Picking shampoo for your hair shouldn’t be a difficult process that’ll have you reading every bottle in the hair care aisle at the drugstore. However, with so many options to choose from it can get confusing trying to figure out the best shampoo for hair. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), dermatologists and hairstylists alike recommend using a shampoo (and conditioner) specific to your hair type for healthier hair. And thankfully, there's a dedicated shampoo for all hair types. You can pick up shampoo for dry hair, shampoo for damaged hair, shampoo for color-treated hair or whatever other hair type you have.
The end goal, however, is always the same: vibrant, shiny and healthy-looking strands that get thoroughly cleaned without drying out. If you’re unsure where to start we’re here to help. Read along in this guide that explores the different hair types, the best shampoo to use and product tips you’ll want to try to get the best-looking hair possible.
Why Should You Use a Shampoo Dedicated to Your Hair Type?
Having healthy hair is all about a combination of the right products and the right application method, which makes the first step of your routine (shampooing) a vital starting point. The best shampoo to use is one dedicated to your hair type to address any hair concerns that may be the result of a dry or oily scalp.
Different hair types, according to a 2015 medical study, can benefit from different shampoos to improve the condition of your hair, stimulate hair growth and protect your colored- or salon-treated hair. When you don’t use a dedicated shampoo you can put your scalp at risk of excessive product or oil buildup, flakiness and an itchy scalp, which can lead to dandruff and dull-looking hair.
How Do You Properly Shampoo Hair?
We know you know how to shampoo your hair, but as a refresher here’s the dedicated method that professionals recommend. When you’re ready to shampoo, massage the product into your scalp, and when you’re ready to rinse you can let the lathered product flow down the hair to wash away any grime on the mid-lengths and ends. Be careful not to rub shampoo into the length of your hair, the AAD confirms that this hair habit can ultimately cause damage.
What Are the Different Hair Types
How often you wash your hair and with what shampoo should be based on your hair type. When determining your hair type, you’ll want to look at the texture and pattern of the hair.
Hair type can sometimes be denoted using a numerical scale (1,2,3,4) while hair pattern and texture is reflected on an A, B, or C scale. For example, curly hair can be referred to as 3A, 3B, 3C, etc. based on your texture and curl pattern. This concept is used for straight, wavy and coily hair types as well. Below, discover the different hair types to help you determine your strand situation and what shampoo to use.
Straight hair has that smooth, slick look that doesn’t need two hours of flat ironing to achieve and instantly lays flat naturally. This hair type is referenced by professionals as Type 1.
Type 1A hair is pin-straight, similar to a doll's hair, and tends to be on the finer side. This hair type will look silky smooth naturally because the oils from the scalp can travel down the entire strand.
Type 1B hair will have a medium texture that is more voluminous and can start looking a little tousled depending on the styling products used. Hair will still look extremely straight but can start tangling more at this texture level.
Type 1C hair is on the coarser side and can be affected more by outside factors stressors like the weather, the sun and smoke to name a few. This can produce frizz and a more textured look that can seem wavy.
Wavy hair tends to look flowy, with crimps in the strand that look bendable. Use hair products that add moisture and define the natural wave pattern to enhance your hair's look and health. This hair type is referenced by professionals as Type 2.
Type 2A hair is fine in texture and has extremely loose waves. If you use too much hair product or dense styling products you can weigh down your hair, making it look straighter than intended and greasy and limp.
Type 2B hair starts to look more wavy and can actually hold that texture longer when using the right holding sprays.
Type 2C hair is thicker and has more curl definition while remaining flowy and loose in the pattern. This hair type is also more prone to frizz
Curly hair has an elliptical curved shape that can vary between hair types. The hair starts out a little straight at the root but it’ll quickly turn into a spring-like shape that gives it that bouncy look this type is known for. Wavy and coily hair are often referred to as types of curly hair, however, they are different. and need their own sections. Curly hair is often referenced by professionals as Type 3.
Type 3A hair is on the wavy end with springy curls that don’t get as dry as the other curly hair types below. With this hair type, you’ll notice looser, ringlet curls.
Type 3B hair has is thicker, creating more volume and defined curls that start closer at the root of the hair. This hair type, as well as most curly hair, gets frizzy easier since oils from the scalp can’t make their way to the full strand.
Type 3C hair creates a tightly curled corkscrew shape that starts pushing into the coily hair category. If you have this hair type, you may only need to wash your hair once or twice a week.
