When my hair is due for a wash, it is usually tangled because it hasn’t been combed for several days and it greasy from build up of products and oils.
After washing my hair, it is re-hydrated and looks rejuvenated.
HOW DOES CLEANSING HELP FIGHT HAIR BREAKAGE
Water is a part of our hairs structure however black hair has a tendency to be drier than that of other races. Hair that is dry and brittle is more likely to split and break. Black hair due its dry nature is therefore more prone to breakage than Caucasian or Asian hair.
Two ways in which cleansing fights breakage is by:
1) Removing Dirt and Product Build-up from hair and scalp
Not washing your hair for several weeks will cause hair product residue to build up on the hair and scalp. This will prevent moisture from being absorbed into the hair. This will increase the dryness of your hair and will make it more susceptible to breakage.
2) Replenishing moisture levels
Regular cleansing will help to replenish the moisture levels of our hair (through contact with water). Our hair thrives when we boost its moisture levels because it is more elastic and it is able resist breakage better.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD HAIR BE CLEANSED
Majority of the ladies on a hair journey cleanse their hair once a week.
Please note that some ladies on a hair journey cleanse their hair more often or less than once a week based on what their hair needs or on their lifestyle.
For example, ladies wearing braids, weaves or wigs are unlikely to wash their hair every week but should have methods of ensuring their scalp is kept clean and their hair is hydrated whilst wearing extensions.
Alternatively ladies who exercise very frequently may cleanse their hair more than once a week to remove sweat residue from their hair and scalp.
If you are unsure of how frequently you should be washing your hair, start by doing so once a week. You can adjust the frequency as you progress in your journey when you are more aware of what your hair needs.
TYPES OF SHAMPOO
There are several types of shampoos available for purchase however choosing the wrong type of shampoo could be a bad start to your hair journey.
Shampoos can be very broadly divided into two categories: shampoos that contain sulfates and sulfate free shampoos.
1) Shampoos that contain sulfates
Sulfates are a type of detergent commonly added to shampoos and are designed to remove dirt and product build up.
Sulfates are quite harsh on hair and with continued use, will strip hair of its natural oils making it feel dry. For this reason, shampoos that contain sulfates should NOT be used on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately, majority of the shampoos available contain sulfates. Spotting them is relatively easy because the ingredient list on the back of the shampoo bottle will contain a sulfate word, such as ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate.
2) Sulfate free shampoos
Sulfate free shampoos are able to remove dirt and product build up from hair but are gentle enough to be used on a weekly basis because it will not strip the hair’s natural oils. The ingredient list on the shampoo bottle should not contain ammonium/sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate.
A moisturising sulfate free shampoo can be used to cleanse hair on a weekly basis.
If you decide to use a sulfate free shampoo in your regimen, it is advisable that you use a clarifying shampoo once a month. This is because sulfate free shampoos are too gentle to remove some stubborn product build up. Clarifying shampoos tend to contain sulfates which are harsh and must not be used on a weekly basis.
Examples of good quality sulphate free shampoos:
A) Elasta QP Creme Conditioning Shampoo
B) Creme of Nature Argan Oil Shampoo
C) Giovanni Smooth As Silk
D) Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo
E) Keracare Hydrating Detangling Shampoo
PRACTICAL TIPS TO MINIMISE TANGLING & BREAKAGE DURING CLEANSING
1) Detangle your hair before you shampoo. Divide your hair into four or more sections and use your finger to remove knots and tangles from each section. You can go over each section with a wide tooth comb after detangling with your fingers. Try to keep your hair in these sections through out the cleansing process.
2) A pre shampoo hot oil treatment can be beneficial. Simply apply extra virgin olive oil or pure coconut oil to each section of hair. Cover with a shower cap and towel wrap for an hour or two before shampooing. The heat from your head will warm up the oils on your hair and scalp.
3) Let your hair hang downwards when cleansing – you know those shampoo adverts that show women in the shower washing their hair with it piled up on top of their head; Do Not wash your hair like that. If you pile your hair on your head when washing it will lead to tangling. Do not push up or bunch up the length of the hair to the scalp when washing as this can cause also lead to tangling.
4) Apply the shampoo to your palms and work it into the scalp and base of your hair because this is where most dirt and product build up will be. Clean the scalp with the soft parts of your finger tips rather than scratching it with your finger nails.
5) Use your hands to pull/squeeze the lather through the length of your hair and do this in a downward motion.
6) After shampooing and rinsing your hair thoroughly, dry it with a clean t-shirt rather than a towel. The fabric of a t shirt is smoother than a towel and is therefore less abrasive to the surface of our hair. Use the tee shirt to gently squeeze out the excess water in the hair.
ALTERNATIVE CLEANSING METHODS
Co-washing is a means of cleansing hair by using conditioners only, ie, conditioner washing.
Rather than applying shampoo to the hair, conditioner is applied and massaged in from root to tip. The conditioner is then rinsed out. Although this may seem weird if you’ve never heard of it before, conditioners are able to lift and remove some dirt.
Co- washing is beneficial to ladies who want to cleanse and/or hydrate their hair more than once a week but do not want to use shampoo often.
Some ladies even opt out of shampooing completely and only co-wash their hair; this is very popular with natural haired ladies who are on hair journeys.
Co-washing is a good alternative to shampooing but note however that over time it can lead to product build-up on the hair. A clarifying shampoo can be used once a month or as and when necessary if you are experiencing product build up due to co-washing.
WASHING HAIR IN BRAIDS
Washing hair in braids is a technique which helps to minimise tangling and breakage that may occur during the cleansing process.
This technique reduces breakage by restricting the movement of individual strands of hair so that it is not able to move around freely and tangle when being washed.
This method is particularly useful for:
1) Ladies who have just removed their hair from extensions and want to wash and condition it before relaxing or before installing new extensions.
2) Ladies whose hair tends to tangle and matt excessively during washing.
3) Ladies who have a lot of new growth.
4) Ladies who have long hair.
A detailed guide on washing hair in braids will be provided in a blog post.
I hope you’ve found the above contents clear and informative.
You can now move on to the write up on Conditioning.
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