Back to Basics: Shampooing 101

images-2We have been washing our hair for years, but a surprising question is; are we doing it right?  Sure, it may sound absurd that there is a right and wrong way to wash our hair, but the truth is that there is!  Our mission, as a team of professional hairdressers, is to ensure that our guests have the best hair possible.  This takes on two forms: health and style.  Although we cannot change the intrinsic qualities of the hair a guest is born with, as professionals- we can work to improve and maintain the condition of the hair canvas.  Read along as we outline some of the “basics” of this not-so-basic beauty routine.

Are you shampooing too often?

So many of us have the thought ingrained in our minds that we must shampoo every day to feel clean, smell fresh, and prevent “greasy” hair.  In actuality, “daily shampooing is only necessary if oil production on the scalp is high,” writes Zoe Draelos, MD, in the International Journal of Trichology.  Inherent excessive sebum production is somewhat rare, but manageable with the correct cleansers and styling products.  Typically, however, most oiliness comes from the environment, product build-up, diet, and- you guessed it- shampooing too often.

Most of us with “normal” hair can get away with shampooing every-other day.  Others with intrinsically dry or curly hair may be able to shampoo only once or twice a week.  (For these guys and gals, we will address “co-shampooing” in another article.)  To manage our worries between washings, professional hairdressers, dermatologists, and health professionals alike recommend hair powders or “dry shampoos” to soak up oil, add fragrance, and revive day-two style.

Are you using the right shampoo?

Yes, believe it or not, there is a difference between a professional brand of shampoo and those washing/styling systems found in grocery stores (such as Suave, Pantene, and Head and Shoulders).  Namely, these differences come in the form of the cleaning agents and the quality of their ingredients.  Most professional brands, such as Kerastase and Bumble and bumble use a surfactant ingredient called Sodium Laureth Sulfate that is safe and gentle to the hair strand.  Grocery store brands typically use detergents such as Ammonium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate.  These detergents are inexpensive, simple to prepare, and excellent cleaners, but keep in mind- detergent is great for our clothes and dishes, not for our hair.

  • Completely saturate your hair with lukewarm water (rather than hot H2O) being sure not to miss hair around the nape of your neck.  Making sure that your hair is fully wet before adding shampoo not only ensures that shampoo can do its job, but also emulsifies and rinses out any potential product build-up.  Avoid piling your hair on top of your head throughout this process to prevent tangles and knots.
  • Add a quarter-sized amount of shampoo to your hand and distribute between your palms.  Focus the shampoo on your scalp and  at the roots of your hair using your fingertips rather than your fingernails.  Massage in circular motions throughout your crown, on the sides, and finally at the nape of your neck.  Because of the high-quality surfactants found in professional shampoos, there should be little-to-no lather.  Lather and foam are of little importance when it comes to a great shampoo, but they often get the most attention from consumers.  We’ve all seen the shampoo commercials with heads heaped with bubbles.  These images have taught us to associate lather with a product’s cleansing ability, but science shows us that this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
  • Lather-rinse-repeat is not necessary unless you have an extremely oily scalp and have been instructed to do so by your hairdresser or medical professional.
  • Rinse your hair with lukewarm water.  Again, massage your scalp and root area as you rinse, pulling the shampoo through your mid-strands and ends.  It is not necessary to focus shampoo throughout your hair shaft; the act of rinsing out your shampoo will clean your hair from root to tip.
  • Apply conditioner only to the mid-shafts and ends by emulsifying the conditioner in your palms and distributing it gently with your fingers and hands.  The scalp and root area is naturally conditioned by the sebum produced by your hair follicle.  Because this natural oil cannot travel the length of your hair fiber on its own, conditioner is needed to add hydration, repair, and protective qualities to these areas.  Using a wide-tooth comb in the shower will ensure you achieve an even and thorough distribution of conditioner.  After combing through the mid-strands and ends, you may use the comb from root to tip as you rinse to prevent tangles and knots.  Conditioning is also an important step for those with fine or thinning hair.  Proper use of conditioner makes your hair soft, lustrous, and lightweight helping to add the illusion of density and volume.
  • Dry your hair by squeezing or pressing your hair between a towel, t-shirt, or regular kitchen paper towels.  Doing so prevents tangles and roughing-up your hair’s cuticle.

Everyone has specific hair needs.  It is important not only to use professional haircare products, but those products recommended by your hairdresser.  Beautiful hair begins with a healthy canvas and we are dedicated to helping you achieve the best hair of your life through personalized hair-need diagnosis, product recommendation, and styling education.

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