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What the Poo?!! Low-Poo, No-Poo, Cowash, Cleanser....Your Guide to curly hair cleanser & shampoo

Updated: Mar 14

Confused?? So was I!

We're so lucky to have access to so many Curly Hair Products in Australia and New Zealand now. When I first started looking after my curls, it was really hard to buy hair products for curly hair in Australia, this was exactly the reason I started This Little Curl.

The issue now though, is with many curly hair product choices, comes much confusion. I'm on a mission to remove some of the confusion and make curly hair care less overwhelming!

A woman with curly hair, deep in thought

Important differences between Co-washes, no poos and low poos + tips on how to get the best from your curly hair shampoo.

When we clean our curly hair, we need to open the hairs cuticle to allow the dirt and impurities to be washed away. To open the cuticle, we need to use an alkaline product. Curly hair Shampoos and no poo cleansers fall into this catergory.

Conditioners (or cowash conditioners), on the other hand, are designed to smooth and close down the hairs cuticle, locking in moisture and hydration, and get your curls nice and soft BUT they fail to allow dirt and impurities to wash away. Yes, water being alkaline, opens the cuticle slightly HOWEVER the conditioner then closes them up again! #Science

Co-washing can be great for the scalp, when used with a lot of gentle friction, and helps to keep curls hydrated. However it fails to allow the actual hair strands to be cleansed thoroughly. This is why many curlies need to 'clarify' occasionally with a stronger shampoo for curly hair when co-washing only. Shampoos/low poos work by not only removing excess sebum and dirt from the scalp, but also allowing the cuticle to open and any 'ickys' to be washed away.

The problem some curly haired people find though, is that the low poo opens the cuticle too much, allowing essential moisture and hydration to escape. They then find it harder to hydrate afterwards.

A woman with curly hair smiling in the shower as she washes her face

That's why a cream cleanser is your perfect in between. A gentle alkaline formula to open the cuticle layer, a fresh, cream-gel consistency to really clean your scalp and keep it balanced plus no lather to avoid drying out curls.

Some handy hints when using your cream Cleanser:

🌺 When scrubbing with your finger tips or silicone scalp brush, ensure you're also adding lots of water. This helps the product spread easily through your curls and waves, assists with thorough cleansing and ensures you don't use more product than you need too

🌺Cleansing should be done TWICE! Every single wash day. This is not optional! The first cleanse helps to remove dirt, dust and other environmental pollutions from the scalp and hair whilst the second is then more able to tackle those natural sebums and any product traces.

🌺When rinsing the cleanser from your curls or waves, continue the firm but gentle scalp scrub. This helps the water lift and rinse away any dirt and oils etc.

🌺Cleanser should be 110% completely rinsed from the hair and scalp. I find it beneficial to rinse both standing upright, and with my head topped forward to better access the nape area. When a cleanser might not be right for you: There are times when a no foam cleanser won't be right for you. This can be due to your hair type, your energy capacity on wash day and your time limits. On low porosity curls (when your cuticle layer lies flat and firmly tucked together), a cream cleanser might not be strong enough to open your cuticle and allow thorough cleansing.

For fine haired curlies, you may find a foaming shampoo gives more body and bounce. If you have an oily scalp, a cream cleanser may be counter productive to begin with an you may not feel as 'clean' on wash day. After some time using a cream cleanser you should notice that your hair becomes LESS OILY. This is because oily scalps can sometimes be caused from over stripping from harsh cleansers, which sends your sebum production into over drive. Switching to a cream cleanser can help to balance and regulate this sebum production. A scalp refreshing spray such as this can help get you through the transition phase.

a woman with her eyes closed, smiling. She has dark curly hair splayed out behind her head

You're probably thinking "that's great Kaycee - but how do I choose the right curly hair shampoo for me?" I'm glad you asked! We've got what a curl wants - Here's some of my favourite curly hair shampoo and cleansers available right here in Australia:

My personal favourites to care for my dry, bleached curls -

EverEscents Lemon & Sandalwood Cleanser (or if you like foam, try Everescents Berry Blonde, it's a great Australian made Shampoo with organic ingredients and is packed full of moisture)

Rosemary & Mint Collective Co-wash Conditioner (If using this, I ensure I shampoo every 2nd-3rd wash day)

For balanced scalps and hair -

For itchy scalps, people experiencing excess hair shedding or those who like it minty fresh -

Rosemary & Mint Collective Cleansing bar *Note this is a co-wash bar so I recommend using a foaming shampoo every 2nd - 3rd wash day and pairing with our silicone scalp brush scalp massager for easier scrubbing.

For those with dry curly hair-

Curlsmith Australia Curl Quenching Conditioning wash For fine haired curlies or those easily weighed down-

If you need a good curly hair detox or clarifying shampoo in Australia -

Innersense Australia Detox Hair Mask Did you find this helpful? or do you have any other questions about cleansing your curly hair? Let me know in the comments! I'm always happy to help ❤️

🌺This Little Curl is proud to be the curl store of choice for Australia & NZ🌺

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