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Picture yourself in front of the shampoo aisle at your favorite store. Feeling anxious? Overwhelmed? Confused? We don’t blame you when it comes to hair care options. It seems finding the right choice for your scalp is an impossible mission.
For better or worse, most shampoos are formulated to treat specific hair types. Hydrating, smoothing, strengthening, color-safe, moisturizing, non-moisturizing, thickening – how do you match the lingo on the shampoo bottle with your hair type?
While not choosing the right shampoo for your hair type won’t necessarily damage it, your mane will not have the opportunity to shine and thrive as it would with the right formula. Let’s all commit to learning a bit more about our locks so we can finally pick the perfect shampoo. Shall we?
Step 1: Get to Know Your Scalp
Most people think a shampoo is strictly a hair-cleansing agent. It does more than that. The shampoo is a caring agent for your scalp and roots, too. When choosing a shampoo, you should be choosing one for your scalp first.
For those with an oily scalp, you’ve probably tried all types of shampoos and cleansing solutions in that hair care aisle. Most likely, you wash your hair every, sometimes twice a day – gasp!
- Scan the aisle for this lingo: volumizing, strengthening, and balancing.
- Do your best to stay away from moisturizing and hydrating shampoos.
- Find non-moisturizing formulas that can be more effective at getting rid of excess oil or sebum.
- Consider double-cleansing. Start with a formula to treat your oily scalp, follow up with another formula to wash your strands.
- Avoid using conditioner on your scalp, keep your focus on the mid-shaft and ends.
Choosing the right shampoo is your first and most critical line of defense for fighting that uncomfortable, irritating, and itchy feeling that’s so common among those who have dry scalps.
- Choose shampoos that promote moisture, smoothing, and hydration.
- Avoid all those volumizing, fortifying, and strengthening formulas.
- Shampoos with tea tree oil and menthol can also help retain moisture.
- Consider a Nioxin shampoo if your dry-scalp issues are severe.
- Stay away from formulas with sulfates. They are very drying to the scalp.
Step 2: Get to Know Your Hair Type
Now that you’ve become friends with your scalp, it’s time to get to know your hair better. While you probably have an idea of what your hair type is just by looking at it, some important details can help choose the right shampoo for you.
Just think about how much hair you have on your scalp. This is different from diameter – we have more on that later. To find out your hair’s density, grab a section of strands and pull it aside. The extent to which you can see your scalp determines your hair density.
Thin Density: you can easily see your scalp.
Medium Density: you can see your scalp partially underneath your hair.
Thick Density: you can hardly see your scalp.
It’s time to look at your hair under a microscope. Your hair’s diameter refers to the actual width of every strand. Don’t worry. You don’t need a lens for this one. Just hold a single strand of your hair between your index and middle finger.
Thin Hair: you can barely feel the presence of a strand between your fingers.
Medium Hair: you can slightly feel the strand.
Thick Hair: you can distinctly feel the strand.
Finding this out is the key to choosing the right shampoo formula. Porosity is all about your hair’s ability to retain moisture. This is also important to know your hair’s ability to absorb products. To find your hair’s porosity levels, submerge a strand in a cup of water.
High Porosity: the hair sinks to the bottom completely.
Normal Porosity: the hair floats in the middle of the cup of water.
Low Porosity: the hair floats on the surface.
Hair elasticity is a strong indicator of the health of your hair. Healthy hair often has a good amount of shine and has a natural bounce to it. To find your hair elasticity, pluck a wet hair strand and stretch it out as much as you can.
High Elasticity: your hair stretches a long way without breaking immediately. This means your hair is strong.
Medium Elasticity: your hair stretches to some extent and then breaks. Most women fall under this category.
Low Elasticity: your hair snaps almost immediately. This means your hair is brittle and needs attention.
In the end, it all plays a significant role when it comes to choosing the right shampoo. Your hair’s density, diameter, porosity, elasticity, and even the different hairstyles you use, are huge factors that define your hair type:
Type 1: Straight – Hair tends to be soft, thin, sometimes oily. It can also be characterized by volume and body if you have straight medium hair, or be more coarse and difficult to curl, even when the overall appearance remains straight.
Type 2: Wavy – It’s defined by having a noticeable “S” pattern and being easily curled or straightened. It can tend to be fizzy, and when you have coarse hair it becomes more frizzy with thicker waves.
Type 3: Curly – A definite “S” pattern that tends to be thick, voluminous, and frizzy. Most women have curls ranging from spirals to spiral-shaped corkscrew.
Type 4: Kinky – Very fragile and wiry, kinky hair is often tightly coiled, sometimes referred to as “damaged hair” due to its fragility. Some women have more of a “Z” pattern with sharp angles instead of curls.
Step 3: Take the Quiz and Pick the Right Shampoo
With some new, much-needed knowledge about your hair and scalp, you can now take the quiz to find the right shampoo for you.
Other Tips to Keep In Mind
Celebrity hairstylists shared some tips on how to choose the right shampoo with Good Morning America. Besides the tips mentioned earlier, keep in mind:
- If spending extra time massaging your scalp is not your thing, keep using formulas with sulfates. The sulfates will help break all the oil and dirt away without the extra massage.
- A shampoo with minimal ingredients is ideal. Invest in a pricey shampoo formula that you use every other day.
- Don’t turn your eyes away from drugstore products. Many drugstore shampoos have affordable professional lines available that can do the trick.
- Keep dry shampoo at hand for creating texture and different hairstyles when you don’t have time to wash your hair.
- Keep switching up your formulas. Use a clarifying shampoo every once in a while to change up your routine a get a deep cleanse.