Coily hair used to get clumped into the same hair type as curly hair, but they’re very different. Referenced by professionals as Type 4, coily hair is also known as kinky hair and is most common among Black people. If you have coily hair, you won’t need to shampoo as often as this hair type tends to be on the dry side. That doesn’t mean you should skip shampooing altogether. Curly and coily hair can experience a lot of buildup from products so the use of a specific shampoo (like a clarifying shampoo or micellar rinse) will ensure the root stays clean while the rest of the hair is moisturized.
Type 4A hair is fine and extremely springy. These tight S-patterned coils start from the root and look more defined.
Type 4B hair is a little thicker and has less defined curls that bend in sharp Z angles.
Type 4C has the tightest curls and the least definition among other curly hair types. Shrinkage — the act of hair minimizing in size as it dries, resulting in hair that looks shorter in length — is extremely common with 4C hair and needs less-frequent washing.
What Are the Different Hair Textures
Fine Hair Texture
The difference between fine hair, medium hair and thick, coarse hair has everything to do with the texture. To determine this, get a piece of your hair to test. Brush through your hair and pick one of the strands from the bristles (if you have short hair try to find an isolated strand on your head). Then, roll it between your fingers to determine the texture, if you cannot feel the hair, you most likely have fine hair. This isn’t to be confused with thin hair which equates to a low number of hair strands. On hair grading systems, this hair texture is considered type A.
Medium Hair Texture
This is the in-between hair texture that is thicker than fine hair, but not by much. If this is your hair type, you probably don’t have any issues holding hairstyles but still have issues running your hands through your hair from the thickness. On hair grading systems, this hair texture is considered type B.
Thick Hair Texture
Hair texture comes down to the circumference of the hair strand. If you looked at your hair under a microscope you could see the cylinder shape that can vary in size depending on texture. Simply put, in a microscopic way, thick hair is bigger than fine hair. Follow the texture test from above, and if you can feel the strand you have thick hair (the level of thickness aka coarseness will vary from person to person). On hair grading systems, this hair texture is considered type C.
Now that you’ve got your hair type down, you’re ready to pick the right shampoo for your hair. Below explore a plethora of sulfate and paraben-free shampoos to care for your hair.
The Best Shampoo for Dry Hair
A few ways to tell if your hair is lacking proper nourishment is if it feels brittle or straw-like, constantly falls flat and is frizzy beyond control. If this sounds familiar, give your dry, dehydrated strands a desperate pick me up with the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Hyaluron Plump Hydrating Shampoo, Paraben-Free. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, this shampoo delivers long-lasting hydration for fuller, softer and bouncier strands. Gently massage the shampoo onto wet strands, rinse and follow up with conditioner.
The Best Shampoo for Oily Hair
You washed your hair in the morning, only to have greasy roots by lunchtime so you’re back to washing your hair again that night, stuck in a vicious cycle of never-ending shampoo sessions. It doesn’t have to be that way, which is why we recommend the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Shampoo. Formulated with three types of refined clays, this clarifying shampoo helps to absorb excess oil from your roots and refresh hair while rehydrating dry ends. Massage the shampoo onto wet hair in a thick lather, rinse and follow up with conditioner.
The Best Shampoo for Damaged Hair
Unfortunately, there is no turning back the clock on damaged strands. Once your hair is in rough shape, the best plan of action is to dial up your hair care routine. Show your hair the respect it deserves with the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Bond Repair Shampoo with Citric Acid. This shampoo is a miracle worker for fragile strands as it strengthens hair from the inside out by reinforcing weak hair bonds. Massage the shampoo onto wet strands, lather, rinse and follow up with conditioner.
Editor’s tip: Once a week or as needed, switch out the conditioner for a deep conditioning mask like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Signature Masque, Color Care Hair Mask to offer intense hydration and deeply nourish damaged strands.
The Best Shampoo for Frizzy Hair
Whether it’s the weather or your hair’s natural texture that makes you prone to frizz, we can all agree that it’s annoying to deal with. Take things into your own hands by curating the perfect frizz-fighting routine with the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Frizz Defy Shampoo with Marula Oil.
This sulfate-free shampoo is formulated with marula oil to offer humidity and frizz control, plus, improved manageability and shine. Apply the shampoo to wet strands and massage into a thick lather, rinse and follow with conditioner.
Editor’s tip: For extra frizz-fighting, add an anti-frizz serum to your routine, like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum Leave-In.
