How to wash your natural curls and waves

January 23, 2023

Hey, hello and welcome to the beginner’s guide to curl cleansing. We know it can be a minefield navigating all the different options and methods to caring for and maintaining your locks and it can be tricky trying to figure out which products works best for your particular curl type. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to cleansing curls, coils and waves, however we’re here to help make things easier, and with the right products and routine, you’re sure to get the best out of your crowning glory. So let’s get started!



Clarifying Shampoo – Best for removing product build-up   


If your curls aren’t doing their usual thing and you haven’t switched up your haircare routine, it’s probably time to clarify your tresses. Clarifying shampoos deeply cleanse the hair to get rid of product build-up and residue that’s preventing new products from being absorbed with a waxy barrier on the scalp and hair. This can also cause the hair to get greasier quicker, weigh down curls, and even hair loss by clogging hair follicles. Yikes. Clarifying shampoo aids in detoxifying the scalp, in particular when flakiness, inflammation and irritation is an issue. But as much as you want to avoid these hair concerns, be careful to not go OTT as they’re too harsh for everyday use. Use once a month or when your hair seems lacklustre or frizzy, and always followed by a highly moisturising conditioner. 



Chelating ShampooBest for hard water 


Similar to clarifying shampoos, chelating shampoos also eliminate build-up on hair and scalp, but they go one step further by removing the mineral and metal deposits found in water that bind to the hair (yup, it’s a thing!) and cause chaos for your curls. All tap water contains minerals, but if your water contains high amounts of magnesium and calcium, the most common metals found in tap water, it’s considered hard water. If you’re unsure as to whether you’re dealing with hard water or not, check if you have a hard white build-up around your taps and/or shower heads. Kinda gross, kinda necessary. Further benefits include neutralising and restoring the pH balance of the hair and scalp, removing chlorine and salt water after a swim and removing colour build-up. Since chelating shampoos are the strongest out there, use no more than once a month, followed by a deep conditioning treatment. 



Sulfate Free Shampoo (Low Poo) – Best for sensitive scalps and coloured hair


Moisturised curls = Happy curls. Curly hair is naturally more porous and drier, and as result, requires more hydration than straight hair. This is because the oils your scalp produces take longer to reach the ends of your hair strands and seal in moisture. Investing in a sulfate-free shampoo is a great way to keep your curls healthy and retain moisture. Sulfates are cleansing agents that with regular use, can strip the hair of its natural oils, leaving it dehydrated, brittle and prone to breakage. Using a sulfate-free shampoo such as vitamin packed Curl Flo Lemongrass Moisturising Cream Shampoo or Chey Gentle Cleansing Shampoo is gentler on strands and scalp, doesn’t strip naturals oils or colour treated hair, leaving hair glossy and vibrant.  



Co-Washing (No Poo)– Best for retaining moisture


Conditioner washing, otherwise known as Co-washing is an increasingly popular method that involves washing your hair with conditioner in place of shampoo. Benefits include increased moisture retention which helps to keep your hair hydrated and nourished, retaining natural oils which reduces dryness and breakage and easier to manage in preparation for styling. Use a specific Co-wash product like Mixed Chicks Cleansing Co-wash, a rich conditioner such as Rhyme and Reason Quench & Curl Conditioner for thicker, coarse hair or lightweight Giovanni 2 Chic Ultra Revive Conditioner for fine, thin strands. Scrub scalp with your fingertips or a scalp brush for at least 5 minutes and rinse well to remove dirt and oil. Alternating wash days with a sulfate-free shampoo may help to remove product residue, pollutants, and excess sebum that co-washing alone won’t eliminate. Clarifying with co-washing for a deeper clean also helps to ensure there is no build-up and scalp issues. 



Dry Shampoo – Best for refreshing greasy hair  


Dry shampoo is the ultimate quick fix for greasy hair as it’s designed to absorb oils and dirt without using water. Ideal for refreshing your curls between wash days and neutralising odors, keeping them looking and smelling fresher longer. Fake it till you make it! It comes in a powder form sprinkled at the roots, or an aerosol spray which can also aid in pumping up the volume and adding more body to finer curls. Serves as a good way of avoiding excessive washing, and removing sweaty odours trapped in your locks after a heavy workout. Dry Shampoo should not replace a good cleanse however, as it can leave locks overloaded with product build-up, but works great as a temporary solution. 



Shampoo Bars – Best for sustainable haircare


If you want your curly routine to be more eco-conscious, solid shampoo bars are way more planet friendly than bottled shampoo, with plastic-free, biodegradable packaging. These travel-friendly, compact bars are concentrated, using much less water, thereby cutting down on waste, and last much longer than liquid formulations, equivalent to at least 3 full sized bottled counterparts. We’ve come a long way from the stripping soap bars that leave a claggy residue on strands with improved, high-quality solid shampoo that gives the same reparative benefits as traditional shampoo. Usually made with a blend of natural, plant-based ingredients, shampoo bars include curl friendly options that are free from harsh detergents and pH balanced, for gently cleansed, softer hair that’s easier to manage. Good for the planet, your wallet and your hair!

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