What You Need To Know About Hair Cleansing

WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

Hair cleansing is not a new topic, but many people still feel confused about it, especially those who may have various hair concerns. There seem to be a lot of questions that linger around whenever this topic arises.  

Are you really sure about your hair cleansing process? Is there a single hair routine that works on everyone? If not, then what is your take on doing it right?

This blog post will cover various perspectives of hair cleansing and how important getting a good routine is. After reading, we hope that you have gained a better understanding on hair washing and what is right for you!


Hair shampoos remove pollutants and dirt from your hair while conditioners give your strands that glossy texture and moisturized ends. There are different hair products for different needs.

The perfect hair cleansing routine for you can be tricky to figure out! To find out which works best for you, you have to consider your hair texture and your environment.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to determining the frequency of washing your hair, although the basic hair cleansing routine usually comprises shampooing, conditioning, and styling.

Why you can trust Scandinavian Biolabs?
TrichoAI Hair Loss Analysis
Our free, anonymous and dermatologist-developed AI analyzes your hair loss in 30 seconds, suggesting personalized solutions to combat thinning. Understanding your hair condition has never been easier.
Yes, I want to fix hair loss

Hair Cleansing – Back To The Basics

Washing your hair is a basic yet essential step in caring for your hair. The cleansing should involve both the scalp and the hair strands. As we all know: a clean scalp nurtures healthy hair.

With that said, cleansing doesn't just mean scrubbing off dirt and oil—it also means retaining the necessary sebum from your scalp during the wash.

In 2017, one cross-sectional research attempted to explore different perceptions of users about their ways and choices related to hair cleansers. The research findings showed these surprising statistics:

  • 40% of the participants believed that shampoos were more effective than soap or other products to remove dirt, grease, and dandruff as well as give shine to hair.
  • 44% used hard water to wash the hair, although 45% thought that hard water could trigger dry and lusterless hair. 

Today, you can easily find among the abundant hair cleansers on the market the one that suits whatever needs you may have - normal, damaged, dry or lacklustre hair. You will need to figure out what best fits your needs.

This includes the duration and frequency of washes which will contribute greatly to how much moisture remains in your locks. This is essential because if you over wash your hair, it could lead to dry, brittle hair. 

Washing your hair too frequently strips off the natural oils on your scalp, and they are crucial for maintaining hair in a healthy state!

Read more: Does Washing Hair Everyday Cause Hair Loss?

Hair Cleansing Products

Though there are different debates or perceptions regarding the hair-related effects of shampoos and conditioners, they have been used globally for hair cleansing thanks to their various ingredients that can make our hair clean, soft, shiny, and healthy.



What You Need To Know About Hair Cleansing

In general, applying shampoos is the first step to cleaning the scalp. The goal of shampooing is to remove dirt, environmental pollutants, sebum, sweat, dead cells or residues from other hair care products.

There are so many things to remove! This is why it's necessary for you to find a good shampoo; one that is not too stripping or not too gentle.

Back in the day, hair cleansers (e.g., soaps) tended to come off as harsh because they contained compounds that could strip away too much of your vital sebum, leading to dry and frizzy hair. 

Sometimes, they even contained formaldehyde, a preservative known to be carcinogenic to humans!

But now, times have changed, and so has shampooing. Thanks to the modern advances in chemistry and technology, there are now highly advanced formulas that aim to keep your tresses nourished and healthy.

Nowadays, a commercial shampoo usually has an average of 80% water content and 10 to 30 different ingredients with a pH from 5 to 7. These ingredients can be categorised into surfactants (cleansing agents), conditioning agents, functional additives, preservatives, aesthetic additives, and sometimes even medically active ingredients.

Within this variety of items, lies surfactants. Surfactants are cleansing agents that provide foaming and detergent properties; they account for the majority of shampoo's effects on your hair.

That said, there are still certain substances that you may want to avoid when choosing your hair cleanser due to their known toxicity for hair health. These are:

  • Parabens
  • Sulfates
  • Denatured alcohols

Reading the label carefully before buying any hair care product to investigate the ingredients will come as handy and beneficial in the long run for your hair wellness. You can read more about harmful compounds for your hair here.

Read more: Is Salt Water Good Or Bad For Your Hair?

