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Hair Profiling III: Suds Away


In the first Hair Profiling article we examined the basic types of hair including Hair Texture, Density, Type and Color. The second Hair Profiling article focused specifically on Hair Texture. This third article examines cleansing and related care requirements according to type, texture and condition.

Shampoo From A-Z

Go to any establishment that sells shampoo, from the local drugstore to the finest boutique, and you will see a vast area of products designed to do everything from simply cleansing hair to performing a vast array of additional services from preserving color treated hair and swelling fine hair shafts to assisting with problem scalps and hair loss.

Shampoos and related products are available for every conceivable hair type, problem and model. The selection is often mind boggling. So how does a mere hair mortal find the key to selecting the best shampoo for their hair’s needs? The best plan is to start with a clear understanding of your own hair’s needs.

Before you select your own hair cleansing formula and routine make a descriptive list that covers your hair’s texture (fine, medium, course, wiry) and density (thin, medium, thick) to type (straight, medium, curly, wavy) and special needs such as whether your hair is naturally dry or oily, chemically colored or otherwise treated, damaged or you suffer from dandruff or other related scalp issues like eczema.

Cleansing Schedule

Whether your hair requires a standard off-the-shelf product or a specialized formula designed to add or manage your hair’s special needs, the first question is how often you shampoo. Although many trichologists recommend daily shampoos to help clear scalp debris, some hair experts suggest that you should shampoo only according to the unique needs of your hair.

People with oily scalps or hair may need to shampoo every day to help keep hair oil free. Thin or fine tressed folks may also benefit from a daily sudsing to help prevent hair from flattening or matting. Dry, chemically treated or damaged strands may benefit most from weekly or infrequent shampoo schedules.

If you have the psychological need to wash your hair every day but you have problem hair that is dry, damaged or has a scalp condition, another option is to clean more often but use diluted or very gentle shampoo formulas or treatments. Daily shampooing also calls for daily rinse out and leave-in conditioners to replace any list moisture. Regular deep conditioning treatments are also a must for hair that is washed every day.

How often should you really shampoo your hair? You can easily determine your hair’s cleansing needs by taking some time to experiment with different shampoo routines and schedules. If you are sudsing daily, try switching to alternate days to see how your hair reacts to less frequent cleansing.

You can also experiment with diluting your current shampoo formula or simply rinsing your hair with water and applying diluted shampoo to strands that are oily or dirty. However, if your current cleansing program works for you and your hair, you are probably right on track.

One fact that almost all experts agree upon is that you should always use lukewarm water when you shampoo. Water that is too hot can be drying to hair while water that is too cold may work against your cleansing goals. Regular use of hot water may also speed the fading of chemically enhanced hair color hues.

Another agreed upon fact is that it is extremely important to rinse away every last drop of detergent residue from your hair. Sometimes problems with hair and scalp can be directly tied to hair that contains shampoo or product buildup. When in doubt, rinse a few more times. When possible, always finish each cleansing session with a cool, clear rinse to seal the hair’s cuticle.

Cleansing According To Profile

While perms, straighteners, bleaches and other chemical products can be some of the biggest hair stressors, your cleansing routine can potentially make things worse. Establishing good care habits will lead to healthy, beautiful tresses.

Selecting the best schedule and product are just part of a good hair care journey. Adding the proper rinse-out, leave-in or deep conditioning treatments are also important for a well rounded hair care routine.

Oily Hair

Do you have an oily scalp or hair? If your scalp generally feels greasy and your strands tend to accumulate oil near the roots, you very well may have oily hair. If you have oily strands, keep in mind that your hair can range from slightly oily to very oily. Some hair can actually have oily roots combined with dry middle and end strands.

Shampoo Suggestion: Shampoo daily if your hair is oily from the roots to the ends. Experiment with mild or light “clarifying” or cleansing shampoos formulated to help with oil control. Look for formulas that contain alcohol to help dissolve the oil or for products that contain malic or citric acid for extra help with oil build-up. Avoid products with added “cones” or oil or products that combine shampoo with conditioners.

If your hair is a combination of oily scalp with dry middle and ends, consider using two formulas when you shampoo. Concentrate the formula for oily hair on the roots while using a moisture enhancing formula on the dry sections of your hair.

Product Options: Phytopanama which contains panama wood to cleanse oily scalps while respecting the hair’s natural moisture. Phytolactum for gentle scalp balancing. Phytopolleine scalp treatments are helpful for managing oil balance. Also helpful is Aesop Dual Scalp Cleanser, Alberto VO5 Clarifying Formula Shampoo, and Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo for Normal to Oily Hair.

Additional Tips: For persistent oil slicks try leaving shampoo on the oiliest parts of the hair for up to five minutes to help absorb the oil. Herbalists recommend an after shampoo rinse of brewed peppermint tea. Others find help by rinsing with a combination of 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water following by a cool water rinse.

