Every time I go back home, my grandpa asks me if I got a perm while I was in New York. He’s half-joking, half-serious—and if you ever see me around Lafayette Street, you might ask the same thing. For a long time I kept it short, shampooed it every day, combed it every morning in a very specific way conducive to straightness. I had a routine. Now I’ve got a new one which involves NO combs, very little shampooing, and always air-drying. These days, I'm partial to the curl. But leaning into my natural texture also saves me a ton of time each morning. Win, win.
Of course, nothing gold can stay and the no-shampooing thing quickly caught up to me. I realized my scalp is too oily to not wash it regularly. So I tried co-washing, but my shampoo, like my face wash, has to leave me squeaky clean or else I fear it's not working. The dream is a wash that lasts a few days—something that doesn't strip my curls of their natural volume, but keeps my scalp happy. Recently I’ve moved onto a steady routine of washing every two days, following immediately with hair oil and, in dire moments, calling up my dermatologist for a refill of the clobetasol she prescribed me a year ago. I'd love to stick to a routine, but alas, I work for a beauty website. One shampoo-conditioner set isn’t going to keep me fulfilled, so I gotta shop around. Here are the few currently making rotations through my shower:
My first love: Rene Furterer Karité Nourishing Shampoo
Emily Ferber gave me this two years ago and told me to try it. I didn’t want to but I did, and I fell in love. It’s just the right amount of moisture—the conditioner isn’t too thick but I usually use it with the matching leave-in and for messy, not shiny curl. Rule of thumb: When you want a non-drying shampoo that still gets the job done, go for anything that labels itself as "intensely nourishing" or for "dry, damaged hair."
My favorite smell: Davines Love Curl Shampoo
Another very hydrating choice. Whenever Davines appears in our office, I'm like a vacuum, sucking up every last drop in sight—the scents and the packaging are just too good. It’s fitting that the scent I like best is the one for my hair type. (And I've tried 'em all.) If you've ever smelled Eau de Bonpoint, this is similar: clean with a hint of neroli. The matching conditioner is extremely intense and thick like vaseline. It requires some muscle to rinse it out, but in the end, you've got perfect third day hair.
Everybody's choice: Devacurl Low-Poo
You probably saw this one coming—the de facto co-wash from the hair line that put curl care on the map. This delivers Botticelli texture every time. It's the most hydrating on this list, so I reserve it for the winter when my hair is bone dry, otherwise my scalp does not agree. Follow-up conditioner need not apply.
My grocery list: Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is magic. It regulates your tummy, tightens your pores, and apparently, it's good for cleansing your scalp too. I started using this when my scalp pores got clogged in-between shampoos as a kind of pre-wash treatment. Yes, the smell is a bit odd, but it functions sort of like a face wipe, cleansing and toning before you go in with something stronger. The smell will wash out, promise.
Some people yearn for youthful skin, and that's fine and all, but right now, I just want the hair I didn’t let myself have when I was a kid. My hair-spiration is my six year-old nephew Ryan, who has this giant head of curls—more Jim Morrison than Shirley Temple, which is a look I'm very into.
Photographed by the author.
The deep clean: the very best in clarifying shampoos over here.