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September 23, 2012

What's In Your Shampoo?


They say "don't judge a book by its cover," and a similar thing applies to hair products. Don't judge a shampoo (or conditioner or gel, etc.) by its bottle. Fancy labels and high price tags don't necessarily translate to good products. What DOES matter is what's in those products, so the most important part of the label? It's not the brand or the sparkly letters or the miracle promises. What matters is the stuff in tiny type -- the list of ingredients.

And that's why professional salon products especially formulated for curly hair are often the best, since they have the ingredients you need and avoid the ones you don't. But the stuff you find at the local drugstores? They can be great, too, if you know what you're looking for.

The rule of thumb for bouncy curls: No sulfates, which is a type of surfactant, aka detergent.

A surfactant—sometimes referred to as a detergent—is a substance that, when dissolved in water, gives a product the ability to remove dirt from surfaces such as the human skin, textiles, and other solids. There are several types of surfactants, from harsh to mild, and sulfates are in the most harsh class. Common sulfates as found on hair product ingredient bottles include:
  • Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
  • Ammonium Laureth or Lauryl Sulfate
  • Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate
  • Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate
  • Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate
  • Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate
  • Sodium Laureth, Myreth or Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
  • TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate
Milder surfactants—less drying and recommended in lieu of sulfates — include:
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Coco Betaine
  • Cocoamphoacetate
  • Cocoamphodipropionate
  • Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate or Cocoamphodipropionate
  • Lauroamphoacetate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
Now, makes sense that we wouldn't want harsh detergents messing with our curls, right? Next week we'll talk about proteins! Meanwhile, you can learn more in the Live Curly Live Free e-book, Unlocking the Secrets Behind the World of Beautiful Curly Hair.

22 Chime in!:

Keicha D. said...

Very interesting article. Surfactants can get so confusing!

CurvyCurly said...

Just as Tiffany suggested, label reading is a must. I had to learn the hard that just because something is expensive doesn't mean it has the best ingredients in it suited for my hair. I try to avoid the harsher surfactants not just in hair products but bath as well as both my daughter and I have sensitive skin.

Davina916 said...

I don't use shampoo anymore, however, this is an enlightening article.

Davina916 said...

I agree, more expensive doesn't always mean its better.

Pat said...

I've been using African black soap for shampooing my hair and this works for me.

Derika said...

I use Shea Moisture shampoo and LOVE it! I tried cowashing to avoid shampoos when I began transtioning but cowashing caused me buildup. Although many naturals raved about cowashing, my low porosity hair can't handle it.

Dilane Mitchell said...

I've had the hardest time finding a shampoo that combats my dandruff and is also sulfate free. I'm still searching though. Anyone have any suggestions?

Miss Anne said...

I need to get me a sulphate-free shampoo!! been using Moisture Extreme by Philip Kingsley (which is quite good I must say) but making the switch at the end of this month! my hair's getting longer and fuller and I need to find milder cleansers that won't strip my hair.

Great bit of info! x

Zamara Norwood said...

You can get many natural and sulphate free shampoos from Enter this unique coupon code KAP753 when you shop at
You will get $10 off your first purchase.You can buy affordable natural beauty products, natural hair products, vitamins and much more. All brands available.Shipping is free.

Rhoda said...

you should try petal fresh organics Tea tree shampoo. Great for scalp.

Nemetria Wilson said...

i look for sulfate free

PennieNotPenny said...

I just use Dr. Bronner's :P

Shashou said...

Def getting familiar with all of these names. There are so many.

CurvyCurly said...

I tried the abs and it my scalp itch like crazy. Good to hear that it works for you.

CurvyCurly said...

Luv luv luv Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention shampoo. Can't say it enough.

CurvyCurly said...

Shea Moisture African Black Soap (made my scalp itchy but many ladies rave about it); Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle (worked great for my scalp but definitely cleanses the hair, must follow with a good moisturizing conditioner). HTH

Dilane Mitchell said...

Thanks for the suggestions! I usually seal with tea tree oil but maybe a tea tree shampoo would be a better idea. I will try them.

Alwina Oyewoleturner said...

Thank you Tiffany for this article. I am always looking at the ingredients of my shampoos to see what is in it. At this point I stick to my staple, SheaMoisture Raw Shea Moisture Retention shampoo. My hair feels great!

Imani BeautifullyPissed Monroe said...

Great info though i no longer use shampoo unless a shampoo bar and every 2 months

Pat said...

I ordered mine from Butters n Bars, hope that helps. I've tried some that were not the real thing like the black dyed ones.

Megan M. said...

I use Shea moisture raw Shea butter shampoo or another one that has coco betaine when I wear my hair straight or to clarify my hair once a month.

Hello said...

I'm allergic to Shea moisture :(

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