Beginner Wednesday – Choosing a shampoo

12 Oct


This is the first article in the Beginner Wednesday series.  The article looks at choosing a shampoo.

So why do we use shampoo anyway?  The purpose of shampoo is to clean the hair.  There are literally thousands of shampoos to choose from and it can get really confusing.  In the past I would choose a shampoo based on what the packaging looked like.  I would also rely on those shampoo advertisements with the women with ‘gorgeous hair’!  Boy was I lost!

So how do you choose shampoo?  Below are some tips to help you choose a shampoo:

1.         African hair is really dry by nature.  That’s the one thing that almost all of us have in common when it comes to hair.  This is why moisturising our hair is key to its health.  Lean towards shampoos that are moisturising or made for dry, damaged, chemically treated and colour treated hair.  These shampoos will be less stripping than other shampoos.  Do not think that because your hair is dirty it is ‘oily’.  These are two totally different things.

2.         Choose a gentle shampoo that is sulphate free.  Sulphate is a general term used to describe surfactants that are used in shampoos and many other types of cleansers.  Surfactants help to dissolve oils as well as act as a foaming agent so that a shampoo can lather.  Common sulphates found in shampoos are sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium laureth sulphate, ammonium lauryl sulphate and ammonium laureth sulphate.  Sulphates can be quite drying to the hair.  Most sulphate free shampoos will clearly state on the front of the bottle that they are sulphate free.  There are many available on the market, even in Africa!  I have come across them in pharmacies as well as health shops.  I currently have the Body Shop Rainforest Moisture line. 

I need to stress though that sulphates are not ‘bad’ for everyone.  Some women can use sulphate shampoos regularly with no ill effects, most though find such shampoos drying.  I also need to note that some women will over time get product build-up on their hair from the use of sulphate free shampoos.  I fall into that category.  Because of this I use a sulphate shampoo about once a month or so.  I use Organic Root Stimulator Creamy Aloe Shampoo.  I find I need to use it every few weeks or so because my hair begins to look dull.  I concluded it was all the product and oils I use on my hair.  This process of removing product build-up with shampoo is called clarifying. Removing mineral deposits from the hair (commonly from the use of hard water) is called chelating

Some women choose to avoid shampoos all together and prefer to conditioner wash (co-wash) their hair instead.  I will cover this in a different article.

3.         Check the ingredients of your shampoo.  What else does it contain?  Does it contain any carrier oils, essential oils, aloe vera, vitamins, herbs or herbal extracts, honey, glycerin etc?  In essence, does it contain any ingredients that are beneficial to the hair? The main ingredients in a shampoo are water, surfactants, foaming agents (for lather) and preservative (so the shampoo has a long shelf life).  You will find these as the main ingredients in almost any shampoo.  Look for what else is in the shampoo besides these ingredients.  If you are having scalp issues you may want to look for a shampoo with peppermint oil or tea tree oil.  If you are experiencing breakage you may want a shampoo with some protein in it.  Look for any problems you would like to address with your hair and look for a shampoo with an ingredient that will help address that.     

So let me put it simply, choose a shampoo:

  •    That is moisturising or formulated for dry, damaged, colour treated or chemically treated hair;
  •    That is gentle; and
  •    That includes other ingredients that are beneficial to your hair.

Happy shampoo shopping!!


8 Responses to “Beginner Wednesday – Choosing a shampoo”

  1. sunshynec 12 October, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    I used to buy dark and lovely way back when because that is the only company that I knew that made products for African hair. Then I did the alberto stuff because it was cheap 🙂 now I’ve experimenting more (thanx to you 🙂 and I think I like the organic root stimulator products but sometimes I mix a conditioner from brand a with a shampoo from brand b and brand c braid spray etc 🙂

    • Tendayi 12 October, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

      Thanks Sunshyne 🙂 Very few people use everything from one brands. We all mix and match! As long as its working for you!!

    • Nyari Mtambo (@IntoTheTruLight) 12 October, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

      ORS Creamy Aloe is just amazing! My hair feels so soft and managable after I use it. But like you said, trial and error until you find the product that is beneficial to your hair. (I’m still loving my Herbal Essence hehehe…)

      • Tendayi 12 October, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

        Hey Nyari! I find I usually have 3 or 4 shampoos at a time 🙂 ORS is too drying if I use it too often. I now use it once a month.

  2. Mercy 12 October, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    For me i’ll just walk in a supermarket n choose a shampoo that i can afford or most of the times just go to a saloon n wash my hair with what they have. but after reading this am going to get the best for my hair especially the moisturising or formulated for dry, damaged, colour treated or chemically treated hair; and also carry it to the saloon to use instead of using theres.
    Thanks alot!

    • Tendayi 12 October, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

      You’re welcome Mercy. Give it try and see if it will make a difference to your hair 🙂

  3. Rumbi 12 October, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    ORS leaves my hair feeling dry… So I’m still looking for a shampoo. Can I shop for my shampoo in the “caucasian” hair product aisle?

    • Tendayi 12 October, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

      The ‘caucasian’ aisle is fine!! Just use the criteria in the article so you get something suited to your hair.

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