Updated 26 March 2015

How to choose the right shampoo and conditioner

There’s a bewildering array of hair products on the market. If you can’t make head or tails of what’s right for you, here’s help.

There’s a bewildering array of hair products on the market. If you can’t make head or tails of what’s right for you, here’s help.

Your hair is your crowning glory and should be treated as such. The good news is that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to have it treated at a pricey hair salon. Regular home-pampering sessions will do just fine – provided your hair isn’t severely damaged.

The following guide turns hair-raising product decisions into a no-brainer:

Choose a store
A reputable hair salon should be your first stop for purchasing hair products, like shampoo and conditioner. These salons not only stock top-quality products, but you’ll have the expertise of trained professionals to help you choose products that suit your hair type and pocket.

Check return policies
It might take a few attempts to find your ideal hair product(s). Check with the hair salon if they offer a reasonable return policy. Good products can be very expensive and a return policy will safeguard you against wasting money.

Know what you want
What does your hair need most – shine, volume, anti-frizz, lasting colour or damage repair? Having a clear picture of what you want to achieve will speed your choices along. This way you also won’t end up buying unnecessary add-ons that will end up gathering dust in your bathroom cabinet.

Specialised or localised?
It’s important to determine whether you have specialised issues that need to be addressed by a professional or if your hair is healthy enough to maintain at home. You might need professional help if you suffer from a scalp condition, or if you’re concerned about hair loss.

Consider your hair type
Coarse, dry hair needs products that will soften it, while fine, limp hair often looks oily and, therefore, needs clear, gentle products that will control the oil. In turn, coloured hair responds well to gentle protein-based shampoos. Read product labels carefully to determine which products are right for your hair type.

Sample the samples
Don’t be shy to ask whether the salon has samples you can try. Not many salons offer these, but there’s no harm in asking.

Read product labels
The last thing you want is for a product to cause scalp irritation or hair loss. Do your homework and check for allergens/irritants on the labels. If you’re not sure if a product might cause irritation, ask the shop assistant or hair stylist for help. Hair products sometimes contain alcohol, sulfates, parabens, propylene glycol, and other artificial and natural ingredients (e.g. cocamide, derived from coconuts) that may irritate the skin.

More is more
When you’ve decided which products to take home to try out, don’t be afraid to go big. Wash with the shampoo and condition at least twice a day over the next three days. This will help remove the last traces of products you used before and will reveal how the new products react with your hair. After this initial “cleansing” period, you can continue washing your hair as often as you used to.

Monitor, stop, return
If you’re not satisfied with your new products after the third day, or if they haven’t given the desired results, return them. This is why a return policy is important. Your salon expert will assist you in choosing another range of products.

REMEMBER: When it comes to your hair it’s worth investing in good, professional products. Combine these with a regular, good haircut and you’re guaranteed to make heads turn.


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