With so many shampoo types and brands and trends, it is overwhelming, and more than a little bit intimidating, to pick the perfect poo.  In this article, we demystify the plethora of shampoo (and “un”-shampoo) options and recommendations that are flooding your magazines, HuffPost feed and non-stop TV commercials. Let’s jump right in by debunking some myths.

Myth #1
Your hair gets tired of the same product, so you need to switch shampoos regularly.
When you use the right shampoo for you, there’s no need to change what’s working. However, if your hair is an ever-changing canvas due to chemical services, environmental or biological factors, talk to your stylist about the right shampoo to coincide with your hair’s current condition or needs.

Myth #2
Since all shampoos are basically the same, the brand doesn’t matter.
The biggest point of difference in shampoos is between commercial and professional manufacturing (i.e. quality of ingredients)—with the latter far surpassing the former. Commercial, over-the counter brands spend less on the products’ ingredients and more for advertising while competing at the lowest price-point on the market.

Myth #3
Shampoo is hard on the hair.
Cleaning the scalp and hair is not bad. Let me say that again…Cleaning the scalp and hair is not bad.  Pollution, overly active sebaceous glands and cosmetic weight (aka product build-up) can make hair lifeless, unmanageable, and well, just smelly. While it is true that commercial brands are hardest on most hair types, the R&D that goes into professional salon products is gentler on the scalp and hair, designed for greatest productivity for a variety of textures and styles and is created and intended for hair’s optimal health.

Myth #4
Hair needs to be shampooed every day.
Okay, if you’re digging ditches or dousing yourself with so much styling product that you stick to your pillow, you probably want to shampoo daily. Additionally, those with very healthy sebum production resulting in itchy scalp and flaking after just one missed day of cleansing know that shampoo is their best friend. However, if you have chemically-treated hair, flyaway or frizzy texture, or just want to extend the longevity of your new color, smoothing treatment or wave, allowing your hair’s natural oils to soften and tame by laying off the suds for a day or two in-between washings can give your hair and style a variety of advantages.

FYI:  Although botanicals are commonly found in high quality products, be weary of plant-based or organic shampoos that have been found to be as harsh for hair as the 5-in-1 shampoos that are unable to sufficiently moisturize and nourish the hair.



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“No-Poo” the No-Shampoo Challenge

What we hear started as a contest in Australia by a radio host continues as a movement with women everywhere chronicling their experiences of foregoing the soap for their heads altogether. The reason? Some say it’s to save the earth (although damage from detergents is unfounded) and others believe no-pooing saves their hair (but from what horror, we don’t know.) Few professionals agree with the extreme measure of ditching a good shampoo. The other trend, “Alterna-Poo”, recommends cleansing with natural products like baking soda, which can actually cause more damage with caustic Ph levels too alkaline for delicate strands. Remember, just because something is natural doesn’t mean it helps your hair look, feel, or behave better.

Our best advice is to find a high quality shampoo specific to your hair type. There are…
Moisturizing shampoos that nourish thirsty hair.
*our favorite for intense nourishment is the Nutritive line by Kérastase.

Volumizing/ thickening shampoos that gently add texture to limp, fine strands.
*a great go-to favorite is Thickening Shampoo by Bumble and bumble

Tinted shampoos that can either add a refresher to color or neutralize yellowing or unwanted tones.
*we trust Tressa Watercolor shampoos

Dry shampoos that come in spray and powders to save time when anti-oiling and volume is needed (and some dry shampoos add texture as a bonus.)
*there are a million!  We like Powder Bluff by Kérastase.

Clarifying shampoos that purify before special services and are recommended on occasion to remove residue buildup.
*our long time favorite is Sunday Shampoo by Bumble and bumble.

Prescription shampoos that are custom designed to strengthen, protect, repair or transform the hair depending on your specific needs.
*our newest obsession is the Discipline Line by Kérastase.  Get rid of frizz for 72 hours!!
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Interesting Fact: 
Head & Shoulders is the most sold shampoo brand in the world!  Certainly the price point has a lot to do with it’s popularity.  However, we believe that part of its appeal is also its “prescriptive” nature. Unfortunately, most of those using Head & Shoulders don’t need that kind of personalized care for their delicate locks.  And, of course, we also run into that nasty “quality of ingredients” discussion again.  We suggest talking with your stylist and finding out exactly what your hair needs most (if you don’t already know) and letting them help prescribe for you what is best for you.


What’s the deal with sulfates and sulfate-free shampoo?

When cleansing ingredients Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate or SLS are listed (particularly found in over-the-counter, commercial shampoos), you can bet it serves 2 purposes: It will lather just like you’ve seen on TV, and will make your hair feel squeaky clean the way we all once expected shampoo to behave! Unfortunately, these cleaning ingredients are harsh, deplete moisture, cause color to fade faster, and cause many chemical treatments to release their hold, so we think it’s well worth losing the “bad” sulfates and crazy lather for the gentler, professional shampoos.  Sulfates aren’t always your enemy (unless you have sensitized hair), but rather the quality and type of sulfate.  High-end hair care lines do not use cheap, damaging ingredients, sulfates included.  You wouldn’t use laundry powder on your expensive cashmere sweater, so think of your hair like the luxury fabric you wear every single day.

We encourage you to talk to your stylist for a custom recommendation or prescription to ensure your hair’s nutritional balance and manageability.  What to use, when to use it, and how often to use the shampoo right for you can all be easily determined with in-depth consultation with your stylist.  And as you and your style or texture changes, so should the conversation …always keeping in mind that salon professionals want to educate, not sell, you to ensure your hair be in the best possible condition to achieve your desired goals.

Note: If you ask more than one trusted and knowledgeable Joseph Michael’s expert, opinions may vary, because, like the passionate chefs that we are—mixing science with art—we prefer to cook with our favorite herbs and spices to compliment and enhance our culinary masterpieces.


Char Panico Muffitt, author and educator, is Joseph Michael’s Hair color & Texture Specialist.  In addition to happily serving clientele, she is presenting her PERSONALITY POWER image seminar to groups all over Chicago.  You can view her detailed bio, along with all of our amazing talent, here.
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