Any truth to the shampoo claims?
August 23, 2006 7:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm obsessed with trying different shampoos. Do you find that any of them actually do what they say, as far as making your hair shinier/straighter/less frizzy/less poufy etc?

I always get suckered into buying ones that claim to "make your hair straighter" and so on, but i never notice any actual difference. (For the record, I have long thick dark brown hair) Are they all scams? (I'm talking the under $10 type shampoos).
posted by silverstatue to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (36 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I never had a whole lot of luck with that until I went high-end and invested (yes, invested) in a bottle of Kérastase. It doesn't do a whole lot on the defrizzing/smoothing scale (I haven't yet bought the corresponding conditioner, which should make a difference) but it makes my hair look shinier and healthier in general, so I have faith.

As far as under $10? I hear good things about Pantene, but I've never used it.
posted by anjamu at 7:10 PM on August 23, 2006

Nope. No difference here.
posted by signal at 7:13 PM on August 23, 2006

Herbal Essences used to claim to make your hair softer and it honestly did. They recently changed the formula, though (bastards!) so I don't know if it still does. I've switched to Aussie Dual Personality Root Cleanser and Tip Mender, which does in fact leave my roots clean and my tips mended. :-)

A note about trying a lot of different shampoos: switching shampoo frequently can strip your hair of natural oils, causing it to become frizzier and more brittle. I've been told that you should change shampoos about every three months to reduce buildup, but never more frequently.
posted by chickletworks at 7:21 PM on August 23, 2006

i don't think that shampoos per se make a difference. you might want to invest in a good conditioner. i have long thick coarse hair and it really makes a difference.
posted by sdn at 7:24 PM on August 23, 2006

Shampoo pretty much just makes your hair clean. I would think from drugstore shampoo, the best you can hope for is that you can select a shampoo that cleans your hair without making it unmanageable. For example, I have super oily hair, so I use different shampoos for oily hair. I have noticed some shampoos do better than others at keeping my hair from getting greasy again by the end of the next day (Herbal Essence, Aussie, and Pantene).

I've noticed the biggest change in softness, shininess, manageability from conditioners though. The absolute biggest change in my hair came after I realized I had been conditioning wrong. Make sure your hair has been rinsed with warm water, then run the conditioner through your wet hair. Leave it in for 2-5 minutes and then rinse it out in warm water. This allows most drugstore conditioners to really do their trick, in my experience.

But I'm also not really into hair stuff except that it looks ok and smells nice.
posted by tastybrains at 7:34 PM on August 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

When I use the Brilliant Brunette line of shampoos and conditioners, I get lots of compliments on shine. It does seem to make a difference.
posted by amber_dale at 7:48 PM on August 23, 2006

I used cheap supermarket shampoo and conditioner for a while, because it smelled really good and was cheap but found that it did absoluetly nothing for my hair, it frizzed and the such.

I switched to the Classic FX by PPS(low end salon line, about AU$8/bottle) line of shampoo and conditioner (which, btw smells like bubblegum :-]) and it made a gigantic difference in the appearance and manageablilty of my hair, which is short and wavy and extremely prone to frizz (especially in humidity).

Also, Pantene is apparently *no good* for your hair. It coats it with some form of silicone compund which makes it shiny, but ultimatley suffoccates it, causing damge in the long run (advice from my hairdresser who told me to never go near the stuff).
posted by cholly at 8:00 PM on August 23, 2006

The only shampoos I've ever used that do what they say they do are high-end, or mid-high-end.

In the under $10 range, Rusk Sensories isn't bad (and the guarana/ginger stuff smells divine!) -- that only costs about $9 and is available at your local CVS (or on The daily conditioner is junk, though, and you need to go for their deep conditioning treatment (about $15) rather than buying the regular conditioner.

The other cheap-ish one that's worked for me is Marc Anthony Simply Straight, about $8. It's okay, though a bit thick. If you have long hair, the conditioner combs through really well; so you don't have to pull all the hairs out of your head to detangle them.
posted by brina at 8:02 PM on August 23, 2006

I asked a similar question a while back. I'm convinced that the placebo effect gets stronger as the shampoo gets more expensive.
posted by kmel at 8:31 PM on August 23, 2006

Cheap drugstore shampoo with chamomile extract did indeed make my hair blonder than it used to be. And I'm convinced shampoo with henna gives me a bit of a strawberry blonde cast. So the color thing seems to work, at least for me. But as far as strength/frizziness, can't say I've ever noticed a difference.
posted by matematichica at 9:12 PM on August 23, 2006

I'm going to second John Freida's Brilliant Brunette products. I'm a male with long, brown, wavy hair. I've tried pretty much everything you're likely to find in your local drugstore (Herbal Essences, Pantene, V05, etc.). The Herbal Essence smelled nice, but I didn't get anywhere near the effect that has been advertised (think Harry Met Sally cafe scene). The first time I tried Brilliant Brunette, both shampoo and conditioner, it was akin to a religious experience for me. Even when I stepped out of the shower, I could tell an immediate difference. Doesn't dry out nearly as much when blowdrying/straightening, and works well when I'm in a hurry and just pull it back, still damp.

