Best Hair Care / Shampoo Methods
The purpose of washing hair is to cleanse the scalp of dirt, dandruff, and excess sebum secretion (the scalp’s natural oily waxy substance) and allow follicles to grow healthily from the scalp. However, sebum actually has protective qualities, such as making hair more manageable, feel smoother, look more alive, and the production of it decreases as you age (ie to about half of its peak from menopause on). We think we have to bathe and shampoo all the time, yet this causes our hair/skin to dry out (necessitating more moisturizing with conditioner and lotion), OR causes our hair and skin to be greasy from oil production overcompensation (necessitating more frequent shampoo cleansing). Frequent dry hair can also be due to strong detergent shampoos, prior damage ie chemical processing (perms, relaxers, coloring), using heat to style, or even friction from activities.
Shampoo and Conditioner Method
1) Shampooing 2-4x per week is more than enough (go towards the high end if your hair is on the oilier side, less frequent end if it’s drier).
2) Condition after shampooing to retain the hair’s moisture (but don’t over-condition as it’ll make it heavy/flat/lifeless).
3) For the other days (several times a week), washing with water alone or a little natural (cleansing) conditioner allows the scalp to regain its own equilibrium, ie Herbal Essences Naked Cleansing Conditioner $6 [Amazon]
Choosing Products by Type of Hair
Fine oily hair: Alternate shampoo days between a cleansing shampoo ie Suave Naturals Daily Clarifying Shampoo $8 [Amazon] (to get rid of oil buildup that makes it heavy) and volumizing/strengthening/balancing shampoo ie Herbal Essences Body Envy Volumizing $12/10oz [Amazon], and use low amount of conditioner (too much will weigh it down) ie Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditioner $6/33oz [Amazon].
Fine dry hair: Alternate shampoo days between moisturizing/smoothing/hydrating shampoo (to maintain moisture and not remove too much oil) ie Aussie Moist Shampoo [Amazon] and volumizing/strengthening/balancing shampoo, and use low amount of conditioner (too much will weigh it down)
Thick or curly hair (dry or oily): Because thick tends to be drier rather than oily, should shampoo on the less frequent side (2x/week) and do not need to alternate with volumizing/strengthening/balancing shampoos or use cleansing shampoos/conditioners. Use only moisturizing/smoothing/hydrating shampoo (to maintain moisture and not remove too much oil) and use high amount of conditioner for the strongest curls and least frizz (even with wavy hair, this will make it more manageable). Even if oily, try the same regimen and even apply leave-in deep conditioner to the ends only (See Below) to see if the scalp will stop producing excess oil. Note though, at rare times, thick hair may require a strong cleansing shampoo because the oil buildup may be too much and difficult to remove.
Hair that’s colored: Alternate shampoo days between protein shampoo and volumizing/strengthening/balancing shampoo
Sulfate-Free Shampoo Almost every shampoo has foaming sulfate chemicals ie SLS/SLES/ALS. Sulfates foam/create suds so they better remove dirt but also remove more natural oils, thus dehydrate the hair and create more frizz/friction. Some people are allergic to sulfates (irritating and creating even more dryness/dandruff), but sulfates are fine for most people besides for those with very curly/dry hair. If you’d not like sulfates, options: Liggett’s Shampoo Bar $7 [Amazon] (Jojoba/Peppermint is the best one, also a good option for travelling or gyms), OR Shiseido Tsubaki Shampoo and Conditioner $35 [Amazon].
Note: Salons tend to use brands they are sponsored by (not necessary the best), ie Redken, Paul Mitchell, Bed Head. If it’s easier and less complicated, you could buy one major brand instead of all different, though there are cheaper alternatives that are more natural ingredient-wise! Note: While type of shampoo is important to match to your type of hair, brand matters less for shampooing and more for conditioning (see the regimens and recommended products above).
Don’t use: Waxes and silicones (parabens) which cause cancer in animals ie many commercial hair products (Pantene, Garnier Fructis, Aussie, Tresemme, Sunsilk, L’Oreal, Revlon). They make hair sleeker and less frizzy in the short term but dries out and weakens in the long run. Moroccan and Argan Oil Shampoos/Conditioners tend to weigh down the hair too much. If conditioner is necessary, PEG silicones are water-soluble and cheaper conditioners may be silicone-free. Sulfates: Herbal Essences, Organix / OGX / Proganics, Neutrogena, Paul Mitchell, Pantene Pro-V, Pureology
No Poo (No Shampoo) Method:
Some people may prefer retaining even more natural scalp oils than the above method (or prefer not buying shampoo). This “no shampoo” sequence is completed 1-2 times a week. For the other days, washing with water alone, or a little natural (cleansing) conditioner allows the scalp to regain its own equilibrium. It will take 2-4 weeks for your hair to adjust to this method, before which it may look bad.
