Extra Gentle Shampoo / Conditioners for Color Treated Hair?
March 16, 2006 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Is there an extra gentle, natural, or super-mild hair care product that I can use to wash my hair when it needs it?

Looking for recommendations of natural or very mild hair products, especially for color treated hair. I have fairly sensitive skin, and am looking for the least irritating, friendliest shampoo and conditioner out there. I know that Cetaphil is a good gentle skin cleanser, is there a hair-care equivalent? I have been trying to wash my hair less often, and average about every other day, but when I do need to wash, what’s the least harmful shampoo to use?

In my mind, extra gentle = safe for color treated hair, but I know that just because a shampoo is safe for colored hair it’s not necessarily going to prevent any fading or loss of color. Having read through the shampoo questions posted previously, I know there are a great number of people who dye their hair, a good number who wash their hair infrequently, and at least a few out there with sensitive skin. The other threads don’t really address all three issues, so I hope it’s okay to combine them and ask for recommendations.

I’d appreciate any information people have on extending the longevity of hair color as well.

Thanks in advance!
posted by sarahmelah to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's a method of using a baking soda solution and apple cider vinegar rinse that's popular among crunchy people.
I myself use Nature's gate shampoo (you find in the health food store) and only on my scalp. It doesn't have any harsh ingrediants in it.
posted by delladlux at 10:51 AM on March 16, 2006

I hear nothing but good things about Devacurl's No 'Poo, which is sulfate-free.
posted by junkbox at 11:06 AM on March 16, 2006

Have you thought about baby shampoo?
posted by occhiblu at 11:07 AM on March 16, 2006

I wouldn't recommend baby shampoo- it might be gentle on the eyes, but it will strip all the oils right out of your hair, leaving it dry.
posted by rxrfrx at 11:15 AM on March 16, 2006

I've found Nature's Gate Jojoba Shampoo is quite good for cleansing while maintaining moisture. Every couple weeks (I wash my hair about once a week) I create a half-and-half mixture of it and baking soda for extra clarification, but if you don't produce much oil you'll probably be all right without it.
posted by Anonymous at 11:36 AM on March 16, 2006

My wife swears by Neutrogena Anti-Residue shampoo. She uses it specifically because it's the only one we've found that doesn't leave a bad skin reaction on her neck and back. She's also allergic to most laundry detergents except for Liquid Cheer, if that tells you anything.
posted by chuma at 11:39 AM on March 16, 2006

I've read that the ingredient you want to avoid in shampoo is Sodium Laureth Sulfate. It's really just a detergent and strips the hair of healthy oils. So if you see that as a primary ingredient, that might be one to skip!
posted by garbo at 12:48 PM on March 16, 2006

I like Aveda's Shampure line, but since I've been on a budget, I've been using Dove.
posted by echo0720 at 12:59 PM on March 16, 2006

Browsing the shampoo reviews at MakeupAlley's Productville could yield some good options. Products with high ratings from that site have always been good purchases in my experience.
posted by superfem at 1:00 PM on March 16, 2006

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a surfactant, but its primary use is to make things sudsy, because it foams beautifully. Many people think sudsy=better detergent, but that's not the case. (Example, the detergents used in automatic dishwashers don't foam at all, but the dishes are still cleaned.)

My brother has very sensitive skin on his scalp, and he uses a coal tar shampoo. I think Neutrogena makes it.
posted by luneray at 1:05 PM on March 16, 2006

Response by poster: Great suggestions so far, thanks! I'll be looking into each, but no one's really spoken to the hair color issue? I certainly don't want to seem like an ingrate, but can anyone vouch for the suggestions above working well with color treated hair? Please do keep the suggestions coming regardless, I appreciate any advice!

chuma - I have reactions to detergents as well! Can you tell me if your wife dyes her hair? I'm definitely going to look into this one. (also, I've had great luck with All Free and Clear laundry detergent)
posted by sarahmelah at 1:52 PM on March 16, 2006

