5 Ways to Cleanse Your Natural Hair

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The main goal of cleansing natural hair is removing dirt and debris without stripping our natural oils. There are a few ways to accomplish this.

1) Shampooing

Using shampoo to wash our hair is the method most of us grew up with. We simply squeezed out some shampoo, massaged it in with no rhyme or reason, rinsed and voila, we were done. There are some updates we can make to this process for better results, and we have written before on reducing wash day tangling.

For regular cleansing, use a gentle, pH balanced shampoo to maintain the moisture balance of your hair.

2) Cowashing / No Poo

This is a method that many naturals use to gently cleanse the hair while maintaining moisture. Use conditioner just as you would use shampoo. Many conditioners have enough of a detergent effect to cleanse the hair without the use of shampoo. There are also plenty of products specifically designed for cowashing on the market.

With a regular cowashing routine, it is important to monitor for buildup, especially if heavy moisturizing or sealing products are used.

3) Clay Washing

Clay has been used for cleansing for thousands of years, and today is no exception. Modern naturals have found that clay washing leaves their hair soft and easier to detangle.

The clay is often purchased in powder form and mixed with water or apple cider vinegar. There are many commercial cleansing products containing clay as well. Bentonite and rhassoul clay are two of the more popular options.

One issue that some naturals have is difficulty rinsing the clay from the hair. If you try this method, dilute and mix well, and rinse several times. Be sure that all of the clay has been removed, paying special attention to the roots.

4) Rinsing

Some naturals find success with rinsing their hair with various mixtures including tea, diluted apple cider vinegar, rice water or oat water. These rinses may be used between shampoos or cowashes, or in lieu of them. This approach should be paired with light product use in order to avoid buildup.

5) Water-only method

Water-only cleansing is also an option. With this method, your natural sebum is able to flourish and cover your hair so that it becomes softer and more malleable over time. Some of those who use this method use natural, homemade gentle cleansers periodically but infrequently. This is another method that lends itself to light use of products.


There are many ways to cleanse your natural hair. With any of the above methods, if you use heavy oils, butters, or don’t wash your hair frequently, you may need to use a clarifying shampoo periodically.

The best way to find out what will work for you is to choose a method based on your hair type and condition and try it. Commit to a method long enough to complete several washes, in order to get a real feel for whether it is working for you. If you experience buildup, dry hair or scalp, it may be time to try another method.


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  • Angela says:

    nice cite, found it accidentally

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