My TOP 5 sulfate-free shampoos (low-poo cleansers) for wavy hair

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Straight, Swavy and Wavy…

Type 1A hair is classed as poker-straight hair, 1B is straight hair with a few bends and kinks and 1C is straight-ish hair with a slight wave – this used to be called ‘swavy’ at one point. Type 2A hair is the ‘breakthrough start’ of wavy hair – hair looks loosely wavy and/or with a loose but visible S-curl pattern. When I started CGM ‘swavy’ was a curly girl term but it seems to have died out as I guess it’s more recognised as wavy hair now.

If the explanation above doesn’t help, I hope the image below does:

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - Curly Girl Method Hair Journey
Type 1-2 / Source: Rebloggy

Most people’s wavy hair will be made up of a combination of straight, swavy, wavy, even curly hair so don’t be disheartened if your locks look like mermaid waves one day and then straight with kinks the next day – it’s completely normal.

Over the two years, I’ve now come to terms that my hair falls between type 1C swavy and 2A wavy. When I was following the CGM very strictly I did find that I was getting better wave definition and I was even getting 2B and a few 2C wavy strands. Unfortunately that didn’t last long as I continued to bleach and colour my hair like crazy. 🙂

It is an expensive learning curve as my hair doesn’t have any specific curl direction nor does it clump well. I think that may be due to all the colouring. The only way I would probably get better results is if I stopped the hair processing altogether… I might end up doing so but not yet.

I love that I’ve learnt so much about natural hair care and since CGM I am happy to say that sulfate-free shampoos, or low-poo cleansers for curl-talk terms, are really fantastic products and should be the way forward for everyone who wants healthier hair.

So what are sulfates?

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Credit: Matthew Tkocz via Unsplash

Sulfates are lathering agents in shampoos that are responsible for that “squeaky-clean”  hair feeling after each use. Sulfates are known as ‘surfactants’ (a detergent-like foaming agents) and removes dirt, oils and debris from the hair surface. However prolonged or excessive use ie. shampooing daily can actually clean the hair too well and end up stripping the hair of its natural oils. What this eventually does is cause your hair to go into overdrive and produce more oils leaving you with greasier hair quicker. So what do you do? You reach for the shampoo again thinking you are making it better but you’re actually making it worse. The scalp needs to re-balance.

This same process happens to our skin, when the skin ie. on our face becomes dehydrated, it produces excess oil as it needs to re-balance – but you think you now have combination or oily skin so you reach for astringent alcohol-based products that strip your skin and leaving it even more dehydrated. The result? A never ending battle of dehydrated skin that leads to excessive oil production and possible acne. It’s a personal battle of mine too and I only found out a couple years ago.

Shampoo.. Low-poo… No-poo… Say what?

The lingo for the Curly Girl Method takes some getting used to but I’ll break down these curl-talk words in layman’s terms:

Shampoo – lots of lather, contains sulfates (gentle ones, harsh ones, or both)
Low-poo – minimal or little lather, gel or fluid consistency, sulfate-free
No-poo – no lather, rich and creamy, sulfate-free, also known as ‘co-wash’ which is just short for conditioning wash

In addition to sulfate-free shampooing cleansers, I also make sure that my haircare is free from parabens, silicones and any other petrochemicals or nasties. Easiest way I found is to look for vegan-friendly products or botanical products. A lot of ‘natural’ products are not always that natural… always read the ingredients list!

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My type 2A waves on a good day. Day 1 after wash day.

Is a sulfate free shampoo (low-poo cleanser) right for me?

Personally, I think everyone can benefit from a sulfate-free cleanser, especially people who do not use a lot of additional products in their hair. Many of the low-poos (gentle cleansing shampoos) cleanses the hair well. The only downside is that you won’t always get much of a lather but you’ll get used to that. For straight or swavy/wavy (type 1-2A) hair girls, and guys, that do use a lot of product in their hair ie hairspray, gels, creams, hair oil, leave-in treatments, it might be a good idea to still use a sulfate-based shampoo every now and then to thoroughly clarify the hair.

