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It’s common knowledge in the natural hair community that it takes great effort to care for curly hair properly.
That’s why those with naturally curly hair often think of unique strategies to keep curls bouncy and healthy. They find the best products, techniques, and more to keep their hair beautiful and full of bounce.
One of these natural curly care secrets is low poo shampoo or low “shampoo” shampoo.
The term may sound funny, but it is beneficial for natural hair care. So what is low poo shampoo? Furthermore, why is it so popular for people with textured hair?
We look closely at low poo shampoo and highlight how it can help you improve your curls. We also share the best products that you can use for this method.
What Is a Low Poo Shampoo?
The term low poo was coined by DevaCurl, an American haircare brand, to introduce their mild lather cleanser.
And while it describes a specific type of shampoo, the term “low poo” actually has two interpretations in the natural hair community.
The first definition of low-pooing is when you use regular shampoo in small quantities and very infrequently. That means shampooing once or twice a week only and then using conditioner alone in the days between.
People do this to lessen the drying effects of shampoo on natural curls and texture.
The other interpretation of low poo is a specially formulated shampoo made without sulfates and other harsh chemicals, such as:
- Parabens, and
No matter the meaning, low-pooing has one primary goal – cleaning your hair without drying it.
The low poo method will help remove unwanted dirt and oils from your hair and scalp without stripping you of the natural oils your body needs.
Moreover, note that the low-poo method is different from co-wash, as co-washing involves using only conditioner to wash the hair. Instead, co-wash is considered a no-poo method.
Regular Vs. Low Poo
If we want to focus on the second explanation of low-pooing, we need to understand how this product differs from your regular shampoo.
Regular shampoos contain sulfates which act as surfactants and lathering agents. They are responsible for washing away dirt and oils and creating that full lather in the shower.
Although shampoo can prevent your hair from being greasy and grimy, using it daily can strip natural oils and cause your hair and scalp to feel dry and itchy.
On the other hand, low-poo shampoo is a sulfate-free cleanser. It has no harsh surfactants, so it also has a mild lather (some don’t lather at all). However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing their job cleaning your hair.
Sulfate-free shampoos can gently cleanse the hair using milder surfactants.
How Does Sulfate Work in Cleansers?
So now that you know what low poo shampoos are, you need to understand why avoiding hair products with sulfates can be beneficial.
It’s easy to be swayed by marketing campaigns promoting sulfate-free products. But before you go ditching sulfates, you must first understand what they do and how they can harm your hair.
Sulfate, mainly in the form of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), is used in shampoos as a lathering agent.
It makes our locks squeaky clean by creating a lather that can emulsify oily dirt on your hair and scalp. And when the dirt is broken down, it can be easily washed off by water.
It works, right? Right! That is until you’ve used a product with sulfate excessively. Remember, too much of anything can be harmful.
When you use regular shampoo with this harmful surfactant daily, it can strip your hair and scalp of essential oil.
Moreover, studies show that this chemical can also damage hair protein, making your hair lose elasticity.
Why Should You Go Low-Poo?
Now that you understand the potentially harmful effects of sulfate on your hair, you can appreciate why low poo is a good alternative.
This is something girls with curly and wavy hair understand well, as they want to keep curls healthy and frizz at bay.
But low poo is not just for them. Everyone can benefit from using sulfate-free shampoos and cleansers.
Here are some of the benefits of using low-poo shampoo.
Cleans Without Drying
Sulfate can remove natural oils that provide moisture to your hair. So if you use a product without this chemical, you won’t have to worry about your hair feeling dry or looking straw-like.
When you retain your natural oils, the moisture in your scalp is maintained, keeping your hair healthy and soft.
Helps Make Your Hair Stronger
Aside from keeping moisture, sulfate-free shampoo will also prevent protein loss. It can gently cleanse your hair without damaging or further damaging already dry and brittle locks.
The result? Your strands will be stronger and can resist breakage.
When your hair undergoes less friction and isn’t always dry, you’ll notice fewer frizz problems.
This is another benefit of low-poo shampoo. Since your scalp still has oil to provide natural moisture to your strands, your locks will have that slippery texture that can help prevent friction and tangles.
Keeps Hair Color Vibrant for Longer
Here’s some more good news for people with color-treated hair. Sulfate is known for washing away the color pigments from hair dye and potentially making your color fade sooner rather than later.
That’s why you will find that most color-safe shampoos and conditioners are sulfate-free.
You put in a lot of effort (and spent quite a bit of money) to get the beautiful color. It would be a shame to let it wash down the drain (literally). If you don’t want that to happen, use a low-poo shampoo.
Helps the Environment
And last but not least, did you know that sulfate is also harmful to the environment?
