The best shampoo and conditioner for every hair type

Looking to upgrade your bathroom cabinet with the best shampoo and conditioner for your hair type? Keep reading…

While shelves full of serums and sprays might suggest differently, shampoo and conditioner are the two most important products in your regime. After all, great hair needs great foundations, and this duo is your first chance to coax it into shape. Picking the best shampoo and conditioner is vital for healthy, glossy hair, regardless of whether your chosen ‘do is a short hairstyle, a bob hairstyle or a long hairstyle.

But formulas aside, there are still plenty of misconceptions around shampoo and conditioner. Do I need to wash daily? Are all sulphates bad news? Should I actually be cowashing? And how much is too much conditioner?

We’ve asked the experts to break it down for your best lather, rinse and repeat yet…

How should using the best shampoo and conditioner make your hair feel?

A good shampoo will cleanse your hair gently but effectively, leaving it clean and free from product build-up. What it shouldn’t do is leave hair dry and squeaky, stripping away the oils our hair needs to stay soft and shiny.

Conditioner should leave your hair moisturised, nourished and silky, but not heavy or greasy. Apart from that, it’s all down to personal preference and hair type.

How much hair washing is too much?

“On average, I say wash your hair every three days – but everyone is different”,  advises hair expert and Viviscal brand ambassador Adam Reed, when it comes to how often you should wash your hair.

“Three days is a good bench mark as it allows your sebaceous gland to regulate. Any more and you risk over lubricating the hair with its natural oils. Over-washing the hair can cause the sebaceous gland to produce too much sebum. This means hair feels oilier, and then, in turn, will need to be washed more. If you strike the balance right, every three days you will have a great release of sebum, allowing natural conditioning of the hair. Any less and you’ll find that the hair can become built up by environmental pollution and will need more shampooing, causing it to look dull and lifeless.”

As for the rumour that hair will eventually self-clean, this is unfortunately nothing more than a beauty myth. It might seem cleaner after a week or two, but it’s likely you’ve just gotten used to the greasier texture.

Skipping shampoos, or over-washing can both cause problems when it comes to the health of your hair and scalp – something Adam sees regularly in his salon.

“If people shampoo the hair too often, I find that the hair is much more difficult to blow dry and it can become static,” Adam says. “On the other hand, clients who put too much product in their hair can ‘cake up’ the scalp with ingredients like kaolin (normally found in dry shampoo). This can cause the hair to look lifeless. Similarly, if you’re washing your hair every day this can cause metallic salt build-up in the hair because of the pipes in our showers. Hair tends to lose it’s sheen, looking dull instead.”

How much shampoo and conditioner should I be using?

The experts are divided when it comes to how much shampoo and conditioner you should be using, but it really does come down to trial and error.

Start by working a small blob of shampoo (the size of a 20p) into a lather, and only add more if your hair needs it. Using too much isn’t necessarily bad for your hair, but is a waste of your hard-earned cash. Pureology shampoo and conditioner bottles have handy symbols on their caps as a guide to how much you need to use.

Same goes for conditioner. For fine hair, a little conditioner will go a long way – and you’ll only need to use it on your ends. But if your hair is thick, dry or textured, you’re likely to need a generous dollop.

The most important thing is to make sure you rinse both your shampoo and conditioner thoroughly. Rinse until you think it’s all gone, and then go again for another 15 seconds. Leaving product behind will not only rid your hair of its shine, but can cause problems for your scalp too.

Are sulphate-free shampoos better for your hair?

The simple answer is that it depends on the individual. Some people quickly notice an improvement in the health and condition of their hair when they stop using shampoos with sulphates in. Others the opposite.

But, sulphate free shampoos are growing in popularity, which many people now actively avoiding them in shampoos. So we asked award winning hair stylist Michael Van Clarke for his view on sulphates:

“Sulphates can be found in a variety of products, from shampoo and toothpaste to laundry detergents,” explains hairdresser Michael Van Clarke.

But before you recoil in horror at the thought of washing your hair with detergent, it’s important to understand that not all sulphates are created equal.

“The most commonly used sulphate in shampoo is Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), which is a very effective surfactant. It helps to dissolve grease and dirt, and it’s nice and easy to rinse out.”

If your hair is naturally dry, or your scalp sensitive, you might find that Sodium Lauryl Sulphate does a bit too good of a job, stripping away much-needed moisture. It can speed up colour fade too.

There are two other, slightly gentler sulphates to look out for on your ingredients list…

  • SLES – Sodium Laureth Sulphate ‘This is a much softer cleanser and has a larger molecular structure than SLS,’ explains Michael.
  • ALS – Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate ‘Even gentler than SLES, this has a larger, more complex molecule which is harder for outer layers of skin to absorb. Therefore it’s seen as less likely to irritate sensitive skin.’

Opting for a shampoo formulated with milder sulphates, or culling them from your routine altogether, might not be a good idea if your hair is on the oily side. They don’t lather as easily, so you have to work harder to break down styling products and grease. 

The best shampoo and conditioner combinations for every hair type in 2020

Read on for our round up of the best shampoo and conditioner for your hair needs. Your dreamy new double act is just a click away…

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