Um, I don't know that more expensive = better, or if you should believe all the hype about any product but... during a particularly stressful time in my life, I developed alopecia - in a very small part of the back of my head (hair loss due to stress in a woman) that no one but me could see. Naturally I was further traumatized and went to see a dermatologist (one of the best in Manhattan) for the next few months. I had to get a mild stimulant shots in my head and was told to use a very mild shampoo regimen - you might not believe this, but basically the doctor told me to switch between Pantene 'daily' use (and conditioner) and Johnson's baby shampoo... the first because it's very gentile, and the second because it's PH-balanced - he said that was fairly important for a healthy scalp. Basically I switched every other week. Stress and alopecia now years gone, I also use Biolage and Aveda products but mostly because of my vanity. I still every so often switch back to the Pantene / Johnson's usage to keep my hair healthy.

But that's just my experience.
posted by eatdonuts at 2:09 PM on March 16, 2006

Sarahmelah, what product do you use to dye your hair? In my experience, hair dye is pretty harsh on the skin (permanent dyes contain ammonia and peroxide, after all). Some colors will fade faster than others, too.

I assume you are looking for a shampoo that is gentle on your scalp but won't strip the color from your hair?

If you are willing to pay slightly more than drugstore brand prices, I'd recommend getting something from Aveda or Bumble and Bumble. Aveda has shampoos called "Scalp Benefits Balancing Shampoo", "Damage Remedy Restructuring Shampoo" and "Color Conserve Shampoo". B&B has a product called "Sunday Shampoo".

Both brands are good (in my experience) but I like B&B better. The shampoos aren't as sudsy as most brands (so use less than you think you need), but very gentle and clean just fine.
posted by luneray at 2:16 PM on March 16, 2006

Like most of her products, Paula Begoun's All-Over Hair and Body Shampoo is both fragrance-free and geared towards those with sensitive skin. The description says that it's safe for chemically-treated hair.

I also found the following at her website:

Drugstore vs. Salon Hair Color
How Dyes Work
posted by invisible ink at 2:46 PM on March 16, 2006

Response by poster: luneray, the last time I had it dyed (professionally) she used a demi-permanent no ammonia very gentle dye - but it lasted only about a week instead of the 4-6 promised. I'm actually going back to have it redone next week, and may make the move to something more permanent. But I've dyed my hair before (and I used to use the ultra harsh stuff) without any issue, so I'm not particularly concerned about the dye chemicals. It's the day-to-day shampooing that seems to bother my skin more than anything, hence looking for something gentle. As an aside, I am dying red, and am well aware that it's hard to keep from fading.

To answer your question though, yes, looking for something that will be gentle on the scalp AND won't strip the color.

I am willing to pay slightly more than drugstore prices for something of very good quality, but I do have a budget so I can't go crazy... Thanks!
posted by sarahmelah at 3:03 PM on March 16, 2006

If you are going red, have you tried henna? I used to henna my hair and it turned a very lovely shade of red most of the time. (sometimes it turned orange-y). The drawback to henna is that you can't guarantee what color you will get, and it's not really a good idea to use henna over chemically dyed hair, unless you are really an adventurous sort (and have a great collection of hats and scarves, just in case).

When I was using a semi-permanent dye (Clairol Natural Instincts), I found the best way to keep it from fading was not to wash it very often. I'd rinse it, and brush it well everyday (to keep the scalp from feeling greasy), but only shampoo every four days or so. That worked better than anything else to keep the color. Not much I could do for the gray hairs, though. Two shampoos and the color was gone.
posted by luneray at 4:14 PM on March 16, 2006

I use and recommend Loma shampoo, it's base is aloe vera,the cleanser is made from corn.very color safe and reasonably priced.
I am too lazy to go into haircolor fadeage issue as it is so complex,proper developer selection and proccesing time. A red that lasts, Elumen
posted by hortense at 11:10 PM on March 17, 2006

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