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It is very important to choose the right shampoo, as it is the key to beautiful and healthy hair. It is important to remember when choosing that the main task of shampoo is to clean the scalp. However, the scalp may have some problems, and the rest of the strands are different. Therefore, in addition to scalp cleanliness there may be a need for other problems (eg, dandruff, or want the hair to be manageable, more voluminous, or not so often greasy).

Given the large selection of shampoos, all these problems can be solved.

How to choose a shampoo for your hair

Types of hair and their peculiarities

First of all, the effectiveness of shampoo depends on the type of hair for which it is used. It is accepted to distinguish four basic types of hair:

  • normal
  • oily
  • dry
  • mixed

Normal hair is of average thickness, it is thick, healthy, does not split at the ends, should have a natural shine and easy to comb.

Dry hair is thinner than normal hair. They have low salinity of the epidermis, which is detrimental to the elasticity and elasticity. Dry hair lacks shine and breaks easily. Scalp is also likely to be prone to dryness, which can cause a feeling of tightness after washing, itching and dandruff. Without proper care for this type of hair, your hair will look shaggy and unkempt.

Dry hair cannot be dyed with chemical dyes or permed and is difficult to style.

Oily hair, unlike dry and normal hair, is characterized by strength and elasticity. However, these properties are a consequence of increased greasy hair. Hair of this type becomes greasy in a day after washing and has an unhealthy matte shine. Oily hair is also characterized by greasier dandruff.

Mixed hair is characterized by normal greasy hair. However, grease is distributed unevenly throughout the hair, with greasy hair at the roots and drier hair at the ends.

How to know what hair type your hair is

Normal-Thick hair is usually greasy on the third or fourth day or so after you wash it. They have a natural shine, are silky and soft to the touch and can be styled well. Their owners are rarely familiar with the problem of split ends. Using a hair dryer, curling irons and electric curling irons does little or no visible damage to your hair. The optimal frequency of washing for normal hair is about twice a week.

If during a week your hair does not get dirty, it can be classified as dry hair. They are characterized by fragility, dullness, a feeling of tightness of the scalp after the use of detergents.

To restore dry hair, the first thing to do is to stop washing it too often and pick the right shampoo. A good shampoo cleanses the hair without damaging the hair shaft and the protective layer of the scalp. In addition to washing, you need to moisturize your skin with special products. There are folk home remedies such as compresses of burdock oil or oily sour cream and eggs. However, it is better to choose a proven and effective means, such as a hair mask with a moisturizing complex of extracts from grape seeds and tung nuts. It is also necessary to pay attention to the ends by applying hair oil to them – it contains a serum of avocado, kukui and argan oils, which restores the hair surface and prevents over drying.

Oily hair already looks dirty a day after washing it. It is a paradox, but owners of oily hair, as well as owners of dry hair, should not wash their hair very often. Frequent washing makes the sebaceous glands react more actively and as a result their hair gets dirty much faster, and they can get oily dandruff underneath.

Both oily and dry hair can indicate health problems, be a consequence of illness, improper diet or bad habits. Therefore, owners of this hair type should consult a doctor, a trichologist who deals with problems of the scalp.

Hair of mixed type is probably the most complicated hair type in terms of care. However, the problems of this type of hair are quite solvable. For example, you can use a shampoo for oily hair to remove greasiness at the roots, and then apply a moisturizer or oil to the ends.

How to choose a shampooTypes of shampoos

Today there is a huge variety of products for washing hair. For convenience, let’s divide them into groups.

Shampoos for everyday use. These are common shampoos, which we use every day, depending on the type of our hair and/or its structure: for dry, normal, oily hair, for colored or highlighted hair, for curly, fine, damaged hair, or for a sensitive scalp.

Therapeutic shampoos are used for elimination of this or that problem: dandruff, seborrhea, lich, hair loss. They are sold in pharmacies and should be chosen by a specialist. Their composition can include a variety of active therapeutic ingredients, both natural and chemical origin, which have antifungal, anti-inflammatory, exfoliating or nourishing effect.

