What to consider when looking for a shampoo for your relaxed hair
There are plenty of shampoos out there with promises of beautiful shiny clean hair but what is suitable for relaxed black hair? Black hair in its natural state tends to be dry. This condition is only exaggerated by adding the chemicals that relax the curl pattern in the hair.
After the hair has been straightened, oils from the sebaceous glands in the scalp can be distributed through the length of the hair by combing gently with a wide tooth comb*. As brushes are not recommended for black hair types (they promote breakage), the secretions from the glands are rarely enough to sufficiently lubricate the hair and prevent moisture loss. When choosing a shampoo it is important to pick one that does not worsen the dry condition of the hair.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and other sulfates, common foaming ingredients found in many shampoos are worth a mention. Sulfates are ingredients in many detergents. They clean the hair pretty well but leave it extremely dry as all the natural hair oils* are also washed out! When taking care of relaxed hair you might want to consider using a natural shampoo that is sulfate free. A health food store should carry some sulfate free shampoos as well as Aubrey Organics online who do a great line of natural shampoos. If you’ve got the time however, you can look through the ingredients of shampoos available in beauty supply stores until you find one that does not contain any sulfates.
Sulfate free shampoos tend to be more expensive than their regular counterparts so some women opt to use regular shampoos but only once in a while. You must be cautious if you choose this approach as you don’t want to compromise the health of your hair. During the relaxing process, the ph of the hair is raised to allow the chemical to work effectively. A shampoo with a lower ph (slightly acidic) must be used to restore the hair’s natural ph. You must only use shampoos that are designed for dry hair or chemically treated hair as they will be of the correct ph (even with sulfates). Very foamy shampoos are the most drying for obvious reasons so choose one that does not foam too much. You may have to try a few different products to find one that is both kind to your hair and your pocket! A reasonably priced shampoo line that does not foam too much is the Cream of Nature shampoo line. Some of them also have great moisturizing benefits hence do not leave the hair dry in spite of the sulfates.
Clarifying shampoos are also important in relaxed black hair care. They remove build up left behind by gels, pomades, mousses and other products used to add moisture to the hair. A clarifying shampoo* is more acidic than a regular shampoo and as such should only be used once every 4-6 weeks. If you use too much product in your hair without regularly washing it out, your scalp will become scaly and produce flakes which resemble dandruff. You can get rid of build up quite easily by using a clarifying shampoo*. Suave and VO5 have good lines of clarifying shampoos.
Many women are now avoiding the use of shampoos in their hair altogether in favour of more natural and gentler cleaning methods. Apple Cider Vinegar* can be used effectively to cleanse and clarify! Read the article on how to clean hair without a shampoo.