Young woman with brown hair finding best shampoo for hair type in drugstore

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How To Find The Best Shampoo For Your Hair Type

Table of Contents

One of the secrets to great-looking hair is using the right kind of shampoo. It’s not just about grabbing the fanciest bottle off the shelf; it’s about finding what really works for your hair. But everyone’s hair type is different. So, how do you find the best shampoo for your unique hair type? 

Well, that is exactly what we are going to learn today! I’m here to walk you through the process of identifying your specific hair type, hair porosity and scalp condition, so that you can understand what key ingredients to look for in a shampoo and which harmful chemicals to avoid. 

Whether you’re dealing with straight strands craving that extra volume or bouncy curls thirsting for much-needed hydration, you are going to want to bookmark this post for future reference! So, let’s get started! 

Understanding Your Hair Type

Your hair is your personal signature; It’s one of the first things people notice about you, so it definitely pays to give it the care it deserves! But knowing the care your hair needs depends directly on understanding what your hair type is. 

Everyone’s hair is unique, varying from straight to wavy to curly, fine to thick, and oily to dry. Your hair type determines how it interacts with various products and ingredients. This is important because the haircare products right for your specific hair type can elevate your hair game, whereas the ones not suited to your hair type can wreak havoc. 

So, choosing the right shampoo is as unique as you are.

Here’s a quick breakdown of varying hair types and the best-suited shampoos for each.

Straight Hair

Straight hair is characterized by its smooth texture and lack of curls or waves. It tends to be oily at the roots and may appear flat if not properly cared for. When selecting a shampoo for straight hair, look for lightweight formulas that provide gentle cleansing without weighing down your strands.

Curly Hair

Curly hair is known for its natural texture and defined curls or waves. It tends to be drier than straight hair due to its spiral shape, which makes it more prone to frizz and breakage. To keep your curls looking their best, opt for moisturizing shampoos that hydrate and define your curls without stripping away natural oils.

Wavy Hair

Wavy hair falls somewhere between straight and curly, with a texture that is neither completely smooth nor tightly coiled. It often has a natural wave pattern that can range from subtle to pronounced. To enhance your waves and add definition, choose shampoos that provide lightweight hydration and encourage natural movement.

Coily Hair

Coily hair, also known as kinky or tightly coiled hair, has a spiral or zig-zag pattern that is tightly packed together. It tends to be the driest hair type and requires extra moisture to prevent breakage and maintain elasticity. Look for shampoos specifically formulated for coily hair that contain rich moisturizing ingredients like shea butter or coconut oil.

Identifying Your Scalp Type

Woman with brown hair touching her hair
Photo by Rattankun Thongbun from Getty Images

Finding the best shampoo isn’t just about your hair though– your scalp health is a vital piece of this puzzle. Your scalp plays a significant role in the overall health and appearance of your hair, so it’s crucial to select haircare products that address its specific needs. By understanding your scalp’s specific needs, you can choose products that promote optimal scalp health and support overall hair growth and vitality.

This is why it is essential to choose a shampoo that nourishes both your hair and scalp the right way. After all, it is widely understood that a shampoo is actually for the scalp and a conditioner is for the hair. 

Related Read: How To Choose The Right Conditioner For Your Hair Type

Oily Scalp

An oily scalp is characterized by an excess production of sebum, which can leave the hair looking greasy and weighed down. If you have an oily scalp, look for clarifying shampoos that effectively remove excess oil and buildup without stripping the scalp of its natural oils. Ingredients like tea tree oil and salicylic acid can help regulate oil production and keep your scalp feeling fresh and clean.

Related Read: Why Is My Hair Greasy After One Day Of Washing

How To Treat Greasy Hair Without Using A Dry Shampoo

Dry Scalp

On the other hand, a dry scalp lacks sufficient moisture and may feel tight or itchy. Dry scalp can lead to flakiness and discomfort, especially during colder months or in dry climates. To combat dryness, opt for moisturizing shampoos that hydrate the scalp and replenish moisture levels. Look for ingredients like glycerin, coconut oil, or aloe vera, which can help soothe and nourish the scalp, leaving your hair feeling soft and hydrated.

Normal Scalp

If you’re lucky enough to have a normal scalp, you have a balanced level of oil production, neither too oily nor too dry. Normal scalps require gentle cleansing to maintain their natural balance without causing irritation or dryness. Choose mild, pH-balanced shampoos that cleanse the scalp effectively without stripping away natural oils. Look for gentle surfactants and believe it or not, surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) can actually provide a thorough cleanse without harshness for normal hair types.

