Tips for Hair Shampoo

Use your fingertips, not your nails, to protect your delicate scalp.

Photo: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Of all the beauty issues out there, you may not think shampooing deserves a lot of your attention. Au contraire! Shampooing may be one of the most basic beauty regimens, but it's also one of the most important. Using the right products and shampooing techniques can help you get the glam mane you deserve.

Choosing a Shampoo

You don't need a supermodel budget to get a great shampoo. Although the more expensive brands may be a little more gentle, drugstore brands can still give you a gorgeous head of hair. Since most of us wash our hair anywhere from a couple of times a week to every day, shampoo formulas are increasingly gentle to avoid damage. The key is to pick the right formula for your hair, especially if you color your locks. Ask your hairdresser for help if you're unsure about the perfect formula for you.

Shampooing Techniques

Brush your hair before hopping into the shower to dislodge flakes and icky particles to help get your hair really clean. Use warm water for the perfect lather; going too hot will cause limp locks. Work a quarter-sized amount gently into your hair, starting at the scalp. Use your fingertips to massage it in, as even the most perfectly-manicured fingernails can scratch the scalp and tug at the hair. Finish off with a cold rinse for super-duper shine.

Washing Frequency

While those with non-oily hair may be able to get away with shampooing twice a week, lathering up daily usually won't hurt. Just be on the lookout for tell-tale signs of over-shampooing. These include tiny "baby hairs" at your crown, in addition to fly-aways. If you see any of these follicular follies, try cutting back by one day a week until you see an improvement. You may also want to stay away from daily washing if you live in a dry climate.

The Right Conditions

Conditioner is key to keeping hair soft and manageable. Your shampoo and conditioner don't have to be the same brand, although manufacturers do design their products to work in tandem. Just be sure your cleanser and conditioner have the same goals, since mis-matched formulas can wreak havoc on your hair. Avoid two-in-one shampoo and conditioner combos --the conditioner is rarely as effective as a stand-alone. If your hair is coarse and dry or damaged, save time and money by using a leave-in conditioner. Use conditioner alone on occasion; skipping the shampoo will help your locks stay lovely.

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