I've heard similar things about the other Freida products. I dated a girl many years ago who used the Sheer Blonde stuff and it made her hair look awesome. She's used it exclusively for many years, as far as I know, and it still works wonders to keep her hair shiny and noticeable.

I would also agree that shampoo won't do a whole lot for you. Unless you're using some sort of conditioner, you're just cleaning it. Doesn't really leave any lasting effect, and certainly doesn't help much in terms of quality. Get some conditioner, even if it's mix-match shampoo and conditioner. Using separate brands of shampoo/conditioner has worked in the past, but nowhere near as well as the Freida stuff. It's about $6 at the local megalomart for each bottle, so you're probably only going to be spending $12-$15. A bit more expensive than my brother's generic shampoo/conditioner combo, but well worth the money in terms of quality.

Also, I stay away from the all-in-ones. Convenient, yes; quality, no.
posted by thewhitenoise at 9:26 PM on August 23, 2006

FWIW, I've noticed a slight difference when using the Thermasilk smoothing formulation.
posted by flod logic at 9:39 PM on August 23, 2006

Paula Begoun (who wrote books for years before she came out with her own line of products) would have you believe that there isn't much truth to many of the claims. Her books examine the ingredients in various products and give ratings based on that.

I know that when I compared all the various kinds of Pantene conditioner, all except one had the exact same ingredients.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:50 PM on August 23, 2006

I have curly hair that dries out very easily. Shampoo definitely makes a difference, but more crucial than it is conditioner.

I pretty much only use shampoo for every other hair wash, and I only wash my hair every other day. So that's one or two shampoos in a given week. More than that, my hair starts to get limp and frizzy.

When I do shampoo, I only use moisturising shampoos. I like the knock-offs of the expensive stuff that you can buy for a few bucks at Wal-Mart or Target. I also like Aussie Moisturising. I've started buying slightly more expensive ($5 to $8 per bottle) stuff at the natural food's store, at the recommendation of my hair stylist, who claims that sulfite-free is the way to go. (Sulfites rob curly hair of moisture, making it more frizzy, and also dull my hair color, she says. I have no idea if she actually knows what she's talking about.

Conditioning actually does a pretty good job at cleaning hair, however. As long as I shampoo every now and then to really prevent build up, I can let the conditioner do the work. For my hair, I really need conditioners for curly/frizzy hair or conditioners advertised as moisturising. I once got a bottle of $50 conditioner from a fancy salon, but it was for "all hair types." This was about five years ago, and I can't bring myself to throw the stuff away. No, it doesn't work on my hair. But it cost so much money!
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:13 PM on August 23, 2006

I use Pantene. Can't say for long term effects (my hair is so fubar, that I honestly doubt something can make it worse), but, as said above, it makes my hair shiny, and at least somewhat manageable. Back when I used no conditioner, this was the one that had the best results, way better than the other "supermarket" shampoos.

It was said above, but I'll repeat. Use a REAL conditioner. I used 2-in-1's during college (sometimes no conditioner at all, I just wanted my head not to itch, not to have fancy hair), and now I use real conditioners, and even when I used the cheaper ones, there was a HUGE difference. I'd say 2-in-1's have an effect much nearer to no-conditioner than to real conditioner.

It doesn't matter if the shampoo and conditioner are the same. Actually, my completely uninformed opinion is that it's better that they AREN'T the same brand/line, as you won't be just applying the same chemicals twice. Get a good conditioner, and apply it CORRECTLY. If it says in the bottle to apply, wait 3 minutes and wash it off, wait the 3 minutes, don't rinse it instantly.