When it mixes with the water from your shower, it contributes to the acidification of surface water and soil, eventually becoming acid rain that can damage the ecosystem.
That said, you can help Mother Earth by using sulfate-free products.
Plus, since you shampoo less using the low-poo method, there’s also less water usage.
Is Low Poo Shampoo Curly Girl Method Approved?
Before you get excited about trying the low-poo method, we want to clarify that low-poo shampoo isn’t 100% curly girl method-approved.
For the CGM, shampoo is a big no. And low-poo shampoo is still shampoo, regardless of whether it contains sulfates.
If you follow the curly girl method religiously, you might think twice about using low-poo shampoo.
Cons of Using Low-Poo Shampoo
Like any other haircare method, using a low poo shampoo isn’t all good. Some people noted some things they didn’t like about these products.
Low Poo Shampoo Can Still Dry Out Hair
Although using low-poo shampoo is meant to keep hair moisturized, some people complained of dry hair despite using sulfate-free shampoo.
As we mentioned earlier, low poo shampoo is still shampoo and still removes some of the hair’s natural oils. However, whatever dryness is caused by sulfate-free shampoo is still considerably less than regular shampoo.
Additionally, if you have high porosity hair, you are already at risk for severely dry hair even if you use a low poo shampoo.
If you need to hydrate your locks, it’s best to use a moisturizing shampoo and a good conditioner.
You are More Prone to Buildup
When you use a low-poo shampoo, remember that it’s a gentle cleanser, which means it’s not meant to handle the really tough dirt and oil buildup on your scalp.
It can clean your hair but may not eliminate all the product buildup. So if you regularly use styling products like hairspray, gels, and creams, a low-poo shampoo may not be for you.
5 Best Low Poo Shampoos for Curly Hair
Low poo may currently be gaining popularity, but sulfate-free shampoos have been around for quite a while. So it won’t be a problem finding these products.
However, be careful when choosing. While some brands may claim that their shampoo is “sulfate-free,” some products only remove the harmful SLS and SLES but still have hidden sulfates.
So, when you buy your low-poo shampoo, it’s best to read the list of ingredients. Avoid products with sulfates or sulfate replacements such as sulfonate and cocamide DEA or MEA.
To make it easier, we’ve listed the best and 100% sulfate-free low-poo cleansers you should definitely try.
DevaCurl cleansers include non-sulfate surfactants which gently clean the hair. These gentle, non-stripping formulas offer low to no lather.
Primary benefits: Hydrates and smooths locks; maintains moisture; enhances curl shape
- Moisture-preserving blend
- Fresh rose fragrance
- Dermatologist co-developed
- For dry, medium, and coarse curls
If you have dry curls, DevaCurl Low-Poo Original will leave them shiny, bouncy, and hydrated.
DevaCurl low poo shampoo is a mild lather cleanser for rich moisture. Unlike traditional shampoo, this product needs to be really scrubbed onto the scalp while shampooing and rinsing.
Because of the low lather, your hair will not have a squeaky-clean feeling after you wash it. And that’s great because it means your locks are still moisturized.
This cleanser contains no
This product is different from the DevaCurl Low-Poo Delight variant. This one provides more moisture, so it is better suited to curlier hair textures.
This shampoo can make your hair softer and smoother without harmful silicones. Instead, it restores the nourishing emollients in the hair shaft to ensure bouncy and healthy curls without buildup.
Primary benefits: Provides moisture; soothes the scalp; offers UVB protection to your hair and scalp
- Certified organic
- Sage and vanilla scent
- For thick, coarse, dry, and damaged hair
You'll fall in love with your hair again when you use Innersense Hydrating Cream Hairbath.
Boost hydration for dry and damaged curls with this luxurious hydrating shampoo.
It’s made with natural ingredients, including sage, avocado, shea butter, and monoi and tamanu oils.
This product is also free from harmful chemicals such as
- Propylene Glycol
- MEA and TEA
- Synthetic fragrances
Innersense Hydrating Cream Hairbath is kind and gentle to your hair and made with natural ingredients, so it’s perfect for curls and color-treated locks.
This shampoo is made with the best natural ingredients to hydrate and restore damaged hair and help protect your locks from environmental stressors.
Primary Benefits: Cleanses while infusing strands with intense moisture and shine-enhancing nutrients; softens and revitalizes the hair
- Enriched with Manuka honey and Mafura oil
- Contains fig extract and baobab oil
- Sweet honey smell
- For dry, damaged hair
Give your hair the pampering treatment with SheaMoisture Manuka Honey and Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo.
To understand the benefits of this shampoo, let’s take a closer look at its powerful ingredients.
- Fig Extract is an antioxidant that keeps hair looking vibrant.
- Mafura oil softens damaged hair and promotes healthy locks.
- Manuka honey acts as a humectant that provides moisture.
