Magnesium Sulfate- Curly Friend or Foe

What is Magnesium sulfate?

Magnesium sulfate is an ingredient often touted as a natural curl booster or curl activator for hair. It is typically used in leave-in conditioners and curl enhancers, both commercially available and homemade, and it is applied via a spray-on delivery method.

Many people have noted that their hair often responds remarkably well to the initial application, but further uses yield dry tresses that behave in an unruly fashion. Several explanations have been put forth for this phenomenon, but there still remains some confusion as to why it happens.

By delving into the protein structure of hair and curls, and how magnesium sulfate interacts with these, we can gain clear understanding of the mechanism by which magnesium sulfate enhances curl pattern and retention, and also why the effects seem short-lived and eventually become unpleasant.


3 Must Haves For Your Natural Hair Shampoo

by Nicole Harmon of Hair Liberty

In my opinion, your shampoo may be the most important product in your arsenal. I say that because a good shampoo keeps your scalp healthy (which means better hair growth) and makes your hair easier to comb. A bad shampoo will lead to drier hair, scalp irritation, and unstoppable frizz. Your shampoo is truly the first step to smooth, manageable hair. You NEED a good shampoo in your life!

The best shampoos contain:
• Sulfate-free cleansers to prevent excessive dryness and scalp irritation
• Cationic ingredients to condition your hair while you cleanse
• pH adjusters to balance the pH of the shampoo and prevent unnecessary cuticle damage to your hair

8 Sulfate-Free Shampoos That Won't Strip Your Natural Hair

by Sabrina Perkins of

Naturals have a love-hate relationship with shampoo. We love that they cleanse our tresses but often they are just too harsh for our hair. Sulfates are the detergents in shampoo that cleanse away the dirt, pollutants and product build-up but they also strip away the natural oils we need to keep our hair moisturized.

Because of this many naturals have ditched shampoo all together and opted for cowashing cleansers or just washing with botanical conditioners. I love cowashing but know shampoos are still necessary sometimes but when I use one, I make sure it is sulfate-free. Here are 8 of the top sulfate-free shampoos that naturals use, love and swear by to get the job done.

Read On!>>>

Cleansing Agents in Shampoos

Tonya Mckay of NaturallyCurly writes;

Many people with naturally curly hair are practitioners of shampoo free hair care routines. This is an abbreviated term for a regimen that eliminates or reduces the use of traditional shampoos for hair cleansing. While many curlies have known for years that shampooing too often can be detrimental to our fragile hair, the idea of drastically reducing the frequency of shampooing or eliminating it altogether became popularized with the publication of Lorraine Massey’s book, “Curly Girl”.

The reason Massey advises skipping the shampoo is that curly hair is already fairly moisture-deprived due to its unique shape and structure. If hair is not especially oily (which we know our curly hair usually is not), traditional shampoo can strip needed oil and moisture away from the hair and raise the cuticle of the hair making the surface very rough, which leads to tangling and breakage. The primary ingredients responsible for the removal of oils from the hair are known as surfactants.

Surfactants possess the trait of having one distinct portion of the molecule that is polar and hydrophilic (water-loving) and one portion that is non-polar and hydrophobic (water-fearing). This dual nature is the basis for detergency—the removal of oil from a surface. At sufficiently high concentrations in water, surfactant molecules group together to form three-dimensional structures known as “micelles”. These structures are clusters of molecules with an oily center made up of the non-polar tail, surrounded by a shell formed by the polar portion of the molecule. These micelles absorb oils from your skin, hair or clothes, and trap them inside until they are removed from the surface by the rinsing phase of the process. Another very important property of surfactants is their ability to produce significant foaming effects, an attribute considered to be desirable by many product developers.

The most commonly used materials for this purpose are called “anionic surfactants”, which have a negatively-charged head group (sulfate, sulfonate, isethionate), with a positively-charged counterion (typically sodium or ammonium). By learning the conventions for naming these surfactants, one can learn to recognize what they are. The accepted cosmetic nomenclature system (INCI) adheres to the following format for naming anionic surfactants: positive counterion name, followed by a term that denotes the structure of the non-polar tail portion, ended by the name of the anionic head group (example: ammonium lauryl sulfate).

Perhaps the harshest anionic surfactant, and also the one most commonly used in shampoos until recently, is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). “Lauryl” means 12 carbons in the nonpolar portion of the molecule, and is the shortest length of chain used in most surfactants. This surfactant is extremely efficient at removing oils from the hair, and can lead to dry, brittle hair. Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) is a modified version of SLS, containing 2-3 ether units in the molecule. This modification reduces the efficiency of the detergency action, decreasing its drying tendencies compared to SLS. Ammonium lauryl sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate are the same surfactant molecules as SLS and SLES, respectively, simply with a different positively-charged counterion (ammonium vs. sodium). Thus, ALS and ALES can be expected to give very similar results to SLS and SLES in terms of removing oils from the hair.

Some anionic surfactants can provide comparatively gentle cleansing to the hair because they do not remove as many oils and fats. Anything with a carbon count above 12 (in even increments) is considered to be less harsh. Some examples of this are sodium myreth sulfate and sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate. Also, sodium coco sulfate, derived from coconut oil, contains a mixture of chains containing anywhere from 8-18 carbons. This makes it gentler than SLS. There are also numerous nonionic surfactants, such as sorbitol, decyl glucoside, laureth 4-20, and decyl polyglucose, which contain no positively or negatively-charged groups. These surfactants are considered to be much less drying to the hair.

CG Method and Natural Hair

A fellow forum member, and blog writer, Jillipoo, detangles the details of the CG method:

Once upon a time, a hair stylist wrote a book about how to care for curly hair. The information and guidance in the book were based mostly on her experiences with her own as well as her clients' hair. The book helped a lot of curlies, including me, and I'm forever grateful to have found it.

But let's be clear, people. It is a very big mistake to regard this book as some kind of bible.

I say this because it seems that a lot of people go to great pains to "get CG right." They agonize over whether a product is CG, ask as many CG followers as they can about the "correct" way to apply product, and they think that if they make a mistake, it's like being an alcoholic who takes a drink--and that they must "start over" again.

My view is that it's time to relax about being CG.

What is the CG method?

If you were to distill the Curly Girl book down into a few sentences (and believe me, you can), here are its tenets:
1. Avoid sulfates
2. Avoid silicones
3. Treat curly hair gently (no brushes, no rough towels, no blow-dryers)
4. Gel is your friend 5. A good conditioner contains a blend of moisturizers, protein, emollients, and humectants
5. Don't touch your hair before it's completely dry

There's also a bunch of silliness about "typing" one's hair, none of which is terribly helpful but a delightful little exercise that helps give the book some substance and allows the author to use celebrity photos to demonstrate her points. People love celebrities. So do publishers. Celebrities help make everything sell better.

The book asserts that silicones coat the hair and starve it of moisture. It goes on to say that shampoo (at least the kind that contains sulfates, which is pretty much all that existed when the author wrote the book) is what's needed to remove the silicones, but the sulfates strip hair of its natural moisture, thereby forcing us all to reach for silicones to give us the shine we crave. And hence, a heinous cycle of interdependency ensues.

And that, along with the hair typing and a plethora of curly confessions, is the sum total of the book.

