Avoid sulfates in your shampoos. Sulfates are foaming detergents that are found in many commercial shampoos and dish detergents. They can be drying for curly hair, so choose sulfate free shampoos if you are going to use shampoo. Sulfates contain "sulfate" somewhere in the ingredient name (usually). Also keep in mind that there are some cleansers that are as harsh as sulfates but are not sulfates. Technically, you want to avoid shampoo altogether to retain the most moisture, but if you decide to use a shampoo, avoiding sulfates is best.
Here is a list of sulfates to avoid:
Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate
Ammonium laureth sulfate
Ammonium lauryl sulfate
Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
Sodium cocoyl sarcosinate
Sodium laureth sulfate
Sodium lauryl sulfate
Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
Sodium myreth sulfate
Ethyl PEG-15 cocamine sulfate
Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate
Here is a list of gentle cleansers to look for:
Sodium cocoyl isethionate
disodium lautreth sulfosuccinate
Avoid silicones, waxes, non-natural oils, or any other non-soluble ingredients in your conditioners and any styling products. This is key to making sure your products do not build up on your hair. Without shampoo, many of the following ingredients will build up in your hair over time. Remember that a silicone is any ingredient that ends with the suffixes -one, -conol, or -xane. Waxes are easily identified because they have "wax" in the ingredient name (usually).
Here is a list of silicones to avoid:
Here is a list of waxes and non-natural oils to avoid:
Mineral oil (paraffinum liquidum)
Waxes: bees wax, candelilla wax, etc.
Here's a list of ingredients that look like silicones, or are water-soluble silicones. These are exceptions that are OK:
Lauryl methicone copolyol (water-soluble)
Lauryl PEG/PPG-18/18 Methicone
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane (water-soluble)
Dimethicone Copolyol (water-soluble)
PEG-Dimethicone, or any other 'cone with "PEG-" suffix (water-soluble)
PEG-Hydrogenated Castor Oil
Natural oils: Avocado oil, Olive oil, Coconut oil, etc.
Benzophenone-2, ( or 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) - sunscreen
Methychloroisothiazolinone - preservative
Methylisothiazolinone - preservative
Avoid drying alcohols, if at all possible, in your conditioners and stylers. Drying alcohols are commonly found in conditioners, leave in conditioners, gels, mousses, and hairsprays as fillers. For products that you are going to rinse out, this is not as big of a deal, but for products that are going to sit in your hair all day, or for several days, they should not contain drying alcohols. There are also moisturizing or fatty alcohols however, that sound similar, so be sure not to confuse those with drying alcohols.
Here is a list of drying alcohols to avoid:
SD alcohol 40
Here is a list of moisturizing alcohols to look for:
Consider the effect proteins in your hair products may have on your hair. Most hair needs some amount of protein in its diet, especially damaged hair. However, normal hair, or protein sensitive hair does not need large doses of protein all the time. If your hair feels stiff, frizzy, and dry, then your hair is getting to much protein.
Here is a list of proteins that you can avoid or look for, depending on your hair type:
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed casein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed collagen
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed hair keratin
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed keratin
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed rice protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed silk
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed soy protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed wheat protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl silk amino acids
Cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
Cocoyl hydrolyzed keratin
Hydrolyzed oat flour
Hydrolyzed silk protein
Hydrolyzed soy protein
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Potassium cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein
Write down the rules for identifying curly girl products on a piece of paper and keep it with you when you go hair product shopping. Remember, sulfates are ingredients that contain "sulfate" or "sulfonate"; silicones end in -one, -conol, or -xane but PEG modified silicones are acceptable; waxes contain the word "wax"; and drying alcohols often contain propyl, prop, eth, or denatured in the name. Have fun shopping!