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Hair care: What shampoo should I use?


Have you been asking yourself, "what shampoo should I use"? Shampoos vary greatly in terms of what hair type they are best suited towards, as well as any special properties they may have. If you're not using the right shampoo for your hair, you may not be experiencing the range of benefits that a properly chosen shampoo can give you.

Types of shampoo

There are a few different types of shampoos, and the shampoo you use should be based around choosing not only the correct product type for your hair, but also choosing a good brand. The main types of shampoos include:
  • Normal hair shampoo
  • Dry hair shampoo
  • Oily hair shampoo
  • Coloured hair shampoo
  • Medicated shampoo
  • Toning shampoo
  • Repair shampoo

Dryness vs oiliness

One of the most important factors involved in choosing the right shampoo to use is whether you suffer from dry or oily hair. Dry hair needs a milder shampoo that also contains moisturising ingredients. Oily hair, however, requires the use of a stronger product that is able to strip the excess of oil out of your hair to normalise it.

If you don't seem to suffer from too much dryness or oiliness, you likely have a normal hair type, which simply means that oil production is well-regulated and porosity isn't an issue. This hair type is usually only present when hair hasn't been chemically treated because the use of dyes and other products affects the structure of the hair and its ability to maintain moisture balance.

Hair type

Shampoo to use


Normal shampoo, coloured hair shampoo, repair shampoo

Oily hair

Oily hair shampoo, clarifying shampoo, repair shampoo

Dry hair

Moisturising shampoo, coloured hair shampoo, repair shampoo

Coloured hair

If you have coloured hair, chances are you've seen shampoos designed for this and wondered whether these would be a good choice for your own hair. In most cases, shampoos that state they are for coloured hair are formulated to prevent the most common problems that affect in this hair type.

Dyed hair tends to easily suffer from dryness, and this is because the cuticle layer can be damaged by the dye or other chemical treatments. When this happens, your hair becomes porous and moisture doesn't remain sealed within the hair shaft where it needs to be. This results in increased risk of dryness if you use a shampoo that is too strong. Shampoos for coloured hair contain moisturising ingredients to combat this problem.

Fading is another problem that affects coloured hair, and this is also prevented by coloured hair shampoos. The product does this by being a milder cleanser compared to other shampoos. Therefore, if you have oily hair, a coloured hair shampoo isn't the right choice for you, even if you need to reduce fading. A better choice for this hair type when fading is an issue is a toning shampoo.

Best coloured hair shampoos:
  • Wella Brilliance 
  • Biolage ColorLast
  • Schwarzkopf BC Color Freeze

    Toning shampoo

    Toning shampoos can be formulated for any hair type, including hair that is excessively dry or oily. As these shampoos contain pigment, they replace lost colour that fades out of your hair during shampooing, making them a good choice for use on dyed hair.

    In darker colours, like black, brown, red, and burgundy, the effect of toning shampoos is more geared towards reducing fading. In blonde colours, toning shampoos are often strong enough to actively tone hair with regular use, or reduce fading with more intermittent use.

    Medicated shampoo

    Medicated shampoos take many forms, including shampoos designed for dandruff, psoriasis, and other conditions. These shampoos are generally not suitable for oily hair as they are quite drying, but moisturising variants are available. In general, they should only be used where you have a scalp condition that will benefit from their use.

    Repair shampoo

    Repair shampoos are designed for damaged hair, making them the best shampoo to use if your hair has been damaged through chemical treatments like dyeing or perming. These shampoos contain protein, amino acids, and other beneficial ingredients that gradually repair your hair and prevent breakages and split ends.

    Many repair shampoos are better suited for dry hair because they are often formulated to be moisturising. There are also many brands that are fine to use on other hair types, including oily hair if you need a stronger cleanser, making this product type very versatile.

    Best repair shampoos:
    • Wella SP Repair
    • Redken Extreme
    • L'oreal Professionnel Serie Expert Intense Repair

    Functional shampoo

    There is one last type of shampoo that can be useful to create certain effects. Functional shampoos include any product that is designed to enhance curls, body, or smooth your hair out. These shampoos help to style your hair in a certain way, but are best used on a normal hair type unless the product specifically states it is for dry or oily hair.

    Sulfate-free shampoos

    Sulfate shampoo is becoming a popular choice these days. Most shampoos use a common lathering agent ingredient called SLS, and this is the ingredient that is substituted in a sulfate-free shampoo. The benefits of using one of these shampoos are somewhat unclear, but they may be less irritating to your scalp if you suffer from psoriasis or eczema, or if you have allergies in general.

    Another potential benefit of these shampoos is a reduction in frizz and dryness. If you suffer from dry, frizzy hair, this kind of shampoo can be beneficial.

    Best sulfate-free shampoos:
    • Joico Color Endure
    • Matrix Biolage Advanced Keratindose
    • Redken Color Extend Magnetics

    More information:
    Do you have a question about shampoo or still wondering which shampoo you should use? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

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