Determining Your Hair Porosity

In addition to considering your hair type and scalp condition, understanding your hair’s porosity can also play a crucial role in choosing the best shampoo for your needs. Hair porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture, and it can impact how effectively your hair responds to different shampoos and hair care products.

Once you have understood your hair’s porosity level, you can better tailor your shampoo selection to meet your hair’s specific needs. Whether you have low, medium, or high porosity hair, there are shampoos available that can help improve the overall health of your hair, leaving it looking and feeling its best.

Hair Porosity Description Recommended Shampoo
Low Porosity Hair has tightly packed cuticle layer, repels moisture, and easily weighed down by heavy products. Look for lightweight, clarifying formulas with ingredients like apple cider vinegar or citrus extracts.
Medium Porosity Hair has a balanced cuticle layer that allows moisture to enter and exit evenly. Choose a shampoo that addresses specific concerns, such as moisturizing, volumizing, or color-safe.
High Porosity Hair has a raised cuticle layer that allows moisture to enter easily but struggles to retain moisture. Opt for moisturizing formulas with ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and argan oil.

Low Porosity Hair

If you have low porosity hair, it means that your hair has a tightly packed cuticle layer that makes it difficult for moisture to penetrate. As a result, low porosity hair tends to repel water and can become easily weighed down by heavy products. When choosing a shampoo for low porosity hair, look for lightweight, clarifying formulas that effectively cleanse the hair without leaving behind residue. Ingredients like apple cider vinegar or citrus extracts can help gently remove buildup and improve the hair’s ability to absorb moisture.

Medium Porosity Hair

Medium porosity hair has a balanced cuticle layer that allows moisture to enter and exit the hair shaft evenly. This type of hair is generally considered the most versatile and can tolerate a wide range of shampoos and hair care products. When selecting a shampoo for medium porosity hair, focus on choosing a formula that addresses your specific hair concerns, whether it’s moisturizing, volumizing, or color-safe.

High Porosity Hair

High porosity hair has a raised cuticle layer that allows moisture to enter the hair shaft easily but makes it difficult to retain moisture. This type of hair is often prone to dryness, frizz, and breakage. When choosing a shampoo for high porosity hair, opt for moisturizing formulas that help hydrate and nourish the hair, sealing the cuticle to prevent moisture loss. Look for ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and argan oil, which can help improve the hair’s elasticity and reduce frizz.

Take the time to assess your hair’s porosity and select shampoos that are specifically formulated to optimize moisture balance and enhance the health and beauty of your hair.

Key Ingredients To Look For In Your Shampoo

Now that you are getting a clearer picture of what makes your hair unique, it’s time to move along to the next critical step: the ingredient list. Key ingredients can make a significant difference in the effectiveness of a shampoo and its ability to address your specific hair and scalp concerns. In other words, the ingredients in shampoos could either be your hair’s best friends or worst enemies!

I have a detailed post on shampoos and hair loss that goes into detail about the toxic ingredients in commercial shampoos and their impact on hair health. But before we get to the “bad ingredients”, let’s first look at the “good” guys. 

Moisturizing Ingredients

For dry or damaged hair, moisturizing ingredients are essential for restoring hydration and improving overall hair health. Look for ingredients like:

Argan Oil: Rich in antioxidants and fatty acids, argan oil helps nourish and hydrate the hair, leaving it soft and manageable.

Shea Butter: Known for its moisturizing properties, shea butter helps repair and protect dry, damaged hair, leaving it smooth and shiny.

Hyaluronic Acid: This humectant attracts and retains moisture in the hair, helping to improve hydration and elasticity.

Coconut Oil: A natural emollient, coconut oil helps moisturize and condition the hair, reducing frizz and enhancing shine.

Choosing a shampoo with moisturizing ingredients can help restore hydration to dry or damaged hair, leaving it soft, smooth, and manageable.

Clarifying Ingredients

For oily or congested scalps, clarifying ingredients are crucial for removing excess oil and buildup, leaving the scalp feeling clean and refreshed. Look for ingredients like:

Female customer reading shampoo ingredients in drugstore
Photo by AndreyPopov from Getty Images

Tea Tree Oil: Known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties, tea tree oil helps cleanse the scalp and reduce oiliness without stripping away natural oils.

