If you are someone who cares about their hair as much as we do, then you probably already know that hair cleanser and shampoo aren’t the same. We’re all familiar with shampoos and their uses. Typically, shampoo is a viscous liquid that is used to remove the built-up sebum in hair.
Hair cleanser or shampoo?
Typically, shampoos are made by combining a surfactant such as sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium Laureth sulfate with a co-surfactant such as Cocamidopropyl betaine in water. The sulfate ingredient, acting as a surfactant, traps oils and other contaminants similarly to soap. In addition to regular cleansing shampoos, they are also marketing specifically to people with dandruff, colour-treated hair and those with an interest in using organic products.
On the other hand, hair cleansers are made up with gentler formulas. Typically, hair cleansers are made without sufates and are formulated to ensure that hair isn’t completely stripped of all its natural oils. Hair cleansers are designed to clean hair but also ensure that a safe level of natural oils remain to keep your hair and scalp protected from the elements.
The importance of sebum
Our scalps and skin contain sebaceous glands. These glands open into hair follicles and secrete an oily or waxy material known as sebum. Sebum is primarily composed of triglycerides, wax esters, squalene and free fatty acids, with the composition of sebum varying across species. Wax esters and squaline are unique to sebum and are not produced anywhere else in the body. Sapienic acid is a sebum fatty acid that is unique to humans and plays a central role in the formation of acne.
Sebum serves several important functions. It lubricates the skin and hair against friction and also protects skin and hair by preventing moisture from entering or leaving the pores. Sebum is also innately antibacterial and can function as both pro and anti-inflammatory agents. It also helps in the wound healing process. The sebaceous glands are also involved in the transport of antioxidants in and on the surface of the skin.
As you can see, the sebum secreted on our scalps has several important functions that are essential to keeping us healthy. However, there’s no upper limit to sebum production and too much of it can collect dirt and debris and trap it in your hair. Too much sebum can lead to oily hair and in the worst cases, even scalp infections.
How to use a hair cleanser
Hair cleansers are the middle ground between shampoos and not washing your hair. Hair cleansers are designed to clean your hair of dirt and debris while making sure not to strip your scalp of all its natural oils. Here is the best way for you to use a hair cleanser:
- 1. Identify your hair type and choose a hair cleanser formulated for your specific hair type. The best hair cleanser is the one that works for you.
- 2. Ensure you use hair cleanser on hair that has been wet with warm water as cleanser spreads much better on wet hair
- 3. Rinse thoroughly to make sure you get all the hair cleanser out of your hair
- 4. Lastly, use a hair conditioner to lock nutrients into your hair and keep it nourished until the next wash.