What's In Your Shampoo?
What's In Your Shampoo?

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.


surfactant—sometimes referred to as a detergent—is a substance that,
when dissolved in water, gives a product the ability to remove dirt
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
  • Ammonium or Sodium
  • Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate
  • Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate
  • Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate
  • Sodium Laureth, Myreth or Lauryl
  • 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
  • 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.