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What Ingredients Should You Look For?


You shampoo your hair several times a week, if not every day. But is your shampoo the best one for your hair type? Learn about different types of shampoo and hair needs so you can choose ingredients that make your hair healthier.

The Goal of Shampoo

Shampoo is usually a thick liquid. It’s designed to clean your scalp and hair, removing dirt and excess oil around your hair follicles. Shampoo is similar to soap, although the ingredient compounds are gentler. If you used soap instead of shampoo, the ingredients would strip the outer protective layer of your hair. It would be a rough texture that is difficult to manage, even with hair products to help.

Benefits of Shampoo

Your shampoo should help balance your hair’s pH levels. The right shampoo will provide three key benefits to your hair.‌

Improves condition. The correct shampoo makes your hair look and feel healthier. Keep in mind that you may have to lather, rinse, and repeat to remove all dirt and build-up for the best results.‌

Stimulate growth. A shampoo that is rich in vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and natural extracts stimulates your scalp. This keeps your hair follicles healthy and encourages growth. Natural ingredients to look for include lavender, almond, ginseng, lemongrass, jojoba, and prickly pear. These ingredients also offer natural fragrance so you can avoid chemical fragrances that may damage your hair.‌‌

Color protection. If your hair is color-treated, the right shampoo keeps your color from fading as fast. Your hair absorbs color when it’s dyed, and harsh shampoos can strip the color from your hair.

Understanding Hair Types

Dry hair. If your hair is dry, it may break easily. You need a shampoo that offers additional moisture and conditioning properties. These shampoos contain oil and silicone to coat your hair and lock in moisture.‌

Neutral hair. If your hair isn’t oily or dry, you can use a gentle shampoo without a lot of additives that strip hair or add too much residue. If you’re concerned about an everyday shampoo being too much for your hair, you can use baby shampoos instead. Baby shampoo is gentle enough for everyday use.

Oily hair. If your scalp appears oily soon after you wash, you may need a special shampoo to remove more oil. Because your hair is already oily, these shampoos don’t have as many moisturizing ingredients and won’t weigh down your hair.


Different Types of Shampoo

Your hair may be dry, oily, color-treated, bleached, fine, thick, or any combination of these things. Each shampoo offers benefits for a specific hair type. In order to choose the right shampoo for your hair, you have to know about different types of shampoo, including: 

  • Clarifying

    . This kind of shampoo removes buildup in your hair and scalp

  • Color-Protecting. This shampoo is gentle enough for hair that is dyed or bleached 

  • Everyday. A general shampoo that doesn’t address any specific needs

  • Moisturizing. This shampoo adds moisture to dry hair that is prone to breaking

  • Oily Hair. A shampoo that helps remove extra oil and reduce the appearance of an oily scalp‌

  • Two-in-One

    .  Shampoo and conditioner combined in one 

  • Volumizing. Designed for fine hair, this shampoo makes your hair look thicker than it really is‌‌

Some shampoos are for daily use, while others you incorporate two to three times per week based on your hair’s needs. For example, if you have oily hair, you can use a special shampoo a few times a week. Using one every day may strip too much oil from your hair and do more damage than good.

Treating Dandruff

When your scalp becomes too dry, it can lead to dandruff. If you have flakes or build-up on your scalp, you may need to purchase a special dandruff shampoo to treat your scalp condition. With many dandruff shampoos available to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. The active ingredient 1% ketoconazole is a good place to start.‌

Ketoconazole is an active ingredient with antifungal properties to kill fungus and yeast that cause dandruff. You can purchase shampoos with low doses of ketoconazole over the counter. For a stronger concentration, talk to your family doctor or dermatologist about a prescription.‌

Other great dandruff shampoos have active ingredients like selenium sulfide and pyrithione zinc. You may have to try several different dandruff shampoos before you find one that helps address your specific concerns.

Other Hair Care Tips

For the best results with your shampoo, take care of your hair in other ways, including:

  • Washing oily hair more often
  • Washing dry or color-treated hair less often
  • Rotating in a dandruff shampoo to treat scalp issues
  • Using a conditioner on the lengths of your hair for added moisture and protection from the sun and other environmental toxins‌
  • Cover your hair while in the pool to provide protection from chemicals like chlorine



American Academy of Dermatology Association: “TIPS FOR HEALTHY HAIR.”

Mayo Clinic: “Ketoconazole (Topical Route).”

Minnesota School of Cosmetology: “6 Benefits of Shampoo and Conditioner.”

University of Michigan: “Dandruff.”

© 2015 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


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