Choosing The Right Shampoo for Healthier Hair
While it may seem like a simple topic to talk about, there are many that do not consider the ingredients or consistency when choosing their shampoo or conditioner. Maybe you think that all shampoos and conditioners provide the same results, but that is not true. All of us should be better researched on what makes a high quality shampoo or conditioner and even though it sounds a bit overwhelming, believe me, it's worth knowing about. In addition to knowing what to look out for in your washing products, there are also ways of improving your washing techniques. From cutting down on product use (which also helps you save money and is great for the environment), to knowing where and when to apply the product on your hair, you will find everything you need to know in this article. Now, let's speed up our hair washing routine while protecting our health and achieving shiny, gorgeous hair together!
How To Choose A High Quality Shampoo
To do this correctly, you should start by looking for products with natural ingredients and higher degree of viscosity. The viscosity of a liquid is the consistency. The thinner it is, the faster it flows out of the bottle. The slower it flows out of the bottle, the higher the viscosity. Lower viscosity products have a higher water content by volume; higher viscosity products tend to have more of the active ingredients you need for cleansing your hair successfully.
Natural Ingredients? 3 To Avoid In Shampoos
The word "natural" is broad and can be easily misunderstood when it comes to personal care products for your hair. Many companies use this kind of buzzword to give you a false sense of security. There seems to be an ever growing need for products with words like natural, organic and chemical free. Although it may sound difficult to know which products are actually natural, there are certain ingredients you should avoid altogether; below are the usual suspects that you should stay away from:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)
Chief among these is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), a surfectant that is used in many cleaning products, from shampoo to soap to dish soap. It is a skin irritant and may be contaminated with potentially toxic manufacturing impurities such as 1,4-dioxane.
The name of this one sounds innocent enough, fragrance sounds like it should just be something that smells nice. Beware, fragrance is a catch all term that can encompass a large range of chemicals. There can be a undisclosed mixture of scent chemicals and fragrance dispersing ingredients such as diethyl phthalate. These can cause lung and skin irritation, as well as potentially damage the reproductive system.
This is an antibacterial and preservative which can persist in the environment and may be associated with endocrine (hormonal) toxicity.
A trick to telling shampoo and hair wash quality is by the size of the nozzle. Most shampoo comes in a flip top bottle with a nozzle built in. The larger nozzles tend to come on products with less active ingredients. The larger nozzle makes you more likely to squeeze out more shampoo. I'm sure you've experienced this, and once it's already in your palm you feel like it would be unhygienic to return it to the bottle and a waste to throw it down the drain, so you put it in your hair and end up using too much shampoo. This is not only a waste of money but also of time because it will take you longer to wash the shampoo residue out of your hair. Additionally, because you used too much shampoo and over cleansed the scalp, you will then need to overuse conditioner in order to replenish the lost moisture, leading to more wasted money and over use of product.
Best Method for Washing
Once you have chosen a good shampoo or hair wash, the method to washing your hair is simple.
First, thoroughly wet your hair with warm water. Second, dampen your hands. Third, squeeze the shampoo or hair wash onto the palm of one hand. A dime sized portion should be sufficient for short hair, a quarter sized portion for medium/shoulder length hair, two quarter sized portions for longer hair. Before you apply the shampoo or hair wash, first rub the palms of your hands together to create a lather from the shampoo and the water already on your hands. Then, apply to your hair starting at the top of your head. Then insert your fingers until the tips of your fingers touch your scalp and massage the shampoo or hair wash outwards toward your forehead. Then place your fingers back on top of your head with the tips touching your scalp and massage the shampoo back towards the nape of your neck and tips of your hair. This way, the shampoo or hair wash will stay in contact with each part of your hair for the optimal amount of time: longest on the parts of the head that produce the oils, and shortest on the tips of the hair which are the driest and most easily damaged.