Dyeing shampoos are designed to temporarily change the shade of hair. They are used in addition to everyday shampoos. The new shade can last from 3 to 5 washings.

Dry shampoo is also a supplemental cosmeceutical that can help quickly improve the appearance of your hair without having to wash it. This product is a finely powdered aerosol for spraying. As a rule, such shampoos are made on the basis of talc or starch. These substances absorb excess grease well and then comb it out.

Shampoo and conditioner in one bottle. This product includes two types of beauty products, which helps save time, but reduces the effect of each. After all, these products have opposite tasks – to wash and to soften – and it is quite difficult to perform them simultaneously and qualitatively.

Sulfate-free shampoo refers to the daily care, but differs from the other products with its natural composition and minimal amount of foaming detergents. This shampoo will be a godsend for dry hair, but it may not cope with the problems of oily hair. Because of its gentle, gentle action, sulfate-free shampoo is suitable for frequent use.

Shampoo for children is similar to sulfate-free shampoos in its composition – the amount of detergents in it is minimized. Children’s shampoos manufacturers try to include natural extracts: chamomile, succession, celandine.

Professional shampoo differs from the ordinary shampoo as it contains a greater number of active substances, proteins, vitamins and oils. Therefore, it affects the hair more intensively, and the effect is visible after the first use. Another difference is its narrow scope of application. To use it without damage to the hair, it is better to consult a hairdresser.

How shampoos work

Unlike soap, which is also designed to cleanse dirt, shampoo is not alkaline, but neutral or slightly acidic. Shampoo rinses and loosens the bond between grease, dirt and skin cells, the abundant foam absorbs this dirt, not allowing it to settle back, and then rinses with water.

This is the basic principle of any shampoo. However, depending on the hair problem, additional components are added to its composition.

For example, natural oils and panthenol are good moisturizers and are necessarily included in shampoos for dry, colored or chalky hair.

Water-soluble silicones help hair scales to stick to the hair shaft, so they are necessarily added to detergents for damaged hair.

Shampoos for dull and lifeless hair often contain keratin, a natural protein that helps repair hair, makes it elastic and gives it shine.

To restore hair damaged by dyeing or perming, shampoos for damaged or bleached hair are the best choice, as they contain a large percentage of sulfates and keratins, such as Satinique shampoo for colored hair.

Many shampoos contain saturated fatty acids as well as lipids, which are fat-like substances that penetrate to the root of the hair, strengthen and nourish it, and prevent moisture loss. This may seem strange, because shampoo is primarily designed to remove grease from hair. However, do not worry – these ingredients will not make hair greasy, but only protect it from drying out and help restore the hair shaft.

Common misconceptions about shampoos

Shampoo should be changed every 2-3 months, as hair and scalp get used to it and it becomes ineffective. Hair and skin do not get used to shampoo. That is why you need to change shampoo only if you have dandruff, or if you colored your hair and it began to need extra moisture.

2. The more foam, the better the shampoo. The lathering does not affect the effectiveness of the shampoo, as we know from sulfate free shampoos.

The longer you keep the shampoo on wet hair, the better it cleans. To achieve a cleansing effect, it is enough to lather the shampoo and massage the scalp a little.

4. Washing your hair frequently makes your skin dry. This statement is true only if you use a shampoo that is not suitable for your hair type. For example, for dry hair, you use a shampoo for oily hair. It is better to choose a specific shampoo with a minimum of detergents that suits you, and wash your hair as it gets dirty.

5. You need to use hot water to get the shampoo to rinse out well. Too hot water is bad for the hair, and in addition, high temperatures can activate the sebaceous glands. Rinse out the shampoo with slightly warm water. This is quite enough to get rid of detergent residues and not to harm the hair.

How to choose a shampoo by ingredients?

If you do not understand the composition of shampoo and do not know what some of the acronyms in the composition mean, what sulfates and parabens are – do not worry, now we will give you a little literacy.

The main functions of shampoo are, as you know, cleansing, moisturizing, regeneration of hair. At the same time the product should have a good foaming. And all this is possible due to chemical substances, which we are going to tell you about.

Let’s go over the composition of an ordinary shampoo

First, this is water (about 80%).

