Have you ever felt you’re capable of the impossible, you’re young and beautiful, and confident and… Right before you look into the mirror and see your dull hair. The picture makes you depressed all of a sudden, and all your insecurities start eating you from the inside. Psychologists agree that the way we look really affects the way we feel about ourselves, therefore having well-groomed hair is not just a whim – it’s a necessity for your mental health. Introducing a hair care routine can help you achieve that, and a proper shampoo is an extremely important part of such a routine.
If you have no hair complaints, choose a shampoo that is intended for your hair type (oily, dry, normal). Prefer a product without SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) to avoid undesired scalp irritation. Pick an afterwash product to make your hair look healthier – a hair conditioner, for example. If you want to learn more about every step – continue reading.
If your hair is normal
Lucky you, pick a product with a nice smell and don’t brag about it too much. And maybe just check our list of the controversial ingredients that could be used in a shampoo – they might be harmful to you too.
If your hair is dull or fine
Choose a shampoo that has proteins in it. When your hair is wet, it gets 10-20% more in volume. Keratin, collagen, elastin – all of these can sneak into little keratin gaps in your hair and repair it. Unfortunately, this patch isn’t very stable, therefore you need to pay attention to your diet so that these gaps won’t be an issue in a few months.
In addition to that, if your hair is fine, chances are high it also gets static electricity every now and then. This could be settled by many methods (use an air humidifier and try keeping air humidity between 40 and 60%, for example, especially when heating or air conditioning is on), but it can also be solved by a suitable shampoo. Aim for a product that uses benzalkonium chloride as one of the surfactants – this substance will prevent your hair from electrifying. Another tip is to look for the acids among the ingredients – citric acid, for example. They make the pH of the shampoo closer to your skin’s pH (which is 5.5) and it also decreases the negative charge on your hair fibre surface.
If your hair is dyed
Even if you simply rinse your hair with water it’ll remove some colorant from the hair, so each and every shampoo will gradually ruin your colour. There are certain products that have pigments in them. They can lightly replenish your colour, however, you need to choose the tint carefully so that it would fit your hair colour.
Your shampoo should have proteins listed on the label. They repair the hair structure providing tiny “patches” for the spots where the hair keratin has gaps.
If your hair is oily
Oily hair gets greasy very fast. You would think that getting an aggressive SLS shampoo is an option to remove all that greasy build-up, but that’s not the case. If a shampoo removes too much oil, the organism will try to compensate this misfortune by releasing even more oils. So, such a shampoo with sulfates will only make your scalp protect itself and release even more sebum as a result. Choose a shampoo that lists mild surfactants like alkyl polyglycosides or phospholipids. If your shampoo is too mild, however, it will not be able to remove all the dust and oil from your hair, therefore it’ll look like you haven’t washed it at all, and you definitely don‘t want that. Every scalp is unique in its own way, so only by trial and error will you find a perfect shampoo for oily hair.
If you have dandruff
Dandruff is a skin condition caused by a fungi pathogen, and it should be treated accordingly. Contact a dermatologist to get a shampoo prescription which has active ingredients like selenium and mild fungicides. Most of the products within the cosmetic series will only waste your precious time.
Sulfates/sulfonates. Yes, you’ve seen those products that proudly state there’s no SLS inside – Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and other sulfates are irritating substances. Not that it could kill you, but if you have sensitive skin, it’ll feel itchy.
Parabens. They are sometimes used as preservatives. There are concerns that they can be carcinogenic, and even though this statement has been neither disproved nor confirmed, you should still watch out for them just to be on the safe side.
Usually, the products that are sold in pharmacies pass more thorough dermatologic tests. It is a safe choice for people with a sensitive scalp. This doesn’t mean, however, that they will cope with the task you put in front of them – they could have poor washing properties.
If your main purpose is to keep your hair looking fabulous then it’s better to pay attention to the salon care products. These are more focused on repairing the dead matter of the hair fibre.
The products sold in regular shops can be alright if your scalp is healthy and you don’t look for any special treatment. Just read the ingredient list carefully to avoid possibly irritating substances like the aforementioned SLS.
Like Phoebe Buffay sang, “lather, rinse, repeat if needed”. Make sure your hair has soaked up a sufficient amount of warm water. The quantity of the shampoo that you should use depends on how long your hair is and how hard your water is. Lather the shampoo – the foam incorporates the dust particles and the tiny oil drops from your hair. Rinse the hair thoroughly. After you are sure all the shampoo is removed from your hair, rinse it with some cold water. This step will not only wake you up completely but will also shut the cuticles in your hair, so that it will look glossier and healthier even without any conditioner.
All the dry shampoos have the same principle. The powder that is usually made of starch (corn or rice) is sprayed on the hair. It absorbs the excess oils and dust and lets your hair look clean when you can’t take a shower. The dry shampoos come in aerosols and also in powders. Usually, it’s a matter of convenience, but it is believed that if your hair is fine then the powder shampoo will work better for you. Some dry shampoos also have a pigment in them which could be helpful for those who have dyed hair. In that case, you should pick a shampoo with a tint similar to your hair color.
