Hairy Truth – The Science behind your Shampoo

Your bathroom probably contains various paraphernalia for bathing and the one thing prominently displayed is probably your hair shampoo.

Sebum coats your hair follicles to give a healthy shine. But when Sebum accumulates, it can cause your hair strands become sticky and greasy. This attracts dusts and other pollen particles to stick and turns to dandruff.

To wash off the dirt and grease on your hair, you use a shampoo suited for your type of hair.

Different hair types

There is a shampoo made for each hair type, each kind of shampoo designed to suit and enhance the natural features of your hair.

It is important to know your hair type before you buy your shampoo.

  • If you have curly hair, it is best to use a shampoo for dry or chemically treated hair. This will help prevent damaged looking hair and tame frizzy hair
  • If you have fine hair, find a Volumizing shampoo to add bounce and body to your fine hair.
  • If you have dry hair, use a moisturizing or replenishing shampoo. Find a shampoo that has coconut oil, argan oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil as ingredient because these are best emollients for hair.
  • If your hair is oily, find a shampoo formulated specifically for oily hair. Avoid shampoo that adds moisture to your hair. Dandruff is often a problem with oily hair so use one with anti-dandruff ingredients.

How does shampoo work?

Your shampoo has detergents that work as surfactants to lower the surface tension of water rendering it unable to bind with soiling particles and oils. Detergents have both hydrophobic and hydrophilic molecules that attracts and repels water at the same time. The hydrophobic molecules attracts the oil while the hydrophilic molecules attracts the water.

Pure water cannot clean off oil. The detergent acts as an emulsifier, allowing oil and water to mix and remove grime when rinsing your hair.

How often should you shampoo?

You shampoo every time you wash your hair.

Excessive washing can strip your hair of its natural oil. Then again, if you have an active lifestyle and sweat too much, your hair produces more grime and you need to shampoo often.

Can you see the dilemma?

Here are some tips you can consider to determine how often you should wash your hair:

  • Your lifestyle can affect the condition of your hair. If you have an active lifestyle, you need to wash your hair more often. You sweat more when you are active. Sweat can clog your pores, and the more t piles up faster it dirties your hair roots and scalp.
  • The type of hair you have should also be considered when determining how often you should wash and shampoo your hair. This is why there are different shampoos for every hair type.

Thin hair gets oily faster than thick hair. Oily hair needs frequent washing than dry hair. You can shampoo twice a week if you have dry hair but you need to shampoo daily if you have oily hair.

  • If you have dark hair, wash maximum of twice a week to avoid losing pigments that gives dark hair color and shine.

Generally, the recommended frequency of washing and using shampoo is once every three days.

What is in your shampoo?

Other than detergent or cleaning agent, your shampoo includes other ingredients:

  • Protecting Agent: Your shampoo contains ingredients meant to protect hair. Chemical ingredients that protect against build-up from styling products, heat damage, chemical damage and natural heat damage caused by the sun.
  • Aesthetic ingredients: These ingredients are for aesthetic purposes and may or may not help your hair. Example are ingredients to make your hair sparkle, smell nicer, and enhance color.
  • Conditioning Ingredients: Ingredients that can tame frizzy hair, make shiny and tangle free hair, and add volume and body to your hair.
  • Functional Ingredients: Ingredients that have specific purpose not on your hair but on the shampoo itself. Ingredients to keep your shampoo thicker or added preservatives to extend its shelf life.

What ingredients to avoid in shampoo?

The ingredients included in a shampoo each has its own benefit but some can actually do more harm than good.

Here is a breakdown of some of the most common shampoo ingredients and the effect they have on your hair:

  • Ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate. These ingredients acts as emulsifiers for your shampoo. This harsh ingredient can cause skin and eye irritation.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) serves as a foaming agent for shampoos and can cause irritation. This ingredient gives your shampoo its lather properties. Prolonged exposure to this ingredient can strip your hair of its essential oil, break down its protein and preventing hair growth.
  • Sodium Chloride. Sodium Chloride or table salt acts as thickener for shampoos that contains SLS. It can cause itchy scalp, hair loss, and dry hair and strips the benefits of keratin treatments.
  • Polyethelyne Glycol (PEG) is also a thickening agent in shampoos. This ingredient strips your hair of its natural moisture.
  • Diethanolamine (DEA) Triethanolamine (TEA) can strip your hair of keratin, cause bad allergic reactions, and scalp irritation. It can turn your hair brittle, dry and lifeless.
  • Parabens is a preserving agent that extend the shelf life of shampoos. Parabens can make your scalp unhealthy and irritate your skin. It can also cause a hormonal imbalance that leads to hair loss.
  • Formaldehyde is a flammable, strong smelling, and colorless chemical substance use in building materials and household products. Its chemical compound includes oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon. Exposure can cause eye, skin, nose, and throat irritation. Prolong exposure can cause cancer.
  • Alcohol. Most hair-care products including shampoos have alcohol content that can turn your hair dry. If alcohol is one of the first four ingredients in your shampoo, it makes sense that the alcohol content is high.
  • Synthetic Fragrance. There are thousands of chemicals involved in creating a fragrance. Mixing fragrances to your shampoo can cause allergy and irritation to scalp.
  • Synthetic Colors. Shampoos containing artificial colors can cause sensitivity to skin and scalp. You can easily recognize this ingredient as it often appears as FD&C (color #) or D&C (color #).
  • Lanolin, Mineral and Petroleum Oil. The ingredient often found in shampoos formulated for ethnic hair can turn hair dull and heavy. It can block naturally produced sebum from being absorb by the hair.
  • Propylene Glycol. An antifreeze ingredient that prevents your shampoo from freezing while in transit and storage. It can cause allergic reaction, skin irritation and alters skin structure.
  • Dimethicone. A synthetic compound or silicone used as a sealing agent for shampoos. It coats the hair to lock in moisture. It can cause skin and scalp irritation and could lead to rashes, burning, chapped skin, and itching.
  • Ketoconazole. A drug used to fight growth of fungus. Ketoconazole is one of the main ingredient in dandruff shampoos. It can cause severe irritation and burning on the skin.

Best ingredient in shampoo – going natural

If you really want to avoid all the chemical components, the best you can do is shift to natural ingredients.

Shampoo with natural ingredients are not only safe, they also live up to their claim.

Here are some of the best natural ingredients that you should look for when choosing your shampoo:

  • This seaweed is power-packed with minerals and vitamins, particularly Vitamin B that aids in hair growth. It is also rich in iron and calcium that can give you beautiful, strong, and healthy hair.
  • Although charcoal has been associated more with skin care, it is slowly becoming popular as a hair-detoxifying agent. The antifungal and antibacterial properties of charcoal makes it a good treatment for dandruff and unhealthy scalp.
  • Yes, the French hors d’oeuvres can an excellent ingredient for brittle and dry hair. Caviar contains Vitamin A that help balance the production of oil on your skin reducing split ends and hair breakage.
  • People suffering from hair loss should look for shampoos with rosemary as ingredient.
  • Coconut Oil. Coconut oil can help make your hair stronger. It prevents protein loss due to excessive blow-drying and brushing.
  • Avocado Oil. Avocado oil infused shampoo can give your hair Vitamins B and E. It can soften hair, replenish moisture and add shine in your hair.
  • Castor Oil. A great stimulant for hair growth and deep conditions hair. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can aid in keeping your hair heathy.
  • Macha or Tea. Rich in Vitamin E that stimulates scalp circulation. Helps control dandruff and loaded with enough antioxidant to keep your scalp clean and healthy.

Choosing your Shampoo

It is more difficult to switch natural ingredients for hair care than skin care.

Buying products that contains natural ingredients may be more expensive but think of it as a long-term investment.

Check out these top three safe to use shampoos:

Degrease Shampoo for Oily Greasy Hair and Itchy Scalp


  • Washes away oil, flakes and dead skin cell to give you a fresh, clean.
  • Brings back the body and volume to lifeless, flat hair
  • Safe for color treated hair, short hair, and long hair
  • Includes natural oils like cypress, basil, rosemary and lemon to promote hair growth
  • Enriched with jojoba oil, keratin, and peach kernel oil for hair strength
  • Sulfate and paraben free


  • Rinse hair
  • Apply the shampoo and let it set for 3 minute
  • Rinse again to wash off the shampoo

Degrease Moisture Control Shampoo


  • Sulfate free
  • It is BPA free and hypoallergenic
  • Cleansing anti-bacterial shampoo for itchy scalp
  • Balances moisture levels


  • Rinse hair
  • Apply a quarter-sized amount throughout the scalp and work into a lather
  • Leave on for 2-3 minutes
  • Rinse then repeat shampoo application before final rinse.

Lemon Sage Oily Hair Shampoo with Tea Tree and Rosemary infusion


  • Helps reduce sebum secretion
  • Natural oily hair shampoo that deep cleanse pores
  • Sulfate free shampoo
  • Natural oils content like lemon, sage, tea tree, argan and rosemary
  • Relieves itchy scalp
  • Gently nourishes hair
  • Paraben free, chemical free that would leave hair lustrous and beautiful
  • Eliminates dandruff and flakes
  • Promotes cell growth and relieves irritation of scalp


  • Rinse hair
  • Work shampoo into a rich lather applying liberally throughout the hair
  • Allow hair to absorb shampoo for 2-3 minutes
  • Rinse

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