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Wash Winter Right Outta Your Hair!

Wash Winter Right Outta Your Hair!

Spring is almost here! And that means it’s nearly time to shed all of those suffocating layers and turn your SPF protected face to the sun. Is your hair ready to bare? You might be suffering from a case of winter hat hair, in which case, you need some rehab. Today, Guest Blogging Hair Stylist Chrissie Eden Vazquez shares her sage wisdom with the hair challenged;

Hair care and rehab start with daily habits. Is your hair: Thin/Fine?Dry?Long?Processed (Highlighted, Bleached, Colored, Permed, or Relaxed)?
If you answered “Yes” to one or more of these, your hair requires special care that includes a proper shampooing and conditioning regimen as well as gentle handling of your stressed strands. Things you do like shampooing every day (when perhaps you could afford to wait a day or two), putting wet hair into a ponytail and jamming it under a hat, or using the wrong kind of shampoo can be trashing your hair.

GirlieGirl Army Founder Chloe Jo, Hair by Chrissie Eden Vasquez, Photo by Stephen Kosloff for TONY.
GirlieGirl Army Founder Chloe Jo. Hair by Chrissie Eden Vasquez. Photo by Stephen Kosloff.

To get down to basics, here is some shampoo speak to help you decode what kind(s) of shampoo will help get your hair back into shape.

The function of shampoo is to cleanse hair of nasty stuff like oil, product build up, and pollution. Shampoo removes grime and oil from your hair by using a surfactive agent, which is a two part molecule that is one part hydrophilic and one part lipophilic. The hydrophilic part is attracted to water, which washes away all the nasty stuff that the lipophilic part is attracted to. (Lipo = fats = fatty secretions = oil!)

The most common surfactants in most shampoos are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate SLS or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate ALS, which you may have heard about with the recent craze over Sulfate Free products. SLS & ALS are commonly used because they super cheap and produce lots of foam and bubbles when combined with H2O, which many people mistakenly confuse with the level of effectiveness of the product.

What that harsh detergent’s foaming action is actually is doing is stripping your hair of its natural protective coating known as the acid mantle. The acid mantle is formed by a combination of your scalp’s secretions of oils and sweat, and its job is to maintain a normal pH levels of your hair and protect the integrity of the keratinized protein that hair is composed of. Squeaky clean hair is actually extremely vulnerable hair! (And hair happens to be at its most delicate when its wet, so if you’re raking through tangles or pulling your hair into tight pony tails and buns, you could be causing some of the very damage you are bemoaning.)

Harsh surfactants and detergents will also fade hair color faster because they strip away the surface coating of the hair strand, opening the cuticle and allowing the color molecules to come up and out. Using shampoo formulated for color treated hair will make a long term difference in the life and vibrancy of your color, so invest accordingly.

You may see DLS–Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate–in some of the shampoos listed for color treated or damaged hair. DLS is the surfactant found in baby shampoos and body cleansers, and is derived from vegetable oils, usually coconut or palm kernel. The pH is rated as being low acid or close to neutral, so that it doesn’t strip the cuticle of its oils.

Some shampoo brands to consider for delicate strands:
Aveda (The Damage Remedy Line is a life saver!)
Aubrey Organics
Island Naturals
L’Oreal Everpure & Everstrong Shampoos
Lush Shampoo (Trichomania Solid Shampoo is yummy and coconut based!)
Morrocco Method (organic, vegan, and fair trade!)

There are various considerations beyond the detergent content of shampoos. Many of us experience confusion as to what kind of shampoo is right for our hair type. What is a clarifying shampoo used for? Do I need one? What does “for normal hair” mean? If this is soapless, how does it clean? pH balanced? Huh???

Always be sure to double check ingredients to make sure products are cruelty-free and vegan.
Always be sure to double check ingredients to make sure products are cruelty-free and vegan.

Here is a breakdown of what some shampoo terms mean:

Acid/pH Balanced means that the shampoo will not strip your hair’s natural oils and upset the pH of the acid mantle. The normal pH of hair, skin, and nails is between 4.5 – 5.5, and is slightly acidic.