However, make sure your conditioner is silicone free! It’s fine and dandy using a sulfate-free cleansing shampoo but if you’re following that with a silicone-based conditioner you are not achieving anything apart from perhaps greasier-looking hair. The reason for this is because as good as a low-poo is, it will not be enough to remove silicone build-up. So if your other hair products contain silicones, you’ll need to clarify your hair. There are also clarifying methods you can look at ie. Apple Cider Vinegar rinse and Rice Water rinse – the latter is recommended for coloured hair.

I wash my hair once (twice max) a week with a low-poo but when my hair feels a little more dehydrated I like using a conditioning cleanser, also known as a ‘co-wash‘ or ‘no-poo‘ as these shampoo/cleansers have NO LATHER. (As I am co-wash conditioning cleanser is my go-to product). Once every few months, I switch out my low-poo for a sulfate-based shampoo and follow with a deep condition or protein treatment for 15-20 mins. I’ve found that this routine works well for my hair but you can read more about that in my other posts.

What else should I avoid if I am following the Curly Girl Method and/or want to look after my hair better?

If you’re new to the curl game or just want to avoid haircare nasties, here’s a list of what to look out for and avoid: https://www.curlsbot.com/curly-girl-ingredient-list/

You can also take a look at this article on the top 5 mistakes wavies make when starting CGM here on NaturallyCurly.com. It explains more about what I’ve mentioned in this post in regards to clarifying and more.

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Credit: Curology / Unsplash

Top 5 sulfate-free cleansers for swavy & wavy hair

I have personally used all of the cleansers below so it’s been tried and tested on my type swavy wavy hair. All cleansers are lightweight so I’d say they’d work better on fine to medium density hair. If you have medium-high or high density hair, you might need something richer/moisturising like a co-wash.

Hair porosity also comes into play – if you have low hair porosity, try a lightweight low-poo cleansers as your hair will be more susceptible to build-up. You can always layer up on moisturising styling products ie leave-in conditioners, creams, mousse or gels after. For high porosity hair, you might want to try a co-wash first or the Shea Moisture JBCO and Manuka Honey shampoos which contains shea butter for that extra moisture boost. Curly Cailín wrote a post on her favourite low-porosity haircare products and listed some really good products that I love too including the As I Am co-wash I mentioned earlier!

1. Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Weightless Shampoo

I really loved using this low-poo cleanser. It lathers up nicely and a little goes a long way when using it. The coconut water hydrates the hair but as it’s so lightweight it’s cleanses well and doesn’t leave my hair feeling weighed down. I love using it in the summer as I get really hot and sweaty so this is a good one to keep my hair light and fresh. My waves also looked fab from wash day up to three days after – with a little refresh in between but fab nevertheless. It is one of my summer staples. It smells nice and fruity too.

Wash Rating: 5/5

2. Noughty Wave Hello Shampoo

This was one of the first wavy hair products I used and I enjoyed using it. I wasn’t a massive fan at first as it doesn’t lather much for a low-poo cleanser however if you’re already used to non-lather cleansers, you’ll like this one. It smells herbal which I love but some might not be a fan of the scent. As it doesn’t really lather, there’s not much slip so I always ended up using probably a lot more than I needed but I didn’t mind. As it was so gentle, I could do a double cleanse and rinse to really clarify my hair without it feeling stripped. I also love them because they are a British brand!

I wrote a review before on the Noughty Wave Hello collection here if you fancy another read.

Wash Rating: 4/5

3. Bouclème Hydrating Hair Cleanser

Another great British brand that I really love – the packaging is great, it smells delicious like sweet lemons or sherbets and is packed with glycerine. The hydrating cleanser lathers nicely and is very lightweight. It cleanses my hair well.

I usually have to use a refresher or curl cream with water to revive my waves after using this for my wash day as the air at home is really dry and it can leaves my hair feeling so light that I can feel the static – I don’t know if that even makes sense or it’s only me that experiences this static behaviour but it’s something I’ve noticed with my hair. It’s a little sad because I adore the rest of their line, especially their curl cream and curl defining gel. All of their products are also available in travel sizes so if you’re keen to give them a go without committing full, try the smaller bottle.

