Best Sulfate-Free Products for Naturally Wavy Hair
I was coaxed by a friend to do some more product recommendation posts, so if you hate this, you can blame that friend... if you can track her down.
Truth be told, I'm the last person who should be giving hair advice. My routine is essentially this: shower sometimes, barely comb it, then live with the mess. I am fortunate enough that the "mess" I have to live with is actually pretty manageable most of the time. The unkemptness can usually be passed off as "beachy!" or something like that.
Anyway, I hope that (beyond my one friend) there are some other low-maintenance ladies out there who might appreciate this minimal approach... and the fact that I've tried almost every sulfate-free shampoo in history.
So here goes (almost) nothing.
Shampoos + Conditioners
I wash my hair infrequently, to say the least. Maybe thrice a week... sometimes more if I get some extra workouts in, but usually just the three times (in fact, I once lied to my husband about the last time I showered, #marriage).
When I do bone up and wash it, I use shampoo and conditioner like humans do. I try to use sulfate-free products, and I've tried so many of them. A lot of the sulfate-free shampoos I've tried have been disappointing. Many don't suds up well, and I wind up shampooing twice or even three times before my head feels clean. Not fun or resourceful.
A while back, I decided to take a break from expensive shampoo (that wasn't even working anyway) and turn back the clock to 1998: I bought some Pantene Pro-V Curl Perfection. It was actually pretty awesome at first and delivered volume like only nasty sulfates can. But then suddenly I remembered that sulfates aren't friends and my scalp was suffering, so the Pantene went bye-bye.
Since then, I've only used more natural-ish brands and have finally settled on some favorites.
R+Co is one I love. The shampoo and conditioner smell (and are) amazing. I switched to Aveda Brilliant this winter and it's been a little better for dryness (I have some grown-out balayage so it's good for that). Kudos to both of these brands for being sulfate-free and still making actual suds... yes, the white whale exists!
Between shampoos, I like Aveda's Hair Potion, which is this miraculous dry shampoo-like substance. It's a powder that sort of disappears when you sprinkle it on and work it into your scalp. It is creepy but effective in getting the volume back to level 10 (or at least level 7). It's particularly nice if you do some light yoga and don't want to shower before you have to go to work. P.S. That's never happened to me because I do not wake up early to do anything, let alone yoga.
Everyday Wave + Curl Enhancers
For everyday styling, I let my hair dry about halfway and then add a little product to tame the beast.
I like Kevin Murphy Motion.Lotion, a Aussie curl enhancer made with sesame oil, orange peel and bergamot (it smells lovely). It's paraben-free, includes UV protection and it works without heat. A lot of curl enhancers out there — including the Aveda stuff I used forever — aren't as effective without heat. R+Co's Aircraft Pomade Mousse is another nice one, because apparently I love everything from that brand.
Then I twist the hair into a few pieces to enhance the curly/wavy mess and let it air dry. That drying process takes about half the day. It's absurd.
Blow Dry Stuff
Okay, so... blow drying almost never happens at my house. But sometimes it's cold in Minnesota and the winter forces me to do it. When I do, I use this $30 Conair blow dryer and that's it.
Dry Scalp Treatment
This stuff has become part of the winter shower routine because my skin (and head) gets exceptionally dry when there's no moisture in the air. Go figure. Aveda Pramasana Purifying Scalp Cleanser is like a pre-shampoo shampoo, so you put it on, suds up, rinse and then go through your normal shampoo and conditioning routine.
Fancy Hairspray Stuff
If I'm getting really done up for a wedding or something, I use this cheap curling iron and create a more polished version of my normal hair. I removed the clamp so it's like a wand, and it's very easy to use.
This is one of two hairstyles I can accomplish without assistance. The other is this twisty up-do that's too hard to explain without pictures. I think I learned it from a teen magazine (at age 29). If I've done either of these nice things to my head, I set it with Living Proof Flex Shaping Hairspray. It's lightweight to avoid hair helmets, but still keeps things in place on the dance floor.