In the era of curly hair awareness, education and acceptance we have all but abandoned shampoo in many hair care regimens. Many of my favorite curly bloggers and YouTubers swear by co-washing and credit this practice with hair growth and maintaining moisture. Often times we hear horror stories about how shampoo leaves our precious curls feeling dry or stripped. I had the same thought process, that co-washing was all I needed, up until a few months ago I only washed my hair with a moisturizing shampoo once or twice every few months. However, when I noticed my hair health was failing and growth was stagnant I knew I needed to switch it up and reincorporate shampoo into my regimen.
When I look back at photos from when I was only co-washing, my hair looked dry, the ends were stringy and I didn't have any definition or volume. After doing further research, I noticed that I had significant product build up from only using conditioner in the three steps of my wash day process. This consisted of deep conditioning my hair as step one. Next I "cleansed" my hair with a conditioner like Trader Joe's Peppermint Tea Tree Conditioner, and finally, I used a rinse out conditioner like my current favorite, Organix Quenching Coconut Curls Conditioner to wrap up my wash day process.
I later realized that the products I was using were not truly cleansing my hair and were only layering moisture, which stunted my hair growth progress. So I decided to go back to the drawing board and start cleansing my hair weekly with shampoo! This was a game changer! In addition to getting an amazing haircut, my hair and scalp were clean which helped my hair to begin flourishing again. My curls had more definition, my holy grail products were working again and I was finally happy with my hair. I realized that as long as I was using sulfate-free shampoo, which my hair responded well to, it would not end up stripped or dry but would be able to properly absorb moisture from the products I was using.
When to wash
One of my favorite curly girls and fellow Denver native Sabrina Perkins, shared these 3 simple rules in a prior NaturallyCurly article to follow when it comes to washing hair:
- Wash when hair is dirty
- Wash when you have build up
- Experiment on wash day schedules
The first two are pretty self-explanatory but the final step is a major key. If this were a perfect world I would wash my hair bi-weekly, rock a protective style for two weeks and retain length like crazy, sadly it is not. None of these things work for me, but trial and error has helped me identify this. I learned that while my lifestyle may make me want to stretch the time between my wash days, the dry climate that I live in (Denver, CO) makes it important to infuse moisture in my hair on a more consistent basis. More specifically I now make it a point to wash and deep condition my hair at least once per week and with the addition of a true shampoo, my hair is retaining the moisture until the next wash day and my styles look much better!
Image by Rodrigo Borges de Jesus/Unsplash
Keep a journal
Now we all know that everyone's curls are different, so I encourage you to keep a hair journal, take photos and pay attention to what your hair responds to. It may be beneficial to go longer between washes because your hair thrives in protective styles or it may be more beneficial to wash more frequently because your hair loves products that may leave build up after a few days.
With that being said, I do strongly believe that a good shampoo regimen is very necessary to create happy curly hair. So here a few of my favorites, all sulfate free!
After getting my first carve and slice haircut at an Ouidad training event, I was gifted this cleanser and fell completely in love! While this isn't your typical shampoo, the cleansing oil is the perfect consistency to cleanse gently and help in restoring moisture to the hair. It doesn't hurt that it smells amazing!
This shampoo is one of my holy grail products for getting my hair squeaky clean after using more product than usual. It is infused with vitamin B5 and not only does it help retain moisture in the hair, it also strengthens and improves hair elasticity.
This entire Coconut Curls line is a dream come true, but the shampoo will always hold a special place in my heart. The creamy texture feels more like a conditioner and it provides slip that is rare with shampoo. But it cleanses to perfection and never leaves my hair feeling stripped!