Healthy hair has a beautiful appearance, shimmers in the sun, does not tangle and does not push. They are soft to the touch and perfectly dense from root to tip. But surprisingly, in nature they are less and less common. Maybe modern shampoos with aggressive surfactants are to blame for this?

Experts say it’s not that simple! MedAboutMe understands the intricacies.

Briefly about the main thing: the history of the appearance of shampoos

The first hair shampoos appeared in ancient India. These were natural products designed to cleanse the hair and scalp. The original culture of Wonderland ordered the fair sex to grow long hair, so the issue of their cleansing was very acute.

The first detergents had a significant drawback: they did not have a good lathering ability and were poorly washed off the hair and scalp.

The first modern shampoos appeared only in the 1930s. Unlike previous generation cleansers, they contained synthetic surfactants. Interestingly, up to this point, surfactants were only part of the products intended for washing and cleaning carpets. And now found applications in shampoos. But how did this affect the health and beauty of the skin and hair?

Did you know?

Shampoos should be lathered in the palms of your hands, not on your scalp. This simple measure will help avoid irritation of sensitive skin.

5 varieties of modern shampoos

5 varieties of modern shampoos

Dermatologists and trichologists divide modern shampoos into 5 categories depending on the detergents they contain: anionic, cationic, non-ionic, amphoteric and natural.

Each of the groups has its own tasks and different cleansing and conditioning properties. Most often, 2-4 groups are combined in one tool. In this case, the detergent, which is indicated first, has the highest concentration and is the main one. The second and subsequent ones are introduced into the composition in order to compensate for the shortcomings of the first and, in general, increase the effectiveness of the remedy.

Anionic detergents

These are surfactants derived from fatty alcohols. Everyone knows lauryl sulfates and laureth sulfates, as well as sulfosuccinates. They thoroughly, «to the squeak» cleanse the hair and scalp, give a lush foam and are easily washed off. But with frequent use, they can lead to a deterioration in the condition of the hair. Dehydrated hair looks dull, rough and hard to the touch, prone to tangles. Therefore, such shampoos are recommended only for owners of oily hair and scalp.

Cationic detergents

Compared to the previous version, they do not cleanse the hair and scalp so thoroughly, and do not form airy foam. However, they are great for cleansing and softening damaged hair from perms, dyes, and aggressive beauty treatments. Therefore, on the label of such products there is a recommendation to use them in the care of damaged dyed hair.

Please note that cationic detergents are not compatible with anionic detergents. You can recognize a cationic shampoo by the content of amino esters, ammonium ether, cetyltrimethylammonium chloride.

Non-ionic detergents

Non-ionic detergents

Their experts rank among the softest group of detergents. They gently care for hair and help remove the effect of static electricity. Designated by names: polyoxyethylene fatty alcohols, polyoxyethylene sorbitol esters and alkanolamides.

Amphoteric detergents

Used in children’s shampoos and products designed for thin, weakened and damaged hair. Foam well, the hair after their application lends itself perfectly to styling. Another plus is that they do not irritate the eyes; in case of accidental contact with mucous membranes, they do not cause negative reactions.

On the product label, they can be recognized by their names: cocamidopropyl betaine and lauramidopropyl betaine.

Natural detergents

The most famous and common option is soap nuts. They contain saponins, which are natural surfactants and create a rich lather. After using a natural shampoo with them in the composition, the hair becomes soft, shines beautifully, and lends itself well to styling.

However, despite the fact that they form a good foam and lather easily, they do not clean the hair well. And, according to experts, they are introduced into the composition only for marketing purposes.

On a note!

Shampoos for normal hair type designed for people who do not color their hair, and their scalp produces a moderate amount of sebum. The main detergent here is lauryl sulfates.

Shampoos for dry hair type ideal for people who practice chemical beauty treatments (colouring, keratin straightening, etc.) or daily styling with styling products. These shampoos gently cleanse the hair and scalp, and condition well.

Shampoos for oily hair type designed for people whose scalp produces copious amounts of sebum. They contain lauryl sulfates or sulfosuccinates and do not contain conditioning agents.

Shampoos for daily use, as a rule, contain weak detergents and are devoid of conditioning agents. In addition to them, experts advise using conditioners or hair masks.

Medicated Shampoos: Do You Need Them?

Medicated Shampoos: Do You Need Them?

Medicated shampoos are a separate group of detergents that should only be used as directed by a doctor. In addition to the above surfactants, they have additional ingredients: resin derivatives, corticosteroids, salicylic acid, sulfur, selenium sulfide, chlorinated phenols, zinc pyrithione.

