Shampoo can be confusing. Moisturizing, hydrating, volumizing, strengthening, smoothing, curling, oh my.

How do you match the lingo on the bottle with the hair on your head? It doesn’t have to be a head game if you know what you’re looking for. This guide will help you match your hair and the results you seek with shampoo.

Define Your Scalp Type
Before you choose shampoo it’s important to know what shampoo does, how to use it, and how that relates to your hair and scalp type. Shampoo is meant to clean your hair and scalp of dirt, oil, and hair products. While it’s common to think of shampoo as a hair cleansing agent, it’s more important to consider your scalp when choosing a shampoo.

My rule of thumb is this: shampoo should be chosen based on your scalp condition; conditioner should be used to treat your hair. This way, if your scalp is oily and your ends are dry (which is a common problem), choose shampoo that is best suited for an oily scalp and a conditioner that is best suited to hydrate your dry ends. Why? Because like your face, treating the oil conditions on your scalp (whether it’s dry, oily, or somewhere in the middle) begins with proper cleansing. Introducing the proper moisture back into your hair can be accomplished by selecting the right conditioner.

Shampoo Glossary
When your scalp isn’t necessarily dry or oily (or maybe you just want to know what on earth all these shampoo types mean), you can easily choose a shampoo that’s perfect for your desired hair style:

  • Hydrating/Moisturizing Shampoo: great for adding moisture, shine, and smoothness to hair. Good for thick, curly, or course hair.
  • Volumizing Shampoo: excellent choice when your hair is fine or limp. If your hair or style need a boost and lift, a volumizing shampoo can be a great foundation.
  • Strengthening/Fortifying Shampoo: good for damaged, over processed, highlighted, weak, or brittle hair. Usually contains extra protein to improve the condition of your hair.
  • Balancing Shampoo: balancing shampoos are typically a nice middle of the road shampoo. Not too moisturizing, but won’t dry your hair out.
  • Smoothing/Straight Hair Shampoo: extra moisturizers and smoothing agents help seal the cuticle and provide a great start for your straight and smooth hairstyle.
  • Curly Hair Shampoo: shampoos that are formulated for curly hair are typically very moisturizing and make an extra effort to reduce frizz.