Should You Swap Out Your Shampoo and Conditioner Regularly?

Hair experts weigh in on whether or not hair gets "used to" shower products.

There are many beauty myths circulating in the ether, but here's one we weren't automatically able to deem fact or fiction: Many women believe that hair can get "used to" their shampoo or conditioner, and that regularly these rotating shower products is the secret to great hair. According to hairstylist Alicia Bailey, the Global Education Manager at Design Essentials, this belief falls decidedly into the fiction category. "Shampoos and conditioners are chosen based upon hair texture, type, and condition. I recommend finding the cleansing regimen that works best for you," she notes. "Being a 'product junkie' is not the way to go." According to Paul Labrecque, the Artistic Director at Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa, there are only two reasons to switch up your shampoo and conditioner: if you, one, realize that either products is formulated with harmful ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate (which strips hair and damages it over time), or two, notice that your products aren't cleansing your hair as they should.

shampoo conditioner bottles
Getty / Diane Keough

If you fall into the latter category, Bailey says to identify exactly what you need your shampoo and conditioner to do, so you don't invest in a new routine that fails in the exact same way. "Switching up the products you use in the shower does not necessarily improve the health of your hair—you could be using the incorrect shampoo or conditioner in the first place," she explains. "For example, someone with color-treated hair would not benefit from a shampoo that was not formulated for that hair condition. Color-treated hair needs a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo to help preserve the color and moisture within the hair." The ultimate goal? "Choose the shampoo and conditioner that is formulated for your specific needs and stick to them for best results," she adds.

As for the factors you need to consider before purchasing shampoo? Beyond your hair type and texture—and whether or not your hair is color- or chemically-treated—Bailey says to consider the region in which you live and your daily lifestyle (which factors in exercise), as well; both could determine how often you need to wash your hair. Ultimately, though you need to weigh all of the above, she says. Think of it this way: "Someone who has color-treated hair and a dry scalp, and who works out daily, would need to have a medicated shampoo to address the dry scalp and a gentle, cleansing, and moisturizing sulfate-free shampoo to moisturize and preserve the color," she explains, noting that she does not recommend having more than two shampoos in your daily rotation.

When it comes to selecting conditioner, Bailey says to primarily focus on hair type and texture. "If the hair is fine, use a lightweight conditioner that will impart moisture, but not weigh the hair down," she says. "If the hair is medium to coarse, a deep moisturizing conditioner would be best." The same rule applies, she adds—don't keep more than two conditioners in your shower. "One should be used for daily or regular use, like an instant conditioner, and the other would be a masque or treatment to be used when a deep conditioner is needed."

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