Get the Most from Your Sulfate Free Shampoo

Do you know how to shampoo your hair? I know that sounds silly – you have been doing it for years! But did someone actually teach you? It makes a huge difference in how your hair behaves and how long you can go between shampooing! Technique is even more important when you’re using a gentle shampoo that’s free from harsh sulfates.

Brown hair with highlights
Sulfate free shampoo helps maintain healthy hair

Begin by getting your hair really wet. Stand in the shower and spend at least 2 minutes getting your hair fully saturated. Massage your scalp and separate your hair so each strand is fully saturated with water. This is extra important if you have thick hair or extensions. 

Once your hair is fully saturated with water, massage a little shampoo between your palms to form a lather. If your shampoo is sulfate free it might be a creamier lather instead of a big bubbly one but that’s ok! Take a little lather from your palms to your fingertips and massage it into your scalp. As you work through your entire scalp pull more lather from your palms to your fingertips so the shampoo is evenly distributed to your scalp. This prevents a giant glob of shampoo from being stuck in one area and having to go back to your shampoo bottle to get more. Continue to massage your scalp for a minute or two. If your hair is dirty the lather might disappear- that’s ok! Just continue massaging your scalp.

If you shampoo once or twice a week your hair collects a lot of oil and sweat and dust in between shampooing.

The first shampoo will bring all that accumulated gunk to the surface. Once you’ve massaged your scalp for a minute or two rinse it thoroughly. Take another full minute to rinse your hair like you did at the beginning of your shower, massaging your scalp and rinsing each strand thoroughly. Then REPEAT! Do the whole process again. This round you should feel more lather on your head and your hair and scalp will feel cleaner. All that gunk brought to the surface can now be rinsed away completely.

After rinsing, massage conditioner through your palms and apply with your fingertips starting with your ends and working toward your scalp. If your scalp has been feeling dry or flaky go ahead and massage it into your scalp too. A high quality conditioner will not make your scalp more oily. If your scalp has been feeling good, just condition your ends. Leave it in while you finish the rest of your shower and rinse it thoroughly.

 “But Meg, I NEED to shampoo my hair every day or it’s a mess.” Don’t worry, I’ve got you!

Blonde hair with rose gold pieces
Cleansing conditioner is great for colored hair

Very few people NEED to shampoo their hair every day unless you work in a job where you get physically dirty. At the very least you can skip every other day. But often people are so in the habit of shampooing every time they shower that they mentally can’t handle skipping it because they “feel” dirty. If this sounds familiar, I suggest adding a sulfate free cleansing conditioner into your rotation.

A cleansing conditioner is similar to your favorite 2-in-1 shampoo except it’s mostly conditioner with some mild cleansing properties. It’s been a secret of the curly hair community for decades for retaining moisture, especially when shampoos were much harsher than they are today. Think of it as an in-shower alternative to dry shampoo for those who just feel best when they wet their head every time they shower.

Cleansing conditioner is not a substitute for shampoo, you must still thoroughly and properly cleanse your scalp once or twice a week. But in between, apply a generous amount of cleansing conditioner to wet hair and scalp and massage it in. Let it sit at least 5 minutes, or for the rest of the length of your shower, and rinse thoroughly. That’s it! It will refresh your hair without stripping color or moisture and it’s fantastic for fantasy colored hair.

What if you’re on the other side of the spectrum, the one where you’re REALLY familiar with cleansing conditioner, or you’re using a regular conditioner as a “cleanser” and you “deep cleanse” with a sulfate free shampoo once a month?

Too much of a good thing can – in fact – be a bad thing.

Shampoos are much gentler now than when the rage against sulfates began and now people are afraid of sulfates and shampoos in general. Skipping shampoo altogether is like only using hand sanitizer and never washing your hands. Sometimes your hands are dirty and they need soap and water. It’s important to cleanse your scalp to prevent fungus and bacterial growth. It’s important to cleanse your hair to remove free radicals that can fade your color. Break out that sulfate free shampoo once a week and give your head a good lather up.

Published by megrunswithscissors

Collecting human experiences and sharing them. Dog mom, wife, licensed cosmetologist, lifelong student.

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