Until recently, I was of the opinion that sticking to a particular shampoo would do wonders for my hair. I had every reason to believe my normally wavy and frizzy hair would always look lustrous and tamed after a wash, and I don’t recall ever having a bad hair day.. However, all that changed in the last three years. My hair started falling out in clumps, it became dry and frizzy, and my scalp had become excessively flaky that I could never really wear too much black. After some considerable research, I figured that the reason for this drastic change was my trusted shampoo. A quick switch, and my once lustrous locks had regained its lost glory.
Lesson learned. Choosing the correct shampoo for your hair type is essential if you want a strong and healthy mane. Here is how you can go about it.
Understand Your Hair And Scalp Type
Before you set your sights on buying a shampoo, the first thing to do is understand your hair and scalp type. This is something which can often be tricky, but not difficult. Let’s simplify it further.
There are four types of hair, which is determined by your hair's curl pattern. The amount of curling is based on your hair follicle's shape. They are straight, wavy, curly, and coily. These have further distinctions, too.
It is very likely that your hair can be frizzy regardless of the type. You need a shampoo that restores that bounce, minus the frizz. Look for nourishing, low-foaming, sulphate-free shampoos with added silicones and proteins to restore moisture to the strands.
Overall, there are three scalp types, namely oily, normal, and dry.
An oily scalp is characterised by its greasiness, which is a result of sebum production. When looking for shampoos, opt for those which are volumnising, strengthening, and/or balancing, as these contain non-moisturising properties, thus making them effective in removing excess oil. Make sure you take your time to work the shampoo on the scalp, and rinse well once done. If you opt for a conditioner, make sure you apply it away from the scalp, and focus on the tips or the length of the hair instead.
Furthermore, you could space out your hair washes by applying dry shampoo in between. This is a quick-fix which absorbs the excess grease, and reduces oil and dirt, which is built-up in the scalp.
A dry scalp is characterised by itchiness and flakiness. In such cases, one must stay away from shampoos that work to volumise, strengthen, and fortify the hair as they can strip the scalp of moisture. Instead, opt for products with ingredients such as menthol and tea tree extracts. These moisturise the scalp and provides relief.
For scalps that are only slightly dry with little to no itching or flaking, look for labels that promote moisture, hydration, or smoothing. These products promote moisture retention and can be beneficial to your dry scalp.
A normal scalp is neither too oily nor too dry. It is perfectly balanced, and is quite uncommon given the lifestyles most people lead. However, one must still take proper care of their scalp by choosing sulphate-free shampoos, as these are free of chemicals and parabens that could potentially harm your hair. Moreover, they work to smoothen, shine, and detangle your hair without stripping away its natural moisture.
Texture It Out
Moving on, each hair has its own texture. On the whole, they are divided into the following:
Fine And Limp
Fine hair is characterised by thin, straight strands. While that may sound like a great look for your mane, the excess oil production due to the extra oil glands present in the scalp can make your tresses greasy and give it a limp look.
The ideal shampoo for such textures is one that volumnises to give a fuller appearance. Usually, these products contain proteins, which strengthens the strands and provides thickness.
Thick And Coarse
Coarse hair is identified by a thick hair shaft. Due to its wide and large circumference, compared to other hair textures, it contains all the three layers of the hair shaft – cortex, cuticle, and medulla. The best way to determine if your mane is thick and coarse is to compare its width with a thread. If it’s thicker, it’s coarse.
Big And Curly
The characteristic ranges from loose curls to tightly coiled springs. This texture is particularly complex because each individual fibre has its own curl pattern. Curly hair can be fine, medium-textured, or thick and coarse.
In both cases, it is recommended to use hydrating, creamy shampoos infused with coconut oil, olive oil, or Shea Butter; add extra moisturising conditioners to your hair wash routine. These will coat hair cuticles to trap moisture for extra softness, and even reduce frizz.
Treat It Well
For those who have different kinds of treated hair, here’s your guide to choosing the right shampoo for your concerns.
Chemically Treated Hair
Whether you’ve coloured your hair, chemically, straightened it, tried a keratin, cysteine treatment, or decided to do something crazy and get a perm, your mane needs extra loving.
For coloured hair, opt for a shampoo that preserves the glow and products used to treat your strands, prevents the colour/treatment from fading, and protects from the harsh rays of the sun. The formulas in these products use special conditioning agents that form a layer around the tresses and lock in the dye molecules so the colour does not easily fade away. Look for ingredients such as natural oils – coconut oil, moringa oil, or jojoba oil, which will give that added shine while nourishing your hair. For those with bleached hair (think blonde), you could also add a purple shampoo to your routine. The purple shampoo contains crushed violet pigments, which helps neutralise the yellow tones.
For treated hair, ideally, it is advised by beauty experts to use a sulphate and sodium-free product, and to also keep an eye out for shampoos that have Argan oil and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) to give your hair that much needed boost minus the chemicals, while also trapping moisture.
Anti-dandruff shampoos are used to treat medical conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis. The ingredients one should be vigilant about in anti-dandruff shampoos are zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, selenium sulphide, and tea tree oil.
Experts also recommend switching up your shampoo every three months, as your hair can get used to the one you’re using currently, and this in turn may lead to a build-up.