Can You Hair Get Used to Shampoo? When Should You Change Shampoo?

Jul 10, 2013

I am saying this beforehand – This most may sound like a rant but this is not supposed to make anyone feel bad. Also, this is a long post with parts.


Part I - Breaking The Myth

Let us consider this first

Can you get used to Nutella? I make you eat it twice every week for 6 months and then I say – No dear. I cannot give you any more Nutella because you are ‘used’ to it now. Let me  -

A. Switch between Nutella and some random cocoa spread every month.

B. No Nutella at all

C. Anything other than Nutella

What will you choose?

First, you might hate the idea of changing at all because you are having Nutella only thrice a week. You enjoy the same flavor as it is satisfying your sweet tooth.

Second, you might want to move to other flavor but only when it is better than your present one (Who is Better than Nutella..huh?).

Now, replace yourself with your hair and Nutella with your present shampoo.

Now, think again – Do you really need to change it? Is it because you think your demands have grown? Maybe you are using more hair products like gels and mousse and need a heavy duty shampoo or your present shampoo is making your hair dry or it failed to work at all for you? Using no shampoo at all or using anything other than shampoo is not a possible so, striking off option B and C here.

Now, let’s discuss on choice A.

If you are getting a head full of clean hair without any damage then you should not be complaining because your hair is dead. It does not have active surface to react and your hair getting used to any product is not possible. It simply cannot get ‘used to’ anything!

Here, you can argue that

Argument I -  “I have seen that the shampoo I was using is not making my hair as great as it used it earlier.”

I have faced this a lot while growing up. The saloon professional hand you a shampoo bottle which seem to work wonders – you feel like being in heavens with cherubs playing “Every Breath You Take”. By the time you re-purchase – BOOM! It’s not that wonderful anymore.

Now, the reason is that your shampoo or another product you are using it leaving behind residue. By residue, I mean silicones from conditioners or chemicals from other styling product. They might be coating your hair more than what your shampoo can work on. When you switch between shampoos, what is the residue for one shampoo can be the dirt for other and hence, the other shampoo gives a better cleaning effect. The reside is here can be environmental as well – pollution, dust or sweat. Again, a surfactant base shampoo can be effect only on certain type of residue and hence, only clean that and leave the rest. The next shampoo may work on the other. Now, the next shampoo start to leave behind residue from itself and then, you move to your main shampoo and you think – WOW! This switching thing is the best way.

Argument II -  “The current shampoo is drying out my hair.”

The reason is simple – it has more detergent based chemical for the cleansing purpose than your hair actually needs. You are moving out from your hair more than what it already has. Period.

To get out of the Switching shampoo cycle or the dried hair mess, the best thing you can do is to move to products which does not leave any residue and also, try gentle products.

So, in simple words – Your hair is dead. It does not feel anything. It never get ‘used to’ anything. It can never get ‘used to’ anything. They do not build up any tolerance against a product. NOTHING.


Part II - What is the Option?

The best bet is to move to Sulphate free shampoos – non-surfactant based.

Dry Scalp, Oily Scalp, Itchy Scalp, Hair Fall, Dryness issues with not bother you anymore in few weeks after moving to sulphate free.

I listed out few SLS free shampoo in India here.

Again, there are cases when SLS free shampoo will not agree with your hair. SLS free shampoo is never the panacea of all hair issues. For eg, If you have dandruff then, you need to get special care.

Also, if you use a lot of hair products which coat your hair, then you have to use a stronger shampoo.


Part III - When is Change Unavoidable

You MUST change a shampoo (no switching!..only change) if

  • You recently went though some chemical treatment – rebonding, relaxing, straightening, perming. You need to use special shampoo to make sure that your hair does not damage.
  • You coloured your hair. You have to use shampoos which keep your color vibrant and prevent them from fading. 
  • You are facing sudden hair fall (maybe owing to hormones or new medications). You might need to consult a doctor to suit your needs. Plus, try ditching conditioners. You will see that in a month your hair fall is reduced. Most conditioners make the roots soft an
  • Changing weather – During hot weather, your hair can be oilier than colder months. Same is with exercise. Your scalp might be sweating more because of the time spent in gym; making hair more oily and sticky. Sadly, we do not have good dry shampoos that I can recommend. The only one I have heard of is Lush Drought and it’s bloody expensive.
  • While travelling or moving to another place. While your hair is not alive, your scalp is. What might work with water of one region might not be great with different region. It’s better to try a different variant when you are travelling.
  • Recently started swimming? Some shampoos cannot be 100% effective for chlorine treated hair. We do not get swimming shampoos in India so, try using different shampoos.
  • You want change it because you have new demands - silkier, glossier, frizz-control, better smell etc.

Also, do not switch between shampoos when something is not taking care of your need. Move out of it completely and use something else for your needs. And when you find your match, you can stick to it as your hair will not get used to it. Have no fears and be awesome.


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