All shampoos are a mix of cleansers and conditioners. From there, formulas vary.
- Clarifying types power through product buildup with detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. Use only when you need a deep clean.
- Color-safe ones go light on foaming cleansers (they can strip hair dye) and heavy on moisturizers like dimethicone (a silicone) or natural oils.
- Smoothing shampoos are similar to color-safe products but may also be formulated with vegetable oil or panthenol to add softness.
- Anti-breakage formulas often contain plant-derived keratin, a protein that coats the hair shaft to prevent damage.
Sulfates: Really That Bad?
These foaming ingredients wash away grime, but they have a reputation for drying out strands and fading color. Sulfate-free shampoos typically feature gentler, plant-based cleansers like sodium cocoyl glycinate and coco glucosides. If you dye or have dry hair, sulfate-free shampoos will provide extra TLC. But if your hair is oily (or you pile on the styling products), these 'poos won't get rid of gunk quite as well.
When to Try a 2-in-1
Back in the 1980s, when shampoo-conditioner combos hit shelves, they were more about cleansing than moisturizing. Now conditioning ingredients outweigh cleansers. If you have thick, curly, or frizzy hair, a 2-in-1 can give you a moisture boost. Otherwise, skip it.
How to Fight Flakes
Dandruff shampoos use different active ingredients to help stop shoulder snow: Zinc pyrithione kills the fungus that causes flaking, selenium sulfide slows the accumulation of dead skin cells on your scalp, and salicylic acid sloughs those cells away. You may need to experiment with various products until you find one that works.
Did you know you can use shampoo to clean your hairbrush? Wet the brush with warm water, squeeze a bit of shampoo onto a toothbrush, scrub, then rinse.
This story originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.
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