Dry To Very Dry Hair

Dry hair is caused by a variety of factors from genetic to extensive weakening of the hair fiber due to chemical damage from excessive perms, straightening or bleach that causes progressive porosity. Generally dry hair is unmanageable, lifeless, dull, frizzy and/or flyaway. Dry hair can extend to the scalp causing general sensitivity or a scalp that may feel tight, irritated or itchy.

Shampoo Suggestion: Experiment with less frequent cleansing to give the hair’s natural oils time to build-up. Ideally dry hair should be shampooed less often. Concentrate on formulas that are moisturizing, nourishing and rehydrating. Look for a shampoo with gentle detergents that won’t strip natural hair oils, or a product with conditioning agents like protein or balsam to coat hair strands and seal in moisture.

Product Options: Intense hydrating Phytojojoba and Phytonectar formulas for dry to very dry hair. Also helpful is Aveda’s Shampure, J.F. Lazartique Yucca Shampoo, Rene Furterer Carthame Cream Shampoo, Thermasilk Moisturizing Shampoo and Infusium 23 Shampoo Moisturizing formula for normal to dry hair.

Additional Tips: Remember that less is not necessarily more. Focus on formulas with the proper balance for your hair type and texture. Your goal should be to find products that add hydration without weighing down your strands. Since heat can add to dry hair problems limit your use of blow-dryers and hot tools to give your hair a rest. Experiment with leave-in conditioners like Phyto 7 and Phyto 9 that will product your hair without weighing it down.

Normal Hair

The good news is that you hair is neither oily nor dry. In general normal hair has body, bounce and shine and a good overall balance of natural oils.

Shampoo Suggestion: The goal for normal hair should be to find a mild shampoo that keeps strands balanced and looking great. Experiment with less frequent cleansing to give the hair’s natural oils time to build-up. Look for a shampoo with gentle detergents that won’t strip natural hair oils.

Product Options: Phytoneutre cream shampoo for normal hair, Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Bar Shampoo, Origins Mint Shampoo, Paul Mitchell Creatives Moisture & Shine Shampoo. Also helpful is Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo for Normal to Oily Hair.

Additional Tips: For persistent oil slicks try leaving shampoo on the oiliest parts of the hair for up to five minutes to help absorb the oil. Herbalists recommend an after shampoo rinse of brewed peppermint tea. Others find help by rinsing with a combination of 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water following by a cool water rinse.

Chemically Treated Hair

If you have indulged in perms, straightening, bleach and/or color treatments your hair falls into the category of chemically treated. Some hair responds well to chemicals while other hair may become stressed or damaged. Depending on a variety of factors your hair may be dry and brittle and suffer from breakage or split ends.

Hair that has undergone extensive chemical treatments for an extended period of time may be structurally weakened, very dry and unmanageable. The outer hair fiber may have deteriorated and the hair may have high alkalinity.

Shampoo Suggestion: The goal should be to re-hydrate and restore the hair’s natural pH balance. Try limited hair cleansing to once or twice a week to give the natural hair oils time to build up.

Product Options: Phytonectar nourishing formula, Phytorhum fortifying shampoo for stressed, porous, brittle, dry or chemically processed hair, Rene Furterer Okara Repairing Treatment Mask for Permed/Damaged Hair

Additional Tips: Chemically treated hair, whether damaged or not, is more fragile than any other hair type. As a result, chemically treated hair should always be treated with a series of conditioning treatments that range from rinse out and leave-in conditioners to regular deep intensive conditioners.


Dandruff can occur as a result of poor vascularization, illness, improper diet, emotional stress and anxiety or from a fungus known as oval pityrosporum. The result is an itchy, scaly scalp. White scaly flakes collect on your shoulders.

Shampoo Suggestion: Depending on your condition you may need to shampoo more or less frequently. Experiment with shampoo timing along with products and formulas specifically designed to purify and calm the scalp and provide serious flake fighting. Look for shampoos that includes allantoin, zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide or natural ingredients like willow leaf, cedar leaf or juniper oil. Look for a dandruff shampoo that will treat your problem efficiently but as gently as possible.

Product Options: Phytosylic shampoo with willow leaf extract, Burt’s Bee’s Herbal Treatment shampoo with cedar leaf and juniper oil, Denorex, Neutrogena Healthy Scalp, Nizoral and Rene Furterer Anti-dandruff shampoo.

Additional Tips: Dandruff formulas come in a range of strengths from mild to extra strength. Depending on the severity of your problems, start at the low end of the range and work your way up until you find a formula that works for your condition. For persistent or serious problems consult a dermatologist or other specialist. Some conditions require doctor prescribed treatments and formulas.


When possible, always use a cleansing formula formulated for your own particular hair type and needs. If you can combine the right products with a good shampoo schedule you are on your way to healthy, fabulous strands.

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Original Publication Date: 3/18/2003 - Revised Publication Date: 06/07/11

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