The surprising reasons you should be using more than one shampoo

Posted by
Anita Bhagwandas

According to the experts, one shampoo just won’t cut it when it comes to taking the best care of your hair. Say hello to your new shampoo wardrobe…

Think about all the beauty products you’ve used this week. The various tubes squeezed, the different skincare you’ve layered on, and the many lipsticks rolling around in your bag ready for any mood or occasion. Yet despite all of this product promiscuity, there’s one stalwart of our beauty routine we stay undeniably faithful to, day in, day out: our shampoo bottle. 

According to research, only 5% of us stray from our chosen shampoo. The emotional relationship we have with our hair is so strong, that when we find a shampoo we love, we stick to it - whether it’s for the fragrance, the price or its magical ability to add a Kirakira-worthy shine. But a new movement – from South Korea, no less – suggests we should rethink everything we know about shampooing. Instead of ‘the one’, the new advice is to build a ‘shampoo wardrobe’ – a tailormade collection of several shampoos to meet our hair’s monthly needs.

It’s all in pursuit of optimal health and appearance, says hair stylist Larry King. “We don’t use the same shampoo on every customer every time they visit the salon because their hair isn’t the same every time. Our hair is changeable and the downside of just using one – even at home – is that it doesn’t cater to all your haircare needs.”

Rather than consumerism gone mad, experts point out that we intuitively adapt other elements of our beauty regimes dependent on our needs. For example, body moisturiser is switched due to weather and a heavier eye cream is favoured after a late night. 

For hair stylist Bumho Lee, it makes perfect sense. His fellow Koreans have had intensive 10-step skincare routines for decades, and the skin on the scalp is, after all, simply an extension of your face. “Typically, Koreans like to shampoo every day, so the trend is to have a variety of haircare products on hand and choose what you need based on how your hair feels that day,” says Lee. 

Even those with sensitive scalps can indulge in shampoo switching according to consultant dermatologist Dr Vicky Jolliffe: “Because shampoos are rinse-off and have very low allergenic qualities, it’s rare for people to have reactions to them as they’re so extensively tested.” This isn’t a case of washing your hair more though. Those who lather-up once a week need not suddenly start washing their hair daily, it’s more a case of assessing your hair’s needs when you do wash it. 

Afro textured hair, for example, often needs to be washed only weekly because the tight coil of the hair (even if it’s been relaxed) means there are more points at which it can break when wet. But assuming that it is dry, every week could be an error, says Charlotte Mensah, artistic director of The Hair Lounge and afro hair specialist. “Although afro hair tends to be dry, using the same shampoo for months means it can become less effective, especially if the hair is coloured and needs a specific shampoo to help maintain that colour. If it’s fine, it can be weighed down by heavy moisturising agents in shampoos too.”

So what should our shampoo collection look like? Well, according to the experts, your main or ‘everyday’ shampoo should be tailored to your primary concern (dry, fine, balanced or oily). Then you need a rota of supporting players to deploy depending what your hair is going through.

Though the weather is changeable at the moment, the cooler temperature has a huge impact on the way our hair looks and behaves. When our hair is exposed to extreme cold outside, followed by extreme warmth inside, our scalps overproduce sebum to compensate and lack the moisture they’d usually leach from the air (because there’s far less of it when it’s cold). So that’s where your second ‘repair’ shampoo comes in – something nourishing and protective. In the summer, or on holiday, you’ll still need this because the sun also dries hair out. 

The weather isn’t the only big change that should impact on our shampoo routine. If you notice that your monthly cycle affects your skin with premenstrual breakouts, it’s also likely to be affecting your hair too. There are even more oil-producing follicles on your scalp than your face and, post-ovulation, in the seven to ten days leading up to your period, when progesterone levels rise and your sebaceous glands surge, your hair may look and feel greasier than usual. This means it’s time to avoid heavier shampoos, says trichologist Anabel Kingsley. “The shift in hormones the week before your period means that if you’re already prone to a scalp condition, you might notice it gets a bit pimpled, irritated or greasy if you use anything too nourishing, so try adding in a soothing, anti-microbial or exfoliating shampoo.” Once your period arrives, you’re safe to revert back to your everyday shampoo.

So that’s three stellar shampoos you should have on your shelf of tricks. But what else could we be using? Koreans also use shampoos in a way we seldom think of: to support styling goals. If you’re partial to a bouncy blow-dry, or tong-created curls then a moisturising shampoo can wreak havoc, flattening it in seconds. 

