How to Choose: Shampoo for Men

You already use it but you may not have an idea if it's the best option or the right one. You may even not know how did it get there. Yet, it's one of the key contributors of your looks. Yes, we're talking about shampoo.
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How much time have you spent on really choosing a shampoo for your hair? While it has the power on making you look a heck of a lot better, we tend to fend it off as a ‘must have’, yet give it little thought.

And when you think you’re saved from the hassle when you’re bold – did you know that shampoo isn’t just for people who have hair? Bald heads need a little extra care since the scalp is more exposed to the elements, so shampoo keeps the scalp clean and hydrated while also replenishing the skin.

So, let’s have a look on how to choose the perfect one!

What Does Shampoo Really Do?

Most guys know that shampoo is what you use to make your hair look clean and to help it smell great – but how it actually works is a little more mysterious.

Shampoo contains ingredients called surfactants that lower the surface tension of oils, so that water can mix with them and wash them away.

If you didn’t use shampoo, water would simply be repelled by oily debris in your hair, and you’d step out of the shower with hair that was still dirty.

There are several common types of shampoo

Because most men have hair that is less than three inches long, most “normal” shampoos will work for the average guy. When choosing a shampoo, select one that specifically targets problems you are having with your scalp—dryness, oiliness, etc.

Shampoos for normal hair won’t strip natural oils from the hair and scalp as they are typically gentle. This type of shampoo works well for about nine out of every ten guys.

Shampoos for oily hair contain cleansers designed to remove as much oil as possible. These are good for men with oily scalps but may cause excessive dryness in men with a normal scalp.

Shampoos for dry hair (often called moisturising shampoos) are specifically formulated to add moisture to the hair and scalp. Unless you have very dry hair, these types of shampoos are not necessary and can often weigh down normal hair.

Thickening shampoos (or volumising shampoos) often contain glycerine, which helps the hair retain water and swells the hair strand by lifting the cuticle. The hair’s cuticle is a hard shingle-like layer that looks like fish scales under magnification. Under normal circumstances, these shingles lie flat. Many thickening shampoos cause the cuticle to open up, thus swelling the hair shaft. In this state, the hair is more vulnerable, so following up with a good conditioner is recommended.

Dandruff shampoos are a formulation of ingredients that help to prevent itching and flaking that is associated with dandruff. Dandruff is best described as thick flakes and an irritated scalp. Smaller, fine white flakes are more than likely dry scalp. So make sure you recognise the difference before choosing this shampoo (see more here!). Note: Dandruff shampoos can often cause excessive dryness. So start by using every other day, alternating with a good moisturising shampoo.

Clarifying shampoos are developed with a higher acid content in order to remove excess buildup of styling products in the hair. They are also a popular choice for removing harsh chemicals after swimming in pool water. Note: Due to it’s higher acid content, this shampoo type can cause dryness and also damage to the scalp so avoid using more than once per month.

Most shampoos can be used every day. In the shower, simply apply a small amount to the palm of your hand and rub hands together to distribute the product. Very gently massage the shampoo into the hair and scalp with your fingertips and rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.

The Difference Between Salon & Supermarket Shampoos

The quality of the shampoo is an area I always make sure my customers understand. It’s like almost anything you buy: you can invest as much or as little as you desire but, generally, the more you spend, the higher the quality of product.

A salon shampoo is a lot more likely to be of better quality and will have been produced with higher quality ingredients. It will also be a lot more concentrated, which means it will last longer as you need to use less of it each time you shampoo your hair (essentially providing you with better value for money). Furthermore, supermarket shampoos often have a much higher percentage of water and sulphates, and less of the good stuff: vitamins, minerals and oils.

Sulphates are known to be used in cheaper shampoos as it helps to create a rich lather, which many people would be fooled into thinking was a sign the shampoo was working or of better quality – this is not the case and, in fact, the complete opposite.

The reason supermarket shampoos are cheaper is because they aren’t actually made by dedicated cosmetics companies – they are instead manufactured by multi-faceted companies who produce a wide range of home care products, and in vast quantities. It’s similar to comparing mass-produced high street shoes to a pair of Loakes.

How to Choose A Shampoo?

While all shampoos cleanse and freshen hair, different types provide different benefits to help improve the texture and appearance of your hair.

A couple of factors to keep in mind when shopping for shampoo is your hair type and if you have any hair-related concerns or issues.

1. Choosing a Shampoo by Hair Type

The first option to choose one is by your hair type.

Hair Type: Normal Hair

If you’d consider your hair pretty normal, with no out-of-the-ordinary issues or concerns, using a gentle shampoo is probably the best bet. Gentle Shampoos won’t strip natural oils from the hair and scalp and work great for 90% of guys. For example, in this month’s Gay Pack you can get the Aesti Natural Peat Shampoo (50 ml!) that cleans and nourishes the hair thoroughly, resulting in stronger and healthier hair. And yes, it’s black and you know what they say about going black…

Hair Type: Fine Hair

Whether you call it “flat,” “thin,” or just plain “flimsy,” hair that lacks volume can take the punch out of any hairdo. A texturising styler will help in the short-term, but to induce some natural volume, look for a shampoo that’s high in fortifying nutrients, like vitamins, amino acids, and keratin.

