Ever feel like you don’t even know where to start in the shampoo aisle? The truth is there’s a large range of shampoos out there, from inexpensive to very expensive. Some have lots of lab-formulated chemicals, and others are all-natural.
Many advertise themselves as solution-specific for people with fine hair, people with curly hair, or people who want their hair to be thick and voluminous. It’s enough to make you dizzy. Worse, the internet is full of people claiming that they’ve found the holy grail product that works for all hair types. How can you know if that’s legit? What’s more, how can you select the right shampoo for yourself without going through lots of bottles? Consider this post your guide to feeling confident selecting shampoo.
Before we get into types of shampoos, let’s talk about what shampoo really does and the factors that will contribute to your shampoo selection. The labels of many shampoo bottles claim to do a lot of things for your hair, but it’s a good idea to think about it as a single-purpose product. Shampoo, first and foremost, is intended to cleanse the scalp and hair strands.
This involves clearing away buildup from sweat, excess oil, flaking, and styling products.
Shampoo and conditioner achieve fundamentally different goals. Shampoo acts as a cleanser, while conditioner locks in the hair strand’s moisture, providing a protective layer between it and the outside world. When you’re selecting a shampoo, consider these three factors, which are unique to everyone’s head of hair.
First up are the texture and pattern of your natural hair. You may have heard of hair curl patterns, a system of identifying four hair types based on the tightness of the strand, from pin-straight to thickly-coiled.
Recently, scientists have taken this even further with something called Segmentation Tree Analysis. This research identifies eight different hair types. Curly and straight hair have different needs. These differing needs can impact both the shampoo you choose and how often you wash it. Curly hair tends to be dryer and can go longer between wash days, whereas straight hair can show signs of grease after one or two days.
Another key factor is your hair care history. If you’ve treated your hair with chemicals like bleach, hair dye, perming, or a straightening solution, your hair has likely experienced some damage. This can be especially true if the treatment was done via an at-home DIY method, without the help of a hair care professional.
If you’ve ever experienced hair treatment damage, you know how it feels. Damaged and dry hair can be brittle, prone to breakage, and feel slow to grow. The reality is that the more rounds of chemical treatments we do, the more our hair suffers. For many of us, that’s the cost of getting the hair color we want, but there are ways to ensure that you do the least amount of damage possible.
These steps include taking time between dye jobs and opting for natural hairstyles to help minimize breakage.
Last but not least, you’ll want to consider your scalp's health when selecting shampoos. Does your scalp feel nourished and moisturized without feeling oily? Are you experiencing itchy flaking, due to dry scalp or dandruff? Is your hair growing in quickly? Are you suffering from hair loss? The answers to these questions can help determine the best shampoo for you and how you use it. The better you understand what your scalp and hair need to feel their healthiest, the better choices you can make in products.
Let’s talk about some of the different types of shampoos and who they’re best suited for.
Dandruff shampoo is the product we’re most passionate about, so it’s only natural that we’ll start here. Dandruff shampoo is focused on fighting flakes on your scalp that are related to fungal overgrowth, leading to a buildup of skin and sebum on the scalp. To curb the growth of fungus, restore balance to the scalp, and stop the flaking, dandruff shampoos must contain an FDA-listed active ingredient.
Zinc Pyrithione is the star active ingredient we’ve chosen to use in our Balancing Shampoo thanks to years of studies proving its safety and efficacy. It has antifungal properties and is proven to stop dandruff in its tracks. If you see a dandruff shampoo without it, we suggest you give it a pass. Even if you’re not actively experiencing a case of dandruff, using an antifungal shampoo is great for everyday hair and scalp health.
Next up is a type of shampoo specially formulated for color-treated hair. These shampoos can be focused on preventing hair dye from fading or focused on restoring moisture to support color-treated damaged hair.
Even with natural dyes, bleached and colored hair can require extra love and care to keep it looking and feeling healthy. Usually, this means using a moisturizing shampoo that contains gentle cleansing agents as well as moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil, aloe, and argan oil.
These ingredients can help fortify the hair strand and make it less porous.
There are lots of brands out there that advertise themselves as specifically formulated for blonde, red, or brown hair. The best thing you can do for color-treated hair is seek out shampoos specially formulated to be color-safe. This means staying away from parabens and choosing sulfate-free shampoo when you can.
