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What to Look for When Buying Shampoo

by Lily Morgen
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Shampoos play an important role in keeping our hair clean and healthy. But with so many different types of shampoos on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind when shampoo shopping:

1. Consider Your Hair Type

If you have oily hair, you’ll want to look for a shampoo that can help control oil production. If you have dry hair, look for a shampoo that will hydrate and nourish your locks. And if you have normal hair, you’ll want to find a shampoo that won’t strip away your hair’s natural oils.

2. Choose A Formula That Nourishes Hair

A good shampoo should not only clean your hair, but also nourish and condition it. Look for a shampoo that contains natural ingredients like olive oil, avocado oil, or shea butter. These ingredients will help to keep your hair healthy and looking its best.

3. Look for Natural Ingredients

When it comes to shampoo, natural is always better. Natural components include moisturizing oils like argan, coconut, and moringa. These will provide moisture so that your hair doesn’t feel dry and peeled after washing.

Some organic components, like Tea Tree, can serve as antibacterial remedies for ailments like dandruff. Tea Tree also works well to deep clean greasy scalps.

4. Choose a Shampoo with Gentle Surfactant

Gentle surfactants are usually sugar-based, like decyl glucoside or lauryl glucoside. Along with betaines and sodium cocoamphoacetate, other mild surfactants include amino acid based glutamates. They are much less harsh on your hair and scalp than other types of detergents, making them a good choice for those with sensitive skin.

5. Choose the Right Scent

The scent of some shampoos are very strong and can be overwhelming, while others are more subtle. Consider what kind of scent you prefer before you make your purchase.

6. Read the Label to Know What a Shampoo Consists of

Before you buy shampoo, take a moment to read the label. This will help you understand what the product is made of and how it might work for your hair type.

A shampoo typically contains four categories: 60%-80%water, 20%-30% surfactants, 0-10% oils, preservatives, and fragrances. Water is the base of all shampoos and helps to dilute the other ingredients. 


Surfactants are what make shampoo foamy and help to remove dirt and oil from your hair. Oils help to moisturize your hair and can be left in or rinsed out. Preservatives help to extend the shelf life of the product. Fragrances are added to give the shampoo a pleasant scent.

Surfactants are usually the most important ingredient in shampoo since they are responsible for cleaning your hair. The most common surfactants used in shampoo are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and ammonium laureth sulfate (ALS). SLS is a strong detergent that can strip away natural oils, so it’s best used on oily hair. ALS is a gentler alternative that is less likely to cause dryness or irritation.


The most common oils used in shampoo are coconut oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil. Coconut oil is a good choice for people with dry or damaged hair. Olive oil is a good all-purpose oil that can be used on any hair type. Jojoba oil is similar to our natural sebum and can help to balance oily scalp conditions.


Fragrances are added to shampoo for a variety of reasons. They can cover up unpleasant smells, mask the scent of other ingredients, and simply make the shampoo smell nice. Some people prefer to avoid fragranced products, so there are also unscented shampoos available.

7. Ingredients To Avoid

There are some ingredients that you may want to avoid in your shampoo. These mainly include sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and artificial fragrances.


Sulfates can be drying and irritating, so they are best avoided if you have sensitive skin or hair. The common sulfates found in shampoo are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and ammonium laureth sulfate (ALS).


Parabens are a type of preservative that can be found in many cosmetics and personal care products. They are used to extend the shelf life of products by preventing the growth of bacteria. However, parabens have been linked to cancer and hormone disruption. The common parabens found in shampoo are methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.


Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible. They can also be found in cosmetics and personal care products. Phthalates have been linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity. The common phthalates found in shampoo are dibutylphthalate (DBP) and diethylphthalate (DEP).

Artificial Fragrances

Artificial fragrances are chemicals used to create a scent. They can be found in many personal care products, including shampoo. The common artificial fragrances found in shampoo are limonene, linalool, and synthetic musks. Artificial fragrances can cause skin irritation and allergies.

Benzalkonium Chloride and Benzethonium Chloride

These two ingredients are often found in “antibacterial” shampoos. However, they are actually classified as pesticides by the EPA. Studies have shown that they can be absorbed through the skin and may be toxic.


Triclosan is another ingredient that is sometimes found in “antibacterial” shampoos. However, it has been linked to hormone disruption and may also be toxic.

PEG-150 Distearate

This ingredient is often used as a thickener in shampoo. However, it can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which is a known carcinogen.

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