Points of confusion

. Not all of these are created equal. What's more, not all shampoos have the same amount of them. And finally, there's not a single silicone in existence that requires the use of sulfates to remove it. Surfactants, no sulfates, are what's required to remove silicones (and most products in general). (So-called harsher sulfates include sodium laurel sulfate, sodium, laureth sulfate, and ammonium laurel sulfate. Milder surfactants that will do the job for you include sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, and sodium cocoyl isethionate. Still milder are non-sulfate anionic surfactants, including sodium laurel sulfate, sodium, laureth sulfate, and ammonium laurel sulfate. Least harsh are the amphoteric surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, and sodium cocoyl isethionate.)

. These come in many guises and have many names. Some adhere to hair (dimethicone), some evaporate in a few hours (cyclomethicone), and others are extremely mild (dimethicone copolyol). Not all of them evil. In fact, many would argue that none of them are. In 2009, we have many more cleansing options than were available in 2002 when Curly Girl was written. There is no reason to be draconian in your avoidance of any ingredient ending in "cone" unless you have discovered that your hair really despises all silicones. And even if it does hate silicones, maybe if you found a way to remove them that your hair doesn't hate, that peaceful coexistence of cleansing and silicone could work for you. You never know unless you try.

. Have you ever tried using the amount of gel recommended in the book? Fuggedabowdit. I use about five times as much gel as the book would have me using. It took me a few months to figure out that the quantities (of conditioner as well as gel) Curly Girl suggests simply are too skimpy for me. And in case you haven't noticed, amazing advances have been made in the formulation of gels, and now you also need to watch for certain polyquats. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security about a gel just because it doesn't contain any 'cones. What's more, some people's hair doesn't respond at all well to some of the most common (and seemingly harmless) gel ingredients such as propylene glycol, PVP, acrylates, and others. Just because something is technically CG doesn't mean your hair will thrive with it.

. Another aspect of CG that required trial and error for me was conditioner selection. First, not everybody likes protein. (The author has done a rather abrupt about-face on this point herself: her products no longer contain protein and she preaches an anti-protein approach to her followers.) I adore protein and need more of it than I ever would have expected, but coarser haired curlies don't need and don't want protein. Humectants are good in theory, too, but depending on your hair's porosity and the climate you live in, you may not need humectants in the same quantities that somebody else would. Excess humectants result in frizz for some of us. So, when you read that a good conditioner must contain all these ingredients, proceed with caution because your hair may not want them all and it may not want them all in equal proportions.

How much conditioner you leave in your hair is also a huge variable among curly-headed people. Some people like to just not rinse it all out. Others like to rinse it all out and then add a bit more so they have more control. Still others use a curl creme instead of a conditioner. Some like no conditioner left in at all. You are the best judge of what your hair likes. The guidance in the book should only be used as a general suggestion about the need for curly hair to have some moisture left on it somehow. You can figure out for yourself what that moisture should look like for your hair. (And yes, figuring that out can take a while. But it's better to experiment than to blindly follow the advice of one stylist who has never seen your hair.)

Touching and being gentle. This is some of the best advice ever. Make sure your hair is totally dry before you scrunch out your crunch. It does make a world of difference! I have also found that towels with no nap make the best choices (I avoid terrycloth and even microfiber towels, which act like velcro on my hair, even when it's wet).

The Curly Girl book is a great introduction to the needs of curly hair. After you read it, loiter at the discussion boards (do NOT believe everything that's posted there, however!) to get some new insights, and read some of the blogs I've got listed in my favorites. Acquire information.

If there were one right way to handle curly hair, everybody's curly hair would be perfect and beautiful. But the sad truth is that there is no surefire way that applies to everyone's hair. All you can do is learn what you can, talk to people, and experiment. And when you experiment, you may discover a trick or two that will help someone else.

**Love this article? Find more from No-Poo Jillipoo on her BLOG!

8 Ingredients That Aren't As Scary as They Sound

Before dropping a product into your basket at Target, Ulta, or in your cart on CurlMart, how much time do you spend reading the ingredients? At this point in the game, probably more than you have in your entire life.

Whether you're an ingredient snob and only purchase products made with the best of the best, a clean living curly who believes in eating and using only whole and natural products, or a natural newbie just taking it all in, there's one thing we can all agree on--ingredients can sound confusing, scary, and like you need an advanced degree in material science to understand how to pronounce them.

Luckily, not everything that looks and sounds terrible is. Relax, naturally curly world-- take in these 8 ingredients that sound all sorts of naughty, but are really pretty nice!

Behentrimonium Methosulfate
Because of how harsh traditional shampoo and cleansers can be, many of us turn away from anything that has the word "sulfate" in it. But the truth is, behentrimonium methosulfate is a far cry from the sodium lauryl sulfate that dries out and damages our kinks, coils, and curls. In truth, behentrimonium methosulfate is neither drying nor a sulfate. It is actually a super gentle surfactant made from non-GMO (imagine that!) rapeseed (canola oil), and is one of the mildest detangling ingredients out there. It doesn't cause buildup, or irritation to the scalp. You can find this gem in products like Kinky Curly Knot Today, Camille Rose Naturals Fresh Curl, and Lawrence Ray Concepts Shake & Go.

Ingredients Commonly Found in Hair Products

Compiled by Tonya McKay

This is a dynamic list; I’ll update and amend as necessary.

CN Says:
-Grab your favorite bottle of conditioner or styler... I'll wait. 

 -Flip it over to review the ingredients.

-Do a 'ctrl +f'' (or control + find, or a command + f, or the like) and type in the ingredients that are too long to pronounce. You'll be amazed at which ones are emulsifiers, detergents, preservatives, etc. Cool stuff. You'll never be in the dark again!  You'll also be more prepared the next time you hit the hair care aisle.  Be especially mindful of the first 5 ingredients (the only ones that truly matter) in each of your favorite products (take note!) so you know what to look for when selecting new products.  

Anionic Surfactants
Detergency, foaming:
Alkylbenzene sulfonates
Ammonium laureth sulfate: can be drying to the hair
Ammonium lauryl sulfate: can be very drying to the hair
Ammonium Xylenesulfonate
Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
Sodium cocoyl sarcosinate
Sodium laureth sulfate: can be drying to the hair
Sodium lauryl sulfate: can be especially drying to the hair
Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
Sodium myreth sulfate
Sodium Xylenesulfonate
Ethyl PEG-15 cocamine sulfate
Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate

Amphoteric Surfactants
Used to provide mild cleansing, as well as some aid in foaming:
Cocamidopropyl betaine
Coco betaine
Disodium cocoamphodiacetate
Disodium cocoamphodipropionate
Sodium cocoyl isethionate

Open to View Full List>>>

Skills Notes: Product Ingredients

by Shelli of Hairscapades 

So, I was thinking about how overwhelming it can be when you first discover the online natural hair web-iverse. There is sooooo much information out there and some of it is very technical, while other is anecdotal. And, while the education can be enlightening, it can also cause more issues than remaining ignorant!! Been there …  done that. LOL!! However, I do believe there is a “sweet spot.” You know … that point where you’ve read enough, watched enough and tried enough to make informed decisions about what products, techniques and regimens will work for you and also know enough to figure out on which ones you should take a pass? *Singing* “Walk on byyyyyyyy.”

Well, all that being said, it may take some time to reach your very own personal “sweet spot.” Shoot, it took me a year plus! LOL! But, I thought that I might be able to help some reach their spot more quickly and navigate some of the ins and outs of natural hair by providing some fundamentals in a simple format, as well as links to additional information for those desiring more details. And thus, the idea for Skills Notes was born. (Yup, Skills Notes. Hairscapades was too long and Skills has been my nickname since college.)

