Shampoo and conditioner is the most important hair care duo you should never go without. But choosing the right ones for your hair can be difficult. There are so many labels with prices all over the map. This is not to mention that you need to choose from among many types of hair products formulated for different hair types.
If you’ve been looking for the best shampoo and conditioner, there are two main things you need to consider. Your current hair needs or problems and the end result you want in terms of style and appearance.
Use this cheat sheet to find the exact type of shampoo and conditioner that you need.
Your hair care needs/problems
What does my hair need to look good and stay healthy and strong?
That’s the first question you should ask yourself before you start shopping for a shampoo and conditioner and basically any hair care product.
Your hair needs will usually be in form of problems e.g. dry hair, damaged hair, frizzy hair and so on. Or maybe you have a type of hair such as kinky, greasy or fine hair that requires special care when washing.
1. Dry hair and scalp
Dry hair and scalp can be caused by not moisturising your hair adequately, washing too often or exposure to excess heat from hair stylers.
The best shampoo for dry scalp and hair should contain hydrating ingredients such as oils to replenish lost moisture in the hair and scalp.
Most dry scalp shampoos and conditioners from brands like Garnier also contain gentle ingredients designed to protect your scalp from itching, redness and sensitivity.
2. Dyed hair
If you have dyed your hair, look for a shampoo and conditioner labelled as colour-safe. This indicates it doesn’t have harsh chemicals that will strip off your hair colour.
Look for shampoos and conditioners with colour-enhancing ingredients. For instance if you have dyed blonde, a purple shampoo is best for protecting your hair colour. It’s also the best shampoo for grey or silver dyed hair.
3. Damaged hair
If your focus is on hair recovery, you need to find the best shampoo for damaged hair. It should contain gentle ingredients that do not cause further damage to your hair. If you can find a silicon and sulphate-free shampoo, buy it. See our list of the best sulphate-free shampoos.
Also check that the shampoo has plenty of nourishing ingredients such as vitamins and proteins to help with hair recovery.
4. Thinning hair
There are lot of reasons behind hair loss. It could be illness, genetics, stress, diet and age just to name a few. The best shampoo for hair loss is one that creates more volume in your hair while also encouraging new growth.
Avoid shampoos with harsh chemicals that could further weaken your hair and accelerate thinning.
5. Frizzy hair
If normal shampoos won’t get your hair to completely smoothen out, you need a specialised anti-frizz shampoo. Brands like Living Proof have shampoos specifically formulated to deal with stubborn frizz. They use ingredients that leave your hair smooth, shiny and easy to manage.
6. Kinky/Curly hair
If you have kinky curly hair, you know how difficult it is to find the right hair products. Most shampoos leave your hair in clumps while also stripping off important oils.
I recommend buying a shampoo that is designed specifically for curly hair. Such specialised shampoos will contain ingredients to detangle your kinks, keep your hair well moisturised, enhance your curls and make your hair much more manageable.
7. Greasy hair
Greasy hair is as a result of overproduction of oil from the scalp. If your hair tends to get oily, you need a shampoo that will remove the excess oils without turning your hair completely dry.
The best shampoos for greasy hair are usually light to avoid weighing your hair down and making it clumpy.
8. Fine/Flat hair
If you have flat or fine hair, what you need is a volumizing shampoo. It will make your hair fuller and give it more thickness.
9. Blonde hair
If you are a natural blonde, you may have noticed that sometimes your hair turns yellowish or greenish. This can happen when you use certain products, when you stay in the sun for too long or when you go for a swim.
See our list of the best shampoos for natural blonde hair that will protect your natural hair colour.
10. Hair extensions
When you get hair extensions, ask your hair dresser for recommendations on the best shampoo for hair extensions. Most professionals recommend a sulphate-free and silicone-free shampoo that will extend the life of your extensions.
If you go for a natural or organic shampoo, avoid those with too much oil as it can also damage your new extensions.
11. Dandruff and itchy scalp (Seborrhoeic dermatitis)
Seborrhoeic dermatitis is a skin condition characterised by dandruff, redness and itching on the scalp. If you think you have it, buy a medicated shampoo formulated to fight dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis.
A good shampoo will treat the redness and dandruff while also providing immediate relief from itching. See our list of the most effective shampoos for seborrheic dermatitis.
Your preferred style
If you are looking for a specific hair style, look for a shampoo and conditioner that are designed for it. For instance, if you want fuller and bouncier hair, get a voluminising shampoo. If you are looking for beachy waves or beautiful curls, there are shampoos specifically for that from brands like Redken, Paul Mitchell and Aussie.
1. Do you live in an area with hard water?
If yes, the water could be damaging your hair because of its high mineral content. A good quality shampoo for hard water can help protect your hair and get rid of any mineral build up on your hair and scalp.
2. Do you need to wash your hair often?
If you do, buy a regular or everyday shampoo. You can use a regular shampoo as often as you want without damaging your hair or causing it to dry.
3. Finally, do you have gluten intolerance?
For people with gluten sensitivity, what you apply on your skin can affect you just as much as what you eat. Use our list of trusted gluten-free shampoos to find the best and safest one for your hair and health.