Shampoo buying guide | Finder

Shampoo finder

Learn how to compare shampoo to choose the right option for every hair type, scalp type and budget.

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Key facts about comparing shampoo

  • It's important to find shampoo that matches your scalp type and hair type, plus take into account any other special requirements, such as if you've coloured your hair or if you want to tackle dandruff.
  • Cost will also be a factor, with prices ranging from 40 cents to over $6 per 100mL for brands you can get in your supermarket.
  • Prices can be much higher for salon professional shampoo.

Types of shampoo

Once you look past the marketing lingo on the label, how many different types of shampoo are there? The answer varies depending on who you ask, but as a general guide, these are the main options available to you:

  • Shampoo for dry or oily hair. If you've got dry hair and scalp, look for a shampoo that moisturises and hydrates. If your hair is oily, a balancing or volumising shampoo could be your best bet. Of course, if your hair is not too oily, not too dry, and has no real issues to report, you can look for a shampoo designed for normal hair.
  • Shampoo for different hair textures and densities. There are also products designed specifically for people with curly, straight, wavy, fine or thick hair. For example, if you've got curly hair, you might want to look for a shampoo designed to minimise frizz, while someone with thin or fine hair should choose a volumising shampoo.
  • Shampoo for damaged hair. There are also shampoos designed to repair damaged hair, such as clarifying shampoo that removes product build-up, and shampoos that can restore health to coloured hair. Repair shampoos commonly contain extra protein to help strengthen your strands.

Then there are those products designed for other specialist purposes. Anti-dandruff shampoos, for example, contain a range of active ingredients to prevent dandruff and soothe a dry scalp.

Two-in-one shampoos are another popular option and combine shampoo and conditioner in one product. They can shorten your hair care routine, and choosing this option means there's one fewer bottle crowding up your shower cubicle.

If you want to get the most out of your hair between washes, consider a dry shampoo to boost volume and keep your hair looking clean for longer.

How to compare shampoos

Ready to compare shampoos to find the right one for your hair? Make sure you consider the following factors when weighing up your options.

Ingredients

Check the ingredients list to find out what's in your shampoo. Some sources recommend keeping an eye out for a surfactant known as sodium lauryl sulphate (or SLS). SLS provides the lather for your shampoo, but there are claims that it may damage your hair and potentially cause skin irritations. If you're keen to avoid SLS, look for a shampoo labelled as sulphate-free.

Scalp type

Shampoo isn't just for cleansing your hair, it's also for your scalp and roots. So ask yourself whether you have a dry or oily scalp. If your scalp is dry, look for a shampoo that promises to moisturise and hydrate. If your scalp is oily, look for a balancing or volumising shampoo.

Hair type

Next, consider the density of your hair. Is it thin, thick or somewhere in between? Is it straight, wavy or curly? There are formulas designed for just about every hair type you can imagine, so read the label to find out whether a product could be right for you.

Price

Shampoo prices can vary widely between brands, so be sure to compare options and shop around for the best price. As a general guide, shampoos in your local supermarket tend to range from 40 cents to over $6 per 100mL. As bottle sizes vary, be sure to consider prices on a per-100mL basis to ensure a fair comparison.

Scent

Any shampoo you choose for long-term use will obviously need to have a pleasant scent. It might take a little bit of trial and error before you find a fragrance that's just right.

How often should you wash your hair?

This is the big question many of us would like to know the answer to, but unfortunately, it's one with no easy answer. How often you should wash your hair will depend on your hair and scalp type, plus other factors like how much product you use and even how much you sweat.

Generally speaking, if your hair isn't especially dry or oily, washing every two or three days will be fine. Thin hair or an oily scalp may require more regular washing, even daily in some cases, while people with thick, curly or dry hair can usually get away with going a little longer between washes.

It all comes down to what works best for you, so make sure you recognise the signs that indicate your locks are overdue for some TLC.

3 things to consider

There are a few other factors to consider before stocking up on shampoo:

  • No-poo method. Its name might not sound all that healthy, but advocates of this approach claim that it actually provides a whole lot of benefits for your hair. Washing your hair without using traditional shampoo is an option you might like to consider if you don't want to strip natural oils from your hair, or if you just want to use fewer chemicals as part of your beauty routine. There are several no-poo washing options available, with one of the most popular being a combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar.
  • Dry shampoo and shampoo bars. Traditional liquid shampoo isn't the only option to keep your hair looking its best. Dry shampoo offers a quick and convenient way to reduce the signs of dirt and oil in your hair, extending the time between washes, but it's not a replacement for regular shampoo. Shampoo bars are also a convenient option and also touted as being more environmentally friendly than regular shampoo, so they may be worth a look if you're searching for a different approach to hair care.
  • Why conditioner matters. Of course, shampoo is only one part of your hair care routine – after cleansing your hair with shampoo, applying conditioner will detangle and smoothen your hair. The end result is locks that look healthier and shinier, so check out our conditioner buying guide for more information.

Ready to start shopping? Check out our guide to the best shampoos and conditioners in Australia first, or take a look at the best sites to buy haircare products online in Australia.

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