The Right (and wrong) way to wash your hair!


Shampoo and Conditioner won’t work miracles, but if used improperly can destroy your hair.

“Stronger, more beautiful hair in 7 days, guaranteed.”  Ads like this one from Clear’s recent ad campaign try to convince you that if you wash your hair with the right shampoo that all of your hair worries will be over.

Frizzy? “Buy this.”  Damaged? “No problem!”  Spent a week in the woods? “We got your back.”

The truth is that shampoo and conditioner are not miracle workers.  In fact, many shampoos are the CAUSE of your hair “issues.”

As I mentioned last week, buying shampoo or conditioner with sulfates can be EXTREMELY damaging to your hair.  Do you remember the Herbal Essences commercials?  Bubbles are assoicated with cleanliness.  Sulfates make bubbles.  While bubbles are great for your dishes, bubbles treat your hair like a dirty pan covered in day old scrambled eggs.  Bubbles strip away the good oils created by your scalp, which in turn dehydrates your hair.  Click here for more info about sulfates in shampoo and conditioner.

Sulfates= Bubbles Bubbles= Bad

Sulfates= Bubbles
Bubbles= Bad

Ingredients to avoid:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Xylene Sulfonate, TEA Lauryl Sulfate, Sulfur (in dandruff shampoos) and Selenium Sulfide (in dandruff shampoos).

While it is difficult to COMPLETELY avoid sulfates, the sulfates considered to be more gentle are:  Sodium Cocyl Isethionate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Socoyl (or lauryl/lauroyl) Sarcosinate.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of  “bad” and “not-so-good” sulfates, but it is a basic guidline.

You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to purchase sulfate-free products.  Click here to see what Wal-Mart offers.  My favorite shampoo at the moment is Italian company, Davines, “Love” shampoo (available on for $24).  Although it contains sodium laureth sulfate, this is considered to be a “gentler” sulfate and it does not foam much.

After you’ve equipped yourself with the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type and budget, make sure you are washing it correctly.

Use proper technique

Use proper technique

1. Don’t wash your hair everyday.  If you feel like your hair is oily OR for scent purposes, use a gentle or lightweight shampoo.  Baby powder or dry shampoo can also help to absorb oils in your hair between washes.

2. Build up is created when we don’t rinse our hair properly.  I have a friend who insists on switching her shampoo and conditioner every few months to help control build up.  I don’t have the heart to correct her, but that is WRONG.  If you feel that your hair has build up every few months, it is probably due to the change in seasons, your stress level, or a change in your diet or hormones.

3. Brush your hair before washing it to remove loose hair and detangle it so that the conditioner can work more effectively. 

4. Use proper technique.  After squirting a quarter size amount of shampoo in your hand (any more than that is counter productive no matter how long your hair is), massage it into your scalp and crown area first, then work the shampoo through the rest of your hair.  The focus should be on your SCALP.  Take several minutes to really massage your scalp.

5.  Use a clarifying shampoo weekly  for dyed or highlighted hair (particularly if it is bleached).  Hair becomes porous and absorbs yellow tones from hair spray, sweat, smog, and even minerals from your shower water, and the clarifying shampoo will help your hair hold the beautiful color you paid for!

6. Always use conditioner.  Use a hair mask twice a week.  You can buy or make a hair mask.

Lastly, shampoo and conditioner are made to cleanse, detangle and hydrate your hair.  Regardless of your hair type we all need to give our hair restoration, damage repair, and nourishment.  These are found in styling products, finishing serums, oils, and hair potions to name a few.  THAT is where you should spend your big bucks.  🙂

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What is your favorite Shampoo/Conditioner? Comment below!

None of this matters if you don’t follow the basics!

Playlist used for writing this post: Be OK- Ingrid Michaelson, Some Nights- Fun, In Repair- John Mayer, Valley (Reprise)- The Oh Hellos, Stupid- Sarah Mclachlan, Guilty Filthy Soul- AWOLNATION, Sunday Best- Augustana, All You Ever- Hunter Hayes, Enchanted- Taylor Swift, Summer Nights- Rascal Flatts, Catching My Disease- Ben Lee, Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop, Glycerine- Boyce Avenue


18 thoughts on “The Right (and wrong) way to wash your hair!

  1. I bought a sulfate free shampoo a couple months back to try to preserve my purple hair. I found it dried my hair out, and I just BLED purple in the shower. Now I have a low sulfate shampoo, but it’s not getting my hair clean. *sigh* I don’t think it’s saving my color any either. Any suggestions? I scrub for a good long time (I love a good scalp massage even if I have to do do it myself! ) and rinse for at least a minute. If I don’t shampoo daily I shed like a cat in summer and itch from my eczema, which was the other reason I tried going no sulfate. I may just go back to normal shampoo…

    • Any tips on what type of shampoo to use for a severely irritated scalp? I have side effects from my chemo, and while I won’t lose my hair, my scalp is so, so, so itchy–no dandruff or flakes, just ITCHY!!. I’ve tried the “Natural” Selsun Blue for dry, itchy scalps, but it has a list of chemicals so long, I can’t imagine it helping. I’ve read that L’Oreal Sulfate products are good. Any thoughts on them?

      • My apologies for not writing you back until today, I try to stay unplugged from my blog over the weekends to keep a healthy balance with blogging and my husband/kiddos.
        Anyone who is going through chemo or any type of treatment like that is a hero in my eyes and I’m honored that you would ask my advice! I like L’oreals’ shampoos and conditioners. Ive tried L’oreal Evercreme (gold) and the Advanced Total Repair (yellow). Both of them are available at walmart and target and they are fairly affordable. I had good results with them. Not my favorites, but they are definitely good bargian buys that will soften your hair. I wasnt writing reveiws at the time I tried them, so I don’t remember in great detail what I thought, but I remember wanting to try other products in both of L’oreals’ lines of shampoo/conditioner. As far as the itching….I will do some research on this for you. (not to pry or get too personal but are you taking vicodin for pain? That medication can cause A LOT of itching-my dad was diagnosed with cancer in December 2004 and passed away 10 months later, and he had to take vicodin during that time period. If you would rather reply to that part discreetly, just use my contact form and it will go to my email address) or you can direct msg me on twitter

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