Salicylic Acid: This beta hydroxy acid helps exfoliate the scalp, removing dead skin cells and excess oil to prevent clogged pores and promote a healthy scalp environment.

Peppermint Oil: With its cooling and refreshing properties, peppermint oil helps stimulate the scalp and regulate oil production, leaving it feeling clean and revitalized.

Witch Hazel: This natural astringent helps cleanse and purify the scalp, reducing oiliness and promoting a balanced scalp environment.

Choosing a shampoo with clarifying ingredients can help control excess oil and buildup, leaving the scalp feeling clean, balanced, and refreshed.

Strengthening Ingredients

For damaged or weakened hair, strengthening ingredients are essential for repairing and fortifying the hair shaft, reducing breakage and improving overall hair health. Look for ingredients like:

Keratin: A key protein found in hair, keratin helps strengthen and repair damaged hair, reducing breakage and improving elasticity.

Biotin: Also known as vitamin B7, biotin helps strengthen the hair shaft and promote healthy hair growth, reducing breakage and improving overall hair health.

Panthenol: Also known as pro-vitamin B5, panthenol helps moisturize and strengthen the hair, improving elasticity and reducing breakage.

Silk Protein: Derived from silk fibers, silk protein helps strengthen and smooth the hair, reducing breakage and improving manageability.

Choosing a shampoo with strengthening ingredients can help repair and fortify damaged or weakened hair, leaving it strong, healthy, and resilient.

Avoiding Harmful Ingredients In Shampoos

While it’s important to look for beneficial ingredients in your shampoo, it’s equally important to avoid harmful chemicals that can damage your hair and scalp. Here are some ingredients to steer clear of when selecting a shampoo:

Sulfates

Sulfates, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), are commonly used in shampoos for their foaming and cleansing properties. However, they can be harsh on the hair and scalp, stripping away natural oils and causing dryness and irritation. Look for sulfate-free shampoos that cleanse effectively without drying out your hair and scalp.

Parabens

Parabens are preservatives commonly used in hair care products to prevent bacterial growth and extend shelf life. However, they have been linked to hormone disruption and other health concerns. Opt for paraben-free shampoos to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

Silicones

Silicones are synthetic ingredients that are added to shampoos and conditioners to provide shine and smoothness to the hair. While silicones can temporarily improve the appearance of the hair, they can also cause buildup and weigh down the hair over time. Look for silicone-free shampoos that cleanse the hair without leaving behind residue.

Artificial Fragrances

Artificial fragrances are often added to shampoos to impart a pleasant scent. However, these fragrances can contain a cocktail of potentially harmful chemicals, including phthalates and synthetic musks, which can irritate the scalp and trigger allergic reactions. Choose fragrance-free or naturally scented shampoos to minimize your exposure to artificial fragrances.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, such as DMDM hydantoin and quaternium-15, are commonly used in hair care products as preservatives. However, they can be irritating to the skin and scalp and have been linked to allergic reactions and other health concerns. Look for formaldehyde-free shampoos to avoid potential irritation and sensitization.

Considering Additional Factors

So far we have looked at both the good and bad ingredients in shampoos. We have also learned how to determine hair type and scalp condition– are there other factors we need to consider?  Absolutely! There are a few other factors to take into account when choosing the best shampoo for your hair needs. Let’s break them down.

Color-Treated Hair

If you have color-treated hair, it’s essential to choose a shampoo that is specifically formulated for color-treated hair. Look for shampoos that are sulfate-free and contain ingredients that help protect and prolong the vibrancy of your color, such as UV filters and antioxidants.

Texture and Thickness

The texture and thickness of your hair can also influence your shampoo choice. Fine or thin hair may benefit from volumizing shampoos that add body and lift, while thick or coarse hair may require moisturizing shampoos that provide extra hydration and nourishment.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors, such as climate and pollution, can also affect your hair and scalp health. If you live in a hot and humid climate, you may need a shampoo that helps control frizz and humidity. If you live in a polluted urban environment, you may want a shampoo that helps remove impurities and detoxify the hair and scalp.

Reading labels & Understanding Claims

Reading labels and understanding market claims are super important  when shopping for shampoos. You can spend hours in the aisles at your local drugstore if you don’t know what these labels really mean. Here are some key terms to look for and what they mean:

Natural and Organic Claims

White Shampoo Bottle in Hand
Photo by cottonbro studio from Pexels

Shampoos that are labeled as “natural” or “organic” contain ingredients that are derived from natural sources and are free from synthetic chemicals. Look for certifications such as USDA Organic or NSF Organic to ensure that the product meets specific standards for organic ingredients.