So, with that, welcome to the first installment of SKILLS NOTES!


SULFATES: Cleansing agents found in many shampoos. Traditional sulfates can be harsh and strip hair of necessary moisture and oils. However, there are now many cleansers on the market that are sulfate-free and/or formulated with mild sulfates.  

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who are following the Curly Girl (CG) method, the Tightly Curly Method (TCM) and/or those with dryness issues. 

WHY: These individuals should avoid harsh sulfates and seek sulfate-free or mild sulfate alternatives.

For more information on sulfates and the alternatives, check out these articles: Which Sulfates Are Safer Than the Others? What’s in Your Shampoo

SILICONES: Conditioning agents used in shampoos, conditioners, stylers, serums and glosssers that provide slip and shine. Most ingredients ending in “cone,” “col,” “conol” or “zane” are silicones. There are four basic categories of silicones: water-soluble, slightly water-soluble, non water-soluble but repels build-up, non water-soluble and build-up prone. Non water-soluble silicones can eventually prevent the hair from absorbing sufficient water/moisture to remain hydrated, which can cause dry hair.

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who are following the CG Method or the TCM and/or conditioner only regimens. 

WHY: These individuals should either avoid non-water soluble silicones, use mild sulfate or sulfate-free shampoos that remove silicones or incorporate a “clarifying” sulfate shampoo into their regimen as needed. 

Want to learn more? Check out these articles: The Real Scoop on Silicones (silicones explained) What’s the Scoop on Silicones (chart with recommended cleansing agents by cone)

PROTEINS: Protein is used in many conditioners to reinforce and strengthen the hair structure, especially when hair is damaged or weakened by chemicals (i.e. permanent colors and/or chemical relaxers and perms). Protein treatments should be followed by moisturizing conditioners to restore elasticity or the hair may become brittle and feel dry. “Protein sensitivity” is a term used for hair that responds negatively to protein, either because the hair has sufficient protein or becomes brittle despite post-treatment moisturizing conditioners.


WHY: Ensuring that hair is strong and moisturized aids in appearance and reduces breakage that can impede length retention goals.

For a listing of proteins as well as tons of other useful information, check out this link: Curls 101 FAQs

GLYCERIN: Humectant found in many products that is used to attract water into the hair shaft.

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those with porous and frizz-prone hair, those with low porosity hair and those with dry hair. 

WHY: In humid climates (i.e. high dew points), glycerin can cause high porosity hair to frizz and tangle. For those with dry or low porosity hair that is hard to moisturize, glycerin can help draw water from the environment into the hair and help reduce/eliminate dryness. Many curl activators contain glycerin in order to aid hair in moisture retention and some naturals/curlies have found success with these type of products.

For a list of common humectants, see the Curls 101 FAQs link above.

ALCOHOLS: There are two basic categories of alcohols used in hair products: short chain drying alcohols (bad) and long chain “fatty” alcohols (good). Short chain drying alcohols evaporate quickly, so they are used in products to decrease the time it takes hair to dry. In contrast, long chain “fatty” alcohols are lubricating, moisturizing and “film-forming” in order to lock in moisture.


WHY: Short-chain drying alcohols should be avoided whereas long-chain fatty alcohols are fine and can be sought out for their moisturizing properties.

Drying alcohols: SD alcohol, SD alcohol 40, Alcohol denatured, Propanol, Propyl alcohol, Isopropyl alcohol

Fatty alcohols: Behenyl alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol, Cetyl alcohol, Isocetyl alcohol, Isostearyl alcohol, Lauryl alcohol, Myristyl alcohol, Stearyl alcohol, C30-50 Alcohols, Lanolin alcohol

MINERAL OIL: Mineral oil is used in products as an emollient, to seal in moisture, block humidity and enhance clumping/curl formation. It is non-water soluble. Mineral oil does not penetrate into the hair shaft to moisturize on its own. It simply aids in sealing in water/moisture. Mineral oil has gotten a bad rap, because it is often used in products with other ingredients (like petrolatum and lanolin), which are sticky and/or greasy. These combination of ingredients can cause build-up on the hair and scalp, as well as attract dust, dirt and lint from the environment. Some naturals avoid mineral oil at all costs, but it does have benefits. Cosmetic grade mineral oil can be light and non-sticky.

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who follow co-wash only/shampoo free regimens and those with scalp issues. 

WHY: Products with mineral oil combined with petrolatum, lanolin and some vegetable oils can be sticky, greasy and build-up on the hair and clog the pores of the scalp. Therefore, they require a cleansing agents to remove.  

Want to learn more about mineral oil and how it stacks up against coconut oil? Find more information here: Using Mineral Oil for Hair Mineral Oil vs. Coconut Oil – Which is Better?

PETROLATUM: Petrolatum is used in products to seal in water, provide a barrier against heat and chemicals and add sheen to the hair. It is non-water soluble. Petrolatum is sticky, which can attract dust, dirt and lint from the environment. It can cause build-up on the hair and clog the pores of the scalp. Petrolatum is found in many traditional hair “greases.”

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who follow co-wash only/shampoo free regimens and those with scalp issues.

WHY: Products with petrolatum, lanolin and some vegetable oils can be sticky, greasy and build-up on the hair and clog the pores of the scalp. Therefore, it requires a cleansing agent to remove.

PARABENS: Preservatives used to extend the shelf life of products by protecting against a wide range of microorganisms. The most common parabens found in cosmetic products are methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben.  

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who want to use all-natural and/or organic products exclusively. Those who want to avoid this preservative due to concerns about toxicity and studies that indicated that parabens disrupts hormones and were detected in breast tumors. 

WHY: Self-explanatory.

For more information about the FDA’s position on parabens and the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) assessment and recommendations, check out these articles:

And that’s it for the first edition of SKILLS NOTES, Product Ingredients!

So, how’d I do?? What ingredients would you add to the list of basics?

The Curl Whisperer on Surfactants

This week: surfactants.

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. It is what is responsible for all the suds and bubbles in your shampoo.

A lot has been written in recent years about the "sulfates," which belong to the class of surfactants known as "anionic." Many curly hair experts, myself included, advise avoiding shampoos that contain a sulfate surfactant for two reasons: 1) we consider them to be extremely damaging to curly hair because they strip it of its natural moisture, making it frizzy and unmanageable and, 2) more than a few studies have shown that long-term sulfate use can lead to damaged hair follicles, hair loss and hair breakage.

Advocates of shampooing insist that by not using sulfate surfactant-based shampoo to cleanse the scalp and hair, individuals will start to experience scalp issues and eventual hair loss. These shampoos, they argue, are the only way to ensure the hair and scalp are as clean as they need to be in order to maintain proper hair health.

However, it is NOT the sulfates in shampoo that keep your scalp and follicles clean—movement and agitation are what do the cleansing. Think of a washing machine: that agitator in the middle that swishes your clothes back and forth is there for a reason. Without it, your laundry detergent would be fairly ineffective, no matter how many mountain fresh chemicals are loaded in there.

If you use a non-sulfate based or conditioner cleanser or shampoo with an alternate surfactant once a week and give yourself a really good, brisk scalp massage while cleansing—using your fingertips and rubbing your scalp with a firm, energetic circular motion—you are massaging the sebum, dirt and debris out of your hair follicles while stimulating your sebaceous glands to maintain their proper function.