Such shampoos are designed to solve strictly defined problems: the elimination of head lice, the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis or herpes zoster. Their use as a prophylaxis is unacceptable — these are drugs. Everyday use of them will do more harm than good.


The ingredients that make up their composition can cause allergies, therefore, before using such shampoos, it is imperative to conduct an allergy test on the inner bend of the elbow.

Expert comment

Dr. Stuart Maddin, dermatologist

Problems such as itchy scalp, seborrheic dermatitis, scalp psoriasis, ringworm, and head lice are medical conditions. And while some of them respond well to readily available over-the-counter shampoos, in some cases, effective medicated prescription shampoos are required on the recommendation of a doctor. Sometimes they are replaced with medicated lotions, but this is a less preferred option, which until recently was widespread.

In the funds to eliminate dandruff and treat seborrheic dermatitis manufacturers introduce antifungal agents: ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, selenium and sulfur.

For treatment scalp psoriasis effective therapeutic shampoos, gels and lotions with keratolytics. If we are talking about persistent, severe forms of the disease, until recently shampoos containing coal tar were prescribed, but now the expediency of using such drugs is condemned by scientists in connection with the identification of teratogenic and carcinogenic effects of coal tar.

In therapy shingles shampoos with ketoconazole and griseofulvin are used (often in company with selenium sulfide).

get rid of pediculosis may be products with substances such as permethrin, lindane and malathion. But they should be used with caution, as they can give unwanted side effects.


The vast majority of people do not need to use medicated shampoos and lotions. To improve the appearance and condition of the hair, over-the-counter cosmetics, which are easy to purchase at the nearest supermarket, are enough for them. But it must be selected taking into account the individual characteristics of the hair and scalp and with an eye on the content of surfactants.

Shampoos that are ideal for the owner of oily scalp and the same hair will cause serious harm to people with sensitive skin and thin weakened hair. The beauty and health of the human body require an individual approach.

Expert comment

Svetlana Sviridova, beauty expert

For every woman, the healthy condition of her hair is important. But dry, lifeless, thinned hair with split ends brings grief? How can you restore your hair to its previously well-groomed and healthy appearance? To do this, you need to opt for therapeutic and preventive hair products: shampoos, masks, balms, lotions and ampoules for hair restoration.

Let’s see what should be included in the composition of these products?

There may be oils of various plants: shea butter, argan, macadamia, as well as extracts of medicinal plants: hop cones, chamomile, marigold, nettle, bamboo and others. Pleased with the content in the composition of Omega-3, Omega-6.

When choosing ampoules for the scalp and lotions for hair loss, plant oils should be present in the compositions: castor bean, nettle, lungwort, chamomile. As well as essential oils of plants, proteins, vitamins, enzymes to stimulate dormant bulbs, amino acids. With these components, hair growth is activated.

Owners of dry, thin, split ends should pay attention to therapeutic and prophylactic, professional shampoos, which should not contain parabens, chemical components (DEA, TEA, and mineral oils).

The compositions should contain natural ingredients, mineral compounds, plant oils that add shine to the hair and strengthen the hair shaft, proteins, vitamins, plant extracts.

Remember, the function of a shampoo is to gently cleanse your hair. They have nothing to do with stimulating and growing hair, just like balms and masks.

But ampoules for the scalp and lotions, on the contrary, will actively stimulate active hair growth. Try to use hair products, preferably professional and treatment-and-prophylactic series and lines.

Expert comment

Freya Upit, beauty expert

Modern life is full of stress, which can not but affect the hair. The most correct thing is to contact a specialist who will prescribe treatment, or purchase funds at a pharmacy after consulting a doctor. And if there is no time, then the market provides a lot of funds aimed at solving problems.

1. Hair loss. These shampoos are the softest in cleansing, containing a large amount of extracts and vitamins. They have an irritating effect, therefore they cannot be used separately, only with subsequent care, for example, a balm or rubbing lotion.

2. Increased oily hair. Shampoos with a minimal effect of conditioner are aimed at deep cleansing of hair. Means reduce the secretion of sebum, but strongly wash out the pigment from dyed hair.

3. Seborrhea. Shampoos are aimed at combating the fungus that causes seborrhea.

When deciding on care, do not forget to read the reviews of those who have tried this product. Be patient, be less nervous and soon you will see the result.

Shampoo and Conditioners: What a Dermatologist Should Know? / D’Souza P., Rathi SK // Indian J Dermatol. 2015 May-Jun

Study of hair shine and hair surface smoothness / Gao T., Pereira A., Zhu S. // J Cosmetic Sci. 2009

Hair Care and Hair Care Products / Gray J. // Clinic Dermatol. 2001

Shampoos: Composition and clinical applications / Trueb RM // Hautarzt. 1998


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