They might be an everyday essential, but shampoos can be confusing AF. First you’ve got to work out whether you want something that moisturises; detangles or strengthens. Aaaand then you have the (oh-so-enjoyable) task of wading through an endless list of buzzwords and complicated technical jargon to find something that’ll bring out the best in your hair.
And we thought shopping was meant to be fun…
Rather than compounding the problem by banging on about our huge collection of salon-quality shampoos (at last count) we’ve decided to make shampoo great again by showing you how to pick a product that’ll suit your hair type – and pointing you towards some of our favourite examples.
Cos we know you don’t have all of the time in the world, we’ve broken this guide into stand-alone sections according to hair type. And you should 100% feel free to skip ahead, and focus on the bit that’s relevant to you.
Trust us, we’d do the exact same thing!
Oily hair can be an absolute mare to manage. Trust us. We’re all too familiar with the endless parade of brand-new shampoos; the strange, pre-wash rituals and the endless debates about how many times a week you should *actually* be washing your hair…
We also know that it can be super-tempting to pick up the strongest shampoo you can find, and start scrubbing away in a (pretty futile) effort to lift away all that excess grease. Sadly, strong shampoos can actually do more harm than good when it comes to oily hair. They strip away all the natural sebum oils that protect your scalp, which forces the sebaceous glands in your skin to go into overdrive: Flooding your scalp with excess grease and leaving your hair looking all stringy and gross.
This means you’ll want to stick with gentle, clarifying shampoos that use ingredients like mint or lipacid to regulate the natural oils on your scalp – rather than the heavy-hitting, industrial-strength shampoos that you’ve probably trialled in the past.
You’ll also want to steer well clear of shampoos that are designed to moisturise, hydrate or smooth hair, as these products tend to contain a lot of heavy conditioning agents that can build up in your hair and make it look super oily.
Your best bet is 100% something like Fudge’s Cool Mint Purifying Shampoo, which uses a combination of natural ingredients to soothe and rebalance your scalp. This miracle shampoo will lift away dirt and grime without upsetting your skin, and it’s designed for daily use which is absolutely perf for those of us with permanently oily hair…
If you’re struggling with fine or thin hair, you’ve probably honed in on any shampoo that promises to volumize your strands or breathe “new life” into your hair. And that’s great. After all, fine hair can look limp AF, and there’s no getting around the fact that a bit of extra volume would be nice…
Sadly, things are bit more complicated than that IRL. You’d think ‘volumizing’ would mean the same thing wherever you go, but different brands actually use a (huge) variety of different ingredients to plump up your strands, and some of them are much, much more effective than others.
More to the point, some “volumizing” shampoos actually use ingredients that leave a bit of a residue in your hair, which can weigh down your strands and make them look super-flat. If your top priority is extra volume, you’ll want to avoid these low-energy imposters and focus on the products that use advanced polymer technology to give your hair extra structure, and push your strands apart.
Kérastase Volumifique Bain Volume is a perfect example. This super-advanced shampoo uses a unique Amplifex System formula to thicken hair fibres and give you the thick, lustrous hair you’ve been chasing. It’s also a deeply cleansing shampoo that’ll leave your hair looking 100% snatched every time, so it’s well worth grabbing a bottle as soon as you can…
Dry hair often means a dry scalp, and a dry scalp needs a *lot* of TLC. Not to mention a heaped dose of moisturising ingredients…
This means you’ll want to avoid anything that’s designed to volumize, strengthen or fortify your hair like the plague, because these products generally strip oil (and moisture) from your hair. You’ll also want to avoid shampoos that contain sulfates like SLS or SLES because these intense detergents are known to be incredibly drying in their own right.
Instead, you’ll probably want to seek out shampoos with phrases like “hydrating” or “moisturising” in the label. These wonder-products are normally formulated with a combination of natural ingredients like aloe vera, avocado or coconut oil – which help to keep your scalp nice and moist. Some moisturising shampoos also contain complexes that are designed to carefully regulate moisture levels in your hair, and fight frizz.
Matrix Biolage’s Hydrasource Shampoo is a perfect example. Unlike a lot of shampoos, it’s designed to gently cleanse and detangle your hair – without stripping away those essential, moisture-retaining oils – and it’s also enriched with aloe vera, which is ideal for those of us with a parched scalp…
Coloured hair needs a gentle touch. If you bombard it with super-intense surfactants, you’ll damage the cuticle layer that locks pigment inside individual strands of hair, and stops your colour from fading. Worse still, strong shampoos will compound any damage that was done during the colouring process – leaving your hair looking wispy, dry and unmanageable.