A good, gentle shampoo acts as an agent to carry that oil and debris away without damaging and drying out your hair shaft. That's the real purpose of a cleanser, not harsh detergents that strip your hair of the moisture and essential oils that keep it healthy.

If, however, you use a non-sulfate or conditioner cleanser or shampoo with an alternate surfactant once a week and you squirt a bit on your scalp and kind of halfheartedly move it around, then rinse without really doing any kind of work, you aren't cleansing your scalp correctly and you may, in fact, start having problems. But it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that you are not using shampoo. I've seen clients who use regular shampoo and their scalp is full of dry flakes and scales because they don't cleanse their scalp properly.

I personally believe much of the “you MUST use shampoo” screaming is an effort to drive more product sales within the beauty industry. Quite frankly, however, if you are doing a weekly non-sulfate cleansing with some serious scalp massage and really focusing on getting your scalp clean, you are doing all the right things and you should never have any issues with clogged or damaged hair follicles (at least not because of your cleansing routine).

Next week: silicones

For more of Tiffany the 'Curl Whisperer' click HERE.

Curls 101- FAQs

Hola Chicas!

This is a compilation of Frequently Asked Questions. The first few were written by RCC of Pittsburgh Curly, and the last few were written by CurlyNikki. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments section so that we may add to this article and make it all the more comprehensive!


RCC writes:

So, you have curly hair that you been straightening, whether through heat or chemicals. Or, maybe you’re the straight haired Mom (or Mum) or any other caretaker of a little curly, and all of that boinginess has made you wonder what to do. While chemically relaxed hair may require its own special needs, those of you who heat straighten will probably notice a difference in curl pattern while using the method below. Those who are chemically relaxed go through a longer transition process, unless you just decide to do the big chop and start with a fresh head of hair. Those of you who are transitioning will find lots of support from curlynikki’s blog. Those of you who are already curly, but looking for help will find a little bit here, with links to give you more help.

This in an evolving page (because it will take some time to do) on the basics of dealing with curly hair. You may have seen curly haired sites and curly haired blogs and been flabbergasted by all of the crazy terms, wondering why some people are freaking out about silicone, others about protein, and others about humectants. Hopefully this will give you a place to start in your adventures in Curly World.

When dealing with curly hair, one of the most common hair care methods you will run into will be the Curly Girl method which is also known as CG, or no-poo. No, this doesn’t mean you no longer need the toilet, but that you may choose to no longer use conventional sulfate shampoos. In avoiding sulfate shampoos, there are also other ingredients that you may need to avoid. These will eventually all be covered. For a short review, check this link.

Curly Girl is a book by Lorraine Massey, a British born curly who used her own experience as a curly along with her hair training (and it seems that training in the UK is more comprehensive than training in the US) to start anew and forge her own way of taking care of curly hair. She also has her own line of hair care products and founded the curl friendly Devachan Salon. Like many other curlies, her book made me think about what type of care curly hair needs, and how those needs won’t be met by caring for my hair in the same way that I had been for over three decades. After that, I found, which led me into the depths of curl care issues, but, more importantly, gave me access to a whole world of others like me who were also dealing with our sometimes unruly hair.

Is shampoo really bad for you or not?
The first premise of the CG method is that sulfates are bad for most curly hair. Curly hair is often more dry than other hairtypes, and sulfates can just be too harsh for dry, delicate curls. The prime culrpits in this are Sodium Lauyl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate. It’s interesting to note that these detergents are also found in many liquid dish detergents. Since most of us do not have hair that is as greasy as our pots and pans, this seems to be a bit of overkill. But, they do produce lots of lather, and we are all taught that lather is good and luxurious, that lather means that we’re getting the dirt off. Bah. For the most part, you won’t need these sulfates, and even those of you who do end up liking a sulfate here and there will not need one daily.

If I don’t use shampoo, how do I wash my hair?
If you are not using regular shampoos to wash your hair, what DO you use? Conditioner. Seriously. Conditioner. When I first read this, I thought it was nuts. I thought that I would have dirty, smelly, lanky, greasy hair. But, I started using conditioner to wash my hair. I had about a month of transition where my hair and scalp were a bit weird, but, then, bam, I started sporting curls that looked like curls, and not a huge mass of frizz. They also felt more like hair and less like dead grass. Many scalps seem to suffer from a low grade irritation from sulfates, and the scalp needs time to heal. The hair shaft is often dry in those who have been using sulfates frequently, and it takes some time for your hair to get proper moisture restored.

So, you really can wash your hair with conditioner. Many inexpensive condtioners (the Suave and Vo5 lines come to mind) contain cetrimonium chloride, which is a conditioning agent, but is also a surfactant, which means that normal sweat, dust, and environmental dirt can be removed with this. The key is that you do have to pay some attention to your scalp and rub. After all, most people don’t wash their faces and bodies by slapping on some bodywash and just leaving it there. The scalp is no different.

So, how do I wash my hair with conditioner?
If I am using a conditioner to wash my scalp and hair, this is what I do. I get my hair wet, and squish in a few blobs of conditioner into my hair and ends. How many blobs you need depends on the length and thickness of your hair. I work out the large tangles with my fingers, and then use a seamless, wide toothed combed to comb out any other tangles. I then apply another quarter sized blob to my scalp and scrub with the pads of my fingers. I use enough pressure to get off the dirt and gunk, but not so hard as to irritate my scalp and traumatize my roots. Then, I rinse throughly to get all of the loosened dust and grime out of my hair. Some choose to not rinse all the way, but leave a little conditioner in. I prefer to totally rinse becuase I want all of the dirt rinsed out. I don’t mind adding more conditioner later.

I always follow this up with a stronger, more moisturizing conditioner, but my hair is somewhat coarse, and pretty thick. Those with finer, thinner curls may notice that their hair feels moisturized enough after the initial wash and detangling.

When you are first transitioning from a shampoo to a no-poo routine, you may need daily, or every other day scalp scrubs. As time goes on, you may notice that your scalp only needs scrubbed one or twice a week. Even though the scalp may be fine, many curlies still wet and condition the length of their hair daily or every other day. Some just prefer the looks of fresh curls, some need daily moisture, and others aren’t able to go to sleep and then wake up with decent curls unless they fully wet their head first. Others are fine with a daily misting to re-set the curl pattern without getting the whole head wet. After some trial and error, you’ll find what works best for you, and this may change with the seasons.

After some time, some curlies notice that they want something a bit stronger to clean their scalps, or to remove product residues from their gels or curl creams. If this is the case, try to look for cleansers with cocobetaine or cocamidopropyl betaine. DevaCurl Low-poo uses these, and many curlies seem to do well with it. These are gentle cleansers that some use monthly or weekly for an extra cleansing. Others have hardier scalps and hair and can use these with every scalp wash. While I do feel that most curlies can benefit by going their first month on conditioners alone, every curly head is different, and you’ll have to go by what your scalp and hair are telling you. There are also many sulfate free shampoos out there on the market. Just be careful. Many feel just as drying on your hair as sulfate shampoo, so your milegae may vary on that one.


CN Answers:


What are all the weird Natural Hair abbreviations (TWA, BSL, AOHSR, EVOO)?
Check out our Natural Hair Dictionary for clarification :) The jargon can be difficult to detangle at times. I hope that helps!

Is there a right or wrong way to transition?

No ma'am. As with everything else in life, you must do what is right for you. Big Chopping before you're mentally and physically prepared can be disastrous. Take your time, research, and decide what route (long or short term transition) is right for you.

