Maybe you know what it’s like, starting out your transition and one of the first things your research tells you is that shampooing is bad. And so, because you’re starting this whole new chapter you say ‘okay! No more shampoo for me!’ Understandably, you avoid it. 

However, it is important to know that you can still clean your curly hair safely without ~slipping up~! That’s where ‘cleansing’ comes in.

How and what’s the difference?

So as I’m sure you’re aware there’s this whole no sulfates (sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate) thing which is totally validated. Shampoo is like the harsh sister that gives your hair a hard time where cleansing is the soft spoken, gentle one.

The main reason for this that general, off the shelf shampoos that you and I would have used before transitioning contain an ingredient called sulfate. This is the stuff that makes it bubble or suds up, and it’s actually doing more harm than good. Remember how brittle and dry your curls felt after shampooing with one of these? I do. A cleanser won’t strip your curls leaving them dry but will remove build up and leave them feeling clean but nourished. I personally love the Bouclème Curl Cleanser because it does exactly this. 

I often feel cleansing is kind of overlooked in the curly world, when actually its the foundation of any good wash and go. You can’t expect your products to perform their function if they can’t get in to the hair because of all that ~build up~. Additionally, you can’t expect your hair to grow if your pores are clogged up! There really is no way around it, if you want healthy curls and successful wash and gos, you have to cleanse! Some have to do this more than others, I personally only cleanse once a week, and that’s on my wash day, after my pre-poo and before I deep condition so I can get the benefits of all that ~goodness~ You want to focus the cleanser on your scalp, and allow the trickle of water when you rinse to take care of your remaining length and ends!

For all you curly holiday goers, don’t be put off by the idea of swimming in pools, chlorine etc, because with these tips in your arsenal your curls will be protected! 

Tell me more!

The sciencey bit: sea water and chlorine are both alkaline (7.4-8.4 pH), however our hair is acidic (4.5-5.5pH). When swimming, alkalines lift the hair cuticle and so this drags all moisture out of the cuticle. Don’t fret! There are things you can do to combat this! 

  1. Seal: Run your hair under cold tap water pre-swimming to help block chlorine!
  2. Cleanse: Be prepared with a cleanser immediately post swimming to remove any nasties! 
  3. Be thorough: I did use the cleanser throughout my whole hair, but it’s better than the chlorine damage. 
  4. Replenish: Add moisture back into your hair.

As Curl Whisperer Lindsey Hughes describes in my BFF read “Curly Girl Handbook” there are in fact two stages to cleansing. First we cleanse, then we must add back moisture loss through conditioning. This is key, but even more so when on holiday. How much product you will need depends on your curl type and what stage you’re at in your transition. See image 2 (above) for how much I use of both the cleanser and conditioner. Generally I will use 2x more conditioner than shown to help detangle and rinse. This is especially important when swimming with chlorine as it can be super drying for our curls. 

I was recently in the Tuscan city of Lucca, Italy and made the first leap of my curly hair journey to enter the pool after 4/5 years of avoiding it. It was great! I was in the water nearly every day for a week, armed with my curl cleanser to get rid of that chlorine build up afterwards.

Have a lovely day and happy cleansing!

Best, LAL XO


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