Blonde, brunette, redhead, black, fine, thick, straight, curly, long, short… There are so many types of hair which differ in their characteristics and, therefore, many different types of shampoo. It makes sense that everyone will like one type of hair or another. Having said that, there is one thing which we all find pleasing: healthy and well-looked after locks.

For well-maintained hair, certain products are indispensable, like shampoo. Contrary to what you may believe, shampoo can do much more than simply wash your hair. In fact, there are a wide range of shampoos on the market with a diverse array of functions and characteristics. Take note.

Key Facts

  • Shampoo is a product intended to wash and care for the hair. It works by removing excess oil from the scalp.
  • In actual fact, shampoos have many more cosmetic benefits beyond washing your hair.
  • There are various types of shampoos with different functions and characteristics, and for different types of hair. We can also find shampoos with specific properties. The composition of the shampoo will determine its function, the cosmetic results it will produce and in some cases, adverse effects.

Ranking: The best shampoos on the market

In this section, you will find a list of the 5 very best shampoos currently available on the Australian market. Additionally, we’ve summarised the key characteristics of each one in order to make a comparison. From this, you’ll be able to decide which is the best shampoo for you.

No. 1: Sebastian Professional Drench Moisturizing Shampoo

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This moisturising shampoo has an intensely nourishing formula for extreme rehydration in hair. It has been specially formulated with key ingredients to treat dry, frizzy and chemically-treated hair and give it extra moisture. These ingredients include hydrolysed silk, oryza bran oil rice and jojoba seed oil: the latter being rich in vitamins and minerals to promote healthy hair as well as treating dry scalp.

Sebastian Professional is a celebrated hair care brand based in Los Angeles. They have been offering hair and personal care products since the 1970’s. They offer a range of high-end hair care products, including this shampoo which is designed to give hair silky body and shine and is also colour-safe so you do not have to worry about using it with dyed hair.

No. 2: Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Lavender Mint Moisturising Shampoo

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US-based company Paul Mitchell has been producing salon-quality hair care products and styling tools for nearly 40 years. They were one of the first brands to take a stand against animal testing and continue to offer cruelty-free quality products, making their products a great choice for those who want to ensure they make ethical purchasing decisions.

This unisex shampoo is made from their signature natural material, tea tree oil, with mint and lavender for an extra soothing fragrance. Created for dry and unruly hair, its composition has been designed to encourage smoothness, hydration and silkiness. Its ingredients include moisture-rich conditioners and amino acids to promote strength, shine and manageability.

No. 3: Bumble and Bumble Bb Curl Care Sulphate-Free Shampoo

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This Bumble and Bumble shampoo has been designed specifically for curly and wavy hair. The product controls frizz and helps to define curls for the perfect look. It is made by US-based hair care company Bumble and Bumble, which specialises in quality, in-salon hair products.

Every hair type has its own needs and characteristics, therefore choosing a shampoo suitable to your hair type is critical. This product includes a blend of Brazilian essential oils which provide rich hydration and replenish moisture in curly or frizzy hair. Other components act as UV inhibitors which protect hair from the sun’s rays to prevent further drying. The result is smooth, sleek and perfectly defined curls.

No. 4: Wella Enriched Moisturising Shampoo for Coarse Hair

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For thick and coarse hair in need of a soft touch, try this specialist shampoo from Wella, one of the most recognised brands in the personal care industry. Thick hair has its own unique characteristics, which require a specific approach. You will, therefore, get better results with a shampoo designed especially for thick or coarse hair.

This shampoo from Wella is specifically formulated to add softness to coarse hair and control body in thick hair. With rich moisturising ingredients including silk extract, the product provides smoothness and softness to even the roughest of hair.  It also contains components to promote controlled volume and vitality.

No. 5: J.R. Liggett’s Jojoba and Peppermint Bar Shampoo

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Shampoo bars are becoming increasingly popular with eco-conscious consumers as a plastic-packaging free option. Plastic pollution is becoming a major problem worldwide, and so many people are looking for ways to reduce the plastic waste they produce. Shampoo bars are a great way to do this, as they do not need a plastic bottle to dispense them!

