One question frequently asked is what is the best shampoo for men and how do you find it? In this guide, we’re going to discuss how you find a shampoo that works for you, what ingredients to avoid and how to apply it properly for your hair type.
Is There a Difference In Shampoos?
Yes! One of the most common myths is that the only difference in shampoos is the price and the brand name. As far as quality goes, they all seem to be effective. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. While there is no truly all-natural shampoo on the market, there are products that far exceed the quality of others and offer benefits whereas others actually harm your hair.
Should I change mine?
So how do you know if you need to reconsider your choice of shampoo?
- If you are concerned about losing your hair
- If you are experiencing extreme dryness, oiliness, itching, or irritation
- If your shampoo is not designed to address your specific needs
- If you experience dandruff (in which case, head over to our dandruff guide)
The Trouble With Finding a Good Shampoo
Like many cosmetic, shaving and other body products, the price, the packaging and the marketing of shampoos can be the only factors available to decide what shampoo works for you, aside from actually trying it. It’s a pretty weak toolkit. Many men choose to buy shampoo from their stylist because they know their hair and generally work with better quality products than are available in the drugstore. In the following, we share some tips to find a good shampoo despite the lack of transparency in the market.
Tips For Finding A Quality Shampoo For Your Hair
Avoid the cheapest shampoos. Certainly some of the least expensive shampoos are readily available in drugstores, on Amazon, and big box stores in oversized bottles. They may be inexpensive and convenient, but it is safe to suggest that with less expensive shampoo, they are only including low-cost ingredients because no business wants to sell its products at a loss. If you are looking for a shampoo that will keep your hair healthy and clean without stripping it of the natural oils it needs to stay intact, the goal is to find a better quality product that suits your particular needs.
Identify your particular needs and buy a matching formula. You probably already know pretty well what your hair needs. Is it dry, normal, or oily? Are you concerned about hair loss, itchy scalp, or flaking? Is your hair thin, long, or curly? Create a list of your needs and look for supporting functions in your shampoos. They may or may not make a big difference, but it’s worth a try. Not sure what your needs are, or if you even have any? Ask your stylist or a stylist friend for their opinion. For dry hair, look for formulas with the terms “moisturizing” and “conditioning” or “2-in-1” products. For oily hair, avoid combo, thickening, and dry hair products as they will weigh your hair down, but don’t be turned off by products containing oils such as Argan – adding oil can actually help level out your own natural oil production. For hair loss concerns, look for products for “thinning, receding hair, or excessive shedding” or with “DHT blockers”.
Marketing claims are often meaningless ploys to get you to spend more. Many shampoos are labeled with “vegan”, “organic” or “natural” labels, but there is very little regulation and enforcement of these terms. They are mostly added to increase the perceived value of the product rather than the actual value. For instance, the term “vegan” generally applies to food, and shampoo is not something you should consume. “Organic” may only apply to one ingredient on the label, and “natural” has no standard definition. “No harsh chemicals” is another frequently used term, and again there is no way to verify the difference between a regular and a harsh chemical. Ignore the marketing claims of products and instead, use the ingredient list and reviews to evaluate the product.
Sales staff can’t help you. If research isn’t your favorite activity, you may be tempted to head to a salon store to look at the selection and ask the staff for their help. This store probably carries hundreds of products, and they are usually staffed by a team of people for whom product expertise is secondary to the other activities of running the store.
Avoid certain ingredients where possible. These days, shampoos (and all body-related products) are full of chemical ingredients. If this concerns you, here are a few big ones to avoid: phthalates, sodium laureth sulfate, parabens and fragrance. They are known to be preservatives, irritants, and endocrine disrupters that can negatively impact your health. It can be difficult to find a shampoo that works well and doesn’t include these ingredients, though. Fragrances can be especially pervasive, and “Men’s” shampoos are often no different than women’s shampoos with the exception of masculine scents, which can be quite strong.
Use new shampoos for a month. When you switch shampoos, your hair often feels dramatically different after the first use. This makes sense since the formula is new to your hair. It may be a great result on the first day, but use a new product for a least a month to see how it performs once your hair is “used” to it.
Ask a trusted stylist. This suggestion comes with a caveat – your stylist most likely makes a commission from product sales, so their suggestions are not objective. Furthermore, they may or not be experts in their products. That being said, if you have a trusted stylist, ask them to suggest some shampoos for your specific needs. Good salons should back up their products with a money-back guarantee. Then, the key to getting a good result is to evaluate the product carefully after you purchase it: Did it live up to the product claims? Is it worth the price you paid? Did it last for a reasonable amount of time? Tell your stylist your experiences, and take their advice with high expectations and a grain of salt.
Most reputable salons will only stock products they would personally use in their hair. There is no way for a non-chemist to independently determine if salon products are better than drugstore products, but with the more expensive price point and the motivation to keep customers coming back, it is more likely that the inputs are of a higher quality.
