Shampoo 101: Is Yours Right For Your Hair?

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    Close-up of different types of shampoos

    There are hundreds of types of shampoo. And they all claim that they’ll give you shinier hair, more moisturized hair, smoother hair, etc. But how different are they really? And are you really using the one that’s right for your hair?

    What Is Shampoo?

    All shampoos contain a cleanser and a conditioner. How much of each is in the shampoo depends on the hair type it’s specifically made for.

    How Often Does Black Hair Really Need To Be Shampooed?

    Stylists say that they often have to explain to clients that African-American hair needs to be washed regularly, as in at least once a week. Bacteria can grow on the scalp without regular cleansing, and this is extremely unhealthy for not only your hair and scalp, but for your entire body.

    The Best Shampoo For Dry Hair

    The central part of the hair shaft is where all the proteins that give hair its strength are. Surrounding the hair shaft is the cuticle, which is made of flattened cells, arranged sort of like shingles on a roof. If their edges aren’t lined up perfectly, then hair is dry, dull and brittle.

    Many black women tend to have hair that’s more prone to dryness. Part of the reason for this is due to the unique makeup of black tresses, which often contain less water and breaks more easily than some other hair types. Also, curly textures tend to be the most vulnerable to drying out and breaking because the bends in kinky hair make it difficult for natural oils to work their way down the hair shaft.

    Added to this is the fact that many women use harsh products on their hair, such as relaxers and other types of chemical processes, as well as styling their hair with extreme heat. These types of processes cause the keratin protein that makes up the hair to be lost.

    It’s important to note that there’s only so much a shampoo can do to repair that damage causes by protein loss.

    The Best Shampoos For Natural Hair

    For natural textures, it’s important to choose products that are gentle and that help provide moisture to thirsty curls.

    Many shampoos today contain high quality ingredients that clean the scalp of sebum and product build-up, as well as help lubricate the hair cuticle. For ultimate hair health, avoid shampoos with harsh chemical ingredients, detergents and alcohol. Specifically look for shampoos that contain natural essential oils, if possible, and that do not contain sulfates.

    The Best Shampoos For Frizzy Hair

    Shampoos that are designed to straighten or smooth hair generally have a coating ingredient in them, usually silicones or oils that cover the hair and make it more compliant to heat styling.

    The Best Shampoos For Color-Treated Hair

    To choose the best shampoo for color-treated hair, you need to look for a shampoo with a ph between 4.5-5.5 (a “ph” level is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a product is). If you can’t see the ph level on the shampoo bottle, try searching the product’s name and “ph level” online.

    Experts say that shampoos for color-treated hair should also contain oils  that will help your hair maintain its new color.

    Does Black Hair Need Clarifying Shampoo?

    Not really, according to most experts. People who need this type of shampoo either use A LOT of products that coat the hair, they have a particular type of hair condition that requires it, or they’re about to get a chemical hair treatment.

    Why should you be careful with this type of shampoo? They tend to be extremely harsh to hair cuticles. Also, avoid clarifying shampoo right after you get your hair colored, as the color may fade faster.

    How To Choose The Shampoo Your Hair Really Needs

    What’s the absolute best way to choose the right shampoo for your hair? Talk to your stylist. Why? They understand your hair and its particular needs. Plus, they should have great expertise about the wide range of products out there, some of which you may have never even heard of before.

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