Dating to 1762, shampoo originated in India and has since spread all over the world. It’s an absolute essential in the bathroom. However, with so many different types of shampoo out there, it is easy to get confused. How many of us know whether we are using the right shampoo? Are we making things worse? Not to fear! This handy guide will help you determine the right shampoo for your scalp and hair type.
What exactly does shampoo do?
Sebum is a natural oil that is secreted by the skin. Though it is beneficial, over the course of the day, accumulation of sebum can leave your hair looking dull and greasy. Oil also attracts dust, pollen, and dirt, leaving your hair dirty. Water alone won’t wash off the oil. A shampoo works to dissolve the oil, using surfactants to help the oil bind to the water, making it easy to rinse out. The more dirt there, the less lather there will be — if you’re not getting much lather with your shampoo, it’s because your hair is especially dirty!
What’s in a shampoo?
Shampoo is generally made by combining a surfactant with a co-surfactant in water. What it does is essentially act as a heavy-duty soap that makes it easier to trap oil and grease. Additional ingredients depend on exactly what type of shampoo it is and who it is for.
Types of shampoos for different scalp types
If you’ve got an extra oily scalp, avoid using moisturising, hydrating, and smoothing shampoos. The extra moisture will not benefit you in any way and only serve to make your scalp even oilier. Look for labels that mention volumizing, strengthening, or balancing. These products are more effective at removing excess oil. A clarifying shampoo can be a big help for super-oily scalp conditions, but be careful to not overuse the product and dry out your scalp. Dry skin can actually stimulate more oil and sebum production.
If you’ve got a dry scalp, avoid using volumising, strengthening, or balancing shampoos. These will strip your scalp of some much needed moisture and make it flaky. Look for the words moisturising, hydrating, and smoothing on product labels — these can be great at helping give your hair a much needed moisture boost. Skip the sulfates, which are extremely drying to both your hair and scalp.
If your scalp is neither oily nor flaky, you’re in luck. Choose a shampoo based on your hair type, and you’re good to go. If you’re not sure what you should get, this list by BYRDIE summarises it nicely:
- Hydrating/moisturising: great for adding moisture, shine, and smoothness to hair. Good for thick, curly, or coarse hair that lacks moisture.
- Volumising: great for fine or limp hair, adding volume
- Strengthening/fortifying: good for damaged, over-processed, highlighted, weakened, or brittle hair. Usually contains extra protein to improve hair’s condition.
- Balancing: typically a nice middle-of-the-road option. Not too moisturising, but won’t dry your hair out.
- Smoothing/straight hair: rich with extra moisturisers and smoothing agents that help seal the cuticle and provide a great start for straight and smooth styles.
- Curly hair: very moisturising and contains ingredients that reduce frizz without weighing down the curls.
How to shampoo properly
Believe it or not, there’s actually a proper way to shampoo your hair. While most people don’t recommend washing your hair everyday, Singapore’s hot and humid climate give us little choice. Just like over-conditioning, be wary of overdoing it. Try to wash your hair only once a day — too little sebum can lead to a dry scalp, and that’s another problem on its own! You also don’t need to focus on washing the ends of your hair, instead, focus on cleansing your scalp.