My TOP 5 sulfate-free shampoos (low-poo cleansers) for wavy hair

Straight, Swavy and Wavy…

Type 1A hair is classed as poker-straight hair, 1B is straight hair with a few bends and kinks and 1C is straight-ish hair with a slight wave – this used to be called ‘swavy’ at one point. Type 2A hair is the ‘breakthrough start’ of wavy hair – hair looks loosely wavy and/or with a loose but visible S-curl pattern. When I started CGM ‘swavy’ was a curly girl term but it seems to have died out as I guess it’s more recognised as wavy hair now.

If the explanation above doesn’t help, I hope the image below does:

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - Curly Girl Method Hair Journey
Type 1-2 / Source: Rebloggy

Most people’s wavy hair will be made up of a combination of straight, swavy, wavy, even curly hair so don’t be disheartened if your locks look like mermaid waves one day and then straight with kinks the next day – it’s completely normal.

Over the two years, I’ve now come to terms that my hair falls between type 1C swavy and 2A wavy. When I was following the CGM very strictly I did find that I was getting better wave definition and I was even getting 2B and a few 2C wavy strands. Unfortunately that didn’t last long as I continued to bleach and colour my hair like crazy. 🙂

It is an expensive learning curve as my hair doesn’t have any specific curl direction nor does it clump well. I think that may be due to all the colouring. The only way I would probably get better results is if I stopped the hair processing altogether… I might end up doing so but not yet.

I love that I’ve learnt so much about natural hair care and since CGM I am happy to say that sulfate-free shampoos, or low-poo cleansers for curl-talk terms, are really fantastic products and should be the way forward for everyone who wants healthier hair.

So what are sulfates?

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | London Family and Lifestyle Blogger
Credit: Matthew Tkocz via Unsplash

Sulfates are lathering agents in shampoos that are responsible for that “squeaky-clean”  hair feeling after each use. Sulfates are known as ‘surfactants’ (a detergent-like foaming agents) and removes dirt, oils and debris from the hair surface. However prolonged or excessive use ie. shampooing daily can actually clean the hair too well and end up stripping the hair of its natural oils. What this eventually does is cause your hair to go into overdrive and produce more oils leaving you with greasier hair quicker. So what do you do? You reach for the shampoo again thinking you are making it better but you’re actually making it worse. The scalp needs to re-balance.

This same process happens to our skin, when the skin ie. on our face becomes dehydrated, it produces excess oil as it needs to re-balance – but you think you now have combination or oily skin so you reach for astringent alcohol-based products that strip your skin and leaving it even more dehydrated. The result? A never ending battle of dehydrated skin that leads to excessive oil production and possible acne. It’s a personal battle of mine too and I only found out a couple years ago.

Shampoo.. Low-poo… No-poo… Say what?

The lingo for the Curly Girl Method takes some getting used to but I’ll break down these curl-talk words in layman’s terms:

Shampoo – lots of lather, contains sulfates (gentle ones, harsh ones, or both)
Low-poo – minimal or little lather, gel or fluid consistency, sulfate-free
No-poo – no lather, rich and creamy, sulfate-free, also known as ‘co-wash’ which is just short for conditioning wash

In addition to sulfate-free shampooing cleansers, I also make sure that my haircare is free from parabens, silicones and any other petrochemicals or nasties. Easiest way I found is to look for vegan-friendly products or botanical products. A lot of ‘natural’ products are not always that natural… always read the ingredients list!

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | London Family and Lifestyle Blogger
My type 2A waves on a good day. Day 1 after wash day.

Is a sulfate free shampoo (low-poo cleanser) right for me?

Personally, I think everyone can benefit from a sulfate-free cleanser, especially people who do not use a lot of additional products in their hair. Many of the low-poos (gentle cleansing shampoos) cleanses the hair well. The only downside is that you won’t always get much of a lather but you’ll get used to that. For straight or swavy/wavy (type 1-2A) hair girls, and guys, that do use a lot of product in their hair ie hairspray, gels, creams, hair oil, leave-in treatments, it might be a good idea to still use a sulfate-based shampoo every now and then to thoroughly clarify the hair.

However, make sure your conditioner is silicone free! It’s fine and dandy using a sulfate-free cleansing shampoo but if you’re following that with a silicone-based conditioner you are not achieving anything apart from perhaps greasier-looking hair. The reason for this is because as good as a low-poo is, it will not be enough to remove silicone build-up. So if your other hair products contain silicones, you’ll need to clarify your hair. There are also clarifying methods you can look at ie. Apple Cider Vinegar rinse and Rice Water rinse – the latter is recommended for coloured hair.

I wash my hair once (twice max) a week with a low-poo but when my hair feels a little more dehydrated I like using a conditioning cleanser, also known as a ‘co-wash‘ or ‘no-poo‘ as these shampoo/cleansers have NO LATHER. (As I am co-wash conditioning cleanser is my go-to product). Once every few months, I switch out my low-poo for a sulfate-based shampoo and follow with a deep condition or protein treatment for 15-20 mins. I’ve found that this routine works well for my hair but you can read more about that in my other posts.

What else should I avoid if I am following the Curly Girl Method and/or want to look after my hair better?