So basically, ew. Luckily most of the big brands do make special colour-protect shampoos that are designed to gently cleanse your hair without damaging its delicate, protective coating. The very best colour protect shampoos also contain super-advanced vitamins (or botanical ingredients) that are designed to add an extra layer of protection to lock in your colour and keep it looking 100% fire for longer.
We absolutely adore Matrix Total Result’s Colour Care Shampoo for this. It’s ultra-gentle, which means you don’t have to worry about breaking your hair’s cuticle layer – or letting all that precious colour leach out into the shower. It’s also enriched with vitamin E and sunflower oil, both of which help to form a protective coating that’ll stop your hair from frizzing up.
Best of all though, this colour-friendly shampoo is produced by one of the leading brands in the industry, and – more importantly – it’s also the product of choice in most of our salons. So you know you’re using something that’s going to deliver reliable results every time you step into the shower…
Seriously though, you have to try this stuff. It’s just that good.
Bleached / blonde hair
Bleached (or blonde) hair is even more sensitive to powerful detergents, so if you’re sporting a platinum bob; a blonde lob or some beach-ready blonde waves, you’ll want to tread v. carefully when it comes to your shampoo…
In general, we’d recommend steering well clear of anything with parabens, sulphates or other heavy-duty chemicals. Sulfates – in particular – are known to be super-drying and you really don’t want them anywhere near your delicate locks.
We’d also recommend avoiding anything that’s designed to strengthen or volumize hair because – again – these products tend to suck the moisture straight out of your hair, which can compound any damage done during the colouring process, and leave your hair looking all limp/dried out.
Instead, try to pick gentle shampoos that focus on detoxing your hair without damaging the cuticle layer. If you’re trying to maximise the time between salon visits, you can also keep your eyes peeled for shampoos that cancel out those annoying AF yellow tones.
We’re talking purple shampoos here – or shampoos that are tailor-made for grey/blonde hair. This might sound like some spooky colour magic, but purple shampoos do genuinely help to keep your hair looking salon-fresh for longer. Particularly if you have very light/platinum blonde hair.
Oh, and make sure you pick something that’ll protect your hair from environmental damage. Dyed hair is super-sensitive to a lot of environmental pollutants and the absolute last thing you want is hair that’s going to soak up all those icky oxygen-free radicals…
Our top pick? Definitely Kérastase’s Blond Absolu Bain Lumiere Shampoo. This salon-quality shampoo is designed to protect and nourish blonde hair, and it uses a dazzling selection of high-tech ingredients to keep blonde hair looking bright and vibrant. More to the point, this awesome little shampoo also manages to give your hair a thorough clean without stripping away all of your natural oils, which makes it a great everyday shampoo for anyone with very light hair.
Oh boy. Damaged hair is definitely not ideal, and the wrong shampoo can make things 100x worse. Luckily some shampoos are actually designed to work with damaged hair so if you have gone too hard with the straighteners, you’ll be pleased to know that picking the right product could solve all of your problems.
The key here is to look for strengthening shampoos, which are normally very rich in amino acids and essential proteins. Without getting too technical, these nutrients are super-important for damaged hair because they provide your body with the raw materials that are needed to repair damaged hair cells, and they also help to encourage the growth of new hair (which is always a huge plus).
A lot of restorative shampoos also contain carefully-selected ingredients that are designed to smooth down your hair’s cuticle layer; protecting the (oh-so-delicate) inner fibres from further harm.
Pureology’s Strength Cure Shampoo has always been one of our fave restorative shampoos because it is absolutely jam-packed with essential nutrients, and it’s also ultra-gentle on damaged hair. It’s one of the products our stylists use in-salon, and it’s a BFF for hair that’s been over-styled or over-coloured.
Plus, it’s one of the few shampoos we trust to make our hair look 100% fire every time, so if you’re struggling with damaged hair, something like this should deffo be your top priority.
Still hunting for the ultimate shampoo?
Fingers crossed, this article’s helped to shed some light on the kind of shampoo you should be looking for, but if you’re a bit confused, you can always pop into your local Supercuts for some expert advice. You don’t need an appointment and our stylists will always be super-happy to talk all things hair. You can also continue your hunt for the ultimate shampoo on our online shop, and you’ll always find some snazzy bargains on the sale section of our site 😊.
Got a favourite shampoo we haven’t mentioned? Or are you just super-pleased to have found a new product? We’d love to hear from you either way. Just tag your posts #SupercutsUK so they pop up on our feeds.