How to Buy Shampoo
We sat down with New York stylist Paul Labrecque, who has been praised by Vanity Fair and New York Magazine. Not only did Paul walk us through how to find the best shampoo, but he shared his personal technique for applying it. He had some sage words of wisdom when it came to buying shampoos and conditioners for men. Aside from scent, there really isn’t a huge difference between shampoo for men and women. However, you want to select your shampoo based on what you’re trying to achieve and based on the type of hair you have.
“If your hair is really curly and you want it less curly, I wouldn’t choose a shampoo that’s made to give you curly hair,” explains Labrecque.
“We put things in shampoo to accentuate what we have or to get rid of what we have,” he says.
Therefore, it becomes important to understand what type of hair you have and search out a shampoo and conditioner that works best for your hair type, texture and the style you want to achieve.
A big advocate of removing sodium chloride and other unhealthy chemicals from shampoo, Labrecque focuses on finding products that are as natural as possible, although he is the first to admit there is no such thing as a truly natural shampoo.
“If you use a non-detergent shampoo, you are better protecting your hair,” explains Labrecque, further telling us that these chemical-laden shampoos are doing nothing but drying out and stripping your hair of it’s natural and much-needed oils and moisture.
If you tend to change up your style and prefer curlier hair one day and straight hair the next, you may want to consider investing in a few different shampoos and conditioners to keep in stock. Most shampoos will advertise on the bottle what type of hair it works best for. Reading reviews from customers who have purchased and used the products will also help clarify if the product expectations match the performance.
PURA D’OR Hair Loss Prevention Premium Organic Argan Oil Shampoo – For All Hair Types
This shampoo makes many claims, including natural, organic, and no harsh chemicals, which should be taken with a grain of salt. However, with great reviews and no sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), parabens, artificial colors, or artificial fragrances, this shampoo is a step ahead of many other options on the market in terms of using fewer undesirable ingredients. This formula is rich with plant oils which help to balance cleaning with moisturizing. Click here to take a look.
DS Laboratories Revita Shampoo – For Hair Loss Concerns
Aside from his own line, this is Labrecque’s recommended shampoo for men. According to Labrecque, most men over twenty have the same complaint: they’re losing their hair. This highly effective and healthy shampoo actually includes Rogaine to help increase hair growth and prevent hair loss. Of course, there is no guarantee it will work for everyone, but Labrecque stands behind it and even sells the brand in his salons. He claims much of his success is due to this particular brand’s quality and the results his clients are seeing. Click here to get it.
American Crew Daily Moisturizing Shampoo – For Normal to Dry Hair
American Crew has developed a reputation as one of the best-selling daily shampoo and hair product lines designed specifically for men. Sold in 30,000 salons across 40 different countries, it is a widely available, no-frills brand that is a great entry (read: not super expensive) to salon products if you haven’t tried them before. Good for normal to dry hair & scalp. Click here to take a look.
Jack Black True Volume Thickening Shampoo – For Thinning, Dry Hair
Using a range of natural and effective ingredients, Jack Black has designed this shampoo especially for men with thinning hair. It employs natural oils such as tea tree leaf, lavender, sage leaf, wheat protein, sunflower seed, and basil to improve hair health. It is free of parabens, fragrance and colorants and would work best on men with very dry hair. Normal or oily hair might find this product to be too heavy based on our tests. Click here to get it.
Redken For Men Shampoo – For Fine or Thin Hair
Another leading salon-quality product line, Redken is one of the most popular brands used in salons across North America. In fact, if you do visit a reputable salon, chances are it’s Redken that’s being used when they wash your hair. Click here to get it.
Paul Labrecque Shampoos
Mr. Labrecque was kind enough to send a selection of his shampoos and conditioners to sample. Immediately, there was a marked difference between these products in comparison to just about everything else we’ve tried including the recommended products listed above. The hair required less product and felt healthier almost immediately. In addition, the hair stayed softer and healthier for a longer period of time allowing me to go from shampooing every 2-3 days to once every 4-5 days.
How to Apply Shampoo
Unless recommended by a dermatologist, even daily shampoos should only be used once every two to three days if your hair type will allow it. There is actually no need to wash or condition your hair daily unless it gets really dirty. In fact, Labrecque said he would feel comfortable recommending a hair wash just once a week for men who aren’t prone to getting their hair dirty.
If you do purchase the large pumps used in salons, a single pump is a perfect amount for men as it usually releases a 1/4oz of product. If you’re using the typical squeeze bottle found in stores, a small dollop the size of a quarter is the amount that Labrecque recommends using. However, to save on pricey products, you can reduce the amount you use until you notice a difference in the result.
Shampooing Oily or Greasy Hair Types
If you have naturally oily hair, Labrecque suggests introducing the shampoo to your hair without water and then gradually adding water as you massage it in. The reasoning behind this is the effect of putting oil and water together.
Shampooing Dry Hair Types
In this case, the opposite is true. Start by introducing lots of water and moisture to the hair and scalp. Then, add the shampoo, massaging it into the hair and scalp before rinsing it.
There is a big difference in the quality of shampoo across brands. The only person who can decide what shampoo is worth using is you. However, your stylist can be a great source of information and will usually be happy to recommend a product that is designed for your hair type. What shampoo do you use?