What is in Your Shampoo?
What is really going on with your shampoo?
The selection of hair shampoos seems so complex. Why are their clear, green, blue, cheap, expensive, thick, thin, fragrant and unscented varieties of shampoo? Why can’t the whole cleansing process be simplified by using the same bar of soap on our hair that we use on our body? Does the shampoo selection really make a difference?
A shampoo is technically designed to clean the scalp of sebum and prevent the development of dermatitis. Shampoos are intended to rid the hair of sebum, sweat components, styling products, and environmental dirt. The idea of beautifying hair is really a secondary concern that is primarily addressed by a conditioner.
Beautifying the hair is really quite a complex task. Bar soap was used to clean hair until the mid-1930s when liquid coconut oils became available, which allowed the formulation of liquid soap that lathered and rinsed better than bar soap. At present, bar soaps on not recommended for hair cleansing because they leave behind a soap scum when mixed with hard water that is difficult to rinse from the hair and scalp. There really is a need for well-formulated shampoos that both clean and beautify the hair.
Shampoos are basically liquid cleansers based on synthetic detergents blended to achieve the desired amount of cleansing given the condition of the hair. Some ingredients are added for actual hair and scalp cleansing, while others are added to impart desirable aesthetic characteristics to the shampoo.
All shampoo formulations contain the same basic ingredients. The variety of shampoos in the marketplace might be rather confusing, but the ingredient categories are standard to a large extent. The categories of shampoo ingredients are foaming agents, thickeners, sequestering agents, PH adjusters, conditioners and specialty additives. How these categories are added to shampoos are what makes each brand different.
Shampoos are a complex formulation of ingredients selected to clean the scalp, as well as beautify the hair. This is a complex task leading to a wide variety of shampoos currently in the market. Selecting the proper shampoo for you means understanding the various ingredient functions and the unique attributes of each shampoo type. It helps to talk to your hair stylist about the type of hair you have if you don’t already know, and what would work best for your hair type in order to achieve the best look for your hair, not to mention, keeping it healthy.
If you aren’t sure what shampoo is best for your hair (and there are so many on the market so confusion is nothing new), experimentation is important but also asking what brands your hair salon uses as well. You leave the salon with beautiful, happy hair, you might as well shampoo with the same thing!