Choosing the Best Shampoo and Conditioner for Your Hair Type
Your hair’s health, texture, and look depends on the shampoo and conditioner you use—the wrong shampoo can be the reason your hair is limp or frizzy. But with dozens to choose from, knowing which is right for you can feel overwhelming.
Whether your hair is curly or color treated, fine or oily, this guide will help you learn what to look for in your hair care products. Then lather up the right one for you. Your hair will thank you for it.
Color treatment can zap moisture from your hair, and regular shampoo can fade the new shade. To preserve the color’s vibrancy and keep hair healthy, use protective products that are sulfate-free and made without sodium lauryl sulfate. They’ll keep your locks looking like the day you left the salon longer—and feeling softer too.
Finish up with a conditioner designed for color treated hair. Look for UV protection ingredients (like sunflower extract) or High Moisture on the label, and feel confident that your new hue will be well cared for.
Curls are complicated. Quick to frizz and hard to control, it takes a lot of effort to create an effortless look. Weightless moisturizing shampoos made with sulfate-free formulas keep curls bouncy, soft, and shiny by quenching thirsty locks without weighing them down with heavy oils. Skipping a day—or more—between shampoos lets hair’s natural oils do their job, and prevents the cuticle from drying out.
Step two: Apply a deep conditioner with keratin or soy protein and natural oils that are highly moisturizing (look for ingredients like argan, coconut, avocado or olive oil). They're a curl’s best friend. For crush-worthy curls, keep your hair fully hydrated by applying a deep conditioning treatment once a week. Keep in mind, what works for one curly head of hair may not work best for another—play around to determine which is best for you.
Whether your hair has been damaged by heat or color treatment, it needs some special TLC. Look for a gentle restorative shampoo that will mend the cuticles and soothe the scalp. Shampoos made with keratin and glycerin will help to repair and heal.
Phase two of the mending process is a conditioner that has hydrolyzed protein and natural oils in the ingredient list. They will smooth the cuticle and bring back softness and shine.
The best way to bring dry, brittle hair back to life is with a hydrating shampoo that’s gentle so it won’t strip away the bit of natural oil you do have. A shampoo that has panthenol and cetyl alcohol in the ingredient list will infuse moisture into the hair shaft and cuticle, making it soft and smooth.
Follow up the gentle cleansing with a hydrating conditioner made with nourishing oils like argan or olive oil, and humectants. And since dry, thirsty hair loves moisturizing and repair treatments, once a week apply a deep conditioning mask made with humectants and botanical extracts like chamomile extract or lavender for great long-term results.
Overcome the limp, lifeless texture that’s common with fine hair by washing with a lightweight shampoo that adds volume—without weighing it down. Ingredients like wheat or soy protein and panthenol are great for giving bounce and body to fine hair.
After shampooing, apply a small amount of light conditioning or leave-in conditioner to just the ends. Amino acids and biotin are good ingredients for building body. Pro tip: A little product goes a long way with fine hair, so be careful not to overdo it.
Defuse a frizzy situation with a cuticle-smoothing shampoo that is packed with protein. Since frizzy hair is usually dry and dehydrated, giving it a big gulp of moisture will also help tame it. Ingredients to look for include silicone, wheat or soy protein, and essential fatty oils like avocado, olive and coconut oil. They will coat the cuticle, making it smooth and manageable.
Then coat your hair with a hydrating conditioner to lock in moisture. A water-based conditioner is best for fine hair, it will hydrate without adding weight. Medium to thick hair can handle a rich, deep conditioner with ingredients like glycerin or flax seed.
Clear the oiliness from your hair and scalp with a clarifying shampoo. While it’s tempting to look for a strong oil-fighting shampoo, stay away from harsh product. They strip away all your natural oil leaving you with brittle, frizzy strands. Start by skipping a day between washes and then using a shampoo with tea tree oil or zinc pyrithione, ingredients that will address the excess oil without harming your hair.
As for conditioner, look for light formulas with omega 3 and wheat germ oil to get moisture into the hair’s cuticle without adding on more oil. Then when applying it, skip the scalp and focus just on the ends. Quickly rinse it out—don’t let it linger—and rinse thoroughly.