How To Choose The Best Shampoo For Your Hair Type

woman bathing and washing her hair
how to choose the best shampoo

With tons of choice available on the market, choosing the best shampoo for your own hair type is not an easy effort. 

Clarifying, moisturizing, strengthening, color protection,…how do we know which is right for us? Lucky for you, we’ve spoken to some of the best hairdressers in the industry and summed up these helpful tips. We hope after reading this post, shopping for the right shampoo isn’t such a head game for you anymore. 

Defining your hair (and scalp) type

“All shampoos are the same” is a terrible misconception. Because everyone’s hair is unique, no two people’s hair care routines to maintain health, suppleness, balance, and overall natural beauty are the same. A healthy scalp is essential for beautiful hair. And, if you want a healthy scalp, you must first determine which type it is in order to apply the appropriate shampoo. Anyway, we use shampoo to “feed” the scalp, right?

If you have oily hair, for example, you should avoid moisturizing shampoos in favor of a deeper cleansing alternative. If, on the other hand, you have an itchy, tight scalp whether you’ve just gotten out of the shower or not, you probably need something with hydrating or moisturizing components.

Here’s how to determine your scalp type: A tight scalp after washing (or just by itself) or an itchy scalp (with or without flakes) are both signs of a dry scalp. An oily scalp, on the other hand, may be shinier, and someone with an oily scalp and dandruff may have clumped flakes.

Finally, there’s combination scalp, which refers to a scalp that’s neither dry nor oily. You’ll know if your scalp is combo if it gets oily two to three days after shampooing versus the day after. (Consider yourself lucky if that’s you). 

How to choose the right shampoo based on your scalp

Consider the following: Shampoo is a cleansing agent, so it is applied to the scalp. Conditioner is for….well, conditioning, as in providing moisture and nutrients to keep the hair soft, so it’s for the hair strands.

Unless your roots and hair are in the same condition, it’s best to tailor your shampoo and conditioner to their specific needs.If you have an oily scalp and dry hair, for example, you should look for a clarifying shampoo and a moisturizing conditioner.

Oily scalp

oily greasy hair in summer

If your hair is oily or greasy, you’ve probably tried dozens of shampoos with little success. To control excess oil and sebum production, you’ve tried everything from washing daily (even twice daily) to waiting days between shampoos.

Here are some things to look for and avoid when selecting a shampoo for an oily scalp:

  • Shampoos that are hydrating, moisturizing, smoothing, or good for curly hair should be avoided. These have a tendency to add too much moisture, which can result in even more excess oil.
  • Look for words like volumizing, strengthening, or balancing on the label. These are non-moisturizing products that are more effective at removing excess oil.
  • A clarifying shampoo can be very beneficial for super-oily hair, but be careful not to overuse it and dry out your scalp.
  • Choose shampoos containing tea tree oil. It provides a clarifying, fresh, and clean effect to your scalp and hair without overstripping.
  • Try using two shampoos. A double shampoo is similar to double-cleansing your face in that it involves washing your hair with two different shampoos to address different needs. Use one formula to treat your oily scalp, followed by another to wash below your roots.
  • Spend extra time working the shampoo into your hair roots to break up oil, and then thoroughly rinse your scalp.
  • Avoid massaging your conditioner into your scalp after shampooing. Instead, focus on your hair’s mid-shaft and ends. Rinse thoroughly.

Dry scalp

When your scalp is dry, itchy, or flaky, the right shampoo can be your first line of defense against the uncomfortable, and sometimes embarrassing, conditions that can arise.

It’s essential to choose a shampoo that doesn’t add to the issue. Try these tips:

  • Shampoos that are strengthening, fortifying, or volumizing should be avoided. These products have the potential to dehydrate your scalp.
  • Look for shampoo labels that promote moisture, hydration, smoothing, or curls if your scalp is only slightly dry with little to no itching or flaking. These products promote moisture retention and can help with dry scalp.
  • Sulfate-containing shampoos are extremely drying to the hair and scalp. One of the best ingredients in shampoos for itchy scalp is coconut oil.
  • Even if your scalp is dry, it is critical to shampoo your hair properly for the best results.

Choosing shampoo based on different hair types (plus, best shampoos for each type)

Fine hair

best shampoos for fine hair

Look for volumizing shampoos that can boost your strands without weighing hair down.

Thick hair

best shampoos for thick hair

Hydrating or moisturizing shampoos are great for adding moisture, shine, and smoothness to thick hair that lacks moisture.

Straight hair

best shampoos for straight hair

Smoothing or straight hair shampoos are typically rich in extra moisturizers and smoothing agents that are meant to help seal the cuticle and provide a great start for straight and smooth styles.

Curly hair

best shampoo for curly hair

Look for very moisturizing shampoos that contain ingredients that reduce frizz without weighing down the curls.

Wavy hair

Balancing shampoos are typically a nice middle-of-the-road option. They’re not too moisturizing but won’t dry your hair out.

Damaged/Brittle/Color treated hair

best shampoos for damaged hair

Strengthening or fortifying shampoos are beneficial for damaged, over-processed, highlighted, weakened, or brittle hair because they contain extra protein that improves hair condition and prevents hair loss.

Furthermore, if you’re the type of girl who enjoys experimenting with different hair dyes, there are many shampoos on the market that can meet both of your needs: preserving hair color and nourishing it

Other factors that you shouldn’t ignore

Shine and bounce are indicators of healthy hair, and bouncy hair is caused by elasticity. If your hair lacks bounce, experts say it’s probably because it’s not well-moisturized.

Heavy ointments or silicone should not be used on the hair if it is to be bouncy and elastic. A humectant, such as glycerin, will help draw in moisture and is ideal for dry scalp. Choose hair products containing natural hair moisturizing ingredients such as moroccan oil, argan oil, and others, as well as those labeled “sulfate-free.”

Mango seed oil, which is moisturizing and lightweight, is another ingredient to look for, as is argan oil. Sunflower seed oil’s ceramides and fatty acids can also aid in hair repair, moisturization, frizz reduction, and shine. Do you have dandruff? According to experts, dandruff is typically a byproduct of an oily and flaky scalp condition caused by infrequent shampooing, gentle cleansing shampoos, or, in some cases, diet.

If someone is experiencing a scalp imbalance and has not changed their environment, products, diet, or frequency of shampoos, they should consult with a medical professional to ensure that their scalp imbalance is not a sign of something internal.


There are dozens of different shampoo brands on the market today, which complicates choosing one. This can also be overwhelming when trying to determine what will work best for your hair. The best way to find a shampoo that works for you is to try it out and see how well it matches your hair type and purpose.

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