Ingredients Your Shampoo and Conditioner Should Contain

HK Vitals

There is a barrage of options when it comes to choosing a shampoo and conditioner, making it challenging to decide which one to buy. Depending on the hair problem they aim to tackle, each shampoo conditioner contains a different set of ingredients. To get the best out of your shampoo conditioner, you should read the list of ingredients before making the purchase. Read on for some insights.

What Ingredients Do Shampoo And Conditioner Contain?

When you are buying a shampoo conditioner, the first thing that you should notice is not the attractive packaging but the list of ingredients printed on the back of the bottle. While you may not understand many of the ingredients and what they do, you need to research the names and know which ones to avoid and which ones are crucial, depending on your hair type. 

Ingredients in a shampoo conditioner can broadly be classified into the following categories:

1. Carrying Agents

These agents in a shampoo conditioner make the active ingredients achieve the desired effect. The most common carrying agent used in a shampoo conditioner is ‘aqua’ (water). In addition to water, shampoo and conditioner may also contain alcohol. 

Some types of alcohol like ethanol, propanol, propyl alcohol and isopropyl tend to make your hair dry and brittle. Alcohols that are fatty in nature, such as lauryl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, etc., are beneficial for the hair as they lock moisture into your strands.

2. Thickeners

Every shampoo conditioner contains thickeners that give the shampoo its viscous consistency and may help increase the flow. Thickeners do not cause any harm to the hair. Some common thickeners added in shampoo and conditioner are – Xanthan wax, Stearic acid, Carnauba wax, gelatin, Cetyl alcohol, etc. 

3. Surfactants

Surfactants are agents that make shampoo and conditioner great cleaners. They produce lather and help remove oil and grime from the hair. However, the larger the amount of surfactant in your shampoo conditioner, the more drying it will be. Some common surfactants are – ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, etc.

4. Preservatives

When any product contains a large amount of water, it is prone to the development of mold. To prevent this from happening, preservatives like sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate are added to your shampoo and conditioner. 

Both are generally safe for hair unless you have significantly damaged and brittle hair. Parabens are also common preservatives used in shampoo and conditioner. It is best to avoid them as they can dry out your hair and make your scalp itchy.   

5. Emollients

Emollients are ingredients that balance out the effects of surfactants in shampoo and conditioner. They help your hair follicles to retain moisture and aid in preventing dryness and brittle hair. Thus, they make your hair bouncy and shiny by lubricating the strands against friction and damage. Common emollients are vegetable oil, aloe vera and mineral oils. 

Ingredients to Check in Shampoo and Conditioner to Serve Specific Needs

Identifying and knowing about what the different ingredients in a shampoo and conditioner do has been made easy by the internet. Now you can search which ingredients can help with your specific requirement and choose a shampoo and conditioner accordingly. 

Let us take a look at the ingredients that will cater to different hair care needs.

1. To Tackle Hair Loss

There are a number of reasons that may be causing hair loss. The best shampoo and conditioner for hair growth contain a variety of ingredients that will help tackle this issue. 

  • Minoxidil is used as a treatment for hair loss
  • Phyto-caffeine helps tackle the problem of hair thinning especially baldness in women
  • Niacin aids with blood circulation that ensures a steady flow of nutrients to the hair follicles resulting in a fuller growth
  • Lavender aids in hair growth

2. To Care for Wavy and Curly Hair

People with wavy and curly hair always find themselves reaching out for a shampoo and conditioner that is moisturizing,  hydrating and helps control frizz. 

  • Oils and butter compounds such as shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, sunflower oil, etc help keep the hair frizz free and the curls smooth and glossy
  • Glycerin has high moisturizing properties resulting in more defined and shiny curls
  • Seed oils are another such beneficial ingredient that help in maintaining curly and wavy hair. Grapeseed oil, black seed oil, Abyssinian oil, etc are some common seed oils used in shampoo and conditioner. 

3. For Colored Hair

People with dyed hair often tackle the issue of dryness. In order to counter this, they should look for the best shampoo and conditioner for dry hair that are mild cleansers but great moisturizers. 

  • Glycerin is a great deep conditioner that keeps the hair hydrated by retaining moisture
  • Oils like argan oil, macadamia oil, avocado oil, olive oil and coconut oil help nourish and rejuvenate the hair
  • Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate is a great choice for a mild cleanser

4. For Straight Hair

People having straight hair often find themselves looking for ingredients that will enable them to add volume to their hair. Ingredients to look out for in shampoo and conditioner for straight hair are:

  • Oils like sunflower, coconut, soybean and almond
  • Vitamins C, E and B5
  • Proteins such as rice and corn
  • Keratin to make hair less frizzy, fuller and smoother

5. To Tackle Dandruff

If you are looking for a shampoo and conditioner to help you get rid of dandruff then you should look for one that contains: 

  • Fungicides like ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, selenium disulfide
  • Herbal extracts
  • Tea tree oil

6. To Care for an Oily Scalp

People having an oily scalp suffer from excess sebum production as their sebaceous glands function in overdrive. To care for an oily scalp, one needs a shampoo and conditioner that ensures a deep clean wash and contains little conditioning agents. Ingredients that may help:

  • Lauryl sulfate 
  • Sulfosuccinates
  • Tea tree oil


We are inundated with marketing gimmicks that convincingly showcase the virtues of many shampoo and conditioner. However, when it comes to caring for your hair, there is no truth to the notion of ‘one size fits all’. It is thus important to identify your hair care needs and select ingredients in your shampoo conditioner accordingly. To achieve the best results without causing any damage to your hair, the best shampoo and conditioner are those that are made with natural shampoo ingredients. 


HK Vitals


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