Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Which Ingredients are Sulfates? & Ways to Wash Your Hair.

Which ingredients are sulfates?
Sulfates to avoid include:  Alkylbenzene Sulfonate, Alkylbenzene Sulfonate, Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate, Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate; Sodium Laureth, Myreth, or Lauryl Sulfate; Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, and TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate.  C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate is a different class of surfactants, but many people find it to be as harsh as sulfates.  You may want to avoid this as well.  This list of sulfates is from Live Curly   Live Free.

One key to having healthy hair is to not over wash it. You want to use the least cleansing method/methods that work for your hair.
Alternate ways to clean your hair.  This list is moving from least cleansing to most cleansing.  Once you have used one of these methods, condition and style as usual.

Water Washing-  To water wash, you wet your hair and scrub the scalp with the pads of your fingers.  Scrub a lot.  If you are used to shampooing, you will have to scrub a whole lot more then you normally do.  When you think you are done, scrub more.  Water washing is cowashing without the conditioner.  Water washing adds less moisture to your hair then cowashing.  If cowashing is too moisturizing for your hair, swap some or all of your cowashes with water washing.  Do not use water washing as your only method of cleaning your hair.  You must also use one of the other methods listed below.  Update:  Water Washing only can work for wavies, but you have to follow a specific method.  I'll write a blog post in the future about how to do this.

Cowashing (conditioner washing)-To cowash, you use conditioner instead of shampoo.  Scrub the roots of your hair with conditioner.  Use the pads of your fingers and not the nails.  Scrub more then you would with shampoo.  When you think you are done, scrub some more.  Continue scrubbing as you rinse your hair.  This helps the water from the shower reach the roots of your hair and makes it easier to get the conditioner rinsed out.  If you cowash exclusively, you must be careful not to put anything in your hair that cannot be removed by conditioner. Here is my post on which ingredients to avoid.
Below is my video demonstrating a cowash in a sweatshirt.  I showered in sweatshirts to help all the wavies learn to cowash.  I hope you appreciate it.  :)

Cleansing Conditioner-  This is a conditioner with mild cleansers in it. The cleansers mean it gets your hair cleaner then cowashing.  One example is Curl Junkie Daily Fix

Condition Wash Condition (CWC)-  Coat the ends of your hair with conditioner. You can either go from the ears down, or just skip the first few inches.  Wash the roots of your hair with shampoo.  This method helps protect the dry ends of  your hair while cleaning the roots.  Try to keep the shampoo and conditioner separate.  When you have rinsed, condition your hair.

Low Poo (non sulfate shampoo)-Sulfate free shampoo is milder then shampoos that contain sulfates.  I should say that for the vast majority of people, sulfate free shampoos are milder then sulfate shampoos.  Some people find sulfate free shampoos to be as harsh as any sulfate shampoo. It is common for people with wavy hair to low poo about once a week.  This varies from person to person. Some wavies low poo daily, some low poo every few months, and others cowash exclusively.

Diluted Sulfate Shampoo- You can dilute sulfate shampoo to make it milder.  Keep in mind that when you dilute products, you also are diluting the preservatives.  Either mix up what you need every time you shampoo, or mix up about a weeks worth at a time and keep it in the refrigerator.  Science-y Hair Blog has more info on how to do this.

Sulfate shampoo (regular shampoo)-Some people will find that they need to use an occasional sulfate shampoo.  This occurs most often in wavies with fine hair.  If your hair needs occasional sulfates, use them and don't feel guilty.  Sulfates are only bad if they are bad for your hair.  If your hair needs sulfates, sulfates are not bad for you.  I'd suggest avoiding all sulfates in the beginning stages of CG.  It takes some time for hair to adjust to the CG method.  It also will take you some time to get to know your own hair.  When you are familiar with your hair's needs, and you find you need a sulfate shampoo...Go for it.

Pre wash treatments-  A trick to taming shampoo is to oil your hair before you wash it.  This helps prevent shampoo from stripping all the natural oils from your hair.  This is most often done with coconut oil.  I have more information about coconut oil prewash treatments here.


  1. Hello Mexico'm sorry for the bad English, I have wavy hair, I follow the CG method, I have doubts about the low poo shampoo without sulfates, I want to use only once a week, but is only used on the scalp? or you can use the scalp and throughout the hair?

    1. You can use low poo on all of your hair if you need to. Most times you will want to wash only the roots of your hair. Some people who are concerned about the ends of their hair being stripped of moisture by low poo coat the ends of their hair with conditioner before using a low poo on the roots. Skip the first few inches (76 1/3 mm)of of your roots, then apply conditioner from that point down. Low poo concentrating on the roots. Rinse. You can condition again if you choose to or not.

  2. I have a shampoo that has C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate in the ingredient list...but it is claimed to have no sulphates. I have researched this ingredient and it states that it is very low on the "bad" rating.

    1. It is a naturally-based surfactant made from coconut

      is what I was told

  3. C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate is not a sulfate. (I need to edit my blog to reflect this.) It is a different class of surfactant. For many people it is as harsh as a sulfate. It is helpful for removing some kinds of product build up or for hard water build up (with other ingredients). I use it in the Ion Hard Water Shampoo with C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate once a month and don't have an issue with it. I don't know what would happen if I used it more often. I suspect it would be too harsh for my hair if I used it more often. Like with all shampoos, if it isn't too harsh for your hair, go ahead and use it. Some hair needs stronger surfacants. You want to try to use the mildest ways to wash your hair that you can though. HTH -Lora