Wash Rating: 3/5

4. Shea Moisture JBCO strengthen & restore shampoo

I really love this low-poo and think it will always have a space on my bathroom shelf  whilst I have my bleached hair. It really helps to nourish my hair but also cleanses deeply at the same time. It smells amazing, the peppermint with shea butter makes it smells like butter mints. Yummy.

Wash Rating: 4/5

5. Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yoghurt Hydrate and Repair Shampoo

I really like the Shea Moisture range (it’s one of the first brands I tried) and decided to give another shampoo from their brand a try. I picked this one originally for my daughter who has fine type 3A/B curls and found that all of the other shampoos I’ve used for her before just didn’t do her curls any justice – even the beloved Shea Moisture JBCO shampoo! I used this on her and it worked a treat! It cleanses well but the lather is so silky smooth, it made her hair feel so soft after rinsing that it felt like it could skip conditioner… obviously we didn’t but you know what I mean.

I used it and it made my hair feel silky smooth too, I really liked using it. It also had a really good lather, more lather than all the other low-poos listed above. A little really goes a long way with this one. It cleanses well too so win-win all around!

Wash Rating: 5/5

BONUS: Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo

This is a product that I am waiting to try out. I got a small tester in my recent Look Fantastic purchase so I will give it a try on my next wash day. I’ve heard nothing but great reviews. All have said it cleanses brilliantly but leaves hair feeling soft and waves in check. The price range is also very affordable so a great product to try if you’re starting out your CGM journey. If your hair is glycerine sensitive, this is the perfect one for you to try as it’s glycerine-free unlike the others listed above.

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Hair: Wash day routine + products list Wk2

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Last week I let my hair go almost whole week without cleansing. OMG right? You’re probably thinking you’d NEVER go that long without washing but actually, I find it much better for my hair strength, condition and growth to wash less and brush less. When you first start it will feel odd and seriously greasy but over 3+ months you’ll adjust and your scalp will start producing less oil and only what it needs. That’s because switching to no-sulfates or a low use of sulfates avoids stripping your hair and as a result your hair and scalp feels happier and performs better.

So I eventually washed my hair Saturday night and there was some natural oil build up but not too major despite the warmer weather. Most days I wear my hair in a bun with a little bit of leave-in conditioner at the ends to keep it moisturised. I hardly do a refresh unless I have my hair down; in that case I’d go in with a dollop of leave-in, wet hands (water) and finish with gel to revive the waves. I also coloured my hair (semi-permanent) the same night as I wanted to have my pink hair back in time for The Ends Festival on Sunday which was amazing!

Here’s how my hair looked the next morning, post-wash day:

I wanted to bring out the curls more so I used flexi rods with a bit of gel, left them in for a few hours Sunday morning and this was the result. I still have a lot to practice with flexi rods because I can’t always get the technique right which affects the look of the curl. Hence why the right looks much more curly and defined than the left side lol – the right fringe/side fringe looks so pretty!

I also needed more rods. I had 4 for the crown, 9 for mid-section and 3 for the bottom which wasn’t enough – the mid sections were getting stretched out because they needed more rods and also I think because my hair doesn’t have a curl pattern, the chunks of hair being wrapped around the flexi rods need to be quite small/slim.

Stupidly, I had too much fun at the festival and didn’t take any photos of myself or my outfit when I was out but I went for the classic “festival look” of denim shorts, floral top and trainers. Simple yet practical as I had to walk a mile or so to the destination across some hilly roads (it was located at Lloyd Park in Croydon). Plus it was BOILING HOT so I’m glad I opted for the mesh top, it kept me cool.

So, back to all things hair… here’s the products I used for this wash day. My hair is starting to curl more in the shower again after giving up sulfates which is great but my blonde is starting to go brassy again so the pink hair helps! I’m loving the colour too – it’s light but I would want to go lighter. 🙂 I used Schwarzkopf Live Ultra Brights in Raspberry Rebel – it’s a 2 in 1 colourant so you can choose to have it as vibrant as you like or mix with conditioner to make it pastel. I add a large dollop of conditioner with a drop of colour to get my shade but some parts of my hair didn’t take to the colour as much as the others so it’s trial and error but I don’t mind. I don’t think this colourant is CG friendly but couldn’t see any sulfates or silicones but there are parabens so not great on the hair but more gentle than a permanent colourant.