After you have washed your hair, and given yourself a relaxing head massage in the process, rinse your hair. As a general rule of thumb, you should rinse you hair for three to five times as long as it took you to wash it. You should count this time from when the shampoo or hair wash first touched your hair to when you began to rinse it. If it took you 2 minutes to wash, then it should take you 6 to 10 minutes to rinse it all out. Stand directly under the stream of water and occasionally sweep your hair with your hand, but do not brush when wet as brushing wet hair can damage it.
Bonus points for doing a finishing cold rinse!
If you can stand the temperature change, the best final rinse for freshly washed hair is to rinse it thoroughly in water that is as cold as your tap can give you. When I'm camping, the water comes from the well and it is really cold but I smile while trying to not grit my teeth and I tough it out because it leaves my hair so smooth and shiny! The reason this works is because the warm water of the shower opens up the cuticles on the surface of your hair, which under magnification look almost like fish scales. Tricks such as rinsing off in cold water, or flat ironing with a hair straightener in the direction that the cuticles face, smooth them out and seal the cuticles so that you get healthier, stronger hair, and brilliant shine.
If you used a quality one step hair wash then congratulations and skip to the end on how to dry your hair! If you have a two step shampoo and conditioner combo, then it is now time to apply the conditioner. Conditioner is designed to replenish to hair some of the moisture lost while shampooing and cleansing it. Conditioner can also have ingredients that will smooth, soften and make hair more manageable.
3 Top Ingredients To Avoid In Conditioners
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
PEG is a small organic alcohol that is commonly used as a conditioning agent. It's a skin irritant and can cause allergic contact dermatitis (rash) as well as contact urticaria (hives).
Dimethicone is a silicone based polymer which is used as a conditioning agent and lubricant. It makes the hair seem slicker when used in conditioner. It is classified as expected to be toxic or harmful and is an environmental toxin and can bio-accumulate in your body.
Phenoxyethanol is a preservative and fragrance used in skin and hair products. It is highly irritant to skin, eyes, and lungs. Further, it can cause organ system toxicity.
The Truth About Conditioner
The important thing to remember about conditioner is that most conditioner is designed predominantly for hair, so that's where you should put it. You do not need to apply it in the massaging technique to your scalp. If you have ever used argan oil on your hair you will know what I mean. Over the course of several hours, some of the oil is drawn up naturally up the hair shaft and into your roots. If you have a greasy scalp or hair that becomes naturally oily soon after washing, then apply conditioner only to the bottom 1/2 of your hair. For everyone else, applying conditioner to the bottom 3/4 of your hair is best and capillary action will take care of the rest.
When applying conditioner, begin at the tips of your hair. Use the same amounts for conditioner as for shampoo given above. Rub the conditioner between your damp hands, then begin by rubbing the tips of your hair if you have short hair, or close your hands around the tips of your hair if you have long hair. Work your hands up toward the roots but do not apply conditioner directly on the roots.
Because of the way that the moisturizers in conditioner work, you do not have to rinse for as long. A good rule of thumb is to rinse for the same amount of time as how long the conditioner was on. So if it took you two minutes to condition, then rinse for 2 minutes.
Again, bonus for doing a finishing cold water rinse!
Drying Your Hair
There is a myth that drying your hair naturally, without the use of a hair dryer is the best way to attain healthy hair. This is true, but with some caveats. If you live in a hot, dry, low humidity environment, with lots of sunshine and a steady breeze, and you can spend half an hour in said breeze after you wash your hair each time, gently brushing it, then yes drying your hair naturally is a great choice.
However, if you live in the world that most of us live in, with time pressures and high humidity summer, then using a hair dryer is best. What you want is to dry your hair the fastest way possible, while using the lowest temperature that is not room temperature. On most hair dryers, this equals the low (but not cold) heat setting and the high speed setting.
And voila! I hope you've enjoyed reading these tips on how to pick a high quality shampoo and conditioner, then using them to attain your best hair ever! Did you learn anything new? Do you have any tips or ideas to add? Tell us in the comments below.