The Truth About Shampoo and Conditioner

Woman receiving shampoo service and head massage at shampoo bowl

Most people use shampoo and conditioner on a regular basis. Although these products are very common, there’s still a little bit of confusion when it comes to how shampoo and conditioner work. If you want to pick the right products, you should begin by learning a little bit about what shampoo and conditioner do.

What is Shampoo Used for and How Does It Work?

Your hair will be exposed to and contaminated with a lot of different substances throughout the course of your life. The products we choose to put onto our hair as well as pollutants we stumble into all need to be removed periodically to keep hair healthy and attractive. This is where your shampoo comes in. Shampoo is the hair hygiene product that can cleanse your hair from these potentially harmful toxins and products.

Shampoos use surfactants, a specific kind of chemical, to clean hair. While surfactants are often the active cleaning ingredient, there are other chemicals in shampoos that are worth taking note of. For example, sulfates help to create the lather found pervasively in common shampoos. This helps to help the cleansing detergents reach all hair and lift away unwanted oils and dirt. However, sulfates have been found to be damaging to certain degree, so it is always a good idea to get the educated opinion of a trained hair care professional when you are weighing your shampoo options.

What is Conditioner Designed to Do and How is it Effective?

The process of shampooing and lifting away dirt leaves the hair follicle open and highly exposed to contamination. Conditioner is what smooths the follicle. Conditioner also locks out dirt and pollutants. It is a product that takes special blends of natural oils and butters along with manufactured moisturizers to smooth down hair, strengthen it, soften it and help give it a healthy, balanced shine. It also helps to combat impact damage done by styling and split ends.

Being Intentional About Your Hair Hygiene Decisions

Now that you have a more solid understanding of how shampoos and conditioners work, it is important to be intentional when picking shampoos and conditioners. However, if you want to give your hair the best care possible you should consider a few other factors before making a commitment or picking a new product. Here are some things you should also know before you make a final decision.

Know Your Hair

Your hair is one of a kind, and only you and your hairstylist can know what kind of shampoo and conditioner it needs. Before making major style or product decisions about your hair, you need to take a thorough, in-depth look at the state your hair is in. You’ll want to take note of several different specifications. Is your hair fine and soft? Is it thick and course? Do you have hair that has been textured or relaxed in any way? What is the natural texture of your hair? Is your hair it’s natural color or have you had it dyed or bleached? Is your hair decently durable or do you suffer from hair that is fragile and breaks easily? When was the last time you trimmed your split ends or performed other maintenance functions on your hair? These are the things both you and your hairstylist are going to want to know before you make hair care and style choices.

Know Your Goals

Once you have become acutely familiar with the hair you currently have, it is time for you to think about where you would like your hair to be in the near future. If you are someone with short hair who wants to grow out your hair, then the shampoos and conditioners you pick will likely be centered around keeping your hair as nourished and protected as possible. Or perhaps you are ready to give a bold, new, outrageous color scheme a try. Your shampoo and conditioner will help lock in that color and restore the chemical damage done with dyes and bleaching agents. You may also be battling a natural disadvantage that makes your hair difficult to deal with. These challenges can include nutrient deficient hair or a difficult texture. Whether your goal is a style overhaul or much needed maintenance, you are going to want shampoo and conditioners that help support that goal.

Know Your Shampoo Brands and Products

You don’t need to write an in-depth thesis on every single hair care product in your bathroom, but you need to be generally informed and somewhat aware of the companies you are supporting and the products you are using. This is especially true for products such as shampoos and conditioners that are used frequently. Knowing a bit of background on your products and brands can help you avoid some hairstyling setbacks. Take time to learn how long your brand has been in business, who officially endorses it, the standard of ingredients and if there are any major scandals or consumer complaints. Your hairstylist will be able to take their professionally trained eye and their insider industry knowledge to assess your hair and make a trustworthy shampoo and conditioner recommendation. Remember, you don’t have to know everything, but you need to know something.