I've decided to transition, what hair styles should I try?
Luckily, many of the styles you will wear as a natural, you can start wearing now! Check out the following:

Rod Set
Flexi Rod Set
Curlformer Set
No Heat Roller Set
Curly Fro 1
Curly Fro 2
Dry Braid-n-Curl
Dry Braid-n-Curl 2
Bantu Knot-Out
Bantu Knot-Out 2
Flat Twist-Out
Faux Bun
Messy Side Bun
High Bun- The same basic steps found in THIS VIDEO, but done on dry, previously twisted hair.
Double Buns- Princess Leia


Is there a safe way to flat iron?
One hundred percent protection from heat damage with protectant products simply doesn't exist. Period. Many flat and curling irons can reach excesses of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. There is no way to prevent that kind of heat from causing some form of damage to your hair. Paula Begoun said it best, "Could you imagine protecting skin from that kind of heat with a hair-care product?"'s not gonna happen.

So, please my curly divas, heat style with caution- definitely utilize a heat protectant, but know that you're not completely protected. Also, use the coolest temperature possible to achieve results, and don't pass the iron through each section of your hair more than once. And the most important tip- save heat styling for special occasions, it shouldn't be your go-to hairstyle on regular days. Take it from a past abuser...heat is nothing to play with.

How can I restore curl to heat damaged ends?
Unfortunately there is no way to restore curl to heat damaged sucks, but its true.

You have two options:

1. Chop the ends all at once
2. Chop a little bit over the next year---so that its not a drastic loss of length. During this time you could wear bantu knot outs, flexi rod sets, and twist-n-curls to help the ends along.

Some people report that a protein treatment followed by a moisturizing DT has restored some of the can give that a try too.


Are all alcohols drying?

Simply put... no. All alcohols are not created equally.

Here's a list of the 'okay' or 'fatty' alcohols:

Behenyl alcohol
Cetearyl alcohol
Cetyl alcohol
Isocetyl alcohol
Isostearyl alcohol
Lauryl alcohol
Myristyl alcohol
Stearyl alcohol
C30-50 Alcohols
Lanolin alcohol

Fatty alcohols provide an emollient effect, and bind water and oil to give our favorite conditioners their slip and creaminess.

Cetyl and/or Sterayl alcohols are present in most of my favorite products (Pantene R&N Breakage Defense Mask, Herbal Essence Hello Hydration, DevaCare One C). I found the following descrptions on Treasured Locks:

* Cetyl Alcohol- This is a fatty alcohol that is derived from coconut and palm oils. Far from drying, this alcohol is actually an emollient (makes hair and skin softer).

* Stearyl Alcohol- another fatty alcohol. It is nothing like ethanol, it is is actually a white solid and is insoluble in water. Stearyl alcohol is often used in conditioners and shampoos and acts as an emollient (softener).

Which alcohols should I avoid?
Short chain alcohols-- SD alcohol, SD alcohol 40, Alcohol denat, Propanol, Propyl alcohol and Isopropyl alcohol.

What's the difference between yellow and white/gray Shea Butter? How can I tell if it is refined?
The color of unrefined Shea Butter depends on the Shea Nut itself. The color can vary from off-white/beige to medium yellow. I've now tried Shea of both the beige and yellow varieties and can detect no discernible difference. As far as benefits are concerned, there is no difference between the various colors yielded by the different Shea nuts. Which means that yellow Shea is no better than beige. In spite of this fact, one can still quickly distinguish unrefined Shea Butter from bleached or processed Shea Butter, because refined Shea Butter is usually odorless, white, and creamy in texture. It looks completely different that unrefined Shea, and is usually more costly.

How do I identify proteins on a product label?
Protein treatments are often used for porous or damaged hair. Make sure to use a moisturizing deep treatment afterward!

Look for the following:

Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed casein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyorl hydrolyzed collagen
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed hair keratin
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed keratin
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed rice protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed silk
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed soy protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed wheat protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl silk amino acids
Cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
Cocoyl hydrolyzed keratin
Hydrolyzed keratin
Hydrolyzed oat flour
Hydrolyzed silk
Hydrolyzed silk protein
Hydrolyzed soy protein
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Potassium cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein

How do I know if I'm protein sensitive?
The red flag for me was hard brittle hair. After using certain products, namely Sebastian Potion 9, my hair would look good, but feel very hard and dry to the touch. Eventually I realized that my hair only reacted that way, when I used products containing hydrolized wheat protein and soy protein. Now, I avoid it like the plague! To test my own theory, I revisited Sebastian Potion 9 last year, and needless to say, my hair looked great, but felt horrible. Bottom line- listen to your hair.

How do I identify humectants on a product label?
Humectants are included in many hair care product formulations to promote moisture retention within the hair shaft by absorbing water from the atmosphere. Great for humid and/or tropical climates.

Look for the following:

1,2,6 hexanetriol
Butylene Glycol
Dipropylene glycol
Hexylene Glycol
Phytantriol — enhances moisture-retention, increases absorption of vitamins, panthenol, and amino acids into hair shaft, imparts gloss
Propylene glycol
Sodium PCA
Triethylene glycol
Polyglyceryl sorbitol
Potassium PCA
Hydrogenated Honey
Hyaluronic Acid
Hexanediol beeswax
Hexanetriol Beeswax
Hydrolyzed Elastin
Hydrolyzed Collagen
Hydrolyzed Silk
Hydrolyzed Keratin
Capryl glycol
Isoceteth-(3-10, 20, 30)
Isolaureth-(3-10, 20, 30)

What ingredients act as anti-humectants?
According to Tanya of The most common ingredient in anti-humectant formulations are silicones. This is because they not only perform the anti-humectant duties in a superior manner, but they also provide excellent lubrication of the hair and add a high degree of gloss (shine). Esters (such as isopropyl palmitate) are another category of ingredient used for their water-resistant properties in products designed to function well in high humidity climates. There are also many natural ingredients that work well for this purpose, such as hydrogenated castor oil, beeswax, and plant triglycerides such as coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, and shea butter.

Are all silicones bad?
There are few product ingredient subjects that inspire as much debate as silicones. Silicones are polymers used used to coat the hair shaft to provide a smoothing effect. All silicones, however, are not created equal. Check out the following article:

Many curlies avoid them like the plague, but my curls seem to thrive with them. A routine devoid of cones results in dry, brittle hair for me. So no, I'm not a CG'er... I tried it, but it didn't work for me. I consider myself a modified Curly Girl-- I use some silicones, co-wash regularly, and wash with shampoo twice a month. As always, experiment and see what works best for you.

"Nik,I just want to make sure I have this right! silicones always end in "cone", but what about products that end in "one"? Are they silicones too? I need to know what needs to be shampooed out."
Silicones do not always end in -cone. They can also end in -xane or -conol.

An ingredient ending in -one is not necessarily a silicone. Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone are two preservatives that are commonly mistaken as cones. They usually appear together like that, and toward the end of the ingredient list. They are simply preservatives, and can be found in conditioners such as Herbal Essence Hello Hydration, and Body Envy conditioners.

Some water soluble cones (can be easily removed with conditioner and water) are:
Lauryl methicone copolyol
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane
Dimethicone Copolyol
Bisaminopropyl dimethicone
Cones that start with PEG-

What is an ACV rinse?
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinses are one of most cost-effective and beneficial ways in existence to improve hair health. A good ACV rinse can remove product buildup, restore the pH balance of the scalp and hair, promote blood circulation in the scalp--which can stimulate new hair growth--and give the hair a soft, healthy sheen.

