How To Pick The Right Shampoo For Your Hair

There are so many shampoos on the market today, it can be confusing to decide what particular type and brand is best for your hair. The best way to distinguish what is and is not best for your hair, you first need to understand shampoo and the different varieties.

The main purpose of shampoo is to properly cleanse the hair and scalp. An effective shampoo will remove dirt, oils, cosmetics, and dead skin cells without negatively affecting the hair and scalp.

The hair and scalp need to be shampooed regularly to fight the build-up of oils, dirt, and natural flakes that can create an environment for disease producing bacteria. Regular shampooing will vary from person to person depending on the type of hair you have. Oily hair needs to be shampooed more often to control brittleness and breakage.

Excessive shampooing on both oily and dry hair can strip the hair of its natural protective oil that seals and protects the hair’s cuticle. If your hair is constantly dry, try shampooing it a little less frequently to see if that will help eliminate the problem.

Understanding The pH Scale

Understanding and knowing pH levels can help you properly select the shampoo best to suit your hair type. A pH level is basically the amount of hydrogen in a solution that determines whether it is alkaline or acid. A pH scale has a range of 0 to 14, with distilled water falling right in the middle at 7.


A shampoo that is more alkaline will be stronger and harsher and can leave the hair dry, brittle, porous, and cause color treated hair to fade. A slightly acidic shampoo more closely matches the pH of hair which is 5.

Water Makes A Difference

Water is the most important and abundant element on earth. It is vital to sustaining life on the planet and plays a large part in aiding hair with bounce, body, and shine.

Water is also classified as the universal solvent because it is capable of dissolving more substances than any other solvent known to science. Water is either hard or soft depending on the amount and types of minerals that are present.

Soft water, which is best for shampooing, is rainwater or chemically softened that contains small amounts of minerals. Hard water contains more minerals and reduces the ability of soap or shampoo to lather readily. It can also change the results of haircoloring. Hard water is found mostly where well water is used to supply the home.

You can make a better professional shampoo selection if you know whether there is hard or soft water in your area. Most water softener companies can supply you with a kit to determine if your water is hard or soft.

Types of Shampoo

There are many shampoos out there for every type of hair and scalp condition. Dry, oily, fine, coarse, limp, lightened, permed, relaxed, color-treated, or chemically treated, there is a shampoo for you and your hair type. Shampoos exist that add a slight amount of color to highlighted hair, cleanse the hair of mineral deposits and styling product buildup, deposit a coating on the hair, and remove coatings from the hair.

Now that you understand how pH and water can affect shampoo, let’s explore the different types.

Acid Balanced Shampoo – is a shampoo that is balanced to the pH of skin and hair. Shampoo can become acid-balanced by adding citric, lactic, or phosphoric acid. An acid pH of 4.5 to 5.5 is essential to prevent excessive dryness and hair damage during the cleansing process. Acid-balanced shampoos help to close the hair cuticle and are recommended for hair that has been color-treated or lightened.

Conditioning and Moisturizing Shampoo – are shampoos that are non-stripping and do not remove natural oils and artificial colors from the hair. The purpose of these shampoos are to make the hair smooth and shiny, improve hair manageability, and avoid damage to chemically treated hair. These conditioning agents restore moisture and elasticity, adds volume, and strengthens the hair shaft.

Medicated Shampoo – contains special ingredients, chemicals, or drugs that help combat certain scalp conditions such as dandruff, eczema, or psoriasis. Some medicated shampoos that fight the more severe scalp conditions must be prescribed by a doctor. These shampoos are quite strong, are very drying to the hair, and can affect the color of tinted or lightened hair. In most cases, the shampoo must rest on the scalp for a longer period of time than regular shampoo in order for the active ingredients to take effect.

Clarifying Shampoo – are shampoos that are acidic on the pH scale. They cut through product buildup that can flatten hair, and allow the hair to shine. This type of shampoo should be used once a week or once every 2 weeks. It is the perfect cleansing shampoo for African American hair that is usually shampooed less frequently.

Balancing Shampoo – is the most misused shampoo due to not understanding its use. Balancing shampoos are designed for oily hair and scalp and wash away excess oil on the hair. This shampoo is not ideal for dry and brittle hair.

Dry or Powder Shampoo – are shampoos that cleanse the hair without the use of water. This is ideal for the elderly and people where there is a challenge to use water on the hair due to some type of incapacity. The powder is applied throughout the hair and then brushed thoroughly where the product picks up dirt and oil leaving the hair clean and with more volume.

Color Enhancing Shampoo – is designed to brighten, add a slight hint of color, and eliminate unwanted color tones to the hair. Similar to temporary color rinses, they contain basic color pigments that are attracted to porous hair and revives color that has been removed with plain shampooing.

Volumizing Shampoo – gently cleanses hair without adding weight with heavy oils and conditioning agents. These shampoos provide body and fullness to fine, lifeless hair while improving strength, shine, and manageability.

Using the right hair care products at home can make all the difference in how your hair looks, feels, and behaves. I recommend using only professional salon products, which deliver on quality and effectiveness, and usually come with a guarantee. The wrong or cheaper choices in products can make even a good haircut and healthy hair look bad.

Now that you have a general knowledge of the different shampoo types, you can effectively pick the right selection for your hair. You can find top salon-only products not available in your local beauty supply or drug stores with our Salon Only Products Partner.

2 thoughts on “How To Pick The Right Shampoo For Your Hair”

  1. Thanks for bringing to my attention that citric, lactic, or phospheric acid can be added to shampoo to balance it. My hair has been having some problems with being dry lately. I’d like to get some good shampoo that would help to moisturize it, and I wonder if acid balancing would help with that. It’s worth a shot!

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