My take on the ones I’ve tried
As a Naturalista or just anyone concerned about their hair and how to care for it, you may have been told to “avoid sulphates”. Of course, if you are like me, you listen and then go research what this sulphates thing is and what is really does to your hair. I had one main question: Why is it so bad?
It turns out sulphates are one of those things that have their benefits in life but too much of any good thing is a _____. There! You have it! Sulphates are compounds that attract water and oil. Effectively, sulphates work in separating dirt and oil from a surface so that it can be washed off with water. Sounds great, right? It’s how most cleansers work. However, if these sulphates are too good at doing their jobs they can and will remove useful oils from the skin and hair.
The hair shaft has three layers or sections to it. The Cortex, The Medulla and The Cuticle. In basic terms, each section is just many many layers of keratin (protein) packed together. The Cortex is karatin cells and melanin. The Medulla is a section of more karatin and air bubbles. The Cuticle is the protective layer of over lapping cells that protect the inner layers and (when healthy) gives sheen to hair and prevents loss of moisture. Weathering can, however, break down the effectiveness of this layer.
Our scalp naturally produces its own oil from the foods we eat. This oil is meant to moisturize the scalp and also the hair shaft. Of course on its own, this oil is not going to get all over our hair, especially so if your hair grows up and not down. This is where your hands and other styling instruments come into play. They help to distribute the oil throughout the hair, along the hair shaft. Mother Nature would have preferred for this to be adequate.
Anywho, enough of that. Your scalp and hair NEED oil. A build-up of oil and dirt, however, it can do without. In the washing processes we lose much of that oil and dirt from our hair. Losing all of it is never a good thing unless you replace it immediately. This is why shampoos and cleansers are for quick use.
If you’d like something that is effective in getting your hair clean but gentler in the hair shaft and scalp, there are several options for you to try. Here are a few:
- Sulphate free shampoos & conditioners
Several companies are making sulphate free products for skin and hair cleansing. With all the varying skin type and skin conditions that exist, this is a good thing. Not every skin and hair type can stand up to constant sulphate. The products on the market vary from the regular company making a cleansing product to the all-natural products that have nothing that will harm you.
I have tried a wax bar of soap (can’t recall name or brand). Granted this was not for my hair but for my face after I found out I had eczema in 2014. The bar of soap hasn’t run out yet because I no longer use it. I never felt like it really cleansed but It is worth a try for those looking to explore.
Co-washing is the act of washing your hair with conditioner only. This practise has been widespread around the natural community and has been spoken about many many times. The idea is that you want to get your hair and scalp clean without losing all the good oils that are already there. Conditioner works well with getting some amount of dirt and oil out of your hair but it’s not 100% effective. Conditioner also replenishes your hair with moisture and helps to return it to an optimal state after a shampoo. To get the best result from a co-wash, I recommend massaging the conditioner into damp hair and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing with cold water.
This was something I did for a while when my hair was short enough to be washed frequently and styled. I liked how healthy my hair felt over time. Additionally, it built up the elasticity of my hair. I’ve had breakage problems forever but during this period, my strands would give a lil stretch instead of immediately snapping.
- Baking soda and Apple Cider Vinegar
Baking soda and Apple Cider vinegar sounds odd but it works. Baking soda acts an agent to get dirt and oil off hair and scalp without the use of sulphates. The hair, however, will feel dry/brittle/coarse/unhealthy (the words that describe how mine felt) because of the drastic change of their environment ph. This is where the vinegar comes in. The vinegar balances it out to bring the pH down to a suitable level. Both the baking soda and apple cider vinegar should be diluted and not added to your scalp in their raw form.
This method was by far my most favourite. I was sceptical about it at first but I was surprised after my first use. It REALLY got my scalp clean. I mean REALLY REALLY. The vinegar also added some sheen to my hair. My only dislike was the fact that they stung my eyes (part of life) and they don’t have the best smell.
Tell me what you think. I want to know what you’ve tried and how it has worked for you.