Where do you buy your shea butter?
I purchase organic, unrefined shea butter from

Any good homemade spritz recipes?
Check out this article!

Any good homemade deep treatment recipes?
Check out this article!


What is henna?
Henna, lawsonia inermis, is a plant. It is a large bush, or small tree, that grows in hot, dry climates. There is evidence from Egypt that henna was regularly used to dye hair five thousand years ago, and may have been used in Jericho as early as eight thousand years ago. Henna was used to keep hair healthy and to color gray hair. Source.
The dye inside this plant produces a red/brown stain on skin and various hues of red on hair. Henna can't lighten your hair, ever. On some colors of hair it may appear to brighten it, but you should count on any color you get with henna, being darker than what is already on your head.

Can henna lighten your hair color?
No henna does not lift color. I know it sounds weird, but the color changes you will experience with henna actually depend on the setting. It's sort of like a rinse...a transparent copper-y rinse. Imagine drawing with an orange crayon on black construction paper- under most indoor lighting, the paper still looks black (albeit shinier), but if held under the light, just right, you'll catch a glimpse of orange. Outdoors, in sunlight, my hair glows auburn, so much so that my sis and hubby call me 'red head', but indoors it's a rich black. There are some instances (back lighting, etc.) where you can really see the red indoors, but I can never really catch it on camera.

With that said, if your hair is lighter than mine naturally (sandy brown, etc) the henna red will be very evident--your hair may appear auburn in most lighting conditions.

Many women use a two step indigo treatment to cover stubborn grays and dye the hair a rich, shiny, blue-black. I've never used indigo and don't plan to, but the results I've seen look gorgeous. Hope this helps!

How has henna changed your hair texture?
If anything, henna has made my hair smoother and THICKER. My waves are slightly looser, but only noticeably so, the week after henna. After a couple of weeks or so, it bounces back, but the frizz control and strength remain. Again, the major difference (besides the auburn glow in the sun!), is smoother, heavier hair :D

Where do you buy your henna?
I love bridal art quality Jamila henna from Mehandi.


What is porosity and why is it important?
Porosity is the hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. Porosity is a critically important factor in determining one's curly hair care. Since moisture is what defines and shapes our curls, the inability to keep moisture within the hair shaft will defeat the most valiant efforts to maximize curl potential. Check out this article-- The Curl Whisperer on Porosity.

Do you take vitamins? Which ones should I take?
Check out this article!

Are there any home remedies for hair loss?

See the Curl Whisperer on Hair Loss Remedies article.

Do hair growth serums work?
In the cyber world, there are several concoctions and magical serums floating around that promise to swiftly grow your hair to great lengths. I'm not in the position to review any of them...not even Boundless Tresses, which I used intermittently for 2 weeks. I believe that growth happens from the inside out...Obviously, we can't override our genes, but we can MOST CERTAINLY maximize our growing potential!

The truth is, TLC and patience, are the only sure things. However, from my personal experiences, I've learned that the following were correlated with faster than average (and/or healthier) hair growth:

1. Physical Exercise-Running or any other moderate/high intensity exercise (yay for Cardio) increases the blood flow to your scalp. Increased blood flow means that more nutrients are brought to your hair follicle. I purchased a treadmill last year, and used it regularly for 5 months. I'd put in a Deep Treatment (DT), don a plastic cap, and walk briskly (I don't run, lol) for 30-45 minutes, 3 days a week. Killed two birds with one stone!Between the cardio, and the frequent DTs, my hair flourished!

2. Healthy Diet- Hair consists of protein, so it is essential that you consume enough. Incorporate foods from all the groups - especially protein. Nuts, poultry, vegetables, fruits, grains, eggs, etc. All contribute to healthy, growing hair.

3. Dietary Supplements- Biotin and MSM are ingredients every hair vitamin should contain. Biotin promotes cell growth, the production of fatty acids, and metabolism of fats. MSM lengthens the hair growth phase (which means that you keep more hair on your head). Using a combination of the two is beneficial for healthy hair. This winning combo, plus a quality Multivitamin will definitely aid in the hair growing process. Check out this article.

4.Henna- If you do a search for 'henna + hair growth' on the forum, you'll see that many women truly believe that henna has resulted in increased hair growth. I'm a believer too! My jump from shoulder length to APL last year was directly preceded by my first henna applications. Some ladies think that the actual process of applying henna stimulates the scalp (which we now know, aids in hair growth). One could argue that henna stretches the curl, and gives the illusion of longer hair....whatever the mechanisms are, for me, it produced faster hair growth.

5. Scalp Massages- Nightly scalp massages increase blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles. 5 minutes should suffice.

Of course, hair growth is nothing without an understanding of retention. Protective styling, moisturizing and sealing, frequent deep treatments, and delicate handling all aid in retaining the length you've worked so hard for!

Is sweat damaging my hair?
Yes and no. The lactic acid in sweat can break down the cuticle of the hair shaft, but only in great quantities. Water rinsing or co-washing after exercise sessions is recommended but many curlies (myself included) get along fine without it.


How can I successfully deal with humidity and other weather conditions?

Nikki, how do you fluff your hair to create volume?

I've slowly come to the realization that allowing my hair to 'just be', allows it to fluff up naturally with minimal frizz. The day after my styling session (usually a Twist-n-Curl), I remove the curlers and gently unravel the twists. Since the twists are so chunky, I sometimes break them apart to help it look more natural, but that's all I do... no finger combing, picking, or massaging the roots. This no fluffing routine gets me to four day hair, which I greatly appreciate.

The problem is that my hair is fine, and walking around for a day with a flat TnC drives me insane- it's scalpy, and overly defined. However, come day two, it's twice as big, still chunky, defined, and frizz free!

There are times when I need it to be the three F's (funky, fabulous, and flyy) on day 1, so I do the following:
  • Remove the curlers
  • Unravel the twists
  • Break twisted sections apart (turning 1 crinkle into two and so on)
  • Spread my fingers and use them as a pick/comb to gently break up the roots
  • Sometimes I'll flip my head over, still using my fingers as a pick... running them from my roots to 1/4 down the strands
  • Massage the roots at the crown to help hide any parts
  • I never use combs or any other tools to fluff... just my fingers
Finally, for easier fluffing and bigger hair, remember to use less product! Preferably no styler (gel/mousse, curl cream), and only a silver dollar sized amount of your 'styling conditioner'.

What's the best detangling method?
Over the years I've tried many detangling methods-- dry, wet, with a paddle brush, using a denman, fingers only, in sections, under the water stream, hell, I've even tried oil rinsing! I've done it all, but with my current length and density, the following works best for me:

* I get in the shower with loose, dry hair (usually an old Twist-n-Curl).
* I wet it down, apply loads of conditioner, and let it marinate.
* I then split my hair down the middle, and start with the left side.
* I section out the back (pinning the rest of the left side up and out of the way) and detangle with my fingers and Ouidad comb under the shower stream.
* I two strand twist that section and repeat with the other two sections on that side (one above my ear, and one by my face).
* Repeat with the right side.
* I end up with three product free, thoroughly detangled, twisted sections on each side-- 6 total.
* I then get out of the shower,and blot dry. I take down one twisted section at a time, and apply my leave-in/styler prior to re-twisting it (I usually turn one twisted section into two twists).

This routine allows me to slowly and gently detangle small sections at a time, resulting in fewer hairs loss. Twisting the detangled sections keeps my curls from knotting back up (I used to skip this step, making my efforts futile), and makes for a much quicker styling session.

