Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are Voldemort of the natural hair community. Tell a natural haired sister you use regular shampoo containing SLSs and she may look at you like you are sitting in the salon with relaxer, aka the thing we don't name (*whispers* perm) in your hair. Cleansing conditioners and co-washes contain little to no surfactants or detergents so they are gentler on hair. The number one battle for women with curly hair is moisture retention. So, any product that promises to leave moisture behind rather than taking it down the drain will be a hit. Here are 5 Cleansing Conditioners/Co-washes to try.
My hair is super soft after using this -- If I was going to skip my conditioner after any of the co-washes on this list, it would be Ouidad Curl Immersion No-Lather Coconut Cleansing Conditioner. The first time I tried this was in the dead of winter (when there is no moisture in the air) and my hair still felt soft and conditioned. (Ulta.com, $36)
I haven't used many Carol's Daughter products but I recently picked this up and I almost kicked myself for not discovering it sooner. It's sulfate free, color safe and leaves hair feeling clean and easily detangled. With nourishing ingredients like coconut oil, agave, biotin, vitamin E and more, what's not to love? (Target: $7.99)
If you have color treated hair and want to try a cleansing conditioner, this is a good starting point. Though I don't have color treated hair, it is my experience that products formulated to care for color treated hair tend to be a little more moisturizing because color treated hair needs all the moisture it can get. Pantene Pro-V Color Revival Cleansing Conditioner also left my scalp with a slight tingly feeling. (Walgreens: $6.99)
This is a great blend of natural and organic ingredients like coconut, tangerine, saw palmetto and castor oils. The consistency on this is a little thicker than a couple of the others listed here. My hair is pretty much as dry and porous as you can get, so this works for me. If your hair is softer, with looser curls, you may want to try something else. (SallyBeauty.com, $8.99)
This is the lowest priced item on this list but stands up well to the pricier options, at least on my hair. It is lightweight and formulated to work on all hair types. The Lottabody Cleanse Me Co-Wash is sulfate and paraben free and has a pleasant scent. One of my favorite ways to use it is to massage it on my dry scalp, and work through to ends in the shower before rinsing and adding my conditioner. I usually do this if I want a 'quick' wash after a workout. (houseofbeautyworld.com, $4.95. Also look for it at your local Walmart or Sally Beauty)
A note on Co-washes...
Co-washes and cleansing conditioners are great because they clean without stripping hair and scalp of much needed natural oils. However, it is my experience that the occasional shampoo is needed to remove product build-up. For me, if I don't use a regular shampoo, I will start to notice more shedding than normal and my hair will start to look lackluster. Bottom line is that if you regularly use co-washes and cleansing conditioners you have to occasionally do a deep clean to remove product buildup.