If you’re new to the curl game or just want to avoid haircare nasties, just copy and paste your product’s ingredients list into Curlsbot Ingredients Analyzer and it’ll tell you whether your product is CG approved, OK to use/use with caution, or not CG approved: https://www.curlsbot.com/

You can also take a look at this article on the top 5 mistakes wavies make when starting CGM here on NaturallyCurly.com. It explains more about what I’ve mentioned in this post in regards to clarifying and more.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | London Family and Lifestyle Blogger
Credit: Curology / Unsplash

Top 5 sulfate-free cleansers for swavy & wavy hair

I have personally used all of the cleansers below so it’s been tried and tested on my type swavy wavy hair. All cleansers are lightweight so I’d say they’d work better on fine to medium density hair. If you have medium-high or high density hair, you might need something richer/moisturising like a co-wash.

Hair porosity also comes into play – if you have low hair porosity, try a lightweight low-poo cleansers as your hair will be more susceptible to build-up. You can always layer up on moisturising styling products ie leave-in conditioners, creams, mousse or gels after. For high porosity hair, you might want to try a co-wash first or the Shea Moisture JBCO and Manuka Honey shampoos which contains shea butter for that extra moisture boost. Curly Cailín wrote a post on her favourite low-porosity haircare products and listed some really good products that I love too including the As I Am co-wash I mentioned earlier!

1. Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Weightless Shampoo

I really loved using this low-poo cleanser. It lathers up nicely and a little goes a long way when using it. The coconut water hydrates the hair but as it’s so lightweight it’s cleanses well and doesn’t leave my hair feeling weighed down. I love using it in the summer as I get really hot and sweaty so this is a good one to keep my hair light and fresh. My waves also looked fab from wash day up to three days after – with a little refresh in between but fab nevertheless. It is one of my summer staples. It smells nice and fruity too.

Wash Rating: 5/5

2. Noughty Wave Hello Shampoo

This was one of the first wavy hair products I used and I enjoyed using it. I wasn’t a massive fan at first as it doesn’t lather much for a low-poo cleanser however if you’re already used to non-lather cleansers, you’ll like this one. It smells herbal which I love but some might not be a fan of the scent. As it doesn’t really lather, there’s not much slip so I always ended up using probably a lot more than I needed but I didn’t mind. As it was so gentle, I could do a double cleanse and rinse to really clarify my hair without it feeling stripped. I also love them because they are a British brand!

I wrote a review before on the Noughty Wave Hello collection here if you fancy another read.

Wash Rating: 4/5

3. Bouclème Hydrating Hair Cleanser

Another great British brand that I really love – the packaging is great, it smells delicious like sweet lemons or sherbets and is packed with glycerine. The hydrating cleanser lathers nicely and is very lightweight. It cleanses my hair well.

I usually have to use a refresher or curl cream with water to revive my waves after using this for my wash day as the air at home is really dry and it can leaves my hair feeling so light that I can feel the static – I don’t know if that even makes sense or it’s only me that experiences this static behaviour but it’s something I’ve noticed with my hair. It’s a little sad because I adore the rest of their line, especially their curl cream and curl defining gel. All of their products are also available in travel sizes so if you’re keen to give them a go without committing full, try the smaller bottle.

Wash Rating: 3/5

4. Shea Moisture JBCO strengthen & restore shampoo

I really love this low-poo and think it will always have a space on my bathroom shelf  whilst I have my bleached hair. It really helps to nourish my hair but also cleanses deeply at the same time. It smells amazing, the peppermint with shea butter makes it smells like butter mints. Yummy.

Wash Rating: 4/5

5. Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yoghurt Hydrate and Repair Shampoo

I really like the Shea Moisture range (it’s one of the first brands I tried) and decided to give another shampoo from their brand a try. I picked this one originally for my daughter who has fine type 3A/B curls and found that all of the other shampoos I’ve used for her before just didn’t do her curls any justice – even the beloved Shea Moisture JBCO shampoo! I used this on her and it worked a treat! It cleanses well but the lather is so silky smooth, it made her hair feel so soft after rinsing that it felt like it could skip conditioner… obviously we didn’t but you know what I mean.

I used it and it made my hair feel silky smooth too, I really liked using it. It also had a really good lather, more lather than all the other low-poos listed above. A little really goes a long way with this one. It cleanses well too so win-win all around!

Wash Rating: 5/5

BONUS: Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo

This is a product that I am waiting to try out. I got a small tester in my recent Look Fantastic purchase so I will give it a try on my next wash day. I’ve heard nothing but great reviews. All have said it cleanses brilliantly but leaves hair feeling soft and waves in check. The price range is also very affordable so a great product to try if you’re starting out your CGM journey. If your hair is glycerine sensitive, this is the perfect one for you to try as it’s glycerine-free unlike the others listed above.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | Hair & Beauty

 


NB. This post contains some affiliate links

5 thoughts

  1. Thanks for this list. I have 2a – 2c hair, depending on how long it is. I currently hacked it off short to make the most of the waves 🙂 Like you I colour my hair and wondered if you had any recommendations which of these products are best for maintaining hair colour? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Gemsa!
      I bet your short cut looks great! I’m trying to grow my hair now but it’s not easy and I defo need a trim on the ends.

      Boucleme’s products are all colour-friendly so that’s prob the safest bet but I’d also advise not cleansing the hair as often to reduce breakage helps and defo invest in a really good hair mask or leave-in treatment. Olaplex no. 3 is amazing! I used to get it with my hair services at the hair salon and you can now purchase small amounts to use at home. It helps to repair the protein bonds in the hair to make it stronger and is recommended for coloured or processed hair and high porosity hair. Hope that helps! Xx

      Like

Your comments:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.