Step 1) Cleanse with Baking Soda Mix
Wet hair and wash with pre-made Baking Soda Mix (shake one tablespoon baking soda + one cup warm/hot water in a plastic/squeeze bottle). Alternative: Put baking soda in hand, wet with water, and apply straight to hair. Pour and work into roots of hair (only focusing on the scalp) and keep in until it starts feeling slippery, ~2 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. The baking soda absorbs the excess oils.
Step 2) Condition with Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse (or alternatively, the conditioner from previous method)
Condition hair by massaging into the scalp an Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse (a few teaspoons of “one part ACV to 4 parts water”). Natural, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar rinse helps restore natural, healthy (slightly acidic) scalp pH and flora (bacteria). More specifically, the ACV (or witch hazel, cold water) rinse closes down hair cuticles, locking in moisture, protecting hair, making it shinier and more manageable. Don’t worry, once the hair is rinsed, the smell will go away (just don’t use high concentration of vinegar). Work into the hair (the length of hair, scalp not needed) and comb through. Rinse thoroughly.
Techniques of Washing and Usage of Shampoo and Conditioner
Hot Water First and Last Rinse with Cold: Hot or warm water causes hair scales to relax & open, aiding product ingredients being absorbed into the core of the hair strand. Do the final rinse of your hair with cool or cold water (causes the cuticle scales to tighten & close down – closed flattened outer-layer scales are smoother and more uniform (than opened scales) so reflect light better and do not tangle with one another). This results in shiny, manageable, frizz-free hair (which is why properly flat-ironed hair looks so nice).
Shampoo the Scalp and Condition the Hair Ends: For shampoo, put a dime-sized amount into the center of your hand and lather it up between your palms. Then apply the shampoo, starting at your crown — the top of your head toward the back — and gently distribute through the rest of your hair. Massage – don’t rub – your scalp with the tips or cushions of your fingers as you cleanse with shampoo, to prevent buildup. Shampooing is mostly done for the scalp, not the hair.
Conditioner Usage – Rub the conditioner between your palms first, like with shampooing. However, the hair near the scalp gets plenty of natural oils and the hair farther away tends to dry out. So apply conditioner to the ends first and mostly working that area (the last 3 inches), and work the rest up to the scalp and rinse out after 2 minutes.
Other Optional Hair Items
Deep Conditioning / Essential oil leave-in
For thicker drier hair that needs extra to be controlled (ie curly or wavy or can’t be combed easily due to knots), natural oils are the most commonly used leave-in moisturizing conditioner since ancient times (“Thou anointest my head with oil”), better than gel or mousse. Essential oils help the hair and scalp balance and retain moisture, pH, fight bad bacteria, and look/feel/smell fantastic. Don’t need to buy a product labeled “Deep Conditioner” over one of these oils.
Jojoba Oil $19 (best one albeit more expensive than others) [Amazon]. More moisturizing and less greasy than coconut oil or cocoa butter oil $6 / $10. (others: avocado oil, grapeseed oil, argan oil, almond oil, olive oil). Some people’s hair might need it more heavy (and for that, there’s Shea butter).
Usage: Deep condition after washing out the regular conditioner by placing a small amount in your palm, rubbing your hands together, and smoothly applying it throughout all of your hair and leaving it in for 10 mins (maybe even 20-30mins) or you can leave-in as an emollient oil. Take small sections of hair on one side of your head and untangle from the bottom up using your fingers or a wide-toothed comb. Repeat until all hair is combed.
Preventing Hair Loss and Inducing Hair Growth
Without buying any product, can prevent hair loss by – Refraining from combing or holding hair back, refraining from very hot blow-drying, and limiting sun exposure (UV causes damage to all hair, especially to gray hairs). The most effective products are prescription drugs with Finasteride (Proscar, Propecia) being the best, and Minoxidil (Rogaine) being only slightly helpful (and in a poll, the majority of users stated it was a waste of their energies), and continued use is necessary for all previous products in order to maintain the benefits.
Chlorine Water Filter and Showerhead
A Chlorine Water Filter is probably not necessary (ie to remove Chlorine that damages skin/hair and raises cancer risks, to “soften” the water or get rid of other pathogens). Even for indoor pools where swimmers absorb way more chlorine and chemicals that mix with the chlorine, cancer risks are higher but swimming is still recommended over not swimming.
While the ultimate showerhead may be the Hansgrohe Raindance at $240 [Amazon], the better value pick would be the Moen S6320 Rainshower $180 [Amazon]. These really make showering a joy, as the water falls softly and feels amazing.
