When shopping for a shampoo, you’ve probably found dozens of shampoos for every type of hair. "There really is a big difference between shampoos designed for different hair types, or to achieve different looks," says leading hair care research scientist Steve Shiel, who holds a PhD in organometallic chemistry. "Shampoos contain different active ingredients, designed to provide conditioning, detangling, volume and many other benefits.”
Think about both what type of hair you have and what you are trying to achieve with your overall style.
Thin, fine hair
Styling product residue, dirt from the environment and excess hair oils can easily weigh down thin, fine hair, causing your locks to appear limp and lifeless. A daily volumising shampoo can do wonders, leaving hair clean and lightweight while providing a thicker, fuller appearance. The weekly use of a clarifying shampoo will help you avoid excessive product build-up. If your hair is thin, opt for a shorter, layered look to also create the illusion of thickness and body.
Thick hair can easily become dry and dull, so a moisturising shampoo is essential for maintaining beautiful tresses. Go easy on the amount of shampoo you use; thick hair is very porous and easily absorbs products. Use a clarifying shampoo once a week that is designed to remove residue. If your hair is thick, try adding a fringe or create gentle waves to loosen up hair and add movement.
The first step to taming your curls is a gentle hydrating shampoo specially formulated for curly hair. When shampooing, squeeze a small dollop of shampoo into your palms, and gently massage your scalp, never using your fingernails. Work the shampoo to the ends and rinse with cold water. If your hair is curly, ask your stylist for long layers that will make curls looser and freer.
Coloured or highlighted hair
Shampoos specifically designed for colour-treated hair work to replenish the protective lipid layer on the hair shaft that is weakened by hair dye. Opt for a colour-enhancing shampoo, which can impart a little colour between treatments. Be cautious when selecting the shade of your colour shampoo. A red stain on blond hair can turn your hair pink, and blond pigments on brown locks may yield lack-lustre results.
Now that you know how to pick the shampoo that’s right for you, here’s advice on how to use it.
If you start your day with a gruelling workout, you may want to shampoo daily. If you want to extend the life of your blowout, opt for a less-frequent shampoo schedule. Just make sure that you wash your hair before it gets too dirty, as particles of grime can damage your hair during combing.
"Shampooing will not in itself damage the hair, since modern shampoos do not lift the cuticle," explains John Gray, author of The World of Hair Colour. "Harsh shampoos were used in the past, and acute and irreversible tangling or matting sometimes followed shampooing. Most modern shampoos, however, contain conditioning agents that protect hair."
When you are ready to lather up, focus first on the scalp, hairline, behind the ears and around the temple, because that's where the concentration of your hair's sebum—or oils—can be found. Then continue shampooing downwards to prevent the hair cuticles from opening, which can cause split ends. Shampoo with warm water, as hot water can be drying. And never pull, tug or scrub wet hair. Instead, use your fingertips to distribute the shampoo.One application of shampoo is generally enough to remove oil, dirt and residue from the hair fibre. Shiel suggests that those who use a lot of styling products—particularly waxes and pomades—may want to rinse and repeat to reduce build-up.
Bonnie Steele is a freelance writer and the author of a romantic guidebook.