Christine Sarosy, senior research scientist for John Frieda, agrees. “The right shampoo should be the base of any time-intensive style, rather than just relying on styling products like mousses or sprays for the best results,” she says. Even if you’re after a sleek, straight look, anything too rich could risk it looking greasy. Instead, a shampoo with perfecting polymers and luminising agents is your friend here.

But all that styling comes with a downside: build-up. You might not see it, but everything from pollution to sebum to product excess sits on our scalps and can block the hair follicles. The remedy? A total hair detox once a month with a clarifying shampoo. Use only monthly though – these shampoos tend to be extra drying (afro-textured and dry hair types should always use a nourishing conditioner afterwards). 

While South Koreans favour a particularly intensive approach to haircare, the advice for the rest of us is to switch it up more casually. And because you’re not washing your hair more often, just more effectively, and because shampoos have a long shelf life, over time, the cost is the same as your old regime. Meet your shampoo wardrobe…

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If you have oily hair


Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Anti-Oil Astringent Cleanser, £35.90, helps to rebalance sebaceous glands on the scalp to slow down oil production, while leaving hair hydrated.

PMS Shampoo

Kérastase Specifique Bain Divalent, £19.50, deeply cleanses a congested scalp, while repairing dehydrated and fragile hair bonds.


Aussie Aussome Volume Shampoo, £5.99, uses a protein-rich extract of Australian hops to infuse the hair shaft with heat-protecting strength. 


Mr Smith Balancing Shampoo, £25. Lime oil removes impurities and build-up, while patchouli oil stimulates circulation to balance the scalp.


Cantu Sulfate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo, £6.99, cleanses the hair gently but softens with a nourishing dose of shea butter, too.

If you have balanced hair

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Redken Clean Maniac Clean-Touch Micellar Shampoo, £15.50. Inspired by skincare technology, this gently dissolves everyday impurities.

PMS shampoo

Weleda Wheat Balancing Shampoo, £11.50, helps to soothe your scalp and remove excess sebum thanks to the addition of clarifying wheat germ.


Lee Stafford Choco Locks Shampoo, £6.99. This formula is laced with antioxidising cacao extract to help prevent heat damage. It’ll add some serious shine to your hair, too.


Bumble and bumble Sunday Shampoo, £20, rids your hair of product, pollution and hard water buildup. Anti-microbial rosemary soothes a congested scalp.


Maui Moisture Nourish & Moisture + Coconut Milk Shampoo, £8.99, gives enough hydration for dry days with creamy coconut milk and mango butter, yet doesn’t feel too heavy.

If you have coloured hair


Garnier Ultimate Blends Argan Oil & Cranberry Coloured Hair Shampoo, £3.99. The antioxidant-packed formula protects hair while locking in colour.

PMS shampoo

Cowshed Moody Cow Balancing Shampoo, £16. Manuka honey, petitgrain and cinnamon help to regulate oil production, creating a mood-boosting aroma to boot.


Tresemmé Keratin Smooth 7 Day Smooth Shampoo, £6.29. Infused with keratin and suitable for coloured hair, this will cleanse and help protect against heat damage as you style.


Joico K-Pak Clarifying Shampoo, £14.75. Specially formulated for swimmers and those in hardwater areas, this nourishing formula reconstructs hair as it deep cleanses.


Josh Wood Colour Renewing Shampoo, £10, contains advanced UV filters to prevent colour fade, and saffron and turmeric to keep hair glossy.

If you have fine hair

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Pantene Pro-V Lightweight Nourishing Shampoo, £3. This tester-approved shampoo has been clinically proven not to weigh hair down. Perfect for daily use.

PMS shampoo

L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Shampoo, £2.99.  Don’t think that a clay-based shampoo will be stripping – this will leave lank hair clean yet hydrated.


Aveda Pure Abundance Volumizing Shampoo, £19.50. The acacia gum in this plant-based formula gives hair a healthy dose of volume for a style that lasts longer. Plus it smells of jasmine and mint.


Herbal Essences Daily Detox Clean Shampoo, £3.99. Free from silicones and pH-balanced, this refreshing shampoo is gentle enough for coloured hair.


Leonor Greyl Shampooing au Miel, £20. Perfect for fragile hair, nourishing acacia honey and rosehip oil restore flexibility, shine and volume, leaving locks bouncy.

Main Image: REX Features