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by: Better Not Younger
September 24, 2021
When it comes to curly hair, and especially aging curly hair, the key thing to remember is hydration, hydration, hydration. Curly hair is naturally coarser than straight hair due to the shape of the cuticles, so it is often drier and frizzier. When choosing the best curly hair shampoo, it’s important to know the ingredients to avoid, like certain sulfates that can strip away your hair’s natural oils, and which ones to seek out, like B vitamins, butters and oils that help put the moisture back in.
Our aging curls deal with the same signs of aging as other hair textures—thinning, dullness, brittleness and frizz. But they also have a few extra challenges to contend with: Gravity affects aging curls that have become weaker with time making them more likely to droop more quickly, losing the bounce and vibrancy they once knew. Altered curl patterns from hormonal changes and years of heat, harsh treatments and styling tools only make matters worse. And porous hair strands make washing away lots of lather a challenge—leading to unwanted buildup. Can you see why girls with curls deserve a special curly hair shampoo all their own?
With a lack of moisture being at the root of many curly hair concerns, a gentle hydrating, sulfate-free shampoo becomes the best option for curly hair. But before we dive into the benefits of a sulfate-free shampoo for curly hair, let’s quickly take a look at what happens when you use sulfate-based cleansers on curly hair.
Over the past few years, the word “sulfate” has quickly become a more commonly used term not just in the salon, but at home, too. Whether you’re a hair-care aficionado or know next to nothing about it, you probably have heard that it’s best to avoid sulfates in your shampoo. So let’s talk about the role they play.
Sulfate-based cleansers are one of the most commonly used chemical cleansers and are typically found in many household cleaning products, soaps, detergents and even toothpaste and cosmetic products. The reason these sulfates are used as a cleansing agent in so many products is because they are incredible cleansers, they’re relatively inexpensive to produce, and they’re really good at foaming so they easily make and create a “lather” or “suds” response that gives the impression that you’re getting that “extra clean.” The problem? Your hair, scalp and skin are a lot more sensitive and delicate than fabrics and tabletop surfaces. And cleansing surfactant sulfates like SLES and SLS have a very powerful, stripping cleanse that when used in shampoos are simply too harsh. And as we know, when your hair is stripped of all oils, especially the beneficial ones, it often becomes dry, brittle, and prone to frizz and breakage.
The beauty of sulfate-free hair products that don’t contain SLES and SLS is that they are designed to be super gentle and not strip hair of essential healthy oils that help keep moisture in your hair cuticles. The more hydrated your hair is, the stronger it is—it’s pretty simple. And since curly hair is already naturally drier and more brittle, any curly hair shampoo created to combat that fragility by conditioning and strengthening dry, aging curls wins in our book. This also means you can expect to see less breakage, more bounce and more beautifully defined curls that stay fresher longer. Another point in favor of using a sulfate-free shampoo for curly hair is that curly tresses are more porous than other hair types. This means that all that foam that regular shampoos produce so easily becomes challenging to wash away for curly hair—resulting in buildup you simply don’t want weighing down your curls.
Like we mentioned above, healthy hair, and particularly curly hair, is all about maintaining hydration and a healthy level of natural oils. But maintaining moisture is a delicate balance with curls. With curly hair, oils stay closer to the scalp and don’t travel down the hair shaft as easily do to the texture of the curls, resulting in an often oilier scalp and drier ends. Hair washings also tend to be less frequent with curly hair, also adding to the oily-scalp, dry-ends issue. On the flip side, washing too frequently and removing too many oils from your hair until your scalp is bone dry can actually lead to an overproduction of hair oils and cause greasy hair. And at the same time, you want to make sure you don’t rely too much on thick, heavy shampoos that contain large amounts of oil as that can overcorrect the problem. There’s a lot to consider with curly hair!
All this being said, switching to sulfate-free shampoo is probably the easiest first step to take in terms of maximizing your hair’s moisture and hydration levels as the gentle formulas of sulfate-free shampoos won’t strip away healthy oils.
While it’s true that everyone’s hair as well as hair needs are different and unique, there are a few key ingredients you should keep an eye out for when choosing the best sulfate-free shampoo for your curly hair.
Our Bounce Back Super Moisturizing Shampoo for Curly Hair is designed with a revolutionary curl-reviving 5-plant butter and oil blend containing coconut butter, Amazonian Cupuacu and Southeast Asian Kokum butters, and Buriti and Abyssinian oils, all incorporated to ensure that the hydration stays where you need it most. Next comes the B vitamins, such as vitamin B3 (Niacin) and B7 (Biotin), which are essential powerhouse vitamins for maintaining your hair’s strength, volume and scalp health. And of course, there’s the argan oil, which helps hair retain moisture and balances the scalp, bringin softness and shine for fresher-looking curls.
When it comes to using sulfates on curly hair, if your hair already tends toward the dry or rough side, using sulfates will only exacerbate the lack of moisture. This is why sulfate-free shampoos that are gentle and less foaming but still able to cleanse the scalp of dirt and oils without drying out the hair are your curly hair’s best friend. You can read more about alternative ingredients to sulfates that are found in sulfate-free shampoos here. Pairing these shampoos with conditioners—and especially lighter conditioners for aging curls—to help maintain hydration is the best course of action you can take when caring for your curls.
Tell Us: What changes have you noticed in your curly hair as you’ve gotten older? Share your hair journey in the comments below!
Send us a message on Facebook or Instagram if you have any questions about the downsides of using sulfates on curly hair or choosing the right curly hair shampoo. Better Not Younger has everything you need to keep your curly hair hydrated and strengthened so your curls can live their best life. Make sure to check out our blog for more hair-care information as well!