The Best Shampoo for Dandruff
When you’re experiencing dandruff, reaching for the right hair care products can make a world of difference. To give your scalp some extra attention, we recommend reaching for the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Simply Clean Shampoo with Essential Oil. This shampoo is formulated with gentle ingredients like rosemary essential oils to carefully shampoo your hair without causing more damage. The included essential oils condition the scalp, combatting dandruff and scalp buildup.
The Best Shampoo for Salon-Treated Hair
Certain salon services, like keratin treatments, can leave your hair feeling extra dry and even damaged. Throw frequent dye sessions and heat styling into the mix and you’re definitely setting yourself up for over-processed strands.
To revive your chemically-treated hair, reach for a hair wash that’ll target the damage salon-treated hair is prone to. We like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Repairing Shampoo that renews damaged hair and penetrates deeply to repair broken hair fibers from over-processing. Apply the shampoo to wet hair and gently massage it into a thick lather, then rinse and finish with conditioner.
The Best Shampoo for Curly and Wavy Hair
Curls and coils of all shapes and sizes look their best when you use a shampoo that is formulated for curly strands. We love the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Push Shampoo for the way it hydrates (thanks to hyaluronic acid and castor oil), fights humidity and shapes curls without weighing them down.
Apply the shampoo to wet hair and gently massage it through your strands, then rinse and follow with conditioner. When your scalp needs some extra attention, switch out the shampoo for the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls No Build-Up Curls Micellar Shampoo to gently cleanse and remove buildup.
The Best Shampoo for Dull Hair
Overhaul dull hair with a glossing shampoo that can help to bring back shine and add vibrance, like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Glossing Shampoo, pH Balanced. This shampoo is infused with argan oil to make hair silky, shiny and smooth. A couple of times a week or when hair looks dull and faded, pair the shampoo with the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Glossing In Shower Acidic Glaze to give hair a healthy, glossy-looking finish that lasts.
Apply the shampoo to wet hair, massage into a lather and rinse. Then, spray the in-shower treatment on wet strands, leave it on for one to three minutes (do not rinse) and follow up with conditioner. You’ll be left with glossy hair that feels more clean and nourished.
The Best Shampoo for Thin/Flat Hair
When you have thin, flat hair the struggle to strengthen your strands and up the volume, is real. If you have thin hair or you’re dealing with hair loss or shedding, perfecting your hair care routine is key. Try the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Volume Shampoo to boost volume and promote thickening without weighing down your hair. Gently massage the shampoo onto wet hair, lather, rinse and continue with conditioner.
The Best Shampoo for Colored-Treated Hair
From peach hair to golden copper highlights, if you spend the time (and money) to perfect your hair color, you definitely want your new shade to stay in top shape for as long as possible. It’s best to reach for a shampoo that is formulated to preserve the tone of color-treated hair, like the L'Oreal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy Protecting Shampoo. This shampoo has an antioxidant and UV filter to help protect the hair fiber and preserve color. Apply the shampoo onto wet strands, lather, rinse and finish off with conditioner.
The Best Shampoo for Brassy, Blonde Hair
If blondes have more fun, it’s probably because they’ve discovered the right shampoo to keep their ashy, cool tones vibrant. If you notice that your strands are particularly brassy, reach for a purple shampoo like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Brass Toning Purple Shampoo.
This shampoo neutralizes brassy yellow and orange tones in blonde, bleached, highlighted and silver hair. Massage the shampoo onto wet hair, lather, rinse and follow up with conditioner. Once a week, switch out the conditioner for a purple conditioning mask like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Anti Brass Purple Mask Treatment to banish brass and deep condition your strands.
The Best Shampoo for Gray or Silver Hair
For the silver-haired beauties who want a shampoo that keeps their strands in mind pick up a dedicated shampoo like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Silver Care Sulfate Free Shampoo with Peptides. This sulfate-free shampoo will gently cleanse hair while the added peptides help hair look and feel smoother and silkier with each wash.
The Best Shampoo for Length Retention
If long hair goals are your thing, turn to a shampoo that can help to preserve every last inch, like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Restoring Shampoo for Long, Damaged Hair. This shampoo is formulated with a blend of castor oil and vitamins B3 and B5 to seal split ends and protect damaged hair as it strengthens and nourishes it.
Edited by: Reece Andavolgyi, Alexis Gaskin; Photo Credit: Courtesy of L'Oréal Paris
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