Dandruff Chemicals and Other Hair Treatment
These skin conditions are usually not curable conditions but treatable. Most dandruff issues can be treated by over-the-counter or by fixing one’s haircare regime, however, there are a lot of products that probably do nothing to help. There is no evidence of Theraneem (despite its great reviews) or Tea Tree Oil (ie Paul Mitchell or Trader Joe’s), helping against dandruff, psioriasis, excema, or scalp bacteria/parasites. Goes the same for Coal tar shampoo (only some evidence of affecting skin cell turnover), Nizoral (prescription Ketoconazole, it’s even banned in EU/China/Australia), Olive or Coconut or Garlic Oil, or ZetaClear (not even great reviews). It could not hurt to try Theraneem, as it has the best reviews. May help with dandruff (especially for greasy hair) but won’t help much with dry hair (should shower less).
Possible Evidence – Salicylic Acid decreases scalp flaking, Pyrithione Zinc decreases inflammation, Selenium Sulfide decreases scalp flaking and yeasts. Prescriptions – Ciclopirox, Clobetasol (most popular steroid)
Tips: If you use product (ie ), leave in for 3-5mins, don’t use too many ingredients / products, switch them up so the yeast does not build resistant, Zinc and B vitamins might also help, get Sunlight as it can help inflammation of skin (seborrhea, psoriasis, excema are all three better in the sun) but in moderation limit it to 20-30mins of sun 3-4x per week, and suppress stress as it affects seborrhoeic dermatitis.
Best Body Wash Bar Soap or Body Wash Shower Gel
Shower gels are less sustainable (more trash), and bar soaps last much longer. A common gripe about bar soaps is that bacteria flourish on them, yet these are usually easily washed away, especially when lather is made. Switch to a moisturizing gel, if body soaps tend to dry out your skin.
Best Mint: (VERY cooling mint) Bath and Body Works Co Bigelow No 1411 Mentha Body Vitamin Wash with Peppermint Oil, 10 oz. $12/10oz [Amazon]
Secondary (not as cooling as Mentha but cheaper): Dr Bronners Magic Peppermint Soap $17/32oz [Amazon]. Or, a non-cooling Bar Soap: Nancy Boy Soap for body $8/bar [Nancy Boy], OR Neutrogena Rainbath $27/40oz [Amazon]
Cloth For Body Application:
Salux Nylon Japanese Beauty Skin Bath Wash Cloth/towel [Amazon] (can buy cheaper at a dollar store than online). Better than a loofah or natural sea sponge at exfoliating (it’s very rough so makes your skin feeling smooth), however, does not create as much lather and foam. The sea sponge [Amazon] is less rough and feels more luxurious. More people will like it, however gets moldier fastier and need to throw out. Beware that many sponges online look bigger than they are.
Best Deodorant and Antiperspirant
To clarify, deodorants only kill odor-creating bacteria, and do not block sweat unless they are also anti-perspirants. However, most antiperspirants utilize synthetic ammonium aluminum which may (or may not) pose health risks (breast cancer or alzheimers), so are NOT recommended.
Best Natural Deodorant: Crystal Alum Block Body Deodorant Stick $7 [Amazon] is more of a rock in a roll-on container that only rubs off potassium aluminum, as it carries absolutely no scent and does not roll off any noticeable substance rolls off. Lasts for years. Usage: for each underarm, wet with water and roll until not wet (this entails the downside of taking a minute per underarm). As it may take on the scent of your underarm sweat, only use when you’re clean (after shower) and occasionally pour a tad of $8 [Thayer’s Witch Hazel] on it before applying for a nice light fragrance (Rose is the favorite, perfect for both Women and Men). Potassium aluminum sprays (ie even the one by Crystal) may be quicker to apply than the roll-on block, however, probably not as effective, and of course, both the application and the product won’t last as long as the solid.
Don’t get: Toms, Nancy Boy, Alvera, Mitchum antiperspirant (stains shirts), Mennen speed stick original is better than Mitchum, Tom’s is not antiperspirant. Speick (green and red label for both men and women, great pine smell but again not antiperspirant – does not last as long at keeping bad smells at bay as the Crystal Stick above)
High quality towels wick better (dry faster, so won’t stay damp and get moldy). High quality towels such as the Land’s End towels only need to be washed every 1-2 months, while lower quality ones require after only a few showers! I would go for the Land’s End, however, Costco has great towels, also Marshalls or TJ Maxx or Macy’s Ralph Lauren). Some people prefer the thinner European Style Waffle-Weave Towels (thin towels) which can be found at [Amazon].