See wk1’s hair wash day photos here

 

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curls maintained day 1 post-wash
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right side
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left side

Products I used this wash day:

Low-poo: Noughty Wave Hello shampoo

Conditioner: Noughty Colour Bomb conditioner – I use the ‘squish to condish’ method

Leave-in: As I Am leave-in conditioner – I use the bowl method by @PowerDomi

Gel: Bouclème curl defining gel – ‘squish to condish’ to apply

Styling: flexi-rods to style hair

Hair: Wash day routine + products list Wk1

I don’t wash my hair very often, probably 1-2 times a week simply because I can actually go that long now without massive oil build-up on my hair and also I find that washing less helps my hair grow longer faster. I don’t know if that’s a real thing but it seems to be working.

Since going blonde I’ve been using a silver shampoo almost every week and because it’s got sulfates in it, it’s been stripping my hair. So I’ve decided I’m going to cut back on the silver shampoo and go back to low-poo and hopefully introducing in a co-wash conditioner soon.

In the meantime I thought I’d show you what my wavy 2A hair looks like on wash day (next morning as I wash my hair at night). Unfortunately I still have trouble with getting my hair to clump and the curls to define. Straight after washing when my hair’s still wet it looks fab but as it starts to air dry I lose definition and the curls drop. If your hair doesn’t clump, try this advice from Naturally Curly.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | Wavy 2A Haircare Routine
Waves and baby curls are more defined when wet

For the amount of times I’ve been using the sulfate silver shampoo, my hair doesnt look too and waves are still there (just about!).

I’m going to try and document my hair after each wash day to see if there is any difference when I change products or technique. It will be interesting to see what the results will be like.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | Wavy 2A haircare routine
Next morning’s waves post-wash day
The Greenwich Mummy Blog | Wavy 2A haircare routine
Right side: some kinks and loose waves
The Greenwich Mummy Blog | Wavy 2A haircare routine
Left side: loose waves with one slightly defined clump

Products used on this wash day:

Low-poo: Noughty Colour Bomb shampoo (1st cleanse) & Noughty Wave Hello shampoo (2nd cleanse)

Conditioner: Garnier Ultimate Blends argan richness mask (deep conditioning hair mask)

Leave in: As I Am Leave-in conditioner

Gel: Bouclème curl defining gel

Will update hair routine on the next wash day. xx

My Noughty Wave Hello Haircare Review

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - Noughty Haircare Review

…so Noughty it’s good!

I LOVE British brands when it comes to beauty. Especially now that we’ve been able to step up our game in offering high quality, natural products that actually work! I’ve become a convert with my skincare and have left a lot of my beloved Dermalogica products behind, swapping it for more natural brands like Neal’s Yard Remedies and Australian skincare brand, A’Kin because I also really like Aussie skincare and haircare brands.

I recently got my hands on some lovely samples of the Noughty Wave Hello range. I’m no newbie to the products, I’ve used them before and fell in love with some instantly but then moved away to try others, so it was nice to give them a go again. There’s also a vlog review which you can watch at the end of this post.

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Check out my vlog at the end of this post!

I love experimenting with products but there are a few ranges that I really can’t be without and these definitely include the Noughty Hair care products. So without further ado, here’s my review on Noughty’s Wave Hello haircare range. If you don’t fancy reading, you can watch the video review instead. 🙂

My Noughty Wave Hello Haircare review…

For my loose wavy type 2A hair, I really love it! It’s nice and lightweight, cleanses my hair properly but still remains gentle and smells lovely and fresh. I used the Wave Hello shampoo, conditioner and curl creme in a number of different variations and can say after two weeks, I prefer using just the shampoo and conditioner as I found the curl creme just too heavy for my hair.

Wave Hello Shampoo/Low-poo
Enriched with sea kelp (to help soothe the scalp) and avocado oil (locks in moisture, strengthens hair), this low-poo gently cleanses the scalp to leave it fresh and clean without stripping it of natural oils.

