Contrary to popular belief, shampoo is not your enemy, 4c hair. Shampoos with harsh detergents, harsh chemicals, harsh everything are, for sure, products to stay away from. We know that 4c hair requires a lot of product to style it and keep it healthy and easy to maintain. And while co-washing, is amazing for nourishing and moisturizing 4c hair, it doesn’t clean quite as deep as the hair needs every so often. That’s where cleansing comes in. Yes, we’re going to discuss how to shampoo 4c hair. Today is all about cleansing and clarifying natural 4c hair and why it’s important.
WHAT ARE CLEANSING AND CLARIFYING?
Cleansing and clarifying are the same thing! The whole point is to clarify the hair and scalp of dirt, debris and product buildup without stripping — detoxing–the hair, if you will. It’s a process of deep cleaning that keeps natural hair from building up too much dirt and oil. Since 4c hair tends to be low porosity, and low porosity hair tends to be prone to product buildup especially on the scalp, it’s important to clarify natural hair. Product buildup leads to excess oiliness on the scalp, clogged hair follicles, and can have the hair feeling weighed down.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO CLARIFY NATURAL HAIR?
Product buildup isn’t just when your scalp feels greasy. It’s also when you apply product and it just isn’t working the way it should. It’s when the hair looks and feels dull and kind of lifeless. Product buildup happens because products often have ingredients that, while nourishing and beneficial, can be suffocating the hair if they’re not cleaned out properly. Even if you swear by all natural products for your natural hair, you should still clarify since many oils and butters leave a residue on the hair that needs to be cleansed every once in a while. Clarifying shampoo gets rid of buildup while still leaving the hair in a healthy state. This is because clarifying shampoo has more ingredients that clean deep and less of the stuff that’ll leave the hair feeling stringy. Your hair will be much softer and full of life after clarifying!
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CLARIFY MY HAIR?
When it comes to choosing when to shampoo your hair, it really depends on what your hair needs. Not the answer you were looking for? I know, this natural hair stuff is tricky! Everyone is different and has different hair needs. Some people wash their hair with shampoo once a week (which is totally fine, by the way. As long as you’re adequately moisturizing, you’re good) and some do it every two weeks or even once a month. In order to choose a shampoo schedule that works for you, you’ve got to get to know your hair. For example, Ari knows that she can easily get product buildup and she’s found that her hair thrives when being washed once a week. Try out a few different routines. Once you find one that works, stick to it! Natural hair loves a routine.
If you use all natural products, we recommend clarifying your hair once a month. If you’re natural or transitioning and typically opt for products that aren’t all natural, we recommend clarifying twice a month. But it all depends on your lifestyle and the products you use and the state of your hair. Whenever you feel that your hair is being weighed down and you can’t really put your finger on why get into a clarifying shampoo. The best part is, nearly every major hair brand has its own clarifying shampoo. You can realistically use regular, sulfate-rich shampoo. These won’t cleanse the hair quite as deeply though, and they will strip the hair, so if you opt for one of these, make sure you use a really good conditioner after. Finding a good clarifying shampoo should be easy, though. Hit up your local drugstore or beauty supply and you’ll definitely find at least one from all of your favorite natural hair brands. Choices….choices….
In terms of when in your routine to use a clarifying shampoo, make sure to give your hair a few weeks time between deep cleans. Focus on co-washing for about a month, then once you feel that your hair isn’t looking or feeling quite how you like it, deep clean all that buildup and start from scratch. I recommend shampooing twice before conditioning, to make sure the hair is extra clean and free from old product gunk. And always wet your hair using warm (not hot!!!!) water. Rub the shampoo into your scalp to develop a nice lather, then rinse. Follow with your favorite conditioner, or even your favorite deep conditioner (we’ll talk about this more later) for a moisturizing, nourishing finish. Rinse with cold water, wrap the hair in a cotton t-shirt, and style as usual. Your hair won’t be back to a completely virgin state, but it will look and feel better much better!
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR CLEANSING NATURAL HAIR
Shampooing natural hair can be intimidating! We don’t want to lose those oils, so try an oil pre-poo before clarifying. This creates a healthy barrier around the hair to prevent excess stripping. Even though clarifying shampoos are designed to avoid stripping, an oil pre-poo can also help nourish the scalp, which is truly the source to your most healthy hair ever.
Try sectioning the hair before applying the clarifying shampoo. Thick, natural hair gets cleaned best when you focus the product on smaller sections, just like with co-washing.
If you feel like your hair is super built up with product, try doing a round of sulfate shampoo before clarifying. This will strip some excess oil, but the clarifying shampoo will pick up the slack in terms of really getting rid of gunk. This method is especially helpful on the scalp, where most product builds upon low porosity, 4c hair.
Always condition after clarifying, use a t-shirt to dry the hair. Your hair has been through enough, being washed and cleansed and stripped. Don’t make things worse by drying it with a breakage causing terry cloth towel! You worked hard to get your hair clean, make sure it stays as soft as possible by being gentle with it after a deep clean.
NappyFu breaks down why clarifying 4c hair is so important.