No, Gender Doesn’t Matter When Picking the Right Shampoo & Conditioner for Your Hair

Here’s What Does Matter When Choosing Hair Products

A handsome Black man washes his hair near the headline: "What Actually Matters When Picking a Shampoo... Hint: It's Not Your Gender"

 

My grocery store separates shampoo & conditioner by gender. According to my stylist, the Vigor Roots boss, and the internet: that’s pretty silly. 

Gender doesn’t affect whether or not a certain shampoo or conditioner will give you the clean, healthy, sexy hair of your dreams.

No, scents aren’t gendered. No, you don’t need a men’s shampoo. That’s just marketing.

Here’s what actually matters when trying to find the shampoo and conditioner that are right for your hair.

Ingredients for Shampoo: We Want Clean, Not Irritated

The point of shampoo is to gently cleanse your hair and scalp. Emphasis on “gently.”

Many of the popular, mass-produced shampoos at the local grocery store get the job done- but at what cost? Their cleaning agents are so harsh that they often irritate sensitive scalps and leave hair frizzy, dry, or unmanageable.

Patrick Purvis, stylist extraordinaire of Strut Salon in Portland, OR, advises his clients to look for products that are sulfate- & paraben-free, as these chemicals are “basically just detergents.”

“Definitely get something that is more than just soap,” agrees Vigor Roots CEO Nathalee DuRose.

But, no matter what product you use, it’s important to be careful not to over-wash your hair.

“If cleansed too frequently, hair strands may dry out, leading to damage and breakage,” DuRose explains.

Remember, our scalps are supposed to produce a certain amount of natural oil. Entirely getting rid of it hinders more than it helps.

“In my experience, when people think they have overly oily hair, it’s usually because they wash too often,” Purvis says. “They’re stripping the scalp of oils and the scalp is compensating.”

When his clients wash less frequently, their oily hair problem often disappears.

“I wouldn’t recommend anyone wash every day,” says Purvis. “There’s no reason I can think of besides a medical condition.”

Washing once a week is good, unless you’re sweating a lot or using a lot of product. Try not to wash your hair more than twice a week though.

Ingredients for Conditioner: We Want Moisturized, Not Coated 

A good conditioner helps your hair to absorb water. Humectants, or ingredients that pull water from the air, are good to look for in a conditioner. Some common ones are: aloe vera, Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and honey.

But, certain ingredients can coat your hair strands, almost like little plastic wrap casings that prevent the moisture from setting in. It’s best to avoid shampoos & conditioners that are extremely oil-heavy or that rely on dimethicone, a silicone used to give products a smooth and silky feel. (These ingredients are OK in moderation.)

Purvis recommends that all of his clients use a clarifying shampoo once a month to remove product buildup, so that their conditioner can help their strands properly absorb moisture.

The Condition of Your Scalp

If you’re experiencing a scalp condition like dandruff, it’s important to head to the dermatologist to make sure it is what you think it is before you reach for the medicated shampoo.

You might have flaking for another reason, like irritation from an ingredient in your hair products. In which case, you just need better hair products! Or, you may just need to wash the product buildup off your scalp more frequently.

Plus, says Purvis, you can pretty much expect that your hair will be coated from the silicones in most dandruff shampoos. You’ll have to compensate with a clarifying shampoo and quality conditioner to prevent your hair from drying out.

He’s also seen dandruff shampoos fade clients’ color quicker. So, it’s best to get your scalp condition assessed by a doctor to make sure you actually need a dandruff shampoo before you use one.

Your Hairstyle

If you’re rocking any of the following, invest in a high-quality shampoo & conditioner.

  • Bleach
  • Dye
  • Perms
  • Relaxers
  • Wigs
  • Weaves
  • Extensions
  • Tension styles

Anytime your hair is undergoing tension or stripping, moisturizing products are extra important. You’re also going to want hair products with protein & amino acids to help rebuild the strength of your strands, Purvis says.

And, if you’re heat-styling your hair, make sure not to overdo it on the washing so you don’t totally dry your hair out. Consider also getting a dry shampoo & a heat protector, Purvis advises. Don’t expect even a high-quality shampoo & conditioner to also heat protect your hair.

How To Shampoo & Condition Right

First off, you’re probably using more product than you need to. Especially if you are using a high-quality, concentrated formula, a little goes a long way.

When you’re shampooing, don’t just dump a big blob of product on the top of your head- especially if your hair is dyed. This is a recipe for fast, unevenly fading color!

Make sure you’re working your shampoo into the underside of your hair and your lower scalp- where we tend to get the most sweaty. Massage the shampoo into your hairline and then the top of your hair last, Purvis says.

For conditioner, start by pouring no more than a silver dollar’s worth into your hand and rubbing it between your palms. Start by working your conditioner into your ends, then work your way up, distributing the product evenly. Finish by massaging the product into your scalp.

How Do You Know Whether You Need a Different Shampoo & Conditioner?

“Everyone who has hair has good hair. If you don’t like your hair, it’s a good chance it’s the product,” says Purvis.

It’s time to try a different shampoo or conditioner when:

  • Your hair isn’t holding your styling (it won’t hold the curl after you’ve curled it, it won’t stay straight after you’ve flat ironed)
  • It looks greasy or dull the day after you wash it or sooner
  • Your scalp feels dry after you wash it
  • Your scalp doesn’t feel clean
  • Detangling is painful
  • Your scalp is irritated
  • Your hair is brittle
And when you’re ready to upgrade, we’ve got good news for you: Vigor Roots is launching our own gentle, nourishing, and natural shampoo & conditioner this summer. Stay tuned.

Make sure you’re following us on Instagram so you don’t miss out on the drop & special launch discounts and perks.

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