What Do Shampoo & Conditioner Actually Do To Your Hair And Scalp?

Hair care is woven into our daily lives almost as much as eating and brushing our teeth, but most people don’t put a lot of thought into it.

We wash our hair with shampoo, and then we use conditioner for whatever conditioner is for. Some simplify things further by using a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner.

Simple, right? This order of events is so ingrained that sitting down and thinking about hair-washing can trigger a mild existential crisis.

Fear not. As it turns out, hair care is not simply a moneymaking ploy- there is research proving that shampoo and conditioner exist for a reason.

The wide range of products available may seem overwhelming at first, but as long as you’re equipped with the right knowledge, luscious locks are attainable for you. 

How Shampoo and Conditioner Work

What does shampoo actually do?

What does shampoo actually do

Shampoo is pretty straightforward, working in much the same way that washing detergents do. It cleanses your scalp, removing excess oil and buildup.

They generally achieve this with the help of a molecular compound called surfactants. They pick up the oil and dirt from your hair and, with the help of the shower water, force them to detach from your hair and rinse out.

One controversial aspect of shampoo is sulphates, one of the most common surfactants.

Sulphates get that nice foamy lather, but they can be too harsh, stripping away necessary natural oils from your hair. Fortunately, many brands, such as Eleven shampoo, offer sulphate-free shampoos. 

What does conditioner actually do?

Conditioners can be a bit of a mystery. The general consensus is that it makes your hair shiny and soft, or helps remove knots and tangles.

And this is mostly true: conditioner acts as a lubricant or moisturiser. Without it, your hair may feel dry or hard to comb after the shampoo strips away the oils.

Conditioner is particularly useful if you use a shampoo containing harsh surfactants that strip away the natural oils in your hair.

Many conditioners contain silicones. This helps to detangle and smooth the hair while adding a nice shine. Like shampoo, conditioner comes in a multitude of variations.

How to choose the appropriate products

A quick glance at any beauty aisle will tell you that there are many variations of shampoo and conditioner. Bottles advertising anti-frizz, colour protection, volume, and more.

This just means that the formula has been altered slightly to specifically suit different hair types.

A one-size-fits-all formula may clean or moisturise your hair, but selecting a shampoo and conditioner made for your hair type may enhance the overall appearance of your hair.

If you’re overwhelmed by choice, start by figuring out your hair type. It also helps to figure out what exactly you want from your shampoo and conditioner.

If you struggle with frizz, you may plump for a frizz-reducing product. If you dream of big fluffy hair, a volumising product may be your best bet. 

How to wash your hair properly

How to wash your hair properly

There’s no point in having the best tools if you don’t know how to use them. Buying the best products and knowing how and why they work only goes so far.

Apparently, there is indeed a right and wrong way to wash your hair. Everything from products to water type must be carefully considered.

The first step is to not wash your hair daily. The optimal time to wait between washes varies between hair types, but either way, letting some of your natural oils build up and do their jobs will keep your hair strong and healthy.

Apply your shampoo to thoroughly wet hair, and don’t go overboard- if you use too much shampoo, you may not be able to get it all out. Massage your scalp gently, and then rinse thoroughly. 

When you apply your conditioner, don’t lather it all over your scalp- this can cause a buildup of oils. Apply down the shaft of your hair and focus on your ends.

Let it sit for a few minutes to adhere to your hair, and feel free to comb it gently before washing the conditioner out. 

In conclusion, shiny and alluring tresses aren’t just something you see on television.

Knowing how shampoo and conditioner work can help you in choosing the most appropriate products for your hair, and fulfilling your hair needs just may result in shining, glamorous hair that is the envy of all around you.