Please take what I say here as a guide, you do not HAVE to do any of this, or even do it every time you wash your hair. However, if you do lots of these things regularly, your hair will look and feel better!
You will definitely save money too and use less plastic, and rinse less stuff down the sink!
You do NOT need to use shampoo every time you wash your hair. If it is sweaty/dirty and not too greasy you can use an alternative, such as a rinse, herbal dilution or a co-wash.
Shampooing with sulphates IS drying your ends. Protect the ends of your hair when you use any shampoo at the roots by PRE-CONDITIONING them with either: silicone free conditioner or a light (don't oversaturate) layer of oil such as olive, almond or avocado.
Generally using shampoos that are Decyl Glucoside based and avoid sulphates. I recommend
-Living Naturally soap nut LIQUID shampoo
-Beauty Kubes dry shampoo cubes (crumble beforehand to activate, plastic free)
-Do some research & try other glucoside based shampoos.
Avoid any shampoo that contains silicones or is pearlescent. You definitely don't want those being rubbed into your scalp, especially if you have fine hair, and it happens to be in a lot of "thickening" & "plumping" shampoos.
DILUTE - Apply shampoo using a squeezy bottle with a nozzle, you can DILUTE it in this bottle which lessens the harshness, allows even product coverage & distribution throughout the roots and scalp. We tend to over cleanse the crown area, resulting in a top layer of hair that is extra dry, which many people have from my experience.
You can start by adding about half of what you would normally put in your hand to wash with, get it into the nozzle bottle and add 50-100ml of water. Not loads, but enough to loosen it, shake and squeeze slowly out of the bottle spreading through the scalp. Imagine your head is a Terry's Chocolate Orange. Get in everywhere if you can, massage well, and rinse.
You can do this (3) directly into your dry hair if you want. Or you can pre-rinse ONE warm cup of water with 1 TBSP of Apple Cider Vinegar through beforehand and make sure that is the first water to touch your scalp & get absorbed into your hair. This is to counteract effects of hard water which damages hair and makes us use more product also! This will make your product work even more effective.
FUN TIP I have even read about using fizzy water to rinse shampoo out of hair to make it "chelate" activates it and makes it more effective.
There are many 100% natural plant based cleansers out there too. People use things such as soap nuts, rye flour, clays...and other Ayurvedic powdered herbs like henna and alma to wash hair. This can be beneficial as some grittier powders can gently exfoliate the scalp too, henna can do this. Make a paste, dilute to a runny solution to get out the nozzle bottle for easy even application.
1 TBSP Henna/Amla/Clay/Rye Flour with a little hot tea/water to make paste. Then add 100ml of rain/filtered/spring water and optional 1tsp of ACV.
Generally herbal powders you can use around 1 TBSP for fine-normal hair, up to 2/3 for thicker hair. Soapnuts are the exception.
Apparently they are best used whole and left to soak in cool water overnight, then use the liquid rinsed & massaged through your hair. 3-5 Nuts cold steeped in around 150-200ml of water for at least 12 hours. If it doesn't work, try adding more nuts/crushing them slightly and steeping for longer.
ALTERNATE between a diluted Shampoo wash, a natural cleanser, or a co-wash. You can do 10% shampoo, 30% co-wash, 60% cleansers. Or 40% shampoo, 30% co-wash, 30% natural cleansers.
OR think of it as an ABC wash cycle. You could take A/shampoo B/Natural Cleanser C/Co-wash and do A, C, B, A, B, C, B, A, C.
You get the idea. Mix it up.
Co-washing is using a lightweight watery conditioner, usually alcohol based too, to massage and rub the scalp & hair clean. It DOES work, if you find the right conditioner for you and are thorough with your massaging & rinsing really well (especially scalp). It can replace shampoo for MANY that follow the Curly Girl Method. But as well as for curly hair it can also be suitable for drier hair types, greys, scalps that are not producing much sebum/natural oils, dandruffy scalps, or as an occasional one-off moisturising treatment.
Get over your fear of putting conditioner at your roots. It can be a great move for many people if done right.
I shall leave with one message...Here are some images of one of my clients when she started doing the Curly Girl Method. She has now not used shampoo in two years and her hair is light and bouncy and not at all greasy. I believe she co-washes 1/2 times per week. One thing. Moisture.
Harsh shampoos were not helping this mane.