So many of us shampoo our hair by squirting anything out of the nearest bottle of nice-smelling stuff on our heads, standing in a shower and calling it done once the bubbles stop running over our face. Of course, there's more to it than this, which is why the best part of any salon visit is having your hair shampooed (admit it: that's half the reason you go).
However, if you're like the millions of people who don't get their hair done each week, you might want to know how to make the most of that little ritual, shampooing at home.
Believe it or not, giving yourself the best shampoo begins far before you even touch your hair.
1. Know your hair type and buy the right product for it. If your hair tends to feel oily and greasy if you don't shampoo it every day, you probably have fine or straight hair and a relatively smooth hair shaft that allows your hair's own natural oils to coat it fairly easily. Some women can go for a few days without having to shampoo, and find that if they do, their hair feels frizzy or overly dry.
Don't just buy something because it smells good or it's on sale… or even because it's the latest product everyone wants. Make sure the shampoo you choose addresses your hair type and texture. If your hair is color-treated, for example, look for products that are gentle cleansers, free from sulfates, and high in moisturizers, and with sunscreen (to prevent color from premature lightening and to protect hair after treatments). Now you're ready to work.
2. Prepare your hair! Use lukewarm water on your hair and finger comb it gently apart. Warm - not hot! - water will open up the pores (your scalp is skin, after all). A healthy scalp helps you have pretty hair.
3. Use just what you need, not what you're "used" to using! Not all hair products are created equal. Use the amount recommended on the bottle or tube. If your hair is very long or thick, you may need slightly more than what's considered average; the idea is to start by cleaning your scalp, which will naturally have more need of cleaning. Work your way from your scalp outward, and clean the ends of your hair last. Rinse with cool water - this locks in the moisture.
4. When using conditioner, use it sparingly and on the ends first, working towards your scalp. If your hair is especially dry or in need of repair, make sure you use a conditioner that adds extra moisture to your locks. If your hair generally lacks body, you might be using too much conditioner, or you might need a product that's formulated with less moisture (which can weigh down fine or thin hair).
This next step is very important: when you're finished, rinse your hair with cool water. This helps tighten up your pores and locks in moisture.
5. Take special care of your wet tresses! Don't wring out your hair like it's a wet towel, and avoid the comb--this can seriously damage your hair and cause breakage. Instead, run your fingers gently through your hair. Allow your hair to air dry for a bit before you style with heat.