Also, try some after-shower products (the kind that you don't rinse). I've used some, and it did some further effect (even in long term). But you have to be even more wary in this category of the ones that make your hair better in the short-term but kill it in the long term.
posted by qvantamon at 10:25 PM on August 23, 2006

You might try one without sodium lauryl (or laureth) sulfate for a week or two and see if it makes any difference, because that really is a big difference from most shampoos. Conditioners do work, but often they build up and stop working and then when you try a new shampoo it seems so great but it just has a different conditioner and is washing away the excess of the old and adding a bit of the new.
posted by caddis at 10:51 PM on August 23, 2006

Just another note on shampoo, as people talk about their great experiences with John Frieda, I feel compelled to share my not so great experience. The stuff thats in John Frieda shampoo and conditioner wraked havoc on my skin, read: backne and gross face despite never before having skin problems. If you're going to use it, make sure you cleanse your face/any other area that might come into contact with the shampoo after you use it.
posted by cholly at 10:56 PM on August 23, 2006

Seconding caddis about trying sulfate-free shampoos. (Shampoos without sodium (or ammonia) lauryl (or laureth) sulfate. These are said to cause irritation and dryness for some people.)

I have sensitive-ish skin and fine, wavy hair and went from shampoo to delicious & expensive shampoo until I finally settled on the one I use now. Placebo effect or not, it made a big difference for me--happy scalp, formerly straw-like ends are now smooth and shiny, no frizz. I also switched to a conditioner and styling products containing little or no silicones.
Conditioners loaded with silicones need harsher shampoos to clear the buildup, which strip too much of the hair's natural oils, which in turn requires more conditioner. It's a conspiracy, I tell you! :)

If I were in the US and looking for something under $10, I'd try Trader Joe's $2 Citrus Refresh shampoo.
posted by QueSeraSera at 1:04 AM on August 24, 2006

When using Aveda's (very expensive) clay shampoo, I got tons of unsolicited compliments on my hair's shine and color.
posted by piers at 1:51 AM on August 24, 2006

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle has been my regular conditioner for 5 years. Nothing like it on the market, though in the UK it now sells for the equivalent of $12.
posted by roofus at 3:30 AM on August 24, 2006

I third John Freida's shampoo. I've definitely noticed an increase in softness and shine since I started using (6 m. ago) and didn't have an adverse skin reaction like the person above. I also find that a bottle last me a long time (I'm still on my first bottle) as I use less shampoo and conditioner. I find they're both more efficient at what they do.

FWIW, I used to be a shampoo junkie with oodles of different bottles of shampoo and conditioner (at least 5 shampoo's and 3 conditioners at any given time). John Freida has helped me curb this habit as I am now totally satisfied with my hair-cleansing/conditioning products.
posted by LunaticFringe at 5:14 AM on August 24, 2006

The best shampoo I ever used was St. Ives' 2-in-1 Watermelon Plus shampoo. Unfortunately, they discontinued it years ago.

The next best shampoo I've ever used (which I still use) has been Pantene's 2-in-1 "regular" shampoo. It makes my hair shinier and softer than anything else ever has. Regular separate conditioner weighs my hair down, and regular separate shampoo dries my hair out. Pantene's 2-in-1 is the perfect medium between the two.
posted by limeonaire at 6:08 AM on August 24, 2006

Oh this question is so me, my poor roommate has to put up with all the shampoos and conditioners I have in the shower in my quest for the perfect formula.

The best conditioner I've found so far is Pantene's curly hair formula. I don't know how they can say they use the same ingredients because I've used different Pantene conditioners and the one that makes my hair the softest is the one for curly hair. I also have been digging Garnier's Long and Strong conditioner lately.
posted by witchstone at 7:03 AM on August 24, 2006

I've never found a holy grail shampoo - though switching off to plain neutrogena once every few weeks is supposed to get rid of buildup and seems to work okay - but the one conditioner I tried that really really really did what it said it would is Redken's All-Soft. It's really amazing stuff. Get the plain All Soft conditioner, not the "heavy cream" version, which doesn't seem to do anything much at all.

I found out about it at MakeUp Alley, a great resource for reviews of all types of beauty products.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:20 AM on August 24, 2006

Shampoo is for your scalp, not your hair. Conditioner, however, is for your hair, to put back what the shampoo takes away. Proceed from there.
posted by macdara at 7:37 AM on August 24, 2006

Under $10, no. IMO drugstore shampoo is pretty much all the same. Over $10, absolutely. Salons and higher-end stores like Aveda and Origins have some great stuff.