Secondly, these are surfactants (surfactants), also called sulfates, which remove grease and dirt from the hair. It is the surfactants that provide good foaming. There are harmful sulfates, which we will talk about below, and there are relatively safe ones.

Thirdly, there are preservatives, thanks to which the product can be stored for a long time: parabens and sodium benzonate. And of course, the “longer-lived” shampoo, the more preservatives it contains.

Sodium citrate (Sodium Citrate) – this ingredient is responsible for the pH of the composition, namely the acid-alkaline balance. The neutral is pH 7. Anything with a pH higher is considered alkaline, lower is considered acidic. Alkaline shampoos are the most aggressive, acidic shampoos are recommended for damaged hair, as they work more delicately.

Thickeners – wax or table salt (Sodium chloride) to “thicken” the texture of the shampoo and reduce consumption. They are the reason why the product is so viscous.

Caring extracts: this may be keratin, proteins, oils, vitamins, provitamins (eg, panthenol). The more of these, the better.

Fragrance composition: either synthetic fragrances or natural ones (essential oils, plant extracts).

Silicones are additives that smooth hair and give it shine. It would seem that this is good, but no – the beautiful effect of silicones is temporary. In addition, the substances are firmly held in the hair, not washed out after the first wash (unless you use shampoo deep cleaning). As a result, instead of smooth and shiny curls we get weighted and quickly dirty.

Silicones can be identified by ingredient names ending in -ane, -one, -thiconol, -thiconol, -silane. Using shampoos with them is not taboo, but it is better to do it situationally and not more often than once a week.

What ingredients in shampoo should be avoided?

Modern shampoos can contain ingredients that we strongly advise you to avoid. Here is a list.

The following surfactants: ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) or sodium sulfate (SLS), laureth sulfate (ALES, SLES). They break down keratin and lift the scales of the hair, contributing to its rapid thinning and making it vulnerable.

Propylene glycol (E1520): Highly allergenic.

Formaldehyde: Also allergenic and may cause redness and irritation of mucous membranes and skin. Its maximum concentration in shampoo is 0.2%.

The following parabens are not so much dangerous as they are controversial: methylparaben (E218), ethylparaben (E214), propylparaben (E216) and butylparaben. They can cause irritation and dryness of the scalp in people with hypersensitivity. When used for a long time, they accumulate in the body, which, in theory, may provoke cancer.

But, we hasten to reassure, in practice this is unlikely to happen, as the concentration of such parabens in the blood should be several times higher.

Mineral oils should be treated with caution, and the owners of oily hair and scalp should beware of them. These substances form a film, causing the curls to get dirty even faster.

Which surfactants are acceptable?

There are “delicate” surfactants that are added to shampoos in minimal concentrations, such as sulfates, which do not affect the keratin barrier, as well as cocamides, thanks to which the products foam well. For example, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocamide MEA, Cocamide DEA), Magnesium Laureth Sulfate, TEA Laureth Sulfate and others.

Shampoos with such additives have a mild cleansing effect and usually cost an order of magnitude more than analogues with “dangerous” sulfates.

How do I choose shampoo based on pH?

Above we wrote that the pH of shampoo regulates such an ingredient as sodium citrate. Products have different degrees of acidity and are divided into:

  • neutral,
  • alkaline,
  • Acidic.

Neutral shampoos (pH 6-7) have practically no effect on the acid-alkaline balance of the hair. A little tiptoe: since children are only allowed to use these, you can’t go wrong by choosing a neutral shampoo to wash your hair.

Alkaline (pH 7 and above) – rather aggressive shampoos, designed for owners of oily hair and skin. Ensure that the pH does not exceed 8 – products with a pH greater than 8 can weaken the hair, cause irritation and dandruff.

Acidic (pH 4-6) is ideal for dry, brittle, split, and damaged locks, it neutralizes the alkaline residues that accumulate in the hair after an aggressive “transformation”: radical coloring or perms.

How to choose a specialized shampoo?

And now we will tell you what you need to pay attention to when choosing shampoos “special purpose”:

  • for oily,
  • split ends,
  • split, colored, and other types of hair.

