How to buy the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type
How thick is your hair?
Before looking into hair concerns, we should first address hair type. This loosely divides us into two general hair thicknesses – one being thin or fine hair, and the other being medium to coarse hair.
If you have fine hair, your hair is going to be more susceptible to damage, which explains why straightening irons and curlers need to be used at a lower temperature if you have fine hair. It’s also a lot more prone to breaking which makes it especially fragile when wet. On the flip side, having fine hair also means that your hair can recover with more lightweight products without weighing it down with greasier creams and oils.
With coarser hair, the strands are thicker and therefore able to withstand more mechanical damage (read: tugging) or heat damage without getting fried as easily. For recovery purposes though, coarse hair types will need more heavy-duty creams or hair masks to get the same results as a conditioner on finer hair.
With this in mind, consider that not all products are made with hair strand thickness in mind, and that certain products might be too heavy for fine hair, or not nourishing or effective enough for coarse hair.
A handy trick if you have fine hair and are using a more intensive conditioner or hair mask is to condition first and shampoo later, so you get out most of the heaviness that can weigh down your hair.
When it comes to specific colours, there are just a couple of things to try. If you’ve got platinum hair or grey hair, you might have been told to use a purple shampoo. The point of purple isn’t to lighten your hair, but to tone down any yellowness or “brassiness” in your hair to give it a cooler bleached tone and keep it from returning to your natural shade too quickly. This works just like colour correction where colours on the opposite side of the colour wheel are good for cancelling out certain shades. in this case, the purple neutralises any yellowness. You don’t have to use a purple shampoo very often, just whenever you feel like it needs a bit of a boost in terms of colour.
There are also shampoos for brunettes, blondes and even red hair (which can be the hardest to maintain), but those specifically coloured shampoos that deposit pigments shouldn’t be used all that often in case they alter the desired shade of your hair. Use them occasionally to boost the colour if necessary, and stick to a colour protecting range for daily use.
Is your hair is dry or damaged?
If you think about it, hair is technically “dead”. This means that we’re fighting an endless battle to keep those literally lifeless locks looking and feeling their best. There are two key aspects to consider when treating damaged hair: One is protein, the other is moisture. We need enough of both in order to keep our hair looking as healthy and smooth as possible.
Too much nourishment and your hair can become a little limp, greasy or lifeless. Too little moisture with too much protein, and you will experience more tangles and breakage. Sure, the protein supplement may strengthen your hair, but without the moisture to make your strands more supple, your hair is just going to be inflexible and brittle.
The key is in striking a balance, so keep an eye out for hair products with lots of soy proteins, keratin, and silk amino acids so you have a better idea of how much protein you’re treating your hair with.
If you come across a very intensive damage repair range that helps to improve your very damaged hair, but discover that after a month of use your hair is looking a little flat, you can consider using the hair mask less frequently or switching out the shampoo for something more suited to everyday washes or even something volumising. Being nimble and versatile is of the essence.
If you have fine hair, just keep in mind that a lot of damage repair ranges can be quite heavy, and you might want to avoid the hair masks. Try the “reverse wash” method if you find your conditioner weighing down your hair too much, and whatever your hair thickness, remember to use a deep cleansing shampoo occasionally to remove the product buildup from your scalp.
If you have short hair
When your hair is short, you tend to feel the need to wash it more frequently because of how easily the grime can build up on your strands. And when you have short hair, your hair is often able to withstand frequent washing better, just because the hair closer to your roots tends to be healthier.
Sure, having short hair probably gives you the most fuss-free hair care routine, but if you are washing it a lot more frequently, we’d recommend going with a shampoo that’s gentle enough to be used daily without stripping too much moisture from your hair.
Many hair brands carry a line suited to daily washing, which can work well for you. If you have other needs on top of it like wanting more nourishment or volume, consider using the daily wash shampoos and different conditioners or hair masks to replenish your hair.