With the same components as a traditional shampoo but in solid form, this shampoo bar from J.R. Liggett provides good foam and lather which can be worked through the hair in order to provide a thorough clean. It is made from natural ingredients including jojoba and peppermint which provide superior sebum removal, treat skin irritation and replenish moisture, as well as an uplifting fragrance.

Shopping Guide: What you need to know about shampoo

Before buying shampoo, it’s important to know the key attributes of that product.  To that end, we have included the most relevant features of shampoo, so that you can be fully informed. We also answer the most frequently asked questions from consumers about shampoo.

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It is important to correctly use your shampoo in order to get the best results and avoid undesirable effects. (Source: Ponzi: 40657969/ 123rf.com)

What exactly is shampoo?

Shampoo is a personal care product designed principally to clean your hair. On a daily basis, our hair is exposed to multiple sources of dirt, most notably those which come from our own bodies. The sebaceous glands in the scalp produce sebum, a type of oil which accumulates in the hair and makes it dirty.

Additionally, our scalp can peel off, releasing small pieces of skin, or dandruff, which can stay in the hair. Our surrounding environment also contains particles which have been generated by pollution and can deposit themselves in our hair. Finally, residues from other products such as gel or hairspray can accumulate in our hair.

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Shampoo is necessary in order to guarantee a healthy scalp.(Source: Kachmar: 70097121/ 123rf.com)

The combination of all of these elements can result in dirty and unpleasant looking hair. This is where shampoo comes in. Shampoos can eliminate all of the dirt from our hair, thus achieving a clean and healthy appearance. Additionally, they give our hair softness and shine.

What benefits does shampoo have for my hair?

As already mentioned, the main purpose of shampoo is to clean your hair. Shampoos remove the excess of sebum, a type of oil produced by the scalp, from hair. They also eliminate the chemicals which come from environmental pollution and other products and accumulate in our hair. With the help of shampoo, our hair becomes clean, healthy and looks better.

However, these days the composition of shampoo has been updated to provide many more benefits.

For example, some shampoos can hydrate your hair. On the other hand, others are designed to remove more oiliness from the hair. There are also shampoos whose ingredients can straighten curls, or alternatively enhance them.

In short, shampoo is an essential hair care product. It gives you perfectly clean locks, as well as serving your hair care needs. Every type of hair, depending on its characteristics, requires its own special handling. For this reason, there are different types of shampoos to suit these various needs.

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Did you also know that there are shampoo bars? This type of shampoo is perfect to reduce plastic waste.

What are shampoos made of?

Composition of shampoo can vary greatly depending on its properties. That is, not all shampoos have the same ingredients, rather it depends on the type of shampoo. The components of shampoos fall into eight main categories which we will discuss below.

The main component in all shampoos are surfactants. These are excellent cleaning agents which also produce foam. The remaining ingredients are conditioners, thickeners, acids, preservatives, opalescents, essences, essential oils and active ingredients.

The following table details the eight main categories of ingredients found in shampoos, along with their key functions and some examples.

Category Function Examples
Surfactants  Cleaning and foaming  Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), sodium lauryl ether sulphate and sodium lauryl ether sulfosuccinate
Conditioners Offset the dryness of the detergents, replacing part of the eliminated oils Diethanolamine of coconut fatty acid, lanolin, lecithin
Thickeners Make the shampoo easier to use and apply Sodium chloride
Acids Balance the pH Citric acid
Preservatives Prevent fungi and bacteria Methylparaben
Opalescents Create a pearly effect for dry and normal hair Derivatives of waxes
Essences and essential oils Perfume Plant extracts: lavender, rose etc
Active ingredients Enrich the product Vitamins A and E, keratin, collagen, aloe vera, chamomile

Despite the wide range of combinations available, all shampoo compositions must meet certain objectives. They must be easy to rinse out and produce good results after washing the hair. They shouldn’t damage the hair or contain toxins and should irritate the skin and eyes as little as possible. Shampoos must also be biodegradable with a slightly acid PH.

How does shampoo work?

We know that shampoo washes our hair, but how does it work exactly? Shampoo works by removing excess sebum from our scalp. Sebum is a type of oil which is produced by the sebaceous glands of the scalp. It forms a protective layer which protects the scalp from external contaminants, but in turn accumulates dirt.

The surfactants, or cleaning agents, in shampoo separate the sebum from the hair, taking with it all the accumulated dirt and contaminants. Soap works in the same way, but mixes in much more with the sebum. This means that much more oil is removed, in turn causing dryness. This is why we can’t wash our hair with soap.

What are the different types of shampoos?

There is currently a wide range of shampoos available on the market with various properties, compositions and characteristics. The formulation of shampoos has evolved over time to suit the needs of every hair type. Today, there are shampoos all hair types and all ages.

Among the best-known types of shampoo are antidandruff shampoos which have ingredients to prevent fungus. There are also natural shampoos which are based on organic ingredients; and alternative types which do not contain chemicals. There are also shampoos for babies available, as well as dry and solid shampoo.

Below is a table with the main types of shampoos on the market and there most important characteristics.

Category Function
Antidandruff Contain ingredients such as zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, tar, salicylates and ketoconazole that reduce the fungi which cause dandruff.
Natural Shampoos made from natural ingredients (vegetable extracts) combined with surfactants. Their effectiveness is controversial.
Alternative Shampoos with lower levels of potentially harmful chemicals, especially sulphates. They require more frequent usage compared to traditional shampoos for the same results.
For babies The contain less eye and skin irritants. Additionally, they use more gentle surfactants.
Solid shampoo/shampoo bars A special type of shampoo which is in a solid form that you can then rub into your hair. Less effective than liquid shampoo.
Dry Shampoo Shampoo applied by spraying onto the dry hair. Removes localised oils in the most problematic areas such as the roots without needing to wash the hair.

What specific properties can shampoos have?

  • For oily hair: removes more oil from the hair.
  • Anti-hair loss: strengthens the hair and prevents hair loss.
  • For dry hair: hydrates the hair more.
  • Colour protective shampoo: specifically designed to maintain the colour of dyed hair.
  • Balancing shampoo: recovers the normal pH of the hair.
  • Moisturising shampoo: hydrates the hair to maintain moisture and stay healthy.
  • Volumising shampoo: gives the hair extra volume and body.
  • Straightening shampoo: enhances straight hair as well as providing hydration and shine.

How should you use shampoo?

Just like any personal care product, to get the best results from shampoo you must use it correctly. To this end, below we detail step by step how to correctly apply shampoo. This may seem simple and obvious, but there are probably some details you don’t already know which will make all the difference.

Firstly, wet your hair in the shower with warm water which is not too hot, otherwise, you will dry your hair. Put a small amount of shampoo, about the size of a coin, in your hand. Using more product does not give you better results. Distribute the shampoo between your hands and then gently massage into your scalp with your fingertips.

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Washing your hair daily is not advisable. Generally it is recommended to wash it 2 or 3 times a week.(Source: Racorn: 21235159/ 123rf.com)

Rub the shampoo through your hair, starting at the roots and working your way to the ends. Once it is well distributed throughout your hair, rinse it out well. Then take the same amount of shampoo and wash your hair a second time. Next, rinse the hair thoroughly with plenty of warm or cold water. Wrap the hair in a towel and dry well.

How often should I use shampoo?

Everyone wants to have clean and well-maintained hair. However, this doesn’t happen when you wash your hair every day. In fact, it is not recommended to wash your hair too frequently. This causes too much oil, our natural scalp protector, to be removed, which is not beneficial.

There is no strict rule about how often you should wash your hair. This will depend on the needs of your individual hair type. Generally, experts advise washing your hair between 2 and 3 times a week. In the case of dry hair types, these intervals can be longer. Equally, oily hair may be washed more frequently.

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Conditioner is shampoo’s best friend and best practice is to apply it after washing your hair.(Source: Goodluz: 15290641/ 123rf.com)

What are the adverse effects of using shampoo?

Despite being a daily product whose use is widespread, shampoo is not exempt from adverse effects. These are primarily due to the incorrect use of shampoo. For example, using too much too often, or using a product with inadequate ingredients. People with skin problems may also be affected.

Irritation of the scalp and the skin is one of the most common adverse effects. This is more common in shampoos with irritating ingredients such as alcohol derivatives, which can cause dryness and peeling. Some people also report itching or irritation of the eyes in contact with shampoo.

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It’s important to choose the shampoo appropriate to your hair type.(Source: Kolpakova: 11963030/ 123rf.com)

Some components of shampoos can cause other changes and impacts. For example, there have been cases of SLS poisoning. On the other hand, sodium sulphate can damage vision. Substances such as DEO (diethanolamine) have harmful effects on the digestive system. Finally, some people may have allergic reactions to certain ingredients.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of shampoos?

Below is a comparison table of the key benefits and disadvantages of using shampoos.

Advantages
  • Cleanliness
  • Hydration
  • Seboregulation
  • Healthy hair
Disadvantages
  • Allergic reactions
  • Scalp, skin and eye irritation

Shopping criteria

When buying shampoo, it’s important to assess certain factors. Below we have listed the key factors to consider before buying a product. This will make sure you make an appropriate decision, choosing the shampoo which best suits your needs. These factors are:

  • Composition
  • Hair type
  • Desired results
  • Age
  • Illnesses or allergies

Composition

The composition of the product is very important when buying shampoo. The ingredients will determine how well the product functions, its results and potential adverse effects. Therefore it is vital that you take time to thoroughly check the components of shampoo before buying it. Here are some examples.

Depending on your hair type, you may be interested in enhancing certain aspects, for example, increasing moisture, reducing oiliness or treating dandruff. On the other hand, you will want different components if you want to enhance curly hair or smooth it down. Finally, if you have any allergies or problems with your skin you will need to be very careful.

Hair type

As previously mentioned, there are shampoos specifically designed for every hair type. According to this criteria, each includes specific components in order to suit the needs of each type of hair. Therefore before choosing your shampoo you must have a clear idea of the characteristics of your hair.

For example, there are special shampoos for straight or curly hair. You can also find exclusive ranges for dyed hair, which will enhance the colour. On the other hand, if your hair is overly dry, dull or damaged you may be interested in shampoos designed to repair and strengthen it. Whatever you hair type, you will be able to find a suitable shampoo.

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If your hair is delicate or sensitive it is better to choose natural products free from parabens and salts.

Desired results

Another aspect to keep in mind is the results you want to achieve. As you well know, the primary purpose of shampoo is to wash the hair, but it is not its only function. There are shampoos formulated exclusively to provide specific results. In other words, in addition to shampoos for each hair type, there are also shampoos for specific results.

As an example, you may be interested in a shampoo which helps to reduce frizziness in your hair. Another possibility is to find a product which gives your locks more volume and vitality. If your hair is dull and flat, you can give it the brightness it needs with the right shampoo. There are many options.

Age

Age is a factor which is often overlooked, but it is very relevant. Children’s hair does not have the same characteristics as adults’ hair. Their needs are also different. In addition, children’s skin is more delicate. Therefore, the market offers special ranges of shampoos formulated exclusively for children.

These products tend to have a pH more considerate of the skin and eye irritation. Additionally, they contain ingredients to make combing easier. There are also “for the whole family” shampoos. Such products do not consider the differences that come with age, so it is preferable to use different shampoos for children and adults.

Illnesses or allergies

Dermatological conditions and allergies affect the use of shampoos in two ways. On the one hand, there are specific shampoos for certain skin diseases or problems. For example, shampoos with antifungal components can be very useful in case of fungal infections. There are also hypoallergenic shampoos and those with a neutral pH, in case of allergies.

On the other hand, those who suffer from certain diseases or allergies may be more susceptible to the adverse effects of shampoo. In short, it is important to keep these aspects in mind when choosing a shampoo. Choose the most appropriate shampoo for your condition and make sure it does not contain ingredients which may be harmful to you.

Summary

In short, shampoo is a very useful, everyday personal care product. Its core function is to wash the hair, by removing excess sebum (oil) from the scalp. However, shampoo has many other cosmetic properties, which are largely determined by its composition.

Properly using shampoo will give your hair a clean, healthy, strong and shiny appearance. In addition, it will give your locks everything they need to look phenomenal in their own way. Nowadays, shampoos are available which are designed for every age and every hair type. They can even promote certain cosmetic effects as desired.

Are your curls ill-defined and messy? The solution is a shampoo specifically designed for curly hair. Is your hair dry and damaged? Try the range of repairing shampoos for damaged hair. Do your children complain of itchy eyes every time they shower? Choose a shampoo for specially designed for children and solve the problem.

(Source of featured image: Dolgachov: 38880105/ 123rf.com)

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