Picking the best shampoo for dry or damaged, frizzy hair: 3 key tips

Frizzy hair can be a nightmare to deal with (and don’t I know it). Not only can it take ages to tame the frizz, once you’ve beaten it into submission all it takes is a little rain or humidity and, in an instant, all those hours of blow drying and straightening are undone. Picking the right haircare products can make a real difference though, and that includes your shampoo along with your styling products. So just how do you go about choosing the best shampoo for frizzy hair?

What causes the frizz?

To help understand the tools you’ll need to tackle it, you should understand what causes frizz.

Firstly, curly hair is always going to be more prone to frizz due to the uneven shape of the hair follicle. Having dry hair can also lead to bad attacks of the frizz. The outer surface of the hair is made of cuticle layers that overlap each other like scales. In dry, damaged hair these layers can be left rough and uneven, so instead of smooth, shiny looking strands of hair, the rough cuticle surface can leave hair looking frazzled and less able to lock moisture within the hair.

And then there are the pesky weather conditions that can make a bad hair day even worse – we all know what happens to frizz-prone hair in humidity! But why? A couple of reasons – the core of the hair is made of two different types of protein that absorb water at different rates so, when hair takes on moisture from the air, this action can lead to uneven kinks and curls.

Hydrogen bonds also exist within the hair and help to form its structure. These bonds are fairly weak, so are broken when exposed to moisture, but reform when the hair is dry. This is why you can set your hair into a shape temporarily by blow drying or shaping from wet – once the hair’s dry, the reformed bonds help to hold it in its new style. Unfortunately once moisture sneaks its way back into your hair, the bonds will be broken down again and your ever so carefully styled hair will drop or, if you have hair like mine, inflate to a frankly alarming size.

Three key tips to picking the best shampoo to beat the frizz

1. Check the pH

Hair naturally has a pH level of around 5, but when this rises and it starts to get more alkaline, the outer cuticle can open up. For smoother, shiny looking hair you really want to balance this out with a slightly acidic shampoo that will help keep your hair cuticle flat. Conditioning agents that soften the hair are often alkaline, so it can be a bit of a balancing act to leave your hair in prime condition, but generally the best shampoo for frazzled, frizzy hair will have a low pH and contain acidic ingredients.

2. Moisture, moisture, more moisture

Dry hair is particularly susceptible to frizz, as it desperately sucks up any moisture it finds in the atmosphere, so keeping your hair moisturised is key. The best shampoo for dry, damaged frizzy hair will often contain humectants. These are ingredients added to shampoo that attract moisture and can bond to your hair, helping to lock in water during shampooing. Panthenol and glycerine are a couple of humectants to look out for on the ingredients list.

Humectants won’t always solve your frizz woes though – as Tonya from NaturallyCurly.com explains, their water attracting properties that can work so wonderfully at moisturising your hair can turn against you in areas with very high humidity, pulling moisture from the air into dry hair and leaving it more frizzy then ever! So just be aware that different environmental conditions can call for different shampoo ingredients to keep the frizz tamed. Natural moisturising ingredients like jojoba and coconut oil are often found in shampoo formulated for dry frizzy hair and can work really well at giving hair a moisture boost.

3. Protecting the hair – silicones

A sometimes controversial ingredient, this one. At the opposite end of the scale from humectants (that attract moisture) are ingredients like the silicones, that repel water. And why can silicones be great in shampoo for damaged, frizzy hair? They basically form a barrier that stops too much moisture from escaping dry hair, and also prevents thirsty hair from sucking up water from the atmosphere that can ruin your carefully styled ‘do.

There are plenty of scare stories about silicones pretty much suffocating hair, leaving it incredibly dry with prolonged use, so some choose to avoid products containing “cones”. Which is fine, it’s a personal choice, but there’s no real evidence to say that silicones are harmful to hair. Yes, their anti-humectant nature means a lot of them aren’t water soluble, so these types of ingredients can have a tendency to build up on the hair over time, leaving it heavy and flat, but most standard shampoo is capable of easily getting rid of any residue.

My frizzy hair seems to need silicones to keep it in check, so I personally tend to lean toward the ‘cones in my shampoo. Dimethicone is probably the most widely used and heaviest silicone used in shampoo, but lighter variations are being developed that are water soluble.

A gentler option – sulfate free

A lot of frizz sufferers claim that the best shampoo for curly or wavy, frizzy hair has to be sulfate free. These shampoos don’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laurel sulfate or other related sulfate ingredients – ¬†alkaline detergent ingredients very commonly used in standard shampoo that are relatively harsh and can be drying on hair. It’s true that these formulations are usually gentler on hair, so can be great for very dry hair and good for helping to moisturise and keep curls and waves defined.

With more and more sulfate free options springing up all the time, it could be worth giving them a try, though if you do use lots of styling products, these shampoos aren’t always tough enough to get rid of any build up, so aren’t suited to everyone.

Some shampoos that have got the thumbs up for keeping frizzy hair in check:

  • John Frieda Frizz-Ease Curl Around Style-Starting Daily Shampoo
  • Neutrogena Triple Moisture Cream Lather Shampoo
  • Aussie Moist Shampoo
  • Neutrogena Triple Moisture Cream Lather Shampoo
  • Shampoo for Dry Hair: Kerastase Bain Satin 1, 2 or 3
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4 comments on “Picking the best shampoo for dry or damaged, frizzy hair: 3 key tips

  1. Mary J on said:

    People, if you need to get rid of frizz then use Pro Naturals Moroccan Argan oil. My hair was the representation of frizzy hair and after a few weeks of using this stuff I had no more frizz, no more dry looking hair, nothing. Just smooth and silky locks, baby! LOVE this natural oil, and it’s not even greasy! Smells great, price is debatable but it’s worth every cent. Got mine online from beyas.ca but there are other sites. TRY IT!!!

  2. ESSENTUALE on said:

    Spending 10+ years of my life obsessed with creating the world’s finest shampoo, I honestly believe I did it – with a remarkable formulator’s help. All who tried it agree – incredibly rewarding since I never was a chemist or stylist – just tenacious. I truly hope readers agree ESSENTUALE is the best shampoo. Just relaunched and available only at the ESSENTUALE online store so far. Thank you for reading!

  3. Pingback: Your guide to the best products for curly hair | Mad Progress

  4. Hair-CareTips on said:

    You have hit the nail on the head…..you need to figure out what type of hair you have and why it is the way it is before buying any product for it.
    Hair-CareTips
    http://hair-caretips.com

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