Switching Shampoos: Necessary or Nah? | Popular Science Homepage
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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Switching Shampoos: Necessary or Nah?

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Woman washing hair in shower“Which camp do you fall in? Do you faithfully stick by your hair care products, or are you a more-the-merrier type? Takao Shioguchi/Photodisc/Getty Images

You’ve probably heard that you need to change shampoos every once in a while. Conventional wisdom says that your hair "gets used to" or "becomes immune to" the effects of the formula of whatever shampoo you’re using. It feels true, right? Your hair does feel less soft or look less shiny or even gets all dandruff-y after a while. Time to hit the hair care aisle!

Well, maybe. When your hair changes, it’s probably because something is different about your environment. Did you move somewhere with hard water? Start or stop working out? Is it winter, when indoor air is heated and dry, or summer, when you’re all sweaty? All these things will change your hair, and then yeah. You do need to change shampoo, but not because your hair is "immune" to your old shampoo.

But if you seem to have clumpy dandruff that you can kind of scratch off your scalp, that could be buildup. Styling products, dry shampoo and even your trusty old shampoo and conditioner if they’re not thoroughly rinsed out can build up on your scalp and hair.

If that’s the case, there are a few easy fixes:

  • Use a clarifying shampoo once or twice a month.
  • If you have braids, a weave or locs, dilute the clarifying shampoo for easier rinsing.
  • Do a DIY apple cider vinegar rinse once every other month: 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water.
  • Avoid parabens, sulfates and silicones in your hair products since they cause the most buildup.
  • If hard water is the issue, find a chelating shampoo to remove the mineral buildup from your hair.

If you’re using a shampoo and conditioner that work for your hair, whether it’s oily or dry or curly or flat, they should work for a long time. You might need to swap out for a season or change completely if you move. Otherwise, changing shampoo and conditioner is totally up to you and your level of obsession with the hair care aisle.

NOW THAT’S COOL

With all this buildup from products, you may be tempted to ditch the whole thing and join the "no-poo" movement. No shampoo, no conditioner, no styling gunk. Just the occasional cider vinegar rinse. Lots of people report loving their hair after ditching the products, but if you’re not ready to go pro-no-poo, try washing less often, maybe once or twice a week, with your regular shampoo and conditioner. This may make enough of a difference, especially for dyed, dry or super curly hair, without skipping shampoo entirely.

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