For those blessed with naturally great hair and busy schedules, often a shampoo and conditioner is all that is needed in general. Some people do not need to use conditioner at all. Some people prefer to wash their hair with conditioner only. Most shampoos and conditioners these days are acidic. Those formulated for colour-treated hair tend to be more acidic, to offset chemical processing causing roughened hair cuticles. Chelating agents like citric acid and EDTA are often added to shampoos and conditioners and can help with hard water issues.
The cationic conditioning ingredients we have today in hair care are based on fabric softener technology developed in the 1950s. Clarifying shampoos were created to deal with removing residues caused by those ingredients and more, in today's conditioning shampoos, conditioners and styling aids. A gentle one that works effectively is Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo. Fully dissolved baking soda in water, not made too strong in proportion to be drying, followed by a well diluted vinegar rinse is another option.
There are a number of recipes for clarifying hair with baking soda online. What may be fine to use for one person may be too strong or too weak for another. The same applies to the vinegar rinse. Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar or any vinegar with about 5% acetic acid can be used. Coloured vinegars can add colour to some hair shades. So, it may take some experimentation to get that right for you, if you have not used baking soda and vinegar for clarifying previously and been satisfied with the results.
Where extras come into play is to recognize that hair conditioning products can have limitations for a number of reasons. For dry hair for example, applying a lot more conditioner can result in a lot more build-up and even more dryness and can cause spit ends, tangling and breakage, whether it is used instead of shampoo or after shampoo or as a shampoo pre-treatment.
Cosmetic mineral oil can be very effective used as a grooming aid for frizz, static, a thermal protectant and detangler, used in small amounts like small drops, that wash out easily. It is more effective as a moisturizer than vegetable oils and silicone, while providing slip equal to silicone. It can be used that way to replace conditioner, styling aids and hair treatments too, saving a lot of time and expense, especially since it usually only needs to be applied once after hair washing, not in between washes, to be effective.
Coconut and argan oils can chelate iron and copper, and used as a pre-treatment with hair dye containing peroxide applied over them can help prevent conventional peroxide oxidative damage, increase dye uptake, and condition the hair. Used as a pre-treatment with bleach, or only conventional peroxide applied over them, they can also help prevent such chemical processing damage, while not interfering with the lightening of hair colour, as they condition the hair.
Coconut oil added to a mild shampoo that does not cause build-up, after the hair is first clarified to remove hair product residues can deeply penetrate hair, and replace the need for conditioner and styling aids, also saving time and expense. Coconut oil applied to clarified hair can deeply penetrate hair and work wonderfully as a deep conditioning treatment. Note: Most fractionated coconut oils contain no to almost no lauric acid. They are not suitable to be used for either method.
Salon products are not necessarily better than dollar store or drugstore shampoos or conditioners. It depends on the formulation of each product.
Catnip use for conditioning and hair colour is the hair option for me most of the time. I use a conventional shampoo that does not cause build-up first that works well with my hair and very sensitive scalp. I also love catnip on my skin and after the tea is brewed and used, I have not had issues with cats responding to catnip, rinsed off.
What I have concluded after a lot of reading about hair issues, my own experimentation with hair care products, my results and those of others and research is that effective hair care does not have to be overly complicated, expensive or necessarily time consuming. I enjoy my hour long catnip treatment time but I do forgo it for mineral oil use when my schedule is heavy.
In general, less product is more in terms of results. Cosmetic marketing with the exception of sunscreen application (most people it has been observed do not apply enough sunscreen) would have us all use far too much product for each application. For effective hair care, it is necessary to get the scalp clean not overly clean. It is desirable to have the hair lubricated after washing or with oil shampoo during washing, to prevent friction, tangling and stress damage. Far less product than many people think can accomplish all of that, leading to less problems with build-up if the products cause that and the resulting frustrations build-up can cause. It is about choosing the right products you need, be they natural or conventional, and learning how much your hair and scalp can handle, without going overboard and then having issues because of the excess.
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