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Choosing a Shampoo Depends on your Hair Type

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

There are so many options for a shampoo that cruising down the hair product aisle can be overwhelming. Read more...

 

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How can I tell if daily shampoo use is damaging my scalp or hair?


Daily shampoo use is in the same category as daily showering and soap use. It’s perfectly ok for the average person. However if someone is having issues with excess dryness, irritation, and inflammation, then it is worth reviewing habits of shampoo use, choice of shampoos, and even post-hair washing habits in terms of other hair products.

There are significant variations amongst people with ‘hair regreasing’. Researchers review hair regreasing to understand how our scalp’s sebum and oil production migrate down the hair follicle post-shampooing. The shampoo contains several ingredients- some of which are designed to break down excess oil and sebum to ‘degrease’ the hair and scalp. Once someone shampoos, the skin cells on the scalp start to produce more sebum and this migrates down the hair follicle to ‘regrease’ the hair. Within 48 hours, a study of men (think shorter hair based on studies) will ‘regrease’ the entire hair follicle. Those with longer hair will obviously take longer and may not feel the need to wash their hair as frequently.


 

 


Do ingredients make a difference?



I get asked tons of shampoo questions by patients. I break it down by main ingredients, what they do and what to look for.

  • Surfactants: these are the ‘workhorse’ of shampoo. They are designed to specifically cleanse the hair and scalp via degreasing. Surfactants are particles where one end ‘likes’ oil and one end ‘likes’ water. The end that ‘likes’ oil is attached to the oil on the hair like a magnet. This leaves the end that ‘likes’ water exposed. As luck would have it, you use shampoo in the shower where there’s a steady stream of water. The exposed end of the surfactant that’s looking for water finds it readily and attaches like a magnet to the water. This pulls the oil off the hair and rinses it away with the water.

  • Conditioning agents: in the process of removing oil from the scalp, shampoos will contain agents meant to leave some hydration behind. The hair follicle shaft isn’t smooth- it actually is ‘scaly’ with little grooves. Conditioning agents find their way into these grooves and attract moisture to them.

  • ‘Special’ ingredients: these would be for specific concerns people are looking to address. Color-treated hair types, dandruff, curly hair, frizzy hair, damaged hair, dry hair, etc.. I can go through each additive if you are interested but wasn’t sure if it was within the scope of your article.

  • Miscellaneous: this is the category where I stick fragrances, preservatives, etc.



 


 

What are sulfates in shampoo?



Sulfates are something everyone loves to hate. They have been mislabeled as ‘bad’ for our health. The real issue regarding shampoos is that they are aggressive at removing oil and diet. Sulfates are strong and cheap so they are an easy thing to add to products for their ability to clean. It’s true that they are likely too strong for daily shampoo use because they can leave the hair feeling excessively stripped of natural oils.


Would using a slightly smaller amount of shampoo every day decrease the long-term risk of damaging my hair or scalp?


The quick answer to this question is that you are not risking long-term damage to your hair with the shampoo amount. Shampoo and its surfactants work over the surface area of the hair to remove oil. If you massage your shampoo evenly through your hair, then using twice as much shampoo will not change the effect because there is only so much surface area it can work on. If the surfactants have nothing to attach to, the excess just washes out with water.


The more important issue that comes up is that some people just don’t fully wash their shampoo out. If you leave some shampoo behind there’s going to be a problem where it will irritate the scalp and dry out the hair excessively.

In terms of the amount of shampoo to use, you just need enough to get even coverage massages through then rinsed out completely.


Are there any studies or research on the effects of daily shampoo use on scalps and hair?



In the medical literature, there are several studies on the sebum content before and after shampooing, conditioning effects of varying ingredients, effects on dandruff and color-treated hair, and preservatives.


There is some research that suggests that the pH of shampoos can cause or make our hair more susceptible to breakage. Our hair needs an acidic pH to make it less susceptible to frizz and friction against other hair follicles that can result in breakage. One study showed that 75% of salon shampoos had the right pH compared to only 38% of drugstore brands.

There are so many options for shampoo that cruising down the hair product aisle can be overwhelming. Many times people seeking options are worried about not just making the right choice, but also avoiding making the wrong choice! There are lots of fears of shampoos contributing to hair loss or misconceptions about leading to hair growth, so it is important to understand how they work in the first place.






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