Clarifying shampoo is, as the name implies deep cleaning. These shampoos contain a high level of alkalinity (to open the cuticle to allow for the removal of impurities) and is used to strip build up of oil, product, or toxins in the hair. Most formulas will indicate how often they can be used (the stronger ones should only be used once or twice a week) and are recommended if you have super oily hair, swim often, or if you have highlights that are constantly turning off colors. Will strip color treated hair; can be used if your color came out too dark and you want it to hurry up and go away.

Love: Frederic Fekkai Apple Cider Clarifying Shampoo, Aveda Shampure or Rosemary Mint Shampoos which are gentle enough for every day use

All purpose/”normal hair” shampoos have a low alkaline content and low concentrations of surfacants, and are not designed to correct any special conditions. They are your regular everyday kind of shampoos that you’d use if you don’t have any specific haircare issues.

Try: L’Oreal Everpure Sulfate Free Shampoo

“No Poo”
is a phrase associated with using all natural, non lathering shampoos, or in some instances, specifically non-lathering curly hair formulas. Why no lather? Because curly hair tends to be more porous, hence more prone to frizz, so it needs to retain as much of its natural oils as possible to retain shape and fight frizz.

Prime for curly gals: Deva Curl No Poo
If you’d like a little lather, try: Aveda Be Curly, Ouidad Clear & Gentle Daily Shampoo
There are a number of internet sources for no poo shampoo natural cleansing recipes. Try some out and let us know what works for you!

Conditioning/Restructuring/and thickening shampoos all preform nearly the same function, and contain animal, vegetable, or mineral additives. These are generally protein derivatives that improve the tensile strength and porosity of hair by bonding to weakened areas of the hair strand to provide reinforcement. The most common sources are wheat and silk protein, but know your brands–many use animal renderings like ground up cow hooves as a source.

Vegan: Samy Fat Hair Thickening Shampoo, Deliciously moisturizing: Aveda Dry Remedy System with buriti oil and pomegranate

See Also

Labeling “For oily/fine hair” OR the related “soapless shampoos” translates to a product that has a strong cleansing formula designed to remove the maximum amount of oils that weigh fine strands down and does not have any added oily or fatty substances. Most of these shampoos contain sulfates. Soapless shampoos are also ideal for those grappling with hard water because when the wetting agents in this type of shampoo react with the calcium salts found in hard water, it forms Calcium Lauryl Sulphate, which is soluble and rinses clean.

(*Note: the finished product, because of the reaction with the calcium salts in hard water, has a pH that is nearly neutral, so it does not damage the hair. Hard water situations are the one instance where you may prefer a shampoo with a sulfate based surfactant.)
For oily hair: Desert Essence Lemon Tea Tree Shampoo
For fine, limp hair: Aveda Pure Abundance System (with organic acacia gum and a clay based conditioner–this stuff works near miracles!)

Color/toning shampoos are used to enhance or neutralize certain tones in the hair. Chamomile formulas are used to enhance blondes. Clove brings out natural brunette and honey tones. Red color shampoos usually contain henna or madder root to enhance reddish tones, while blue and violet bases are used to neutralize warm tones and enhance cool ones. Blues & violets are especially helpful if you have naturally dark hair that is lightened, either into a double process blonde or highlights.

When I was a blondie, I would use a clarifying shampoo once a week and follow with a violet shampoo and conditioner to calm some of the orange threatening to creep in and ruin my golden locks! You can make any shampoo or conditioner into a toning formula by simply adding the appropriate toning agent. For example, to make a violet shampoo, go to your local beauty supply and look for a red/gold fix or an unred formula, and add the prescribed # of drops per ounce right into your favorite shampoo or conditioner. Shake well to combine.

Not that ambitious? Try: Aveda Shampoos in Clove, Camomile, Blue Malva, Black Malva (for black or brown hair), or Madder Root, J/A/S/O/N Color Enhancing Shampoo

Want to be sure your beauty care products are not tested on animals and/ or vegan? Double check them on

Chrissie Eden Vazquez, GirlieGirl vintage scavenger, studied French haircutting technique and graduated with certificates of recognition from the Carsten Aveda Institute, considered by many to be the “Harvard of NY Hair Schools”. Chrissie has styled the likes of GirlieGirl Army Founder Chloe Jo for the OlsenHaus lookbook, and specializes in event & bridal looks as well as authentic pin up hair & make up. Yes, she makes housecalls. You can reach her via email at

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