Whether you have long, short, thick, or fine hair, there’s one thing that all hair types need: the best shampoo to keep strands nourished and scalp clean and healthy. When you walk into a drugstore, you’ll see a variety of shampoos on the shelf trying to get your attention, but what should you actually be looking for in a high-quality shampoo? Well, that depends on your hair goals and needs. SELF spoke to seven hairstylists to help understand what shampoo ingredients to look for and which ones to avoid.
What to look for when choosing a shampoo?
“You want to look for a shampoo that repairs and nourishes the hair as it cleans and look for ingredients that contain gentle cleansing agents, vitamins, keratin, and protein,” says Raven Hurtado, hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. “Use a shampoo that’ll work for your hair type and needs. If you have colored-treated hair, use a color shampoo, a reparative shampoo for breakage and if you have curls, use a shampoo that’s designed for curly hair.” Here’s what shampoo to look for depending on your hair type.
For color-treated hair: If you’ve dyed your mane, then you’ll want to opt for a color-safe shampoo to maintain the integrity of your hair and the intensity of the color. These shampoos are typically free from sulfates and have more conditioning ingredients, antioxidants, proteins, and amino acids designed to care for processed hair. And if you want to maintain blonde highlights, a purple shampoo keeps brassiness at bay.
For textured hair: Those with textured hair should look for ingredients like whey and hydrolyzed proteins that strengthen and define curls. Prioritize shampoos that contain ingredients like shea butter and argan oil.
For oily hair: If you have oily hair, look for shampoos with exfoliating ingredients like salicylic and glycolic acids.
For dry hair: To hydrate your strands, look for shampoos with oils like argan, jojoba, and avocado. Many professional-grade shampoos will have these oils in them. A DIY hair mask can also help with hydration.
What ingredients to avoid in shampoo?
Aside from finding the right shampoo for your hair type, you also want to take a look at the ingredients label. There are a few ingredients you might want to steer clear of next time you’re looking for the best shampoo for your hair.
According to Dr. Hysem Eldik, a dermatologist at Marmur Medical, you’ll want to steer clear of detergents like anionics. “These primarily contain sulfates and have very deep and harsh cleansing properties, which can leave hair extremely dry. The effect of this is dull and frizzy hair that can easily tangle. Some example ingredients include lauryl sulfates, laureth sulfates, sarcodines, sulfosuccinates.” Dr. Eldik adds that these are very strong detergents and will strip the hair of the natural oil it needs to stay hydrated. And since hair is made of the same cells as our skin, it needs to be just as hydrated as dry skin.