Curly Girl Chronicles ~ 2: Sulphates, Silicones, and Stuff


CG: Curly Girl

Co-Wash: Wash with conditioner

Cleanse: Wash with a low or no sulphate shampoo/conditioner/conditioning cleanser

Low poo: Little to no sulphates, gentle cleansers

No Poo: No shampoo/ sulphate shampoo


So, product ingredients can be a REAL issue if you're trying out the Curly Girl Method, or a modified version of the method. There are so many things to avoid that it can become a bit confusing. The main things you've got to avoid are Sulphates, Silicones, and Alcohol. 


Generally, you're advised to avoid ALL sulphates but some make harsher cleansers than others. Now if you're following a modified version of the Curly Girl Method and you are still using a shampoo to cleanse, then the second group of sulphates are probably going to be better for your hair. They are more gentle cleansers.

Some common sulfates are:

  • Alkylbenzene sulfonate, 
  • Ammonium laureth or lauryl sulfate 
  • Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate
  • Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate 
  • Sodium cocoyl sarcosinate, Sodium laureth
  •  Myreth, or lauryl sulfate
  •  Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
  •  TEA-dodecylbenzenesulfonate
  •  Ethyl PEG-15 cocamine sulfate
  •  Dioctyl sodium

Some mild cleansers, less drying and included in modified CG, are:

  • Cocamidopropyl betaine
  • Coco betaine
  • Cocoamphoacetate
  • Cocoamphodipropionate
  • Disodium cocoamphodiacetate or cocoamphodipropionate
  • Lauroamphoacetate
  • Sodium cocoyl isethionate


Silicones that are not soluble in water build up on the hair that is cleansed with sulphate-free products:

  • Cetearyl methicone
  • Cetyl Dimethicone
  • Cyclomethicone
  • Cyclopentasiloxane 
  • Dimethicone 
  • Dimethiconol 
  • Stearyl Dimethicone 
  • Amodimethicone (and) Trideceth-12 (and) Cetrimonium Chloride
  • Trimethylsilylamodimethicone. 

Sulphates are needed to remove these silicones.

Note: Trideceth-12 and Cetrimonium Chloride are only considered a silcone when both are combined with Amodimethicone. (Source: Mahogony Curls' blog:

Silicones that are slightly soluble in water and will build up on most types of curly hair:

  • Amodimethicone 
  • Behenoxy Dimethicone 
  • Stearoxy Dimethicone.

Silicones that are soluble in water and safe to use (they are not listed with PEG in front of them):

  • Dimethicone Copolyol 
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane 
  • Lauryl methicone copolyol.

These silicones can be washed away with a sulphate free cleanser.

Not all alcohols are bad for kinky/curly hair, the fatty ones are ok as far as I know. 
Fatty alcohols - ok to use: 

  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Cetyl alcohol
  • Cetearyl alcohol
  • Isocetyl alcohol
  • Isocetearyl alcohol
  • Lauryl alcohol
  • Myristyl alcohol
  • Stearyl alcohol
  • C30-50 alcohols
  • Lanolin alcohol

Bad alcohols:

  • Denat. alcohol
  • SD alcohol 40
  • Witch hazel
  • Isopropanol
  • Ethanol
  • SD alcohol
  • Propanol
  • Propyl alcohol
  • Isopropyl alcohol
I think it's important to add that it's YOUR hair, and I am a firm believer in doing WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. If you've been using a load of products and they've been working for you but they contain ingredients that the curly Girl Method doesn't allow, I don't think you should feel obligated or pressured to bin them. If you have no problem with your current routine, don't change it unless you really want to. There's so much info and advice out there on natural hair but most of the time these are based on personal opinions or experiences. Trying to fish out these no-go ingredients can be long and tedious and it really does eliminate soooo many products that most of us love. Having said that I've been using a modified version of the CG method for just under a month and I can honestly say I've seen a significant change in the moisture levels in MY hair. It is softer and less frizzy but I don't follow the strict CG routine. I do own a sulphate-free shampoo, although so far I have stuck to only co-washing my hair once or twice (when I have time) a week. I think shampooing will be a monthly occurrence. 
Hope this helps!
Much Love xxx