We all have a favorite shampoo. You know, the one that makes your hair smell like vanilla and promises shinier, thicker and healthier tresses. Maybe you chose that shampoo based on the recommendation of a hairstylist. Or, maybe you began using it because your best friend swears by it or you read that it’s your favorite celebrity’s secret to her gorgeous locks. But have you ever really read the ingredients of your shampoo and considered how they interact with your hair and your scalp?
The recent buzz around claims that certain conditioning cleansers and dry shampoos cause hair loss has many wondering if their favorite shampoo could be causing damage that can lead to hair loss, too. While those products may not be causing direct hair loss, the wrong product on the wrong hair type can certainly cause hair and scalp issues, including dreaded hair loss.
“Consumer products companies spend millions of dollars every year branding, marketing and packaging products with all sorts of crafty words and indirect claims to get you to buy their product,” says Emmanuel Paul, a certified trichologist at Jeffrey Paul Hair Restoration Center in Fairview Park, Ohio. “The best way to find which hair care products to use is to have your hair and scalp analyzed so that you can find shampoos and conditioners that enrich your hair and scalp, not damage them.”
The effects of shampoo on overall hair and scalp health come down to three things – ingredients, chemistry and usage.
Know Your Hair
Every scalp has its own unique chemistry. Your scalp may be oily, dehydrated or itchy. You may suffer from dandruff, but is it an oily or dry dandruff? It’s important to know your hair and scalp chemistry to find products that are best suited for your specific needs. Not all shampoos are created equally. Even though it works for your sister or best friend, that same product may not be the one for you and your hair. A certified trichologist can study your hair and scalp to understand your individual pH, oil and hydration levels.
While most shampoos contain cleansers that are safe, other products contain ingredients, which over time, can affect the scalp and may contribute to hair loss. Take a closer look at the label of your shampoo. If the product is considered a “conditioning shampoo” and there is not a cleansing agent listed in the first three or four ingredients in the product, you’ll know that there is minimal cleansing happening when using it. If your scalp is oily and you regularly use a conditioning shampoo, you are not properly removing the oil or slowing its production. Over time, that oil buildup can contribute to hair loss. That hair loss is not due to the specific product you are using, but rather because the product is not designed to cleanse and treat your type of hair and scalp.
Dry shampoos are also very popular because of their quick and easy application. And because the word shampoo is in the product name, often consumers believe they can exchange regular shampooing for dry shampoo. What many people don’t realize is that dry shampoos are designed only to absorb oil off the scalp, not cleanse it. The buildup of the dry shampoo will leave your hair and scalp in an unhealthy state that ultimately can lead to hair loss. Once again it’s not because of what is in the product but, rather that the product is not being used in the proper fashion. Dry shampoo should only be used as a style extender, meaning it can be used as an aid to extend your style, but should never take the place of regular washes.
The key is to find the right shampoo that contains detergents strong enough to cleanse the hair, but mild enough so as not to dry out or strip oil from the scalp.
There are many common myths about how often and exactly the best way to shampoo hair. Here are some simple facts to keep in mind to make sure you are treating your hair and scalp with tender loving care.
Myth: Shampooing can cause your hair to shed more.
Truth: Normal hair shedding can run between 80-100 hairs per day. When a hair falls out during its normal lifecycle, it does not jump from your head to the floor. The loose hair is held onto by the other hairs (think Velcro) or by a hair product. When you wash or brush your hair you will see more shedding as your hair naturally “releases” – not from the scalp, but from other hairs. If you typically lose 100 hairs a day and you don’t shampoo for three days, the number of hairs in the shower can seem alarming!
Myth: It’s as easy as lather, rinse, repeat!
Truth: Some form of these directions appears on just about every shampoo bottle. Most people hop in the shower, grab their bottle of shampoo, squeeze it in their hands and apply it directly to their hair. Unfortunately, this technique does not allow for the proper spreading of the product throughout the hair. If you do not emulsify the product (warm it in your hands) before application, you will find yourself with either one very clean section of hair, need to add more product to get the job done or create build up of product in the hair from not properly rinsing it.
The following simple steps will guarantee the best results (and save you money!) next time you hop in the shower or style your hair with your favorite styling aid:
- Squeeze the correct amount of product into your hands based on the length and type of hair texture.
- Emulsify and heat the product by rubbing your hands together as if you were trying to warm your hands, spreading the product through your hands and fingers.
- Using your fingers, evenly spread the product through your hair.
Myth: Shampooing every day dries out your hair.
Truth: Daily shampooing is only harmful if you are using the wrong product. A shampoo containing too strong a detergent can dry out hair. Mild detergents are designed to keep oil and hydration on the scalp in a more balanced state to allow for optimal hair growth. Your trichologist can recommend a good shampoo that contains the proper detergent mix for your hair.
If you suffer from dandruff, excessive scalp itch, hair loss or thinning and oily hair, you’re not alone. Most people experience some degree of one or all of them. Don’t self-diagnose your own hair and scalp problems. ScalpCheck™ will reveal the true reason and help you put those issues behind you.