Grab a bottle of shampoo, lather, rinse, maybe repeat…right? Eh, not quite. Turns out there are some super-common mistakes that people make every step of the way. Ahead, top hair pros weigh in on everything you need to know to suds your strands correctly. Follow their advice and a good hair day is just a shower away.
Choose the right product.
Not all shampoos are created equal, so when it comes to finding the best one for you, “think of your hair the way you would your skin,” advises Eddie Parra, stylist at Sally Hershberger|Tim Rogers Salon in NYC. If it’s dry, look for a moisturizing formula or one labeled as reparative, and free of drying sulfates, he says. On the flip side, if your hair tends to get greasy or oily, a clarifying shampoo is best. If you’re one of the lucky ones whose hair is fairly normal, then go ahead and choose a shampoo based on the style you want to achieve—a volumizing variety if you want more fullness or a smoothing option if you want a sleek look, he adds. Not sure where your strands fall on the spectrum? “Your stylist is a great resource who can help you determine your hair type,” he says.
Expensive isn’t always better.
You can spend $3 on a bottle of shampoo, or you could spend $30. The choice is obviously up to you, but keep in mind that there are only so many ways to manufacture shampoo, and many of the bigger beauty brands own both high- and low-end lines, points out Parra. “It’s more important to pick the right type of shampoo for your hair, rather than be guided by the price tag.” In other words, if your hair is dry, a bargain moisturizing formula is a better bet than a pricey, trendy variety that’s not moisturizing. “As long as you’re using the right kind of shampoo, feel free to experiment with products that fall in different price ranges,” Parra adds.
Master the right technique.
Start by rinsing your hair and massaging your scalp even before you reach for shampoo. “This kick-starts the process of removing dirt and residue,” explains Parra. Use a quarter-size squirt of shampoo (slightly more if you have longer or super-thick hair), and work it into the crown of your head, directly above your forehead, rubbing it in for 30 seconds or so. Repeat with another dollop of shampoo, this time applying it at the nape of your neck. The massaging is key: “Shampoo isn’t going to do anything if it just sits there,” says Parra. “It’s the friction of your fingertips that’s lifting off the oils and dirt.” That being said, you *don’t* want to pile up all your hair on top of your head and start rubbing, shampoo commercial style. “This causes more tangles and damage. Your scalp is where most of the dirt, oil, and other junk collect, so concentrate your efforts there and then pull shampoo down toward your ends,” explains Eric Spengler, senior VP of research and development at Living Proof. You can do that with your fingers or with a wide-tooth comb.
Condition every time you shampoo.
Reconsider how often you wash.
For most people, daily washing is too often, says Spengler. Parra agrees: “Unless you’re hard-core sweating every day, try to wash your hair every other day.” Overwashing—especially if you’re using the wrong shampoo—can actually end up stripping your hair and scalp of their natural oils, leaving both feeling dry. To stretch out your style for an extra day or two (um, or even five) there’s no better option than dry shampoo. Just make sure you’re using it correctly. More on that next…
Rethink how you use dry shampoo.
Yes, the beauty of dry shampoo is that it’s fast and easy. But for the best results, you want to do a little more than just spray and go. “People easily OD on dry shampoo, leaving hair looking matte and feeling gritty,” says Parra. To avoid this, keep the bottle at least 6 inches away from your scalp when spraying. “Hold it any closer and you’re going to get an overly concentrated amount of product that’s going to be hard to get rid of,” he explains. Tousle with your fingertips to break up the particles, then give your hair a thorough brushing to remove any residue, but do both immediately after spritzing. “If you wait, the dry shampoo can start to harden, making it much more difficult to comb out,” cautions Parra. (Here, more dry shampoo mistakes you might be making, plus how to find the best post-workout dry shampoo for you.)