If you want healthy hair, you should find out your hair type and ensure you are using the right shampoo for your hair. The same applies for conditioners and other hair products, but shampoo is a building block for healthy hair. Understanding your hair type is the first stepping stone to choosing the best hair products. It’s time to be honest about how well you look after your hair!
The finer details of hair health are in the small print. In other words, seemingly small or insignificant choices can have big and long-lasting consequences for hair. One example is the delicate balance of hair’s pH. Natural hair pH is somewhat acidic, at between level 4.5 and 5.5. Healthy hair should fall into this range, but we unwittingly subject it to disruptive influences that push it toward alkaline and upset the balance. It’s usually when our hair shows signs of poor health that we reconsider which hair products to use… but then we might have no idea what are the right hair products.
That’s why we wrote this article. There are far too many hair products to mention, but the hair health fundamentals are shampoo and conditioner. As formulators of some of the best organic shampoo and conditioning bars on the market, we have good advice to pass on. We’ll therefore answer the most pertinent questions, from how to determine your hair type, to what damages hair and how to fix common hair problems.
How do you know if your hair is damaged?
If your hair is dry, has split ends, frizz, dandruff, or a lacklustre, dull appearance, it is probably damaged. The same is true if your hair is falling out, although this shouldn’t be confused with the natural cycles of growth and shedding.
As mentioned above, certain products and treatments can cause hair to lean more alkaline, which is when damage sets in. The cuticle begins to lift, and hair weakens, breaks and gets frizzy. Alkaline hair can also negatively impact the scalp’s oil and bacteria levels, leading to dandruff.
People often mistake hair damage for a ‘hair type’. Dry hair isn’t so much a type as a consequence, but it will certainly benefit from choosing a good shampoo for dry hair, instead of fancy-looking high street options that actually dry it out more in the long run.
What damages hair the most?
Hair damage has quite a spectrum, but we’ll try to keep it simple. How did your hair lose its great condition? Probably one of the following:
- Too much heat treatment, such as straighteners and tongs (or excessive sun)
- Dying your hair too often, especially with harsh chemicals instead of natural herbal formulations or henna
- Chemical processes that strip colour or natural structure from your hair, such as bleaching, relaxing or perming
- Harsh or excessive brushing
- High street shampoos and conditioners that contain toxic or harsh ingredients, such as parabens, sulphates, sodium chloride, formaldehyde, alcohol, triclosan, polyethylene glycol, and silicones (to name a few!)
It is much better to let your hair dry naturally, only dye roots rather than all of your hair (if at all), and avoid very hot styling tools. We recommend researching toxic chemicals and comparing against product ingredients lists when buying shampoo and other hair products. Sticking with organic shampoo and conditioner is a quick and simple way to protect your hair from further damage.
How do I know what my hair type is?
If you’re wondering how to determine your hair type, there are a few simple tests you can do - and observations you can make. The appearance and texture of your hair are strong indicators of hair type. If you want to know how to work out your hair type, it’s best if you first wash it and allow it to dry naturally, without products or styling tools. This way it will behave according to its natural tendency. When it has dried, assess your hair type according to the below:
- Straight hair - no curls, kinks or waves
- Wavy hair – long, mild curves
- Curly – obviously defined loops or ringlets
- Tight curls – tightly wound coils and spirals
This is the easy part, but there are also hair sub-types, especially with curly hair, which can hold a range of different types of curls, waves or coils. You can decide on a primary hair type according to dominant kind of curls.
Next you’ll want to determine the structure of your hair. You can do this by rolling a single hair between your fingertips. Assess as follows:
- Fine hair – you can barely feel the hair, or not at all
- Medium hair – you can feel the hair
- Coarse – the hair feels thick or wiry to the touch
Hair moisture levels
The third step is to decide on how porous your hair is; that is, how much moisture and protein it absorbs and retains. Note that this may be down to damage rather than your hair’s natural state. Dry or greasy hair may be caused by products you’re using, or by underlying scalp health issues. The general rule is that the more quickly hair absorbs water, the more porous it is.
Assess your hair porosity by the way it behaves:
- Low porosity – dries slowly without tools or struggles to absorb products
- Balanced porosity – is manageable and has natural bounce and shine, does not require much product to control it
- High porosity – dries fast and doesn’t retain moisture for long. Your hair appears to ‘drink’ in products and has a tendency toward frizz
Hair oil levels
The most common perception is that your hair type is dry, oily or balanced. This is a bit of a broad spectrum, but it can indicate which shampoo and conditioner is right for your hair. Again, using the wrong products can cause hair oil level changes. However, understanding your hair type (or degree of damage) will help you to balance them. The moisture level in your scalp will also play a role in this. Assess as follows:
- Dry hair – your scalp is dry and itchy due to lack of sebum production in the hair follicles. Your hair breaks and splits easily
- Oily – your hair feels or looks greasy within a day or two of washing it, likely due to excess sebum production
- Balanced – your scalp feels moisturised but not greasy, and oil production is even. The hair is neither excessively dry or greasy
What is the right shampoo for your hair type?
Now that you have more understanding of your hair type (or the damage it has sustained), it might be time to switch up your shampoo and conditioner. We have already outlined which shampoo ingredients to avoid, but as mentioned, an organic shampoo or conditioner makes this easy. Lavandi rolled two into one for even more ease, and of course sustainability factor.
Our handmade shampoo and conditioning bars mean you won’t need to spend too long in the shower, but the benefits are big! All of our shampoo bars are made with cold-pressed flaxseed oil, so are rich in omega-3 and 6 fatty acids and vitamin E. Regardless of your hair’s porosity, they help your hair to retain its moisture, meaning that you won’t need extra conditioner.
We boost shine and strength alike with marjoram-infused cold-pressed olive oil, which has anti-fungal properties, negating the development of scalp issues like dandruff. Lavandi shampoo bars have been created for different hair types. We have the moisture, strength, shine and dandruff prevention covered in all of our bars, but you can choose the best shampoo for your hair type with this guide:
- If you have fine, thinning or lacklustre hair, go for caffeine shampoo. This thickens and rejuvenates with caffeine and rosemary
- If you have normal, balanced hair, go for dandelion shampoo, which complements balanced hair and invigorates the scalp with dandelion leaf and peppermint
- If you have oily hair, go for white willow bark shampoo. The willow bark and lemongrass rebalances scalp and hair oil levels
- If you have dry or damaged hair, elderflower shampoo is your friend. Elderflower, coconut milk and orange blossom both moisturise and promote moisture retention in the hair and scalp
If it’s your first time using shampoo bars, read our guide on switching to a shampoo bar for ‘how to’. It’s far simpler than you might think!