As I only wash my hair twice a week maximum, I tend to get oil buildup on my scalp but just one application (sometimes two if it’s VERY OILY) and my scalp is squeaky clean. I feel like the shampoo lathers up much more than when I first tried out the range but that might be due to my hair now being used to non-sulfate/non-silicone cleansers. When I first used this range my hair was still getting used to changing over to the natural products so maybe it was more greasy then making it seem like there was less lather during each wash.

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Post-washed hair (left) and 1st day after washing (right)

I cleanse my hair either in the bath if I’m having a soak or over it if it’s just a hair-wash day. I run warm water down the hair and lather up with this low-poo once or twice depending on how much buildup I’ve got. I concentrate the low-poo on my roots and spread the lather to the ends to keep them from being over-cleansed. I then rinse and always follow up with conditioner. When I am doing a clarifying wash, I would follow up with an intensive hair treatment/deep conditioner instead.

Wave Hello Conditioner
Definitely one of my favourite conditioners. The conditioner contains the same active ingredients as the shampoo. The two that I think really comes out in this product is something called ‘Quinoxy’ which somehow reminds me of ‘quinoa’. It’s similar – quinoxy is Noughty’s “blend of wheat extract, camellia oil and linoleic acid to blitz flyaways, decrease volume, boost smoothness and retain shape”. My fine to medium hair always seems less frizzy with the shampoo and when I mix it with water as part of my 2nd day hair refresh mist (1 part water, 1 part conditioner) it really revives my waves and keeps it as frizz-free as possible…

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2nd day hair: near enough frizz-free!

I also really like Shea Moisture’s weightless coconut-fusion range and find it a great alternative to my Noughty Wave Hello collection. I alternate between these two as Shea Moisture products contain protein-based ingredients, Noughty doesn’t.

Wave Hello Curl Taming Creme
As much as I wanted to love it, it wasn’t for me. It made my hair feel heavy and just weighed down my sensitive, loose waves. From the video, you can see that my waves will literally straighten out if you brush them with your fingers. I think curlier hair or wavies with a tighter pattern will benefit from this cream, especially curlier hair as it’s a rich cream. It’s just too heavy for my fine and sensitive waves. My daughter’s 3A/3B curls really loves this cream and so I use it for her instead.

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I use the Noughty curl taming creme on Ame’s 3A/3B curly hair

**Get a third off all Noughty hair care products on Boots.com**
shop here

So… do I recommend Noughty?

Hell yes! If you’re based in UK and following CGM, you will love this brand. It’s curly girl friendly and whether you have fine, loose waves like me or super curly hair like my daughter, there’s going to be a product that you will love. And with most products priced at £6.99 what’s not to love?! They have just launched their Christmas gift sets so you can even try a whole range for less. There’s also a promo on at Boots (see above link) and if we’re lucky we might see a half price promo on their website like we did on Black Friday! 🙂

What’s the ONE Noughty product I can’t live without?

This one I can answer hands down, without a doubt.. the To The Rescue intensive conditioning mask. O. M. G. I have not had anything like it! Super weightless but super hydrating and moisturising! The closest consistency I could measure it to would be the Shea Moisture JBCO leave-in conditioner; super creamy but super light like a whip.

It’s definitely going to stay on my shelf for many more years. A little goes a long way so I don’t need more than a scoop for my long hair. I love using the deep conditioning mask straight after a clarifying cleanse or whenever my hair seems a little dehydrated.

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My #1 ultimate favourite Noughty product: To The Rescue intensive conditioning mask

… et voila!

And that’s my Noughty Wave Hello haircare review done!

If you’re planning to give Noughty a try, go for it. They’re an affordable range (all around £6.99 per 250ml bottle), 97% natural which is pretty damn good, cruelty-free (no testing on animals), vegan-based ingredients, and free from all those chemical nasties ie. silicones, sulfates and parabens.


Watch the vlog review:


NB. I received a sample of Noughty Wave Hello haircare collection (shampoo, conditioner and curl creme) in exchange for an unbiased review on this blog and vlog post. All opinions, photos and content are my own and shouldn’t be used without my consent.