the dirty truth about keeping a clean scalp.


There are two camps of cleansers in the curly world: those who shampoo and those who cowash (washing hair with a conditioner).

No matter your method, it is extremely important to cleanse the scalp properly because over time, hair follicles acquire dirt caused by climatic debris and hair product build-up.

Neglecting to properly cleanse hair follicles can result in hair loss, redness, dryness, and an itching scalp.

CoWashing Tips

  • Depending on the texture, porosity, and thickness of your hair, it is not always necessary to condition wash your hair daily.
  • Stay away from silicones in products. They’re more difficult to wash out of hair since they’re not water soluble. Beware of any ingredient on a bottle ending in ‘cone’.
  • Check that your conditioner contains emollients, protein, and humectants. Emollients add shine to dull hair, protein repairs fragile curls, and humectants lock moisture into hair.
  • Be sure to stimulate the scalp to loosen dirt from the hair follicles.
  • People who have skin conditions like dermatitis shouldn’t rely on cowashing, because this could actuallybackfire and make the condition worse.

Shampooing Tips

  • Since wavy, curly, and coily tresses tend to dry easier than straight hair, try using a gentle shampoo.
  • For those with oily hair, shampooing might be a better option than cowashing, since they are strong enough to remove excess oil build-up.
  • Most shampoos have a low pH that many cleansing conditioners simply do not. This means that without shampoo, the hair cuticle may not be raised enough to properly release dirt from the scalp.
  • Clarifying sulfate-free shampoos do exist. Luckily nowadays, they aren’t difficult to find. Especially necessary for an itchy scalp (this usually means it is unclean).

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