I have tried, actually, quite a few shampoos since cutting off my locs in May 2010. Before then, I was sulfate sudsing it up with Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo and occasionally Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Shampoo. They did the job, for what I wanted then. Now that I am loosely natural, I wouldn't dare use either of these shampoos for faith in what I know they would do to my hair. I will give a brief product review of the various shampoos and cleansing methods I have used and my thoughts on their efficacy.
Giovanni - The first brand I bought after BC'ing. I learned from using these shampoos for several months that just because a shampoos is sulfate free does not mean it won't leave your hair stripped and thirsty for conditioner. After finally confessing to myself that Giovanni shampoos were actually leaving my hair a bit parched, I switched over to the next brand.
Shea Moisture - I have actually tried several of their lines of shampoo and the only two that were worth repeating were the Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo and the African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo. With the Raw Shea Butter, my hair was left feeling fine, not moisturized, but not stripped. Just, fine. With the African Black Soap Shampoo, the first time I used it in my soft water hometown, my hair was left feeling like butter, and I do mean butter. I was in love, plus it relieved itchy scalp. But the performance was not the same when the hard water of my internship was used. The other shampoos by Shea Moisture I tried that left my hair feeling not so great were the Yucca and Baobab Shampoo (love the YandB Conditioner, though), and the Raw Shea Chamomile and Argan Oil Baby Shampoo (I now use this to cleanse my face occasionally. It works great in that regard). So with Shea Moisture, the lesson learned was that Raw Shea Butter and African Black Soap were worth repeating.
Chagrin Valley Shampoo Bars - I ordered several samples of the CV shampoo bars, including Ayurvedic Herbal, Butter Bar Conditioner, Neem and Tea Tree, and Babassu Marshmallow. The only ones worth repeating, and in soft water only (never hard), were the Neem and Tea Tree and the Babassu Marshmallow, especially the Babassu Marshmallow. It actually left my hair soft, feeling like butter. Similar to the African Black Soap Shampoo. But only when in soft water. When using hard water, a tangled mess followed. Also, the amount of suds that come when you use soap in soft water can be overwhelming. I might have rubbed the bar on my hair too many times.
Co-Washing Only - I had to stop co-washing because my scalp was itching like crazy. My hair may hate most shampoos, but my scalp needs some type of gentle exfoliation to keep me from scratching like a dog.I have concluded that co-washing with cheapie conditioners, packed with not so great ingredients, were the culprit. I don't seem to suffer from itchy scalp as much when using all natural conditioners.
As you can see, I am trying to decide which products can dare go into my Holy Grail or at least worth repeating list. The only ones I dare venture into that category are certain Shea Moisture Shampoos and certain Chagrin Valley Shampoo Bars (soft water only). My other experiences have been frustrating to say the least. I am curious about the Terressentials Mud Wash, as so many have claimed it replaced both their traditional shampoo and conditioner. But I am nervous because of the past experiences I have had. My one stint with bentonite clay did leave my hair soft and well-defined, though rinsing out the mud was like hell. Another option is cleansing creams, like the ones made by Kera Care or CURLS. But sometimes, cleansing cream had detergents similar to the ones found in shampoos. Still nervous. We shall see. Trying to simplify my regimen is proving not so easy. All I want is an all natural cleanser that will leave my hair soft, daresay in need of no conditioner, that performs equally well in hard and soft water. So far, the Terressentials Mud Wash seems to be the only thing that can fulfill that promise.
Look to see another part, or parts, to this post. I really am trying to figure this thing out. Also, if anyone has tried the Terressentials Mud Wash or use clays to cleanse their hair (bentonite, rhassoul, etc.) let me know how that's working for you.