Hair shampoos come in a wide array of varieties, corresponding to almost every hair type and need.

Ordinary hair shampoo

Ordinary hair shampoo is often used by those whose hair is chemically untouched and whose scalp produces normal to moderate sebum. 

If your hair is perfectly ordinary and you want to add some "oomph" to it, incorporate these helpful ingredients below in your hair shampoo:

  • Caffeine - Shampoo containing caffeine encourages faster hair growth and breaks down a hormone called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can obstruct nutrient absorption in hair follicles
  • Biotin - Biotin minimizes hair thinning and promotes hair growth, whether taken orally or applied topically in the form of shampoo.
  • Niacin - For women, niacin hair products can help reverse female pattern alopecia. 

Oily hair shampoo

Meanwhile, oily hair shampoo is for people who produce abundant sebum. On the other hand, shampoos for dry hair are suitable for those who undergo chemical treatment or harsh styling procedures since it provides mild cleansing and good conditioning.

Medicated hair shampoo

Additionally, medicated shampoo is meant to attend to specific hair and scalp problems. Some common scalp conditions that need medicated shampoos are:

  • Psoriasis
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Fungal infections
  • Lice infestations

Besides shampoos, water also plays an important role in cleansing the hair. Hard water might make it harder for you to wash your hair. There are too many mineral deposits contained within it, which could create a film surrounding your strands.

This barrier could possibly keep out nutrients and moisture needed for the health of your hair, leaving them dry, frizzy and fragile at best.

Hair Growth Routine | For Women
Hair Growth Routine | For Women
Formulated to combat thinning hair & visible scalp


Hair conditioner


Using conditioners as a second step of the cleansing process has become a typical routine due to its benefits. Conditioning moisturizes the dry ends of your hair and help maintain your hair texture.

In greater detail, conditioners help decrease friction, detangle the hair, minimize frizz, restore hydrophobicity, enhance shine, smoothness, and manageability through a reduction in static electricity and friction among hair fibers. 

Overall, conditioners are a mixture of oil or wax in water, cationic agents, additives, preservatives, and aesthetic agents. The most used conditioner agent is silicone with different types, deposition, adherence, and wash-out capacities.

When conditioners spread out to our hair, silicones spread over the hair surface and form a uniform, thin, hydrophobic layer that increases luster and gloss and simultaneously reduces the combing force.

Silicones also help protect the hair from heat damage from the sun or hair straighteners, however, it isn't all that advisable for use for people with curly or kinky hair. 

People with curly or kinky hair tend to do "co-washing," where they wash their hair using only conditioner, then scrunch the curls with gel to help shape them and lock in the moisture.

Hair Styling Gel
Hair Styling Gel
A light-weight gel to deliver a soft hold and a high-shine look

For curly-haired people who are beginners in the co-washing scene, start with products that are gentle and formulated without the ingredients that can damage your curls. 

Try these lab-tested hair care products from Scandinavian Biolabs. They are jam-packed with beneficial active ingredients for your hair that are naturally derived and vegan. Scandinavian Biolabs has silicone-free conditioners for both men and women.

Similar to the advancement of shampoo, conditioners include diverse types that cater to the diverse needs of consumers.

Rinse-off conditioners

The most common ones are often applied immediately after shampooing then rinsed off with water. You might need to leave them on your hair for around 5 mins before rinsing to make the most out of their potential.

Leave-in conditioners

Leave-in conditioners can be left on the hair to hydrate and enhance hair's properties intensively.

Deep conditioners

One other type is deep conditioners, which require a waiting time of 20 to 30 minutes after applied. Deep conditioners are usually used for hair that need intense hydration.

What is a proper cleansing routine?

The frequency of hair washing is mainly according to personal preferences and can be influenced by:

  • Hair length
  • Hair texture
  • Sex and race
  • Social norms and culture
  • Socioeconomic status

More importantly, it should reflect the actual needs of your hair rather than any specific number of hair washing per week that you have learned from someone somewhere.

What works for others may not work for you. If you have oily hair or use hair-styling products daily, you may need regular cleansing sessions opposed to people with dry hair. 