Know that what works for some won't work for all. Browse the site to check out others detangling routines.

What's the difference in the results between a braid-out and a twist-out?
Honestly, *wet set* braid-outs and twist-outs yield astonishingly similar results on my hair. The difference is so minute, that I prefer to twist, due to my terrible braiding skills (I hate braiding wet hair, it takes me twice as long and has more of a tendency to frizz upon take down). If I'm styling dry hair, a braid-out is the only set that will hold. For me, the curl definition is all about the products used and the size of the twists or braids. I have observed, however, that some naturals get very different results from twisting (s curls) versus braiding (zig zags). For responses to this question from the CN community, CLICK HERE!

What is the Twist-n-Curl?
This video explains it all. Basically, it's a twist-out with rollers on the end. I now use flexi-rods instead of magnetic rollers.

How can I achieve smooth edges?
Check out this article!

How do you trim?
Check out this article!

How can I achieve the perfect Twist-out?
Check out this article!

How can I achieve the BOSSIEST afro?
Check out this article!

How can I achieve excellent curl definition?
Check out this article!

How can I achieve the perfect Bantu knot-out?
Check out this article!

How can I achieve the perfect bun?
Check out this article!

How much product should I use?
Check out this article!

Best rollers for natural hair?
Check out this article!

Shampoos for Dry Natural Hair- How to Pick the Right One

Question: How do you choose a mild shampoo for fine hair that's prone to breakage?

How to Read Natural Hair Product Labels

IG @tolaniav

by Charlene Walton of

Paraben free. Sulfate free. Silicone free. Yes, we’ve all seen these words plastered across a lot of products but what does this stuff really mean? What’s really inside natural hair products and how does it affect your hair? Often, we gravitate to what sounds great on the front of a label. But the proof is in the pudding aka the ingredients. Brands are required to list the scientific name of ingredients on the labels, therefore; you may think an ingredient is harmful simply because you can not pronounce the word. I’m here to tell you that’s simply not true. Here’s how to understand the ingredients in natural hair products the next time you’re about to spend your coins on the latest product or if you’re shopping with us at of course!


5 Sulfate-Free Shampoos for Natural Hair

Don't be fooled! You don't have to sacrifice soft, hydrated kinks and coils, for cleanliness.

Many naturals and curly girls hate clarifying because it causes so much drama.

You wreck your hair and strip it of natural oils, softness, and hydration for the sake of a clean slate. Even after intense deep conditioning, your hair doesn't start "acting right" for another two weeks, and by that time, you're able to get another good week and a half out of your hair before it's time to clarify all over again.

Break the cycle

These shampoos offer you the chance to deeply clean with out stripping, and to clarify without causing drama. Get clean, healthy, shiny, soft, and moisturized hair with these cleaning powerhouses that don't contain harsh sulfates like SLS:

Read On!>>>

True or False: Sulfates are the Devil

One of the cornerstones of the Curly Girl Method is avoiding shampoos and cleansers that contain sulfates. As a result of the rise in popularity of embracing naturally curly hair, many product manufacturers have responded with shampoos, cowashes, and other cleansers that are labeled as "sulfate free" to meet textured hair demands.

But in truth, many products labeled "sulfate-free" contain sulfates still -- just not SLS or ALS, which are the two harshest. There are more gentle sulfates that have been developed, and some SLS containing shampoos even have other ingredients that soften the blow of the sulfates.

Creating Your Regimen for the GOC


Hola Chicas!

I've initiated and participated in many a natural hair challenge over the years. I've bunned, baggied, deep treated 2x a week, hell, I even did nightly scalp massages. I learned that no two heads are the same, and identical regimens may not produce similar results for everybody. There is one thing, however, that yields stellar results much of the time… consistency! Yep, all you have to do is develop a routine and product combo that works for you, and stick to it. That is the corner stone of our challenge. Be consistent!

With that said, later today or tomorrow, I'll share my tweaked regimen for the GOC. I'm kicking it off with a trim and I suggest y'all do the same! It'll make detangling and styling easier, and also help you to maintain the length you gain.

Below, I compiled some sample reggies (from past Hair Idols) that you can build on. Tweak them as you see fit- -more frequent washing if you're a gym curly, less washing if your hair doesn't like the manipulation. For product recommendations, see here.

Happy growin'!


Dry Bunnin' (for those who ends knot up when wet bunning)
  • Wash your hair bi-weekly with a low sulfate or moisturizing shampoo
  • Rinse and apply an instant conditioner as you gently detangle (fingers first, then with a wide tooth comb, modified denman, or Tangle Teezer)
  • Follow up with a moisturizing deep treatment with heat
  • Rinse thoroughly and generously apply your leave-in conditioner
  • Place your hair in chunky twists or braids to stretch it out
  • Seal your ends with an oil (castor, shea butter, olive oil, etc.)
  • Allow to dry over night
  • Remove twists, and using a Goody Ouchless Scrunchy, place hair into a loose, secure bun (high, low, to the side, messy… do you!), being mindful of your edges.
  • At night, you can either (1) remove the bun, moisturize, and twist the hair, (2) loosen the bun, apply pomade to edges, and tie with a scarf, or (3) remove the bun, moisturize, re-bun, apply pomade to your edges, and tie down with a scarf.

Wet Bunnin'
  • Wash your hair weekly with a low sulfate, moisturizing shampoo, or co-wash
  • Rinse and apply instant conditioner as you gently detangle (fingers first, then with a wide tooth comb, modified denman, or Tangle Teezer)
  • Follow up with a moisturizing deep treatment with heat
  • Rinse, and generously apply a leave-in conditioner in a raking motion to encourage curl definition and clumpage
  • Seal your ends with an oil (castor, shea butter, olive oil, etc.)
  • Pull hair into a high, loose yet secure bun using a Goody Ouchless Scrunchy, being careful not to stress your edges
  • Smooth your edges with product of choice and your fingers
  • Tie on a silk scarf for 10-30 minutes to help set your edges
  • At night, you can either (1) remove the bun, moisturize, and twist the hair, (2) loosen the bun, apply pomade to edges, and tie with a scarf, or (3) remove the bun, moisturize, re-bun, apply pomade to your edges, and tie down with a scarf.
**Whether wet or dry bunning, you can always take your hair down and execute a gorgeous dry twist or braid- out for a special occasion or when you grow bored.
**To smooth your edges sans brush and gel, click here.

Twists/Box Braid Routine

  • Wash your hair bi-weekly with a low sulfate, moisturizing shampoo, or co-wash
  • Rinse and apply instant conditioner as you gently detangle (fingers first, then with a wide tooth comb, modified denman, or Tangle Teezer)
  • Follow up with a moisturizing deep treatment with heat
  • Rinse, and generously apply a leave-in conditioner as you twist your hair. You may choose to use a styler to help hold the twists (a non drying gel, or curl creme)
  • Twirl the end of the twist around your finger to encourage the curl and to keep it from unraveling.
  • Seal your ends with an oil (castor, shea butter, olive oil, etc.)
  • Allow to dry
  • You can let them hang free or style in a protective updo
  • At night, apply moisturizer as needed and seal. Re-twist/braid any frizzy ones. Sleep with your twists/braids secured under a satin bonnet.
  • Some folks even rinse/co-wash in the twists or braids

Wash & Go

  • As often as necessary, wash your hair with a low sulfate, moisturizing shampoo, or cowash
  • Rinse and apply instant conditioner as you gently detangle (fingers first, then with a wide tooth comb, modified denman, or Tangle Teezer)
  • Follow up with a moisturizing deep treatment with heat
  • Rinse, and generously apply a moisturizing leave-in conditioner and styler of choice in sections, using a raking motion to encourage definition (you may choose to leave in your rinse-out conditioner)
  • Seal your ends with an oil (castor, shea butter, olive oil, etc.)
  • Allow your hair to air-dry, or gently diffuse if you're in a hurry
  • At night, apply moisturizer as needed and either (1) pineapple, (2) gently twist, or (3) don a bonnet.