Hair Type: Thinning Hair

For thinning hair, opt for a thickening shampoo. Thickening shampoos actually increase the size of your hair strands temporarily, helping to disguise signs of thinning.

Hair Type: Curly Hair

For curly hair, curl-enhancing shampoos are an excellent choice. These products make it easier to style and shape curls and can reduce frizz.

Hair Type: Frizzy, Straight Hair

For frizzy, straight hair, smoothing shampoos are ideal. These products leave behind a lightweight barrier that helps to keep the strands from absorbing moisture from the air, reducing the risk of frizz.

Hair Type: Delicate Hair

For delicate hair, choose sulfate-free shampoos. These products contain milder surfactants that won’t damage hair that is prone to breakage.

Just be prepared: sulfate-free shampoos typically don’t lather up as much as conventional shampoos even though they are still highly effective cleansers.

Hair Type: Bald

In fact, it’s crucial that you continue to shampoo and condition your scalp even after you’ve started to lose your hair, as this helps to keep your skin moisturised and prevents the onset of dryness or irritation.

Interestingly, dry and irritated skin are also two of the biggest triggers of dandruff, which is why you can continue to suffer from this even after you’ve started to bald.

If you’re going to the stages of male pattern baldness and shave your head regularly, it’s particularly important that you shampoo and condition your scalp.

Hair type: Coloured Hair

Colour care shampoos will have ingredients that help moisturise and repair the hair, preventing colour fade. Some colour care shampoos and conditioners contain colour enhancers or toners, which are perfect for refreshing your hair colour.

If you have had highlights or your hair colour lightened, colour care shampoos can neutralise any warm (unnatural looking) tones within the hair, resulting in a more natural looking, cool ash tone.

2. Choosing a Shampoo by Concern

You may also want to factor in any concerns or issues when shopping for a shampoo that fits your needs.

Below is a list of concerns that may impact your decision-making on a shampoo.

Concern: Oily Hair & Scalp

For oily hair and scalp, clarifying shampoos are best because they can cut through the excess oils on your hair and scalp. Some products also contain ingredients that help to regulate oil production to keep your hair looking cleaner for longer.

Concern: Dry Hair & Scalp

For dry hair and scalp, moisturizing or hydrating shampoos are a solid choice. These products leave behind moisturizers to improve hydration levels and don’t leave already dry hair and skin parched like conventional shampoos.

Concern: Dandruff

For dandruff, anti-flake or dandruff shampoos can help promote a clearer scalp. Products with zinc pyrithione help to kill yeast that causes dandruff, while salicylic acid dandruff shampoos exfoliate flakes.

Scientific studies has discovered that men’s scalp barrier is actually weaker than female’s, with lower levels of ceramides and is more susceptible to protein loss. Both ceramides and proteins are important components of the scalp barrier. More over men also produce 50% more sebum than women, which means that male scalps are likelier to develop excess oils that can lead to a greasy scalp and hair.

This means that it’s important for men to use anti-dandruff shampoos that not only alleviate and prevent the symptoms of dandruff in general, but that are specially formulated to deal with scalp’s specific needs of men.

Concern: Product Build-Up

For product build-up, try using a clarifying shampoo on a regular basis. If you have dry hair, shampooing with a clarifying shampoo once or twice per month can help keep build-up at bay. If not, you can typically use a clarifying shampoo on a weekly basis to eliminate styling product residues.

Not so fast!

But that’s not all – remember, you also need to add conditioner after washing your hair. According to research this has even more of an effect for the way your hair looks after washing than using shampoo.

Conditioners are designed to add moisture to the hair and scalp, soften the hair, increase luster, and prevent tangling. Commonly formulated with silicone or fatty alcohols, modern conditioners accomplish these tasks without feeling greasy or heavy. Think of a hair conditioner as fabric softener for your hair.

Moisturising conditioners contain ingredients that help the hair retain moisture and should be used by those with dry, curly, or coarse hair. If your hair is extremely dry, use a conditioner that contains essential fatty acids. These EFA based conditioners contain oil similar to sebum, which the scalp naturally produces.

Thickening conditioners (or volumising conditioners) coat the hair with a layer of protein with makes the hair appear thicker. This type of conditioner can help fill in the gaps left in the cuticle if it is damaged and add smoothness and shine to the hair. Thickening conditioners are suitable for those with fine, limp, or damaged hair.

Leave in conditioners work, much like a facial moisturiser, by nourishing your hair. These types of conditioners are not rinsed out and can also help add a bit of manageability to the hair as well as protecting it from the sun (look for one with a sunscreen). Many guys believe their hair behaves better the day after a shampoo and a leave-in conditioner can give the same manageability while allowing you to shampoo every day.

Most conditioners can be used every day.

For maximum benefit, leave the conditioner on the hair for two minutes (this is a good time to shave your face) and be sure to rinse well with lukewarm water.

So here you are – your perfect guide for keeping your head and/or scalp in top shape! Don’t forget to try some of them out in our Gay Packs!

Want to get a Gay Pack – your monthly delivery of designer underwear & grooming product samples to try out?