However, for the things you seek (straighter / smoother / shinier hair), you'll want to rely more on conditioner than shampoo. Just find a shampoo that doesn't dry your hair, and invest in a great conditioner, and you'll see more results.
posted by boomchicka at 8:04 AM on August 24, 2006

I'll third the Brilliant Brunette, as far as <$10 products go!
posted by robinpME at 9:04 AM on August 24, 2006

The only good cheap shampoo that I like is Dove (the kind for dry hair, it's called complete moisture or something), but honestly, I will second the recommendation for Kerastase -- a friend of mine gave me a sample bottle of their Bain Satin 1 shampoo and the couple of times I've used it instead of the Dove, my hair has definitely felt softer. The only reason haven't bought any is because it is ridiculously expensive.
posted by echo0720 at 9:07 AM on August 24, 2006

Through carefule experimentation and dedicated laziness, I discovered that no hair products + a daily rinse worked best for me and that all products made it worse, cheap or not. I'm sure it depends on your type of hair, but it's a free experiment.
posted by dame at 9:53 AM on August 24, 2006

After using Dove for a year, my hairdresser finally broke down and said, "Good god, what are you using on your hair! Over the last few months it's been getting more and more brittle!" Told her it was the Dove and she said she's seen more clients with dried-out hair from that product than any other.

To be honest, the only drugstore brand I use anymore with regularity is Head and Shoulders, and that's only for a few days at a time when I travel. I think it's fabulous, and it works very well to manage any flakes and it makes my hair strong, shiny, and pretty.

I use Kerastase when I am not traveling. Nothing better, in my opinion.
posted by Not in my backyard at 10:38 AM on August 24, 2006

Conditioners keep hair shiny and manageable; shampoos just clean it. It sounds like you need a good conditioner.

I have used Redken's All Soft and it is totally fabulous, but it's really expensive. Given the length and thickness of my hair, I went through a $30 bottle of conditioner in about 5 weeks!

I second the thoughts about using after-shower conditioner. I find Infusium's Leave In Treatment to be fantastic -- for people with normal hair, it's just enough conditioning without weighing it down.

I have almost waist-length curly ("curly" curly; not "wavy" curly). I wash it every single day, because if I don't, it looks unruly and my scalp gets itchy (likely from the products I use). I have tried so many things, I've lost count. Here's what I currently do:

(1) I shampoo/condition with Dove Moisturizing shampoo (purchased in bulk at Costco - $8 a bottle). I comb through the conditoner with a large-toothed comb while in the shower.
(2) I wrap a towel around my hair and let it dry for 30 minutes.
(3) I use Infusium's Leave-In Treatment (~$7 for 2 month supply) and squirt some all around my hair, including the underside and the ends.
(4) I part my hair in the middle and apply Aussie 3 Minute Miracle's DEEEEP Conditioning treatment (~$4 for 2-month supply) -- just a tiny bit; about the size of a nickel -- to each portion of my hair.
(5) I comb the conditioners through.
(6) Style, and let air dry.

Notice that I don't blow-dry my hair -- that could account for why the uppity expensive salon I go to for my quarterly haircut says that my hair is in awesome shape, and that it has less wear on it than others they see.

My friend recommends Potion9 (you can find it at Target) if you don't use any other styling product to provide shine, manageability, and body to your hair. Just a tiny bit of that (pea-sized) will work as long as you emulsify it in your hands first. She says that a tube lasts her about 2 months.

Anyway, YMMV. Remember, everyone's hair and scalp are different and what works for someone may not work for others. (I'm planning to try the Frieda conditioner, though!)
posted by parilous at 11:33 AM on August 24, 2006

I've been using Aussie's Mega Shampoo for the past 8 years or so, with 3-minute miracle. It's really, really long hair (down to my knees).

I also use Fruitus Long and Strong, along with some infusium 23 leave in original spray. I have very little split ends, bone straight, untangled hair.

Of course, it could all just boil down to having Chinese hair. :p
posted by Sallysings at 11:37 AM on August 24, 2006

i use dove extra moisturizing shampoo and conditioner pretty much every day. once a week, though, i shampoo with lush big shampoo and then follow up with aussie 3 minute miracle. the lush shampoo is pretty pricey, but it lasts a VERY long time, especially if you use it once a week.
posted by kerning at 1:10 PM on August 24, 2006

i think lush shampoos are terrific, but you'll probably have to try a number of different ones before you find the one that works for you -- i prefer the pucks of shampoo rather than the solids or the liquids. their conditioners aren't great, though.

also: a hairstylist just told me that it's good to rinse out your hair on the days between washings, because it keeps excess conditioner/other hair products from building up on and flattening out the hair.
posted by sdn at 8:54 PM on August 24, 2006

I love love love TIGI Control Freak Shampoo and Conditioner its a bit expensive but it works wonders and smells like candy.
posted by dearest at 9:08 AM on August 26, 2006

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