To refresh your hair promptly simply spray the dry shampoo from about 30 cm distance and let it stay for 2-3 minutes (usually the product label provides a more thorough instruction). Comb your hair as usual and enjoy the result, sometimes using a hair-dryer is advised to distribute the dry shampoo equally.
Let’s be honest: “less frequent” means that you don’t have greasy hair every evening. Even if your hair isn’t covered with natural wax, it is still dirty with dust. Don’t use any shampoo that has sulfates in it – they will make your scalp try to compensate because of the aggressive chemicals. Try to alternate washing hair and using dry shampoo, and in a few weeks you’ll notice that your hair stays clean and groomed for longer periods of time.
To add volume to your hair the shampoo dries the scalp in order to make it more strained and to lift individual hairs. If your scalp is prone to dandruff or itching, you don’t want any such treatment.
Usually, it’s just adding oils to the product composition. If your hair gets greasy fast, this shampoo will make it get greasy even faster.
The shampoo that has a UV-protection claim actually contains ingredients that can protect your hair from UV-radiation. The problem is that this ingredient is usually not enough to protect it, and spreading it equally all over your hair surface is also a problem.
What exact toxins do you plan to remove from your hair? Even if you’ve survived a nuclear attack, any surfactant (even the mediocre soap) could remove the dangerous dust from your hair. If you believe the so-called toxins are inside your hair fibres, only a pair of scissors can help.
If you want to go all-natural (free-range, GMO and gluten-free etc), you can make your own shampoo substitutes that will help you keep your hair clean and well-groomed.
A compound called lecithin that is among the natural egg yolk ingredients is an emulsifier and thus it can be used as a mild surfactant. It is sometimes even used in industrially made organic products, so it’s a safe and effective choice.
This is something that our ancestors used to do centuries before. Different plants not only add to the smell of the infusion but also are believed to help calm the scalp. Such plants as soapwort, ivy, agave etc. really can add lathering properties to the infusion.
There are plenty of products out there promising you to make your hair look marvellous. They keep saying they nourish your hair “from the inside”. The truth is these products really can help your hair look gorgeous, but only as long as you keep using them. Your hair is a dead substance, and all the hair balms and masks simply make patches that are removed as soon as you wash your hair the following time.
Remember, that you don’t need to use all of the possible products for an after wash care at once, as they all mostly do the same job. Choose the one type you’re comfortable with or alternate a few different products. Overdoing it with care products could make your hair heavier, it could even make clean hair look oily due to the product build up.
The difference between the balms and the conditioners is that the balms should get deeper into the hair fibre, thus repairing it more profoundly. Usually, both products are made of cationic surfactants that help your hair fibres get less static electricity.
If the hair conditioner you’re buying has a pearly color, this means it has complex organic compounds with ammonia and chlorine in them. This is a good sign that the conditioner is a mild product and it won’t irritate your scalp. The hair conditioner should also have silicones in it (they will be listed as substances with the names ending with “-methicone“, or something similar). The silicones protect the hair fibre from heat – this is important if you use a hair blower or a hair curler/straightener.
For the best results apply the product to your hair, paying the most attention to the hair tips and avoiding the scalp area.
There are different kinds of sprays, including the ones that add some tint to your hair, the ones that affect the hair structure and straighten out the curls, and many other types. We are talking about hair care sprays that repair the hair fibres and protect your hair from heat. Some of the sprays combine the thermal protection with light styling properties, but don’t expect any strong fixation from them. Hairsprays can save you a few minutes of time as they don’t require rinsing your hair.
Hair oils – for people with damaged hair and for braid lovers
Usually, hair oils contain processed oils – linen oil, olive or grapeseed oil and so on. Cheaper products are made mostly of mineral oil. The additional ingredients are there to preserve the active substance and to make it dispersible. Hair oils make hair fibres softer and provide additional gloss. If you have and oily scalp – use them only for your hair tips. The main tip for choosing this product is an applicator – it should be easy to dispense tiny quantities of the product (otherwise you could just as well use the plain olive oil from your kitchen counter).
Hair oils can also help if you want to braid your hair but the strands don’t hold together well – just sprinkle a little over the naughty fibres and proceed with the braiding.
The longer you keep the product on your hair the deeper the product ingredients can get into the hair fibre. So basically the hair mask is a thick hair balm that is supposed to sit on your hair for a longer time – up to 20 minutes and more. Usually, the manufacturer indicates the frequency of use, as the effect of the hair mask is usually more lasting than the effect of the conditioner or a balm. You can also make nourishing hair masks at home using everyday ingredients like oils, dairy, eggs, and fruit.
There is this popular fad on Instagram that you can simply take some colorful pills to make your hair, skin, and nails look fantastic. The problem is not only that they simply don’t work, but they can actually cause harm. Stick to a healthy diet, prefer whole foods over junk foods and you’ll get the necessary all-natural vitamins for your hair without any unregulated supplements. Anyway, if you believe the problem with your hair is beyond cosmetic you should see a trichologist and follow the recommendations given to you.
Beauty standards change over time, but being healthy is always the most beautiful. Having well-groomed healthy hair that glows and reflects every beam of sunlight can be the centerpiece of your personal style, making you look attractive and be perceived as a successful person by others. An appropriate hair care routine can help you reach that.