I’ve currently read about 5-6 black hair care books including Science of Black Hair and 5 Hair Archetypes and also am a member of several hair care forums. All boast that one with black hair should stay away from sulphates. Most people, like myself have done and still do this, but do you really need to?
What’s a sulphate shampoo anyway?
It is a shampoo in which contains some kind of sodium or ammonium laureth or lauryl compound with sulphate. They are very harsh and over time (not like a wash or two) but after about 2-3 years of use, it can gradually chip away the hair. When you aren’t using good products to begin with, the effects are worse. This is the same kind of detergent you find in dish soap, body soap and to wash clothes. It doesn’t matter how “gentle” the shampoo claims to be, the detergent is still harsh.
What is a sulphate free shampoo?
It is a shampoo that is free of harsh sulphates and usually (not always) contain some kind of vegetable or fruit based soap. They are not as harsh and don’t clean the hair as well.
Let compare: both still contain detergents (don’t be fooled). Even if two shampoos contain the same moisturizers, the sulphate will probably still be stronger.
So what’s the problem?
We are going to take this time to agree to disagree. There is no problem. It’s based on preference. You can successfully have long hair and still use sulphates. Shampoo and conditioner systems are meant to work together, but so often you will find a shampoo with sulphates and its mate will contain mineral oil or cheap ingredients. Run!!!! This is just drying your hair and keeping it dry. If you use a sulphate shampoo, just be sure to use more moisturizing and proteinated conditioners and leave-ins during your wash day and maybe the week. Do not be fooled. Sulphate free shampoos can be just as harsh as their counterparts. Thick shampoos are usually soap based (no bueno) and some detergents such as oleth 14-16 can be harsher than sulphates. A good sulphate free shampoos will be creamy (not thick), probably (but not always) medium to dark in color, may be gelatinous, will not lather much on the first wash (unless you do not use much product during the week) and will not leave your hair feeling stripped or squeaky clean.
Honestly, using sulphates are a great way to ensure weekly that your hair is thriving in the moisture/protein balance. Think about it, take a second… It would be a lot harder to suffer from overloads with a sulphate shampoo. Just be sure to make sure it doesn’t have a ton of other sulphates and other conditioners in the ingredients which can just as well be harsh and cancel the effects.
Nexxus and Catwalk are good sulphate shampoos I’ve used that are not harsh. Their conditioners are great too. It’s all about your decision. Black hair may be best in sulphate free environments, but if you aren’t satisfied with it, sulphates are not the enemy, they are the original gangster!!!!
One Day, It Will Happen