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WebMD health-e head2toe: skin care today

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Product Solutions for Every Hair Type

By Karen Bruno
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD

You have many options when it comes to hair care products. With so many on the shelf, how do you know which ones to choose?

There’s no magic formula. Dermatologists say the changes you might see from even the best hair care products are subtle. But there is a roadmap for healthier hair:

  • First, analyze your hair’s texture and condition.
  • Then pick a product formulated for your specific type of hair.
  • Finally, every few months, rotate your brand.

Zoe Draelos, MD, editor of The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, says changing products every few months keeps your hair at its shiniest.

Lynne Goldberg, MD, an associate professor of dermatology and pathology at Boston University, says that if you've noticed a problem, such as thinning hair or hair breakage, you should analyze your styling practices and the products you use. Blow drying hair, using a curling iron, and coloring hair can all damage your tresses.


Shampoos contain ingredients that cleanse the hair of natural oils (sebum), dirt, and pollutants such as smoke.

Just about any shampoo will do the job. But some inexpensive brands may be harsh, stripping the hair’s lipid layer. To protect your hair, apply shampoo only on the scalp. You don’t need to wash your hair every day unless you have oily hair.

Volumizing shampoos or thickening shampoos build up fine hair temporarily. “They work,” Robert Bernstein, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University, says. The tradeoff? Volumizing formulas often skimp on conditioning ingredients, so hair may end up looking dull.

Glossing shampoos temporarily boost shine by coating hair with silicones and polymers. Some contain ingredients such as hydrolyzed silk to make hair feel silky. But dermatologists say the best thing you can do to keep your hair looking glossy is to treat it with care.

Blow dry hair on the cool or warm setting, never hot. Invest in a hairbrush made of natural fibers, and brush hair from the underside out, not from the top down.

  • For maximum shine, Bernstein suggests alternating a volumizing shampoo with a moisturizing shampoo.

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