Before choosing a hair shampoo, it's important to know what shampoo does, how to use it, and how it relates to your hair and scalp type. You might think shampoo is strictly a hair-cleansing formula, but it's equally important to consider your scalp when choosing a shampoo. Shampoo is meant to cleanse both your hair and scalp of dirt, oil, and product build-up. Think of it this way: shampoo is for your scalp and roots, while conditioner is for the ends of your hair. You should choose a shampoo that is best suited for your scalp and a conditioner based on the condition of your ends. When it comes to hair care routines, one size definitely does not fit all. You may be able to go days in-between washings, while those of us with oilier strands need to wash daily. So how do you find the perfect balance of wash days and days off? See our previous post "How Often Should You Wash Your Hair" for more info on that. For now, let’s get into the different types of shampoos you can find lined up in the hair care aisles and salons.
A regular hair shampoo is designed for people who don’t have any specific hair needs or treatments. Regular shampoos are gentle cleansers with simple ingredients formulated to clean normal sebum production without stripping your scalp’s natural oil, hydration, and shine from your strands. Regular shampoos can be formulated for dry, normal, or oily hair.
Greasier-haired gals tend to need to shampoo more often, and that’s where everyday shampoo comes in. An everyday shampoo is a mild cleanser containing far fewer surfactants when compared to a regular shampoo. They also are soap and alkaline-free which make their everyday use sustainable. And like regular shampoos, everyday shampoos may have a small number of conditioning agents in them.
If you use a lot of styling products on the regular, it’s most likely time for a clarifying shampoo. Clarifying shampoo deep cleans, clearing out build-up in the hair and scalp from extended use of things like silicones, styling products, and conditioners. The catch is, clarifying shampoos can be harsh, so be sure to follow up with a conditioner and use it only once a week. While clarifying shampoo is safe to use, using it anymore can make your hair dry and frizzy. Looking for more info on clarifying shampoos? Check out our previous post "What is a Clarifying Shampoo?"
Anti-breakage shampoos are formulated for long or damaged hair. They’re designed to gently cleanse the hair, and create a glossy shine. They help restore your hair’s pH balance and repair damage. You can use an anti-breakage shampoo to cut down on frizz and get healthier, stronger hair.
Focusing more on the scalp than on the hair itself, a purifying shampoo has cleansing, soothing, and antimicrobial benefits. Purifying shampoos specifically target dandruff-prone hair. Some common botanical ingredients in these types of shampoos include dandelion, willow bark extract, and tea tree oil.
Dry shampoo isn’t (technically) a shampoo because it simply absorbs hair oils as opposed to actually cleaning the hair or scalp. Dry shampoos can be liquid, powder, or come in an aerosol spray. Perfect for those in-between wash days, take a small amount of dry shampoo and spread it through your roots to absorb excess oil and grease. It will instantly absorb sebum from your roots, making your hair appear and smell fresher than ever. Although, it’s important to note that relying solely on dry shampoo for long stretches of time can cause build-up and adverse effects on your hair and scalp.
One of the main reasons for dry or weak hair is because of a lack of moisture in the scalp. If the scalp fails to produce enough oil to lock moisture in, the result is dry, brittle strands, ultimately leading to dandruff. This is the time to use a moisturizing shampoo. But you don’t have to have dry hair to reap the benefits, moisturizing shampoo can also help to strengthen your hair and make it look shinier. The only time we don’t recommend using a moisturizing shampoo is if you have oily hair.
As the name suggests, volumizing shampoos are designed specifically to give volume to fine, thin hair. They are created from lighter formulas, so as not to weigh your hair down. A volumizing shampoo works by opening the hair cuticle, encouraging growth. Some volume shampoos even have keratin protein as an active ingredient to help strengthen strands from the roots to the ends.
If you have color-treated hair, you’re likely dealing with dry locks, fading color, and a lack of moisture. For this reason, it’s important to use a shampoo specifically designed for colored hair. Unlike ordinary shampoos, a shampoo for color-treated hair contains ingredients that won’t strip your hair of its hue. This helps keep your strands hydrated, healthy, and protected from damage.
If you're naturally curly, then you’re probably well aware of the fact that not all shampoos are created equal. Curly hair tends to be drier and frizzier than other hair types, which is why it’s critical to use super hydrating ingredients in a shampoo. A curly hair shampoo gently cleanses frizzy hair, making it smooth and shiny.
Well, the easiest way to figure this out is by the condition of your scalp.
Choosing the best shampoo for your hair type can be a daunting task, but with our guide to everything shampoo, your hair care game will be scoring wins in no time!
by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor
photos by @karlibobarley