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Shampoo 101


Shampoo

Which Shampoo for Your Hair Type?

No matter the type of hair you have, be it straight, curly, long, short, oily, dry, thin or thick. Women want answers when it comes to shampooing. They want to know which shampoo is the best for their hair type and second, they want good results; not only do shampoos need to clean their tresses, but perform multiple tasks, like moisturizing or adding volume.

Over 70 years ago, John Breck, some of you may remember the "Breck Girl", came up with the first successful launch of a retail shampoo line. He manufactured shampoo for both oily and dry hair types, and that was it.

As the years past and cosmetic companies saw the potential for revenue in the market, researchers came up with better shampoos. Like in the 70's, the gentler pH balanced shampoos hit the market, then came the volumizing shampoos, and so on and so on.

Today the shampoo business is a $988 million dollar a year industry. And that's just the "regular" line, not including the multiple retailers that specialize in organic shampoos, chemical-free shampoos, and medicated shampoos.

The primary function of shampoo, of course, is to clean. But if that's all shampoo did, well we could use any old detergent or even dish liquid. But thankfully, the ingredients in shampoo allow for multi-tasking. Although, the main ingredient in shampoo is the detergent, either from an organic soap or a synthetic soap, shampoos usually include modifying agents such as clarifying agents, conditioning and finishing agents, thickening agents, proteins, and foam builders. The cleaning agents in shampoo are called surfactants, they are responsible for cleaning and lathering the hair.

Modifying agents like those mentioned above, like panthenol, an additive used to diffuse into the hair shaft and bind to proteins, which then strengthens the hair's structure; or Humectants, which helps to retain moisture in the hair. The pH adjusters are used to help smooth the hair and keep it healthy. And more often than not, fragrance is added so the hair smells fresh.

Maybe you're one of those women, who buy the shampoo for the way it smells, or maybe you're a woman that is just overwhelmed by the varieties on the market and need some help choosing the right one.

Here's a quick guide for common hair types and problems:
  • Dry, damaged, and often curly hair, which is usually dry in nature because the hair shaft is curved; making it hard for the body's natural oils called sebum, to maneuver down the hair shaft; all need moisturizers. Therefore, in order to add moisture to help those frizzy locks, dry or damaged locks use a shampoo that is creamy and moisturizes.

    Look for shampoos that contain oils like shea butter, coconut or macadamia nut oils. Moisturizing shampoos tend to coat the hair and trap the moisture inside the hair shaft.


  • Fine, oily to normal, and limp hair often looks dirty because of the oils on the hair, because there's not as much hair there, the oils weigh the hair down and cause it to look limp. The best shampoo's to use for this type of hair is clarifying shampoos, usually manufactured as clear and transparent formulas.

    You want a gentle shampoo for frequent washing. Frequent because oily haired women need to wash their hair daily in order to remove the oil build-up. Look for shampoos that contain panthenol, as mentioned before, this is a bodybuilding ingredient and can make each strand of hair look thicker. Volumizing shampoos are mild in nature because they are formulated for everyday use, but contain additives for bounce and body.


  • Processed or Chemically treated hair needs special attention because chemicals from permanents or coloring leaves the hair often dry at the ends and on the shaft, but still oily at the roots. You need to cleanse the roots but add moisture to the shaft and ends. Because this is a tricky process here's some advice. If your hair has been colored, use a color-protection shampoo; although more expensive, it gently cleans, moisturizes and helps in maintaining the color. If your hair is permed, you need to use a moisturizing shampoo only on the roots, rub it well, then apply water immediately; while the water is running down the hair shaft; massage the ends and shaft to remove dirt. And then use a conditioner on the shaft and ends, but avoid putting conditioner on the roots. This allows for cleaning of the scalp and moisturizing of the shaft and ends.


In recent years, the shampoo market has introduced a line of combination shampoos and conditioners. Most experts say that two-in-one duos only work for certain hair types. They usually work best on normal to dry hair.

Conditioners are made to be applied to the hair shaft and ends and not the scalp, because the duo combines cleaning with conditioning; the conditioner is applied to the scalp; which can cause build-up and weigh down the hair. Even with normal and dry hair, it is recommended that you alternate between using duos and using a clarifying shampoo, which will remove the build-up. And never use duos on oily hair.

If you're still confused about the type of shampoo that you need, you can always ask your hairdresser. Most of the salons recommend professional shampoo's, that may or may not be better than retail shampoo's. Long ago the professional shampoo's were made with better ingredients and formulated for healthier hair results. But with recent market trends, retail shampoos are often made with the same ingredients as professional brands and vice versa. Why? You may ask, because more retail and over-the-counter shampoo companies are buying out the salon professional lines.