher/
It's a 10 Leave-in/BRHG/
Jane Carter Nourish & Shine butter/
Ouidad Double-Detangler Comb
I just looked up the ingredients for Deva NoPoo on CurlMart:

Water (Aqua, Eau), Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Behentrimonium Chloride, Isopropyl Palmitate, Polyquaternium-7, Laureth-4, Propylene Glycol, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Coco-Betaine, Citrus Aurentium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Wax, Citrus Aurentium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Extract, Wheat Amino Acids, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Triticum Aestivum (Wheat) Peptide, Avena Sativa (Oat) Peptide, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Peptide, Melissa Officinalis Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Menthol, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid, Diazolidinyl Urea, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Fragrance (Parfum), Red 40 (CI 16035), Yellow 5 (CI 19140)

And at aveyou.com:

Aqueous Extracts of: Achilea Millefolium, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria), Cymbopogon Schoenanthus, Humulus Lupulus (Hops), Melissa Offcinalis (Balm Mint), Rosmarinus Offcinalis (Rosemary), Isopropyl Palmitate, Cetyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Laureth-4, Grape Seed Oil, Peppermint Oil, Propylene Glycol, Wheat Amino Acids, Soy Amino Acids, Oat Amino Acids, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methyl Paraben, Propyl Paraben, Menthol, Fragrance.

When Deva changed the ingredients (I think from the original ones) several years ago, they didn't change the labels for a LONG time. There was a really long thread on nc.com with irate consumers!

gardencurls, as I said in post #6, a product can be what ever the manufacturer wants to call it. I really wouldn't perseverate about it. It just goes to show that you need to become ingredient savvy and make decisions based on what you want from a product.
3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity
modified CG, since April '07
CG since 3/11/08

SE PA

HGs: Anything Sevi; Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; UFD Curly Magic (now Hello Curly Curl Stimulater); Botanical Spirits Jellies, CJ Repair Me, Marie Dean Leave Ins and Curl Creams
gardencurls, as I said in post #6, a product can be what ever the manufacturer wants to call it. I really wouldn't perseverate about it. It just goes to show that you need to become ingredient savvy and make decisions based on what you want from a product.
Originally Posted by kathymack
I'm attempting to become ingredient savvy. I realize you understand what you're talking about when in comes to ingredients, so it hardly seems fair to accuse me of perseveration.

Clearly I missed the long thread with Deva's irate customers. Frankly, I couldn't care less about Deva products, but I would like to be on the level for discussion purposes with my understanding of the meaning of "poo".

And yes, I realize how absurd that last statement sounds.
3b/c, Coarse, Low Porosity, Desert Climate
CG since August 2011/Occasionally Modified since 2013
Favorites:KCKT/KCCC/CHS Curl Keeper/Camille Rose Curl Maker/
ORS Curls Unleased Second ChanceRefresher/
It's a 10 Leave-in/BRHG/
Jane Carter Nourish & Shine butter/
Ouidad Double-Detangler Comb

Frankly, I couldn't care less about Deva products, but I would like to be on the level for discussion purposes with my understanding of the meaning of "poo".

And yes, I realize how absurd that last statement sounds.
Originally Posted by gardencurls
Interpretation is really all it is. There are no industry standards. Artemis' explanation in post #3 is really good.

The other issue you run into is that there are a lot of "mom and pop" shops selling hair products on the internet, farm markets, etc. Anyone can mix something up and offer it for sale. They don't really need to have any knowledge, they just have to have someone willing to buy.
gardencurls likes this.
3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity
modified CG, since April '07
CG since 3/11/08

SE PA

HGs: Anything Sevi; Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; UFD Curly Magic (now Hello Curly Curl Stimulater); Botanical Spirits Jellies, CJ Repair Me, Marie Dean Leave Ins and Curl Creams
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.
SweetVintageCurls likes this.
4a/3c, fine strands, low porosity, medium density
Last relaxer: Jan 2010 - BC'd: 2/27/11
My Fotki
My Blog

Last edited by artemis513; 11-11-2012 at 10:55 AM. Reason: typo
Wow, this has really made me think... I'm in the process of finding products similar to L'Oreal Evercreme Cleansing Conditioner (I prefer organic and/or fairtrade companies) and now I know that it'll make a lot more sense to look at the ingredients and go from there. Thanks!!
|| 3b; normal porosity; fine/normal texture || CG since Feb 2010 || SD/dandruff prone

Current Routine BAQ henna 1/month Leave-in OH Hair Dew Cheapie Conditioner Tresemme Naturals Moisturizing
Old Stand-bys extra-virgin coconut oil Protein AO GPB; Moisture AO HR Style AOMMJ – Kept for troubleshooting.
Waiting to try extra-wide curlformers SD treatment H&S Clinical Strength

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