How to choose a shampoo for oily hair, roots, and scalp?
Shampoos for oily hair should not contain aggressive surfactants, indicated above. These additives provoke the sebaceous glands and disrupt lipid metabolism. Also avoid silicones, which, as we remember, tend to accumulate and weigh down the strands.

It is best if the composition contains antimicrobial ingredients (zinc, birch tar); astringents – sticky substances that narrow pores; plant extracts that have a refreshing effect; essential oils (mint, cypress, lemon) that regulate the water-fat balance.

The pH index should be at least 6, an acidic product simply can not cope with the increased greasiness.

How to choose a shampoo for dry and thin hair?

If the hair is dry, brittle, thin and for a long time does not get dirty, and on the scalp is formed dandruff, then you should give preference to means that contain:

  • Keratin – it envelops each hair and promotes regeneration;
  • Proteins (eg, silk): they not only give strength and elasticity but also give curls shine;
  • Various vitamins, provitamins, and vegetable oils: nourish the hair from the inside, help to restore and thicken the structure.

How to choose a shampoo for colored hair?

Shampoo for colored hair should not contain aggressive surfactants, about which we wrote above. Such curls are too weakened and vulnerable and will poorly tolerate the destructive action of bad sulfates.

But there should be two groups of components:

caring, moisturizing hair after coloring (vitamins, provitamins, natural oils);
Those that protect the color from being washed out: UV filters and antioxidants that minimize the effect of free radicals, which also destroy the pigment. And then there are the chemical compounds designed specifically to preserve the brightness of the shade. They can be recognized by the root “benzo”: benzophenone-3, benzophenone-4, methoxydibenzoylmethane, etc. Look for them on the labels of shampoos for colored hair.

How to choose a tinted shampoo?

In continuation of the topic of coloring, tell us what substances should be included in the tinted shampoo.

First, you need to decide on the color you want to give your hair, and the task you set for yourself. For example, tinted shampoos are not suitable for covering gray hair – they simply “will not take it.

As a rule, these funds are not persistent, which is bad as well as good, because they give room for experimentation and do not affect the structure of the hair, preserving its integrity.

Second, look at the ingredients. Products can include silicones and moisturizing conditioning components, so that the coloring agents are evenly distributed on the hair. Safe surfactants that will provide gentle cleansing (after all, we are talking about a shampoo!) And do not break the lipid barrier of the hair are acceptable.

And, of course, the more useful components (vitamins, natural oils, phytoextracts, provitamins), the better.

How to choose a shampoo from dandruff?

Since dandruff is a disease, before using a specialized tool, we recommend visiting a trichologist, who will determine the cause of the problem: whether it is dry scalp, fungus, hormonal failure, etc.

Let’s talk briefly about the main types of dandruff shampoos.

A good shampoo from dandruff must be as sensitive as possible: do not contain chemical fragrances, SLS, SLES and aggressive parabens – anything that can irritate the already unhealthy scalp.

Essential oils (soothing and disinfecting: lavender, cedar, eucalyptus, grapefruit, basil, tea tree or patchouli) and plant extracts (dandelion, nettle, birch, ginseng, clover, sage, burdock, chamomile, licorice or nasturtium) are welcome among the ingredients.

It is good if the composition has active ingredients that directly fight dandruff: selenium, sulfur, tar or zinc.

Dandruff shampoos can be anti-fungal, in which case the composition can be ketoconazole, clotrimazole, octoprirox and other components that stop the proliferation of microbes that cause dandruff.

It can also be shampoo exfoliants, namely exfoliating dead cells and slowing the formation of dry flakes. Recall: Before using a shampoo for dandruff, be sure to consult a doctor and discuss with him the right type of such a product for you and the frequency of its use.

How to choose a shampoo for hair loss?

Another trichological disease is hair loss, otherwise known as alopecia. If you are faced with this disease, then again be sure to visit the doctors at the beginning of the fight against it: a therapist and a trichologist. The first one will appoint a general examination, the second – the specific tests that clarify the cause of alopecia. Based on this, you can pick up and special shampoo.
The basic composition of shampoo from alopecia must be “good” and contain many caring components (plant extracts, vitamins, essential oils, provitamins, proteins). Under no circumstances it should not include so unloved by us aggressive sulfates and parabens, capable of thinning the hair follicles.