- Baobab oil contains vitamins A, C, D, E, and F that fortify and strengthen tresses.
There’s no denying that this shampoo is full of great ingredients. However, what’s not in a product is almost as important as what’s in it.
This shampoo doesn’t contain
- Mineral Oil
- Propylene Glycol
This formula is designed to care for your hair and make it soft and smooth.
This low poo shampoo drugstore brand is also the best low poo shampoo for fine hair because it provides a luminous shine and boosts your hair's body without weighing it down.
Primary benefits: Delivers lightweight but full volume to your hair; gently cleanses and revives flat hair; doesn't strip or dull hair color
- Anti-fade and UV filter
- Lotus flower scent
- No harsh salts
- For fine, wavy hair
Experience a purely sensational, lush lather without the fear of sulfates with L'Oreal Paris EverPure Sulfate-free Shampoo.
You may notice in the ingredient list a sulfate-sounding ingredient – sodium lauryl sulfoacetate but have no fear. It’s not sulfate! It’s a surfactant that’s derived from coconut or palm.
That said, this gentle cleaner from L’Oreal is non-stripping and made for colored hair and even fine curls.
We can perfectly describe this product in one word - “easy!”
Its liquid formula is easy to apply, instantly flowing through the hair to reach the scalp. It easily transforms into a gentle foam lather. And finally, it easily rinses out, leaving no residue behind.
Primary benefits: Cleanses without stripping away natural oils; minimizes tangles; removes buildup
- With aloe vera
- Liquid micellar technology
- 98% naturally-derived ingredients
- For type 3A to 4C hair
For hair that’s so clean and surprisingly soft, try Carol’s Daughter Wash Day Delight Water-to-Foam Shampoo!
Reimagine your wash day with Carol’s Daughter shampoo. It uses liquid micellar technology that acts as a magnet to attract and lift away the dirt and product buildup on your hair and scalp.
The result? A thorough yet gentle cleansing.
After one wash, your scalp will feel refreshed, and your hair will feel soft and moisturized.
3 Ways to Maximize the Low-poo Method
Using a low-poo shampoo is definitely a good start to treat your hair, but it’s not enough that you use a sulfate-free shampoo or lessen your wash days. To maximize the low poo method, take some extra steps to enjoy the best results.
You can do several things to ensure that your low-poo shampoo will give you all the benefits.
1. Use a Silicone-free Conditioner
Because there’s no sulfate in low poo, those who use this method should avoid conditioners whose formula contains silicones and petroleum derivatives.
These ingredients are water-insoluble and cannot be removed without the help of sulfates. That said, your low-poo shampoo may not be able to get rid of the residue of these ingredients in your hair.
And over time, the silicone residues will pile up in your hair and scalp.
So don’t make things hard for your low-poo shampoo. Pair it with a lightweight conditioner to avoid product buildup.
2. Clarify Your Hair
It’s a given that people with curly hair love styling products like leave-in conditioners that moisturize and define their curls. Plus, many curly girls also utilize the LOC and LCO methods.
After all, it’s all about proper moisturizing and hydration.
However, more products mean more weight on your hair. And like the silicone in your conditioner, your low-poo shampoo can’t wash away this product buildup.
To help clear up your hair and scalp, add a clarifying method to your routine, like an apple cider vinegar rinse once a month. This is perfect because it’s gentler than a clarifying shampoo and also helps seal the hair cuticles.
3. Alternate Your Low-poo Shampoo with Co-wash
If your hair is extremely dry and you feel that low poo isn’t helping, you might want to add co-washing to your routine.
To do this, alternate using the two methods. Use your low-poo first, then your co-wash on your next wash day.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Know If My Shampoo Is Low Poo?
Low poo means the product is sulfate-free. So the best way to know if your shampoo is low poo is to look at the complete list of ingredients.
If you see sulfates like SLS and SLES, that’s not a low poo shampoo.
What Is the Difference Between Low-poo and No-poo?
Low-pooing means using a sulfate-free shampoo sparingly and less often. As for no poo, this method involves no shampoo at all.
With a no-poo routine, you clean your hair using a cleansing conditioner instead.
Do the Low Poo Method for Healthy Hair
People with curly and wavy hair are now more conscious about the hair products they use. They know that picking the right products will help them care for and boost their curls.
One of the products curly girls like using is a low poo shampoo that can cleanse their hair without any harmful sulfates and silicones.
Low poo shampoos can clean your hair without stripping away the natural moisture curls need to stay soft and defined.
So instead of using a regular shampoo, try a low-poo shampoo on your next wash. You’ll definitely notice the benefits of using curl-friendly products on your tresses.
What Other Shampoos Can You Use?
Take a look at these lists of shampoos for specific hair needs