If there's one thing that's frequently discussed in natural hair forums it's the fact that sulfates in shampoo dry out hair. Sulfates can also dry out and irritate the scalp. If you look at a shampoo bottle as a natural haired girl you don't want to see:
I knew what I didn't want as the detergent in my shampoo but I didn't know what I DID want? I would pick up a bottle and if the above-mentioned ingredients weren't there I'd take it.
The problem with this strategy is that, at times, manufacturers combine several 'gentle' hair detergents and in combination the shampoo dries hair out more than a regular sulfate shampoo.
So, which detergents are gentler?
A much gentler and less irritating cleansing agent is Cocamidopropyl Betaine. This is an organically derived ingredients which is partly derived from coconut oil.
Personally, I use Kinky Curly Come Clean. Cocamidopropyl Betaine is its only detergent.
What's the disadvantage of Cocamidopropyl Betaine?
The advantage is also the disadvantage. It's not a stong detergent so if you have very greasy hair it won't clean efficiently. If you've been using heavy products you'll need something stronger like a regular sulfate shampoo to get the build-up out.
Is there something even gentler than Cocamidopropyl Betaine?
Yes. Decyl Glucoside. This is very, very mild. One range that uses this gentle cleanser is Aubrey Organics. I used an Aubrey Organics shampoo first when I went natural but I couldn't get past the fact that it doesn't lather.
Are there any other detergents you probably would rather not have in your shampoo?
There you have it, your shampoo bottle reading should now hopefully be much easier!
References: Good Guide, Herbal Luxuries, There Must Be A Better Way, Science of Black Hair
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward