Hair Shampoos are made up of a surfactant, usually mixed with a foaming agent such as Cocamide DEA to make it lather, along with humectants and proteins depending on the specific goal of the hair shampoo. The objective is to remove dirt, oils, dandruff and environmental pollutants without stripping too much of the hair’s natural sebum. A surfactant is essentially a detergent, which is why the right ingredients can make all the difference. No one wants to wash their hair with the same product that they would wash their dishes with. Some common surfactants include sodium laureth sulfate, sodium laurel sulfate,sodium lauroyl sulfoacetate, and sodiumcocyl isethionate. The major difference between them all is the size of the molecule. The smaller molecules can penetrate the hair and skin, causing drying and irritation, and the larger molecules are mild and gentle since they cannot penetrate the hair or scalp. Surfactants with a smaller molecular structure like sodium laureth sulfate, and sodium laurel sulfate, can actually remove too much of your scalp’s natural sebaceous levels, causing an overproduction of oils to counteract the drying effect. This will in turn make the hair oilier, and in need of more frequent washings. They also tend to have a higher pH level which is also immensely drying, as it is more alkaline in its stability. A hair shampoo with a more alkaline level will raise the cuticle of the hair making it dry and unmanageable. Think of the hair like shingles on a roof…if they are raised it will procure an uneven, distressed surface. Proper pH levels are at a 7 or less, making them more acidic in nature. Acidic hair shampoos help the cuticle lay flat for smoothness and shine.
While surfactants are the foundation of the cleansing properties of the hair shampoo, there are many other ingredients involved. At a glance, shampoos are usually either clear or pearlescent in appearance and this can help you differentiate between which is right for you. Pearlescent hair shampoos are heavier and more moisturizing, and usually contain a glycol disterate which is essentially a wax. They also contain silicone which is great for shine and can seal in moisture. Shea, coconut, macadamia and Moroccan oils are also very moisturizing and will help smooth and condition the hair. Clear hair shampoos are lighter- weight and won’t coat the hair and weigh it down. Glycerine is a common ingredient in shampoos, and it is a humectant which draws moisture in from the air. Cocamidopropyl Betaine is usually added as a thickening agent, is mild on the skin, reduces the amount of harsh chemicals needed, and has anti-static properties. Panthenol is a pro-vitamin B5 which is a humectant that will add moisture and thickness, and wheat proteins provide amino acids and have high glutamine levels which can help thicken and nourish, and will also smooth and moisturize the hair. Knowing a little bit about the chemical composition of your shampoo can really go a long way to helping you make the right choice.
No matter what your hair texture is, the right hair shampoo can make all the difference. Remember that just because that $5 bottle of hair shampoo claims to have the same or similar ingredients as the $25 bottle doesn’t mean that it has the same quality or quantity of the ingredient. Companies only have to contain the tiniest percentage of an ingredient to be able to list it on their bottles. It is definitely an instance where you get what you pay for. And if you are still confused, you can always stop in to Paparazzi Hair salon. We would be happy to help you with any questions or concerns, and help you make the decision that’s best for you.