However, it is also critical to choose the right hair cleansing products. Frequent cleansing with a well-formulated shampoo and conditioner will benefit your hair greatly, while, on the contrary, an inappropriate one would do more harm than good.

Indeed, there is a wealth of evidence to support that well-formulated, mild shampoos will not interfere with mitosis in the growing matrix of hair and may help fragile hair by decreasing grooming force.

 Read more: 15 Easy & Effective Ways How To Stop Hair Breakage At Home

Proper hair cleansing routine


On another note, a proper cleansing process typically include several steps as below:

  • Get your hair wet thoroughly to open the cuticles so that your hair can absorb nutrients from the hair products more easily. 
  • Get the right amount of shampoo for your hair length before applying it to your entire scalp, crown, and hair root. You can also mix your shampoo with water to dilute it in advance.
  • Massage your scalp with gentle pressure by moving your fingers and palms nicely to avoid tangling and damaging the follicles. Alternatively, you can use a scalp massager instead of your fingers to evenly spread the shampoo and stimulate blood flow to your scalp.
  • Rinse your hair carefully to ensure no residue.
  • Apply conditioner if needed and leave it on for about 5 minutes. Apply the conditioner only from the mid-shaft down to the ends of your hair and not directly on your scalp; otherwise, your scalp can get oily or get product buildup.
  • Rinse your hair one more time and dry it properly by squeezing or patting instead of rubbing it.

There are also several things you need to keep in mind. First, identify what type of hair you have so you know what products to use. Second, do not use less or more hair product than you need.

Otherwise, your hair can turn frizzy and dry from product underuse, or it can become greasy and dull due to buildups from residue due to product overuse.

Next, give your hair enough time to dry before going out or sleeping. It is better to let it air-dry naturally instead of using a hairdryer.

Using a hairdryer can save you time, but hair cuticles tend to receive more damage as the temperature increases. Always use the cool setting on your hairdryer, and if you're going to apply heat on your hair, use a heat protector on your hair.

Hair Protection Oil
Hair Protection Oil
A blend of natural oils to help provide moisture & protection to hair


Which Hair Cleansing Routine is the Best?

People will have different choices and options for hair cleansing depending on these factors: hair texture, socioeconomic status, cultural beliefs, and diversity of perceptions. But despite all these, the basic components that make up a hair routine is shampoo and conditioner.

Although there are debates about the necessity of shampoos and conditioners, most people agree that using them during hair cleansing is necessary and preferable.

The primary function of shampoos is to remove dirt and environmental pollutants. Meanwhile, conditioners help decrease friction, minimize frizz, restore hydrophobicity, and enhance shine and smoothness.

Read more: Hair Falling Out In Shower: What Do I Do?

With the advancements in chemistry and technology, modern shampoos like the Hair Strength Shampoo, and conditioners like Hair Recovery Conditioner can meet the needs of consumers with different hair types, scalp conditions, and other specific hair needs.

Deciding how often you should wash your hair is a bit trickier, though. There is no exact answer about the frequency of hair wash since it depends on the specific conditions of each individual.

However, a proper routine includes these basic steps: wet your hair, shampoo your whole scalp and hair root, massage your scalp gently, rinse it before and after applying conditioners (if you choose to use conditioners), and dry your hair with a soft fabric or microfiber towel.

Related Articles:


Asifa, N., & Kusagur, M. (2017). Prevalent practices and perceptions in hair cleansing. International Journal of Trichology9(3).

Cruz, C. F., Costa, C., Gomes, A. C., Matamá, T., & Cavaco-Paulo, A. (2016). Human hair and the impact of cosmetic procedures: a review on cleansing and shape-modulating cosmetics. Cosmetics3(3), 26.

Davis-Sivasothy, A. (2011). The science of black hair: a comprehensive guide to textured hair. SAJA Publishing Company.

Draelos, Z. D. (2010). Essentials of hair care often neglected: Hair cleansing. International journal of trichology2(1), 24.

D'Souza, P., & Rathi, S. K. (2015). Shampoo and conditioners: What a dermatologist should know?. Indian journal of dermatology60(3), 248.

Kusagur, M. S., & Asifa, N. (2017). Trends in hair care and cleansing: A knowledge, attitude, and practice study. Clinical Dermatology Review1(2), 56.


Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.