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Washing your hair has always seemed like a pretty straightforward process. Most of us have heard the phrase, "Lather, rinse, repeat" and followed those simple instructions. But is that all there is to it?
We asked two hairstylists about things people get wrong when shampooing their hair and which products they like to keep their locks clean and healthy.
Common shampooing mistakes
Skipping the second shampoo
According to Romy Kestenberg, stylist at Eddie Arthur Salon in New York City, you may want to start shampooing twice during your shower to remove heavy buildup. "A second shampoo does actually help to really, really clean the scalp," she told Shop TODAY.
Kestenberg compared the process to taking off your makeup and using a makeup wipe or remover first, then following up with a cleanser. "It's the same idea with shampoo," she said. "You want to be doing second shampoos especially if you're buying professional products because they're not quite as harsh as, let's say, something you would buy in a drugstore."
The need for a second — or even a third — shampoo varies on a case-by-case basis. "If your hair isn't suds-ing, it's because it is dirty but the shampoo is still in your hair and it's working," she explained. Once you work the shampoo in the first time and wash it out, she noted that you'll likely notice more suds on the second round. If it's still not suds-ing then, you could even go for a third round, Kestenberg told us.
Not focusing on the right areas
"Shampoo is really made to clean your scalp," celebrity hairstylist Marc Mena told us. "When you start shampooing and lathering your hair, you're drying your hair out." Mena notes that shampoo is, essentially, a cleaning agent made to clean your scalp. All you have to do is stimulate the scalp with the shampoo because the suds that come from that are enough to take away the dirt when you rinse, he explained.
Kestenberg also notices that people spent too much time shampooing around their hairline, but not the rest of the head.
"A lot of people do a really good job of shampooing their hair line — the front of their head and the nape of their neck — but a lot of people miss the top of the head and the crown area," she shared. She recommends taking some extra time to thoroughly wash your hair to make sure you get an even clean.
Using too much shampoo
"A big mistake that a lot of people make is thinking that they're not using enough shampoo when their hair doesn't immediately [get] suds with the first shampoo," Kestenberg explained. Most people associate shampoo with big suds and assume that if it's not doing that at first, it must not be working properly and therefore requires more. But that's not exactly the case.
Her rule of thumb is to use a quarter-sized amount of shampoo each round instead of using a lot at once to avoid wasting product.
What to look for in a shampoo
Most people immediately look for things that are sulfate-free, but Kestenberg argues sulfates have gotten a bad reputation recently. Kestenberg explained that sulfate-free products are typically gentler and will create less suds, which is good for dry, colored or damaged hair, but she doesn't think a sulfate-free shampoo is a must for everyone.
However, both Kestenberg and Mena look for shampoos that are silicone-free. "Silicones in general are much worse for our hair... they create buildup that we can't really get out without doing something like a clarifying treatment," Kestenberg said. Enough buildup can seal off your hair cuticle, rendering hair treatments and other things that are generally good for your hair useless, she told us.
"I like... shampoos that aren't high in waxes because, after a while, they add buildup to your scalp and your hair follicles that sometimes can cause for you to lose hair," said Mena.
With these new tips in mind, here are seven shampoos that Kestenberg and Mena recommend for clean, healthy hair.
Best shampoos for clean hair, according to hairstylists
"You can't go wrong with the Olaplex line; [it's] really phenomenal," Kestenberg said. This moisturizing and repairing shampoo is designed to eliminate frizz and reduce breakage. It is color-safe and even has over 29,000 five-star ratings on Amazon.
Mena loves the Oribe brand. The Signature line can be used daily and is made without parabens or sulfates. It has a 4.6-star average on Amazon and reviewers love the way it brings their hair to life.
"This shampoo, in just the first time I used it, did wonders for my hair. It was shiny, had life to it, was soft. But even though it was soft, I was able to curl it with a curling iron and it stayed," one reviewer wrote.
"As far as a more natural brand goes, I really like René Furterer," Kestenberg said. While she's a fan of all of the brand's products, she specifically called out this shampoo because it has cherry vinegar, which helps cleanse the hair. She described it as "gentle and pretty good for anybody on an everyday basis."
While most quality shampoos can be an investment, Mena really likes this affordable shampoo because it's paraben- and silicone-free. Its lightweight formula — which includes aloe extract, active fruit protein and vitamin E — will leave your hair feeling clean and refreshed. One reviewer who has tried other, more expensive products, regards this shampoo as "one of the few shampoos that really makes my hair feel clean."
Kestenberg called this René Furterer pick another "everyday shampoo." Some key ingredients include peppermint, basil, Caraway essential oil and vitamin B5, which will keep your scalp moisturized and your locks shiny.
Mena is also a fan of Kerastase products. The Curl Manifesto line is designed to gently cleanse the scalp without stripping hair of its natural oils. It's made with manuka honey, which provides hydration to the hair, and ceramides, which lock in moisture effortlessly.
"It's a whole different type of shampoo and conditioner that really does what it says it does," Mena said of the Shu Uemura lines. If you have color-treated hair, this shampoo is designed to prevent fading with goji berry extract and nourish the hair with musk rose oil.
For more stories like this, check out:
- 10 bestselling dry shampoos to refresh your hair between washes
- Does rice water help with hair growth? Experts weigh in
- 10 expert-recommended shampoos that can help tackle a dry, itchy scalp
- Dealing with an itchy, sensitive scalp? Here's what experts recommend
- This hair care brand has seriously helped repair my locks — for less than $6