Know When to Switch Brands

We all get comfortable in our haircare routines. Additionally, we become familiar with our brands, products, and hair routine. These parts of our hair care routine become second nature and easy to forget about. However, it is good to re-evaluate the condition and style of your hair every once in a while. This will help you catch problems early and address them in less drastic, less expensive ways. Switching your shampoo and conditioner can happen when you notice a new issue arise, but it can also be time to switch, when you decide to take a new style adventure or change your hair in some significant way. Sometimes these changes will be permanent overhauls, other times they will be temporary solutions to a singular issue. Regardless of the reason, it is imperative to your hair health that you know when you need the support of something different.

This will help you catch problems early and address them in less drastic, less expensive ways. Switching your shampoo and conditioner can happen when you notice a new issue arise, but it can also be time to switch, when you decide to take a new style adventure or change your hair in some significant way. Sometimes these changes will be permanent overhauls, other times they will be temporary solutions to a singular issue. Regardless of the reason, it is imperative to your hair health that you know when you need the support of something different.

Options and Variations in Haircare

Once you have learned what you need to do, it’s finally time to make your shampooing and conditioning decisions. There are more options of shampoos and conditioners than you might think. Let’s take a look at the obvious and not-so-obvious ways to keep your hair looking and feeling gorgeous and healthy on a daily basis.

Traditional 2-Step Method

This is shampooing and conditioning that the vast majority of us are familiar with. It works by cleansing and moisturizing your hair with two separate products (a shampoo and a conditioner) and completing each of those steps by rinsing the product out of your hair before drying. Typically, this is done at home in the shower but can also happen at a salon. Each shampoo and conditioner should be considered individually to achieve the best results.

2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner Products

This takes the traditional 2-step process down to one quick and easy step. 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner combos help people who have limited time to devote to hair care but still want reliable healthy style. It is arguable that this step is not as thorough as the 2-step method typically because less time and attention are being paid to the process. However, you may also want to keep in mind that it is a good way to give your hair extra support even if you are running low on time. Professional input on 2-in-1 shampoo or conditioner solutions is important to make sure your product shortcut isn’t one that you’ll end up paying for.

Dry Shampoos

Dry or waterless shampoos use ingredients that do not require water to soak up and remove excess liquids and contaminants that have made their way onto your scalp and hair follicle. Typically, these shampoos use a combination of starches, alcohol and/or other vaporized or dry ingredients to adhere to the dirt and oil on your hair. The upside to these products is that you don’t need a shower to give yourself a clean, fresh look. However, the downside is that you can only dry shampoo your hair a few times before you will need to deep wash the built-up contaminants left behind in your dry shampoo.

Leave-In Conditioners

Leave-in conditioners have many of the same properties as traditional conditioners but are more of a serum consistency to be left in, not rinsed out. These usually come in spray formulas and are applied to clean, damp hair after the shampooing process has been completed. Applying a leave-in conditioner, when your hair is wet, helps to keep the follicle open and receptive to deep moisturizing. This conditioner is best for hair that is naturally dry or has become dry from styling choices. It might be good to include a no-rinse conditioning solution to your routine temporarily after a major change. Again, you’ll want to do your homework or ask a certified hairstylist to make sure you don’t pick a solution that will leave your hair gritty or oily.

Your unique, individual style deserves regular and careful attention. Give your hair what it deserves by picking cleansing and conditioning options that are going to boost and repair your hair.

Want to Learn More?

Did learning about shampoo and conditioner interest you? Need to get your undergraduate certificate in cosmetology? At Minnesota School of Cosmetology, we are dedicated to helping our Cosmetology program students develop a solid foundation and a flair for style through hands-on training in basic and advanced industry techniques. You will learn how to cut, color and style hair, give manicures and pedicures, provide spa treatments and perform various skin care techniques from industry-experienced instructors in a professional salon setting. We keep our class sizes small to make sure you get the individualized instruction you need and attention you deserve. You will graduate with everything you need to be a versatile artist in an exciting industry, including a cosmetology diploma from a respected college.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a hairstylist and starting a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

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