Dermatologist-Tested

Shampoos that are labeled as “dermatologist-tested” have undergone testing by dermatologists to ensure that they are safe and effective for use on the skin and scalp. While this claim can provide some reassurance, it’s essential to consider your individual skin and scalp sensitivities when choosing a shampoo.

Hypoallergenic

Shampoos that are labeled as “hypoallergenic” are formulated to minimize the risk of allergic reactions and irritation. While this claim can be beneficial for individuals with sensitive skin or scalp, it’s essential to patch test the product first to ensure compatibility.

Trial & Error Process

Finding the best shampoo for your hair type and scalp condition often requires a bit of trial and error. What works for one person may not work for another, so it’s essential to experiment with different products to find what works best for you.

Sample Sizes and Travel Kits

Many brands offer sample sizes and travel kits that allow you to try out their products before committing to a full-size purchase. This can be a cost-effective way to test multiple shampoos and find the one that works best for your hair type and scalp condition. 

One example is the brand Just Nutritive – a woman-owned business that offers organic products made from more than 250 natural ingredients! The brand offers 2 free samples  with the purchase of any of their products. 

Patience and Consistency

When trying out new shampoos, it’s essential to be patient and consistent. It can take time for your hair and scalp to adjust to a new product, so give it at least a few weeks before deciding whether it’s the right fit for you. Be consistent with your shampooing routine, and pay attention to how your hair and scalp respond over time.

FAQs

If you still have questions, fear not! Below, I’ve compiled a list of three frequently asked questions about shampoo selection, along with detailed answers to help you navigate the world of hair care with confidence.

Absolutely! Using a shampoo that is specifically formulated for your hair type can make a world of difference in achieving healthy, vibrant hair. Whether you have straight, curly, wavy, or coily hair, choosing a shampoo tailored to your hair type ensures that you’re addressing your hair’s unique needs and concerns.

For example, a shampoo designed for oily scalp can help control excess oil production, while a moisturizing shampoo is ideal for dry or damaged hair. By matching the shampoo to your hair type, you can maximize its effectiveness and achieve the best results.

The frequency of shampooing depends on several factors, including your hair type, scalp condition, and lifestyle. Generally, it’s recommended to shampoo your hair 2-3 times a week for most hair types. However, if you have oily hair or scalp, you may need to shampoo more frequently to control oiliness. On the other hand, if you have dry or curly hair, shampooing too often can strip away natural oils and lead to dryness. Pay attention to how your hair and scalp feel and adjust your shampooing frequency accordingly.

Sulfate-free shampoos have gained popularity in recent years due to their gentler cleansing properties. Sulfates, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), are harsh surfactants that can strip away natural oils from the hair and scalp, leading to dryness and irritation.

Sulfate-free shampoos use milder surfactants that cleanse the hair effectively without causing dryness or irritation. They are particularly beneficial for those with sensitive skin or scalp, as well as for color-treated hair, as they help maintain the vibrancy of hair color. Overall, sulfate-free shampoos can be a great choice for those looking for a gentler, more nourishing cleansing option.

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Final Takeaways

I hope by now you have learned how to find the best shampoo for your hair type and scalp condition! Once you understand your hair’s unique characteristics, scalp condition, and ingredient preferences, you can narrow down your options and choose a shampoo that meets your specific needs.

However, be sure to read the labels and understand the marketing claims when shopping for that perfect shampoo. Consider trying out sample sizes and travel kits to test multiple products before committing to a full-size purchase. Remember to be patient and consistent in your shampooing routine to allow your hair and scalp to adjust to new products.

With a bit of trial and error and some careful consideration, you can find the perfect shampoo that leaves your hair looking and feeling its best!

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and treat yourself to a shampoo that’s tailored to your hair type and scalp condition, and enjoy the benefits of healthy, beautiful hair!

Oh, and don’t forget to let me know your experiences with finding the best shampoo for your own hair type!

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Sasha

Sasha

Hair-enthusiast turned blogger helping women achieve their hair goals with natural and sustainable haircare methods.

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Sasha's Bio
hi, I'm Sasha

Covid-19 changed not just the world but my hair too. Unfortunately, for the worse.

As I struggled to try everything under the sun to tame my mane (while being in lockdown), I noticed that natural remedies were most effective!

Here I am now,  sharing my tried & tested haircare methods to help women who are in the same boat as me.

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