A few years ago I cut out silicones and sulfates and went 'curly girl' ( silly name really; it's suitable for curly haired folk of any or no gender) I've seen a vast improvement in my hair and for the first time in my life I actually really like nay LOVE my hair. I've become an aisle hogging label reader and somewhat of a 'shampoo snob' who will spend more than £5 on a bottle of conditioner. But my hair has never looked better; it has defined curls and waves as opposed to an ill-defined frizzy lumpen mass, it has shine, it's soft, my scalp no longer itches and produces blizzards and dammit curly hair is just so much more fun to play with!
I've got to know my hair, it's not longer just this dull mess I try vainly to tame and just tie up all the time or straighten the life out of it, it's a MANE OF CROWNING GLORY! I've accepted the fact I will never have easy hair that you can just wash and go and it'll be dry in 20 minutes and needs minimal detangling. I have the thick curls and waves that take hours to dry and need attention to keep them looking good but I don't mind, my hair's just a connoisseur, it's got class, It's not gonna be fabulous for any old lackadaisical hair regime it needs to be treated right!
A huge part of treating it right is the right products, though finding silicone and sulfate free products can be a pain in the backside, basically I haven't bought any (decent) hair products in 'mainstream' shops for years. I'm spending more but then again I am spending less on crap that doesn't work, I pretty much have a passionate vendetta against the entire Frizz Ease range of overpriced ineffective crap I kept reading would cure me of the curse of having hair like the 'before' picture in many a teen magazine.
Most mainstream products, especially those to reduce frizz or anything to add 'shine' or too 'smooth' hair are full of silicones and mineral oils, even many 'natural' ones. Silicone has never really helped me at all, after all it just coats the hair it doesn't really moisturise and it often needs a harsh often sulcate based shampoo to remove build up thus keeping you in a vicious cycle! I also find sulfates dry out my skin too so try and get sulfate free shower gel. Though some 'sulfate free' shampoos can be very drying on the hair too, though less so on the scalp I've found, so experiment! I tend to only shampoo every few weeks or when I feel I have too much build up or grease for a co-wash to handle. The key is to get to know your hair, everybody's hair is different even someone with the same 'type' of hair as you can react differently to different products.Some of my favourite Silicone and Sulfate Free hair products
There are many small brands that specialise in hair products for wavy, curly and kinky hair. Many specialise in 'organic' and 'natural' products that are not only silicone and sulfate free but free of mineral oils, petrochemical, parabens and all sorts of nasty things avoided by the sorts of people who weave their own sandals out of muesli.
Kinky Curly Curling Custard - this might be my favourite hair product ever. It's expensive but it's gorgeous and really defines my curls and keeps the 'smooching up into a lump' effect at bay for longer.
Shea Moisture Coconut & Hisbicus Curl Enhancing Smoothie - Full of moisture and bit of protein, smells lovely and really calms frizz down and adds shine. I love everything I've tried from shea moisture really, shame it's not cheap.
Cantu Shea Butter Grow Strong - The smell of this really reminded me of something and I couldn't figure out what, then I saw it had castor oil in and twigged it reminds me of zinc and castor oil cream which my Mum called 'bum cream' when we were kids due to it's nappy rash soothing qualities! It has mineral oil and parabens in it but for the price of the product it is full of lots of good stuff too, so if you;re not super fussy about ingredients it's a good buy. It definitely helps the condition of my hair, I usually put it on before bed and tie my hair back or braid it.
Eco Styler Gel - I've got the olive oil one but I've heard good reviews of the whole range. This is cheap (my tub is comically massive, you could style the 5000 with it) and has good ingredients, it doesn't go all flaky and crucially for a hair gel it doesn't smell like a teenage boy who's overdone the lynx.
Aloe Vera Gel - Just pure aloe vera gel, excellent for your hair, great on sunburn and itchy skin, it also de frizzes. Available in health food shops.
Inecto Pure Coconut Conditioner - This is so, so cheap and is my favourite Co-wash; it's runny so you can get it right down onto the scalp, it cleanses well and has good 'slip' for detangling. You can also use it on dry hair if it needs an extra boost of moisture.
Oils - Oils are amazing for hair as well as skincare! I use Argan, castor, jojoba, coconut, olive. You can use oils for all sorts; a hot oil treatment, a pre poo, use to tame dry frizzy hair, Some oils are heavier than others and others work best on wet hair, others dry. You can also mix oils together or buy ready blended ones, though read the ingredients as so many hair oil treatments are full of silicones! Again it's all down to experimenting and treading the fine line between 'not enough' and 'Whoops I look like I've been deep fried'.