If you take a look inside the modern man’s bathroom cabinet, you’ll probably find enough products to moisturise a small army. Vain creatures, these 21st-century chaps. But while most are happy to sort out their skin, shaving and scent routines to a religious degree, there is a whole category of grooming that’s often overlooked: haircare.
It’s not surprising. Beyond what pomade helps coif the perfect quiff, there’s so little information available, making it frustrating to even attempt to look for the right products. What was wrong with your 14-year-old self’s 2-in-1 body and hair wash? A lot, unless looking like a greasy teenager is what you want (note: you don’t).
In reality, you should pick products suited to your hair, just like you’d pick the right tie knot for your collar. While we could dive into micellar waters, milks, masks, serums, oils and treatments for hair, it pays to start with the basics: in this case, the best shampoo for your hair type.
How To Pick The Right Shampoo
Shampoo comes in many forms to address all manner of hair types and issues, so picking one is a bespoke process, one that requires you to analyse your locks much in the same way you would your face.
“Pick a shampoo based on your hair condition and texture,” says Kelly May, a senior hairstylist at the award-winning Neville salon in London’s Belgravia. “If your hair is coloured, opt for a colour-enriching shampoo. If it runs oily, a clarifying shampoo is ideal. Similarly, if your hair is dry or brittle, opt for a hydrating shampoo and definitely a conditioner.”
Sounds fairly basic, but if your hair doesn’t have any obvious symptoms, it’s worth asking a professional who can give you a well-informed assessment.
How Often Should You Shampoo Your Hair?
Should you shampoo your hair every day? Every week? Every month? There are so many different opinions surrounding this one that get spouted all the time. For most, the answer is simple.
“Two to three times a week should do it,” says May. “If you work in labour, are a chef or use a generous amount of product, then up it to every day.”
In the case of the latter, make sure the shampoo you use is light and hydrating, otherwise frequent washes may strip the scalp of its natural oils and lead to dandruff, dry hair and general life descent.
The Difference Between Shampoo And Conditioner
No, it’s not a case of snake oil; there really is a difference between shampoo and conditioner.
“Shampoo will open the hair cuticle and cleanse,” says May, “while a conditioner will seal the cuticle and add shine to your hair.”
Think of it like a good buff and polish at the garage; one for getting rid of the dirt and debris that accumulates on the surface, and one for a Goodwood-worthy gleam. For a truly high-shine finish, take the time to massage the head, which stimulates circulation to the scalp and allows active ingredients to absorb fully.
Shampoo Ingredients To Avoid
There are a few ingredients in the world of hair that remain a bone of contention among stylist and scientists.
The term ‘paraben-free’, for example, has appeared on grooming products for several few years now, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still exist. In fact, many haircare companies use them despite their link with breast cancer (and yes, that includes man boobs).
Sulphates like sodium laurel sulphate can also irritate the scalp, resulting in brittleness, eczema and dandruff. These are inexpensive detergents that help create a lathering effect but are also used in insecticide and even engine cleaner. So you decide.
Best Shampoo For Men
Best Everyday Shampoo
Baxter of California Daily Fortifying Shampoo
Nourishment is the name of the game when it comes to finding a solid all-rounder that does the business every day. A nutrient-rich complex of reparative wheat protein, vitamin E and coconut extract, this supercharged shampoo from Baxter of California is essentially a green juice for your hair.
Best Shampoo and Conditioner
Pantene Pro-V Classic Clean 3 in 1 Shampoo, Conditioner & Treatment
Ah, the classic 2-in-1. Once loved, then scorned and now wistfully longed for by guys needing to save space in the gym bag. Luckily for us all, Pantene has given the formula an adult upgrade, bringing the dual-action cleanser into triple-action territory. A shampoo, conditioner & treatment all in one, it’s also a godsend for frequent flyers.
Best Shampoo For Oily Hair
L’Oréal Professionel Serie Expert Pure Resource Shampoo
Oily hair is often the result of product build-up, so go easy on the dry shampoo, mate. If the damage is already done, you’ll need a super-strength shampoo to get rid of it. Look no further than L’Oreal’s Professionnel Serie powerhouse, a shampoo that tackles not only the muck but also any hard-water residue that might remain in the follicles. Use this two or three times a week for hair to rival Chris Hemsworth.
Best Hair Loss Shampoo
Korres Natural Magnesium And Wheat Protein Shampoo
It’s a cruel fact of life that hair loss is primarily a genetic trait, a trait that is notoriously difficult to overcome. While there are options in the world of surgical aesthetics (hair transplants, plasma injections, etc.), it’s worth starting with a promising shampoo. Korres uses a multi-mineral combination of calcium, magnesium, manganese and zinc to restore energy into cells in order for them to do their best work.
