Natural Hair Growth Starts With Shampoo
We all need shampoos because we don’t want dirty hair. However, not all shampoos are created equal. Some shampoos will be obviously bad as soon as you use it. Others have more hidden dangers.
People like to pick shampoo based on hair type, but you really need to pick one based on your hair porosity. This is because shampoo is designed to cleanse your hair, and that’s a need for everybody of all hair types. However, certain ingredients are better for you depending on how well you get and retain moisture. So, let’s look at common ingredient categories found in shampoos that you should either buy or stay away from.
Almost all shampoos should contain various essential oils and/or carrier oils. I started with oils because this is the only ingredient on this list that’s applicable to everybody. Regardless of your hair type, porosity, length, etc., you need oils!
You want shampoos with essential oils if you’re looking for a shampoo that clarifies. Essential oils promote growth, so make sure to include them for this reason as well. Common essential oils found in shampoo are peppermint oil, tea tree oil, and lavender oil.
On the other hand, with carrier oils, you want those in almost every shampoo due to their moisturizing properties. Even though oils are mostly sealants, they will be better moisturizers than most of the other ingredients because they’ll help your hair from completely drying out.
Common carrier oils found in shampoo are coconut oil, jojoba oil, and castor oil. A good shampoo doesn’t have to contain all these specific oils, but it should contain something that is designed to prevent your hair from looking and feeling like straw.
This one is tricky because unlike oils, this truly does depend on porosity. Silicones provide a waterproof barrier over your hair. This is most beneficial to people with high porosity because it helps them retain moisture which in turn allows them to have moisturized hair for longer periods of time. It does this by filling in the “gaps” that cause hair to be high porosity in the first place.
While the barrier is what makes it good for high-porosity people, that’s exactly what makes it bad for medium and low porosity people. Once again, this is because the waterproof barrier prevents moisture and hydration from getting into the hair. If your hair has an easy time getting and retaining moisture, then you might not need a shampoo with silicones because that’s just going to throw the balance off.
If you already have a hard time getting moisture into your hair, then you definitely don’t want a shampoo with silicones because then you’ll never get the moisture you need! Using silicones on low-porosity hair is trying to put on lotion through your clothes. Your goal is to get moisturized but there’s a barrier stopping you.
Do I really think silicones are that bad? No, I don’t. Once again, they really depend on your porosity. I personally don’t use them because I’m medium-low porosity so it wouldn’t be very beneficial for me.
I also want to say that a lot of deep conditioners have silicones in them too. I think it might be more beneficial to use silicones with the conditioner instead of shampoo because if you do it with shampoo, you’re limiting your moisture absorption for the rest of the wash day process. You still have a lot of products to go through, and most of those products are supposed to be moisturizing.
If you use silicones during the conditioning step, at least you sealed in the moisture from the water and conditioner instead of just from the water. I say all of this to say, that if you’re going to use silicones, use them in your conditioners and not shampoos.
Parabens and Carcinogens
Parabens are found in literally everything! Ok I might be exaggerating, but they are found in a lot of things. They’re preservatives and anti-bacterials who keep your products from spoiling. The reason why they get a lot of hate is because they’re associated with breast cancer due to them being found in breast tumors. However, there isn’t any conclusive evidence that directly links parabens to breast cancer.
Other carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) can also be found in shampoos. And while they’re hard to avoid unless buy an all-natural and organic shampoo, you can take steps to limit your exposure to them. Just make sure to do your research on the ingredients before you buy a shampoo.
Sulfates are surfactants that are used to clean your hair and make your shampoo lather. The specific type of surfactant is a detergent, and that’s why it’s good at stripping away dirt and oils. As of July 2019, there isn’t any research that shows that sulfates cause cancer or other extremely harmful diseases. However, it seriously dries your hair out and makes it feel like crumpled paper.
My personal story with sulfates is that besides it making my hair feel like origami, it was dull, easily tangled, and lifeless. Combine all of that with the fact that I still had heat damage at the time, let’s just say that it was not good.
The last time I used sulfates was a little after I cut of all my heat damage. I felt like I needed a clean slate because my products weren’t working anymore and I was starting to get buildup. I used a sulfate shampoo and even though my hair was still dry and dull, it gave me the fresh start that I was looking for.
For the most part, I’m against sulfate shampoos because I feel that they cause more harm then good. The fact that they strip out everything means that you have to put in more work throughout the week in order to put moisture and hydration back into your hair.
However, you might need to use sulfates if you use a lot of products throughout the week and have a lot of buildup, or if you used a product that completely disagreed with your hair. This is so that you have a clean start, and so that you don’t start a new week with partially dirty hair.
Now, this is NOT something that you want to use all the time. You only want to do this if you truly need a deep cleanse. You need to cleanse your hair every week (or at least every two weeks), but I mean that you should only use a sulfate shampoo when you want the ultimate cleanse. A cleanse so thorough that it erases your dirty thoughts and cleans up your language. I’m (mostly) kidding, but you get the point. I don’t think sulfate shampoos are the devil, but I do think that you should generally stay away from them and only use them sparingly.
This only contains a few ingredients that you should watch out for in your shampoos. There’s more that you should be aware of, so make sure you come back to learn what shampoo ingredients to avoid.
Everyone is different, so some of you might find that you need sulfates or silicones while others should completely steer clear. Share your shampoo and whether it contains sulfates or silicones. Also share how it makes your hair feel. Maybe you’ll help someone who’s looking to try something new.
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Thumbnail by Eloise Ambursely @e_ambursley