Sunday, 2 June 2013

Shampoo label explained: What in a shampoo bottle is good and what is bad for your hair

Shampoo is a gift of the Indian civilization to the world. The British used this term in lieu of Hindi word  ‘ Champo’. We have a variety of shampoos available with each one claiming to be the best suited to different types of hair. What exactly they contain, have you ever wondered what do the ingredients in a shampoo mean- what is good what is bad for your hair?
In the series on shampoos, I will write three posts: First one to explain the components of the shampoo, second to help choose the shampoo for your hair and last post to help you choose the best conditioner for your hair.

Let us see what do those fancy ingredients  on the label actually consist of. The chief constituent of all is detergent ( surfactant)for sebum and dirt removal . Ironically the cleansing ability of a soap is equated with the foaming ability which may not be the case as they also sometimes overdo the job making our hair look dull and listless.  Some of them are_
  1. Sodium lauryl (dodecyl) sulfate – Derived from palm and coconut oils , it works with both hard and soft water , is foamy and is easy to remove. This component is very hard on your hair.
  2. Sodium laureth sulfate- Good cleansing effect and foamy too.
  3. Sarcosines –  Very mild cleansers but excellent conditioners.
  4.  Sulfosuccinates- very strong in  de-greasing action , used  for oily hair.
  5. Cocamidopropylbetaine –  wonderful  for fine and chemically treated hair , used in mild shampoos also.
  6.  Polysorbate 20 (PEG20) and Polysorbate 80(PEG80) – help penetration of various agents into the hair and helps in removal of oil from hair.
  7.  Citric acid – helps in making hair smooth and shiny ; also prevent hair infections 
  8.   Quaternium 15 – prevents fungal/bacterial infections.
  9. Methylisothiazolinone – prevents infection
  10.  Benzophenone-4 and Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate are the two sunscreens most commonly used in hair products.
  11. Midazolidinyl urea, iodopropynyl, isothiazolinone, and sodium benzoate.  Preservatives to prevent any moulds etc to grow in your shampoo bottle.
In my next post I will talk about the best shampoos suited for your hair type. Till then take good care of your hair and skin..stay skin healthy and skin wiser!!

Dr Divya Sharma is a practicing dermatologist at Bangalore. The data shared in this blog is her personal opinion based on her knowledge and experience. The author is not responsible for any adverse event that arises out of following blog opinion


  1. Hello Mam,
    I am your patient in Yashomati.Very nice article.Mam can you please suggest any good protein shampo or medicated shampoo to prevent hair loss.

  2. Thanks Sasmita. Shampoos in general donot affect hair growth and can
    only make your hair look voluminous. Hair loss has to be tackled from
    'Inside out'. However a lot of OTC brands are available as "volumsing
    shampooes" which you can try after checking their ingredients

  3. Thanks Mam. I will consult with you regarding this on my next visit to Yashomati.


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