Wellness & Education

Choosing a Shampoo and Conditioner 

The huge choice of shampoos and conditioners on the market can seem like too much of a good thing. There are so many that it’s hard to know where to start. Buying shampoo and conditioner isn’t that difficult if you’re simply maintaining thick, healthy, hair. If you have problem hair, however, finding the right shampoo and conditioner can be very hit or miss. Before figuring out which hair products to use, it helps to understand a little bit about the nature of hair.  

The Nature of Hair 

Hair has two basic parts: the living part, or follicle, that is below the surface of your scalp and the dead part, or hair strand, which is what you see.  

All of your hair follicles were present when you were born. The average person has about 100,000. If your hair is thin, no hair product is going to increase how many hair follicles you have.  

Hair follicles have three growth phases, and at the end of the last growth phase the hair strand falls out. Most people lose about 100 strands of hair a day. If you have a scalp condition that is causing hair loss, the right hair product may be able to help, but natural hair loss is not going to stop because of a hair product.   

All good hair products should be able to:  

  1. Keep your scalp and the living part of your hair healthy 
  2. Help protect the dead part of your hair from damage.  

This seems pretty straightforward until you consider how many products there are to choose from and how many ingredients are in each product (there can be up to 50 in one product).  

Six Tips for Choosing the Right Shampoo and Conditioner 

Here are six tips for choosing the right shampoo and conditioner for you.  

  1. Pick a product that is made for your hair type. Is your hair thick and curly? Fine and wispy? Bleached or colored? Whatever type of hair you have, look for a product that is made to match.  
  2. Find a product that fits your budget. Some luxury shampoos cost up to $60 a bottle or more. If you have a serious hair problem that you’re desperate to fix, you might consider it. Otherwise, look for a middle ground when it comes to cost. Unless you can get a sample to try first, you don’t know what will and won’t work. You could try four to six more moderately priced shampoos for the price of one bottle of extravagantly marketed product.  
  3. Decide how important natural ingredients are to you. If the list of ingredients sounds like a list of high school chemistry supplies, you may want to double-check the list. Natural isn’t always better, but you may be more comfortable with ingredients you can recognize. Be careful if your hair is colored, however. Natural ingredients can affect artificial coloring as much as most chemical ingredients. For information on beneficial natural ingredients, read Picking the Best Products for Your Hair Texture (webmd.com) 
  4. Avoid potentially harmful ingredients. There is a lot of controversy about which ingredients are harmful, so you need to decide for yourself if you want to avoid any ingredients for this reason. As with food ingredients, some hair product ingredients are more controversial than others. Some of the more common questionable ingredients include sulfates, formaldehyde, some nitrogen compounds and endocrine disruptors such as BPA, DEHP, Phytoestrogens, etc.) To identify individual ingredients, check out the dictionary of hair product ingredients at TightlyCurly.com 
  5. Avoid any ingredients that are incompatible with the type of hair you have. If you have hair that is already thin and dry, you might want to avoid sulfates. If your hair is thick and curly, avoid heavy products that weigh down your hair. If you color your hair, avoid persulfates, hydrogen peroxide and citrus oils. For more information, check out Ingredients to Avoid, Based on Your Hair Type | Mane Addicts  
  6. If you’re not happy with your product and your hairdresser’s ideas don’t work for you, try talking to other people who have a similar type of hair or similar hair issues. What works for them may not work for you, but then it again, it might. If nothing else, you’ll learn that you are definitely not the only person with your hair problem.  
  7. If you have any serious hair challenges, see a dermatologist sooner rather than later. This is especially important when dealing with unusual hair loss. The sooner treatments begin, the more successful they will be. Other signs you may need medical care include:  
    • Redness
    • Itching 
    • A rash 
    • Hives