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How Do I Choose the Best Karite Shampoo?

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  • Written By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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Finding the best karite, or shea butter, shampoo is not much different than selecting other hygiene products. It requires the consumer to look at the processing grade and percent of karite in the shampoo. Although the main concern is the karite, other ingredients impact the performance of the shampoo and thus also have to be investigated. Looking at cost and doing a physical performance test are the final steps in selection.

People who want a good karite shampoo first should look at whether the shampoo contains raw, semi-processed, or highly-refined shea butter, which sometimes requires contacting the manufacturer if grade is not readily on the label. In solid form as butter, highly-refined karite is almost completely white and has no smell. Semi-processed karite usually retains some of its natural coloring, but some of the aroma is filtered out. Raw karite varies from yellow to greyish or off-white and has a very nutty aroma. The processing does not affect its ability to moisturize hair, but karite loses many of its healing properties the more it is refined, making it less effective for soothing the scalp.

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Next, check the percentage of karite in the shampoo. Manufacturers are well aware of the benefits of shea butter, so they often play up its inclusion by labeling the shampoo as a karite shampoo, even if the amount of karite is minimal. A major property of karite is its high amounts of fatty acids, so the more karite there is in the shampoo, the greasier the shampoo likely will seem.

In general, the coarser a person's hair is, the more karite they need in the shampoo, because the increased amount of oil is necessary to smooth the outermost layer or cuticle of the hair. Ideally, these people should use karite shampoos where it is one of the initial — if not the first — ingredient in the list, because ingredients are always listed in the order of percentages. For people who have very fine or straight hair, a non-creamy karite shampoo with less karite is better because too much oil in a hair care product can leave the hair looking weighed down and lifeless.

Once a person knows that the type and amount of shea butter in the karite shampoo is ideal for her hair type, she can move on to the other aspects of the shampoo. For instance, if she has fine hair, then she might want to look for a shampoo designed to volumize. If she is sensitive to fragrances and dyes, then she might want to look for an all-natural shampoo with no additives. Some ingredients can cause allergic reactions or dryness, with sodium laureth/laurel sulfate, a sudsing agent that is also a known carcinogen, being one of the most common and notorious.

The last aspect to examine in looking for the best karite shampoo is cost and actual test performance. Price always represents the manufacturer's cost of the ingredients in a shampoo to some degree, but it is not always representative of cleaning power. Many cheaper shampoos clean just as well, if not better, than their more expensive counterparts, so don't assume that a higher-priced karite shampoo is of higher quality. Test the shampoo to see how it reacts with the hair.

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