6 Signs Your Shampoo Just Isn’t Cutting It Anymore
You know how you can really tell a difference between a stellar mascara and one that just doesn’t deliver? Or how a certain foundation gives you life while the other elicits the stink eye? That happens with shampoo, too. And sometimes it’s not even about the quality of the shampoo itself, but more about whether that formulation is working for your hair.
“When looking for the right shampoo, you should not only be looking for cleanliness and hydration,” notes stylist Danielle Priano. “The first step for choosing the right product is to understand your hair and scalp type. Chemical treatments have to also be considered when choosing the right regimen for you.” The right shampoo should make your hair look and feel shiny, healthy, bouncy, and work overtime for your texture. Here are some signs it’s time to swap your current shampoo.
1. Your Hair Color is Fading Quickly
All hair color is bound to fade a little bit, and some are more prone to fading than other hues (like red tones!). However, if you notice your hair color is fading way too fast, that’s a sign your shampoo isn’t a good fit for your strands. When this happens, the shampoo likely contains strong cleansing ingredients that aren’t ideal for color-treated hair.
“For anyone that colors their hair, it is very important to use a shampoo that is safe for color treated hair,” explains Guy Tang, celebrity stylist and founder of My Identity. “Shampoos designed for colored hair are formulated with gentle cleansing ingredients to ensure that the shampoo does not strip your color.”
- R+Co GEMSTONE Color Shampoo, $33
- Carol’s Daughter Goddess Strength Fortifying Shampoo, $11
- TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Color Shampoo, $17
2. Your Curls Are Not Vibing
Curly and wavy hair types tend to be naturally dry and more porous compared to those with straight hair. As such, they require super gentle and moisturizing shampoos free of harsh ingredients. It’s also a good idea to use a shampoo that’s formulated specifically to enhance the pattern of your natural curl. Over time, doing so can result in shiny, bouncy definition and less damage.
- Bread Beauty Supply Hair Wash Gentle Milky Hair Cleanse, $20
- Miss Jessie’s Harm Me Knot Gentle Sulfate-Free Shampoo, $18
- Function of Beauty Wavy Hair Shampoo Base, $10
3. You’ve Got Limp Strands
If you’re dealing with flat hair and limp strands, the culprit is likely too much conditioner. While thicker hair types can get away with heavier formulations, fine and thin hair requires less. Aim for shampoos formulated for fine hair, which help create volume and lift and the root. Also, avoid conditioning at the scalp and instead focus on the mid-shaft to the ends.
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4. You’re Greasy
If your hair feels greasy within a day of washing, there’s this is a sign that you may not be getting a deep enough clean. Tang tells us that this also happens when you have a lot of product buildup or even mineral buildup from hard water. “Use a clarifying shampoo a couple times a month to remove hard water deposits and product build up,” he advises. “Your hair will feel fresh and extra clean!”
It’s important to not overdo this. A once-monthly clarifying shampoo is plenty, otherwise you risk drying out your strands.
- Neutrogena Anti-Residue Gentle Clarifying Shampoo, $6
- The Doux No Scrubs Shampoo, $13
- OUAI Detox Shampoo, $30
5. Your Hair is Dry and Dull
Parched strands can look and feel crunchy, frizzy, and straw-like instead of soft and bouncy. When this happens, it’s a clear sign that something’s drying out your hair, says Tang. It could be a shampoo that’s too aggressive (sulfates can sometimes lead to over-cleansing), hard water, your environment, or other products.
Whatever the case, Tang says that “Using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner will help. Also going to the salon for a deep conditioning treatment is a great remedy.”
- JVN Nurture Hydrating Shampoo, $18
- Odele Beauty Smoothing Shampoo, $12
- MIZANI Moisture Fusion Moisture Rich Shampoo, $18
6. You’ve Got a Flaky, Itchy Scalp
Sometimes a drying shampoo can lead to flaking and itching. Other times, the issue could be a reaction to ingredients in your styling products, product buildup, or even seborrheic dermatitis that causes dandruff.
In the same way you tend to your skin elsewhere, it’s a good idea to tend to your scalp. A product that targets the scalp with nourishing, soothing, healing ingredients can help.
- Philip B. Botanicals Peppermint Avocado Scalp Scrub, $75
- The Inkey List Glycolic Exfoliating Scalp Scrub, $18
- Sunday Riley Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Serum with Niacinamide, $48
If you’ve been dealing with any of the above issues, perhaps it’s time to officially swap out your go-to shampoo. We’re curious to hear how doing so improves your hair health!
Disclaimer: Every product we review has been independently selected and tested without bias by our editorial team. Although some brands allow affiliate links, we never take payment to review products, so we may earn a commission if you purchase a product by clicking on one of our links.