The best shampoos for hair loss are sulfate-free, because they do not contain substances that adversely affect the locks and something irritating to the scalp.

Therapeutic shampoos are considered shampoos with aminexil – a unique substance that regenerates the structure of hair follicles and hair shaft, as well as stimulating hair growth and “awakening” idle follicles.

How to choose a shampoo after keratin hair straightening?

Continuing the theme of shampoos without sulfates and parabens. They serve as an ideal option after keratin straightening, as they do not affect the keratin layer, do not irritate the scalp and follicles. That is why it is recommended to use them to keep the result of straightening and the substance on the strands as long as possible.

Such means can be called organic, as they are almost entirely composed of natural ingredients, including detergents (soap nut, shikakai, extracts of oak bark, chamomile). They are literally “stuffed” with useful substances.

Disadvantages of sulfate-free shampoos

However, after talking about the positive qualities of shampoos without surfactants, we have no right to remain silent about their disadvantages. And they are there. For example, such compositions do not foam well and are simply not able to wash out the rest of the styling products to the end. Roughly speaking, they have a reduced detergency.

Still they have a short shelf life (there are no parabens) and high cost, due to expensive organic extracts.

The bottom line is that if you have not had a keratin straightening treatment and you do not have any particular problems with your hair, it is better to give preference to shampoos with mild surfactants. After all, if the head is not fully washed once in a while, the bulbs may eventually become clogged, and this can lead to dandruff and hair loss. Or you can alternate the use of sulfate-free shampoos with alternatives.

How to choose a shampoo for hair after perming?

The perm, as the name of the procedure makes clear, is a chemical intervention in the structure of the hair, as a result of which it starts to curl. The process is very aggressive, and after it the locks just need extra care.

In fact, shampoos after perms are restorative and moisturizing. Their pH should not exceed 7, and it is better to make them acidic. Carefully examine the composition in terms of surfactants and discard options with those that are prohibited. We look for products rich in useful components: as we know, these are essential oils, vitamins, proteins, phytoextracts, provitamins.

Shampoos with soft silicones that thicken the hair structure and make it visually healthier are allowed (about once every 7-10 days).

How to choose a shampoo for men?

First we need to deal with the question: is men’s scalp different from women’s? The answer is yes, it is. The pH index is lower and the sebaceous glands are more active. Therefore, men are better to give preference to acidic shampoos with a pH around 5-6, mild surfactants that cleanse the skin and hair well, and, of course, nutrients that are beneficial to the hair and follicles.

How to choose a dry shampoo?

Dry shampoo is an innovation of recent years, especially popular among busy people who find it difficult to find time even for a lunch break (not to mention “wash your hair”). It is a spray that is sprayed at the roots, thoroughly massaged, and then combed out. In this way the effect of clean hair is achieved.

First, about the features of dry shampoos. They really get rid of excess grease and dirt thanks to the active ingredients: rice, corn or oat flour, potato or rice starch, powdered cosmetic clay and talc. Also – attention – a tip: they give a touch of volume to just-washed curls.

Dry shampoos are mild in their action, but they do not clean as effectively as their liquid counterparts. It is recommended to use them not more than a couple of times a week, otherwise there is a risk of clogging the pores on the scalp.

Hairdressers advise to use dry shampoos for owners of oily hair, but those who have thin, damaged hair and have a tendency to dandruff, from this type of products is better to refuse – there is a risk of further drying the scalp.


We have thoroughly dissected the composition of different types of shampoos and hope that now you will start to pay attention to the label, because this is really important!

Buy shampoos should only be in trusted stores that sell certified products – so you’re sure you won’t run into fakes, which are especially dangerous in the form of shampoos, because they can cause burns and baldness, not to mention dermatitis.

Jessica Clavits

Jessica Clavits

Hi! I'm Jessica! I keep this blog about personal care.

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