Best Dandruff Shampoo
Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
For anyone who applies heavy styling aids like wax or gel, this cult-classic from Head & Shoulders is the definition of bathroom essential. Fortified with eucalyptus extract, it works to remove any lingering product at the end of the day, preventing inflammation, soothing irritation and reducing dandruff for flake-free hair.
Best Shampoo For Thick Hair
Living Proof No Frizz Shampoo
Thick hair can look and feel heavy, usually suffering from dryness and resulting in a frizz-frenzy. God forbid humidity gets involved; then you end up looking like an electrocuted version of Jon Snow. The trick is to pick a shampoo that is light and conditioning (like this one from Living Proof, which was worked on by biotech scientists), so it smoothes without making your hair even heavier.
Best Hair Colour Shampoo
Aesop Colour Protection Shampoo
Dyeing your hair is just a chemical reaction, one that is safe but not exactly stable. Coloured hair, like regular hair, is exposed to all kinds of environmental aggressors – sunlight, saltwater, pollution – all of which can degrade your new hue. Aesop’s Colour Protection Shampoo shields against those nasty elements, while also softening and supporting your ‘do.
Best Shampoo For Grey Hair
Philip Kingsley Pure Silver Brightening Daily Shampoo
Naturally aged hair has had a resurgence recently, with the world shying away from filters and opting for au naturale. But with grey hair comes great responsibility (that was the quote in Spiderman, right?). As a minimum, it requires a touch more hydration, moisture and nourishment due to the lack of melanin, three things that Philip Kingsley’s innovative shampoo provides.
Best Shampoo For Dry Scalp
Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo
Scalp issues are generally caused by irritating ingredients in your existing hair products and even the hard-water you use to wash it with. Take a step back from the hairspray and reach for this scalp treatment from Swedish brand Sachajuan, which contains a host of anti-fungal, anti-irritating and naturally hydrating ingredients. It’s like a face mask, but for your scalp.
Best Shampoo For Thinning Hair
Kiehl’s Rice & Wheat Volumising Shampoo
Though a thick, creamy shampoo might feel like it’s returning a balding head to its glory days, the opposite is actually true. Instead, look for a lightweight formula that doesn’t weight down thinning hair or leave any residue. Kiehl’s Volumising Shampoo does just that, replenishing lifeless locks for a fuller appearance.
Best Shampoo for Afro Hair
Charlotte Mensah Manketti Oil Shampoo
Charlotte Mensah is a bit of a legend in the world of haircare, having poured her quarter decade’s experience working with afro hair into a great product range. A little denser than Asian or Caucasian hair, afro locks benefit from a shampoo almost akin to a conditioner to make it supple and easy to manage.
Best Shampoo For Dry Hair
Malin + Goetz Moisturising Shampoo
So rich and creamy you’d consider eating it with a spoon (don’t do that). This moisturising shampoo from Malin + Goetz, designed specifically for dry hair, will instantly load up damaged or brittle strands with fortifying amino acids and vitamin B5. It smells like a dream, too.
Best Shampoo For Curly Hair
Aveda Be Curly Shampoo
If you’ve got curls, embrace them and trust that most other guys are already jealous. Ever the pioneer in haircare, Aveda has developed a shampoo that defines curly hair with a wheat protein and organic aloe blend that expands when the hair is wet and retracts when the hair is dry – calming frizz and upping shine.
Best Natural Shampoo
Mauli Rituals Grow Strong Shampoo
A brand that’s part of the ancient Ayurvedic health care tradition practised in India, Mauli Rituals recently entered the haircare market with knockout success. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill rosewater shampoo; it contains a heady blend of botanicals including turmeric, frankincense, argan and cedarwood, all serving to remove impurities, stimulate circulation and heat-damaged strands. It’s a natural shampoo with scientific strength.
Best-Smelling Men’s Shampoo
Rahua Classic Shampoo
The story of this luxurious yet sustainable shampoo from New York-based brand Rahua (pronounced ra–wa) is almost as good as the smell. Its ingredients are locally harvested by tribes in the Amazonian rainforest before being blended with a touch of aged wood to deepen the scent. It’s the kind of shampoo to reach for if you want your hair to smell like an old writing bureau, in the best way.
Best Shampoo Bar
Christophe Robin Hydrating Shampoo Bar
There are a few great reasons to pick a shampoo bar over a traditional bottle. Chiefly: it travels well (no need to include it in your liquids allowance), lasts longer and is a more environmentally-friendly option than a plastic bottle. Apply Christophe Robin’s all-natural one to the scalp and work up a lather with a good massage for an easy, ethical wash.