Curly hair tends to be dryer and can go longer between wash days, whereas straight hair can show signs of grease after one or two days.
You may have heard about clarifying shampoos across social media recently. Many beauty influencers seem to be all aboard the clarifying shampoo hype train. But what does this product actually do, and who should use it? Clarifying shampoos are specifically formulated to remove all or most buildup on the scalp. Regular shampoos contain cleaning agents. Many of the products available on drug store shelves include surfactant chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate. These chemicals do effectively clear away buildup. But, if you ask us, they’re a little too effective. They can eliminate natural oils the scalp needs to thrive — more on that later. Clarifying shampoo is designed to work harder than regular shampoos, truly stripping away all buildup and giving your hair a deep clean. It’s a particularly useful product for people with extra oily scalps or people who regularly use lots of hair products like gels, hairspray, and mousse. Clarifying shampoo works when used correctly, but you should be careful not to overuse this product. It’s not an everyday shampoo. Generally, we’d recommend using it just once a week and only for people who are dealing with a lot of oil and buildup. You should also seek clarifying shampoos with natural ingredients, as harmful chemicals can be too stripping on your hair and irritate your scalp. Instead, look for nourishing ingredients like keratin and tea tree oil.
Understanding your hair type and curl pattern is major in figuring out what type of shampoo and conditioners you should use. Curly hair tends to be dryer and more vulnerable to damage, while straight, thin hair tends to be more oily.
For curly hair, shampoos with moisturizing agents are a great selection, ensuring that your wash doesn’t leave your hair feeling frizzy. If you have straight or oily hair, you’ll want to avoid shampoos that emphasize their moisturizing abilities. In addition to your curl pattern, your natural hair texture can also make a difference in how it responds to shampoo. Fine hair tends to fall flat, while thick hair might require a little more taming. Check out volumizing shampoo for fine hair, which can give your hair more bounce and life.
Last but not least is the ever-useful dry shampoo, a product that helps absorb oil in between washes and make your hair look clean. Dry shampoo can come in the form of a powder or an aerosol spray. Both applications absorb moisture on the scalp, reducing grease, and upping up the volume. Dry shampoos are great when you’re in a pinch, especially if you have a naturally oily scalp, but if you’ve ever relied on them too often, you know how the product can leave a cake-y layer on your scalp and leave hair feeling dry and brittle.
If you regularly use dry shampoo, consider bringing clarifying shampoo and scalp exfoliation into your weekly hair care routine to help make sure your hair looks and feels healthy.
Our best recommendation is to pay close attention to the ingredients in your shampoo. Most shampoos contain a variety of sulfates, which research categorizes as “deep cleansing” agents.
While that sounds like a good thing, it’s also important to understand that the scalp needs at least some oil to maintain overall balance and health. Hair follicles naturally produce oils to coat and protect the skin on your scalp and your hair.
The longer and curlier your hair, the harder it is for the oils on your scalp to reach the ends of your hair strands. That’s why people with curly hair may complain about frizz and dryness, especially after wash days. Regardless of your hair type, it’s important to ensure that your scalp isn’t totally scrubbed of its natural oils. Otherwise, you could deal with the itching, irritation, and potential damage or weakening of your hair strands.
So when you’re looking for shampoo, ensure you pick one that doesn’t include sulfates in the ingredients list. We have a helpful guide on all the ingredients you should try to avoid when selecting hair care products. Many potentially unsafe chemicals make their way into haircare products.
Everyone’s hair is different. If we focus on our scalp, we’re on the right track to achieving healthy, hydrated hair.
Whether it’s dandruff care, color protection, or added moisturization, Jupiter’s line of scalp and hair care products are formulated to promote a healthy head of hair. For more information on what hair care routine and products are right for you, take our quiz.
This isn't a popularity contest, but if it were, our Balancing Shampoo would probably win. This often-sold-out soothing cleanser reduces hair breakage by 30% while getting to the root of dandruff (flaking, irritation, dry scalp), thanks to our star active ingredient, Zinc Pyrithione. With a lush aroma of mint, vanilla, sage, and lavender, it’s bound to elevate your mood and your shower.