  • Wash your hair weekly with a low sulfate, moisturizing shampoo, or co-wash
  • Rinse and apply instant conditioner as you gently detangle
  • Follow up with a moisturizing deep treatment with heat
  • Rinse, allow to dry for 15 minutes (or until just damp) and generously apply a leave-in conditioner as you twist or braid your hair. You may choose to use a styler to help hold the twists (a non drying gel, or curl creme)
  • Twirl the end of the twist around your finger to encourage the curl and to keep it from unraveling (you can also secure each end with a roller)
  • Seal your ends with an oil (castor, shea butter, olive oil, etc.)
  • Allow to air dry overnight
  • Carefully release the twists from the bottom up, fluff, and style
  • At night, apply moisturizer as needed and either (1)pineapple, (2) gently twist, or (3) don a bonnet.
Also, remember Danielle's tips from last week:

With creating a regimen comes a bit of experimentation with products, techniques and timing. Some things to consider:
  • How often will I wash/condition/moisturize?
  • How often will I do treatments? (moisture/protein)
  • What will I use to moisturize? (how does my hair react?)
  • How often will I detangle?
  • How much time do I have to devote to my healthy hair practices?
  • How much effort do I want to put in to my regimen?

Finally, you may want to consider incorporating one (or more) of these into your routine:

-Pre-Wash Oil Treatment
-Dry detangle and shampoo in twists
-The Baggy Method
-Henna for strong hair!

I'll be back soon with vitamin and supplement info, as well as what I plan to eat, and... cough... how often I plan to work out ;)

So how will your routine change?

Zwitterionic Surfactants: A Milder Alternative?

by Tonya McKay of NaturallyCurly

In recent months, we have taken an in-depth look at the structure and properties of cationic and nonionic surfactants. Another interesting category of surfactants used in both hair and skin care are the zwitterionic ones, those that naturally have two charges on the molecule, both positive and negative. These are attractive to the formulator due to their tendency to boost effects of other surfactants in the solution, as well as an ability to ameliorate undesirable properties of some surfactants, such as skin irritation and a tendency to strip the hair and skin of too much moisture. One familiar surfactant of this type is cocamidopropyl betaine, which is appreciated by many curly-haired consumers for its gentle, yet effective, cleansing capabilities.

What are they?

Zwitterionic surfactants (also: amphoteric surfactants) are characterized by having two distinct and opposite charges on the molecule at either adjacent or non-adjacent sites. The presence of both a positive and negative charge renders the molecule overall neutrally-charged at neutral pH. Some types of zwitterions are susceptible to pH changes in a solution and may become completely cationic or anionic in acidic or basic environments. The positively-charged site is typically a quaternized ammonium ion, but can also be a phosphonium ion, while the negatively-charged site can be one of a variety of anionic groups, such as sulfate, carboxylate, or sulfonate. There are several common categories of zwitterions used in hair care formulations, such as the betaines and amphoacetates.
In general, amphoteric surfactants have been found to be compatible with other surfactants and polymers, including silicones. The formation of self-assembling complexes between amphoteric surfactants and polymers or anionic surfactants has been observed and found to impart interesting properties to solutions containing these molecules. Amphoteric surfactants reduce static in hair by decreasing its surface charge density. Since the interactions between hair and zwitterionic surfactants are primarily physical rather than ionic, they are easily rinsed and removed from the surface of the hair. They have been found to minimize skin and eye irritation common to other surfactants, especially sulfates. They also can boost the foaming performance of anionic surfactant systems via a variety of mechanisms, by either increasing the speed at which foam is formed (flashing), improving the density and luxurious feel of the foam, or by increasing the foam stability (longevity).

Types of amphoteric surfactants
The betaine family of zwitterions possesses the positive-negative head group structure of trimethyl glycine (betaine), an amino acid derived from sugar beets. The hydrophobic tail group can be a straight chain alkyl group (such as in coco betaine), or can contain an amido group, such as cocamidopropyl betaine. Other betaines include lauramidopropyl betaine, oleamidopropyl betaine, ricinoleamidopropyl betaine, cetyl betaine and dimer dilinoleamidopropyl betaine. Additional variants are sulfobetaines, hydroxysulfobetaines and sultaines. Betaines are more resistant to thickening via addition of salts than their anionic cousins. For this reason, in order to achieve a pleasingly thick product, addition of viscosity-boosting polymeric additives may be necessary, which can increase the cost and complexity of the formula.

Cocamidopropyl betaine is particularly valued for being an excellent cosurfactant for sodium lauryl sulfate, but it is also a gentle cleanser in its own right. Studies have found that it removes silicones from hair very effectively, without drying out the hair. It has also been shown to improve the solubility of sodium cocoyl isethionate, an extremely gentle, creamy and emollient surfactant. The combination of these two has the potential to create an extremely gentle and moisturizing shampoo.
Betaines are more resistant to thickening via addition of salts than their anionic cousins. For this reason, in order to achieve a pleasingly thick product, addition of viscosity-boosting polymeric additives may be necessary, which can increase the cost and complexity of the formula.

The specific betaine selected can have a significant impact upon the viscosity, foaming behavior and detergency of the final product. In order to choose the best betaine for her purpose, the formulator must be familiar with the properties of each of her options and how each interacts with the other ingredients in her formula. She will generally have a goal in mind regarding the physical properties, cleansing strength and cost of her formula and all of those will factor into the decision. Fortunately, for consumers, the primary concern is how the product feels on the hair and how the hair behaves afterward and the differences should not be tremendous between the various betaines. Currently, cocamidopropyl betaine is the one most often seen on labels and in the proper formulation, and is quite gentle to hair and skin.

Other families of zwitterions are also used in formulations. They are becoming more common as their interesting properties are explored and as companies continue working to develop non-sulfate-based cleansing platforms. Some familiar ones might be the imidazoline derivatives alkylamphoacetates such as disodium lauramphoacetate, as well as alkylamphopropionates. These materials share many of the beneficial and gentle properties of the betaine family.

Overall, zwitterions are an interesting class of surfactants with the potential for more growth in application, especially for curly hair, which needs a more gentle approach to cleansing.

Consumer power

In recent years, there has been a growing demand for sulfate-free and gentler shampoos and cleansing products, especially in the curly-haired population, as we have learned the damage that can be done by harsh surfactants. As formulators continue to respond to the push from consumers for alternatives to sulfate-based cleansing systems, we can expect to see a growing number of products relying upon the milder cleansing properties of zwitterionic surfactants. They are less likely to strip curly hair of its much-needed moisture and can impart a silky feel to hair when used with other ingredients. A patent search reveals that scientists are working to develop more polymer-zwitterion systems, which should also eventually benefit the end product user by providing performance-enhancing properties. In this demand-driven market, the power consumers have to drive the research and development of new products is quite remarkable and should not be underestimated.

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