Tips for Shampoo and Conditioner Shopping

[ a few shampoo and conditioner duo’s that I’ve enjoyed]
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Have you stood in the store, staring at the shelves, wondering,”what in the world should I be looking for in a shampoo and conditioner?”

You probably aren’t alone.

It’s a never-ending cycle of new products, specialty products, products that make strong claims, simple products, etc.

These are a few tips to consider when shopping for shampoo and conditioner.
1. Your shampoo and conditioner is very, very important. It’s how you prep your hair for styling, and what can maintain health and strength in your hair. I would argue that it’s one of the most important products you can use on your hair.
2. Consider what your stylist recommends. Your stylist probably has more than just you as a client, and has seen plenty of different hair textures, colors, wave patterns, etc., and he/she should be able to recommend a good set based on your hair. Trust her judgement. 
3. Know your hair. Does it feel like straw? Does the color fade quicker than normal? Are your ends extremely knotty and your roots oily? Diagnosing any hair issues can help you narrow down where to begin the search.
4. Trial and Error. Purchase products at a store that allows returns. You have no idea how your hair will respond to a new duo, so you may want to return it if it’s not the right fit. 
5. Don’t feel locked in to matching the shampoo with conditioner. For a long time, I shampoo’d with a volumizing conditioner, and conditioned with a hydrating conditioner. I wanted lift in my hair, but needed the moisture. Mix and match based on your needs.

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Comments (69)

  1. Posted June 20, 2013

    I have been researching this same topic all week!! I have always just bought a cheap drugstore shampoo and conditioner, but I’ve recently been contemplating spending a little more on a higher quality brand. Been looking mostly at pureology vs. living proof. I’m leaning more toward pureology but I don’t color my hair. Most of the reviews I’m seeing talk about how good it is on colored hair. Is it still ok if I try it out?

    • Kate says
      Posted June 20, 2013

      It will still be fantastic on what we call “virgin” hair!

    • Jessica says
      Posted June 20, 2013

      I don’t color my hair but I love the pureology line. And a little goes a long way, it helps me justify the price!

    • Whitney says
      Posted June 20, 2013

      I absolutely love my hair when I use pureology! I would highly recommend it!

  2. Posted June 20, 2013

    Very helpful! Do you think that your hair “gets used” to a shampoo and conditioner after awhile? Because I have used and loved the same combo for about 2 years now.

    • Kate says
      Posted June 20, 2013

      Yeah, sometimes. I think product builds up. It’s good to switch it up every once in awhile just to introduce new “elements”

  3. Posted June 20, 2013

    This is very helpful! I was wondering about mixing and matching myself. I do have a question though: If I am looking for something to give my hair volume and something to moisturize my hair, do I go for the volumizing shampoo and moisturizing conditioner, or vice versa? Does it matter?

  4. Ashley says
    Posted June 20, 2013

    I’m still using your recommended combo of Redken Body Full shampoo and the Redken conditioner in the blue bottle, and my hair seriously looks better than it has in YEARS. And this is while growing it out from a pixie to a bob, and thus not getting frequent haircuts!

  5. Posted June 20, 2013

    I have tried many different salon products and still havn’t found “the one”. When you talked about hair up top, it sounded like you were talking about me, naturally curly, dry, coarse,thick,colored hair. My color fades quickly too. (always thought that was the brand of color used)Do you have any recommendations for me to start at. (BTW, love your blog!!)

    • Lacey says
      Posted June 20, 2013

      Your hair sounds similar to mine and I use Devacurl. My hair is super healthy, a lot smoother and my curls are way more manageable. They sell a sample kit with shampoo, conditioner and gel if you wanna try it out!

  6. Posted June 20, 2013

    Just curious, how do you feel about Aveda products? I’m considering leaving my faithful Aveda Damage Remedy and trying one of your recommendations, just to switch it up.

    • Kate says
      Posted June 20, 2013

      not a fan at all! Haven’t found a single product I like. Doesn’t mean they are horrible–just means I don’t love them.

  7. Posted June 20, 2013

    I’ve always heard that you should use a clarifying shampoo at least once a week. Is this true?

  8. Posted June 20, 2013

    since you’re a blondie like me, have you tried Clairol shimmer lights? I have been using it religiously since I heard about it reducing the brassiness & am loving the effects it has on my color, but not the feeling after of super dryness! I’ve been using the shampoo & following it up with the “itsa10” conditioning mask!

    • Sarah says
      Posted June 20, 2013

      Try the Pureogyly perfect for Platnium Shampoo. It’s AWESOME! You can buy a little bottle at ultra to try out. I use it 2x a week to keep my highlights bright

  9. Albs says
    Posted June 20, 2013

    I am a Pantene girl!! But I switch it up every once in a while with Wen. It makes my hair extra soft!

  10. annette says
    Posted June 20, 2013

    I have been splurging on salon-grade shampoo and conditioner for almost a year now, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. If you have a Beauty Brands in your area, they have an annual Liter Sale where they sell a lot of wonderful shampoos and conditioner – in the liter size – for only $12.98. That’s when I stock up!

  11. Posted June 20, 2013

    All shampoos and conditioners aren’t created equal I most definitely learned that this last little while!! I have been using Redken volume shampoo/conditioner this last little while and it has been working awesome but I like to switch it up from time to time, but I end up doing a lot of trial and error! I never even thought to ask about returns.
    ~ Kimberley

  12. Posted June 20, 2013

    I’m curious what you have to say about sulfates? I’ve heard that sulfates and alcohol are the main things to avoid when looking for a quality shampoo. I used to buy Redken products, but I started getting bumps on my scalp *gross*. I tried the vinegar/water natural way, but I couldn’t handle the “balancing” phase. My hair was felt so heavy and looked oily. My stylist does recommend Purology, but I can’t handle the $50 pricetag.

    • Leslie says
      Posted June 20, 2013

      Alex, I have naturally curly hair. About 2 years ago I switched over to only using Sulfate free shampoos and conditioners, and Cleansing conditioners. I think everyone is different about what works for them, but for my hair, Sulfate free works. The sulfate ingredients are what strips the hair of natural oils, then we try to replace the oil with the conditioner. So, I can tell you that i did NOT like the Organix brand. I have also bought WEN cleansing conditioner, but wasn’t crazy about it. My 2 favorites are about 6 bucks a bottle(at Walmart). Loreal has a line of sulfate free products. EverCurl is the one that’s my favorite. You can choose from EverCurl, EverCreme, different types. And they have a Cleansing conditioner too. Which is awesome!! Another Brand, Simpy U, is sold exclusively at Walmart. It’s Sulfate and Paraben free and I can tell you it’s amazing!! Good luck!!

  13. Diane T says
    Posted June 20, 2013

    Shampoo and Conditioners can be overwhelming! To be honest I haven’t used conditioner in my hair for years and years – is that bad? My hair tends to get oily very easily so I also skip it – any suggestions on a conditioner that wouldn’t cause build up and oil or is it safe to not use one?

  14. AmyA says
    Posted June 20, 2013

    My only hesitation is that I go to an Aveda salon, so I think my hairdresser is only going to recommend their products! They are so expensive!

    • Posted June 22, 2013

      Amy, I used to run into this problem all the time! My stylist who did amazing hair happened to use expensive products and always tried to up-sell me. What I did was asked her to let me look at the bottles of product she used in my hair as I was sitting there for my cut/color/style. I would read the description and the ingredients. Then I would pass on buying her products, go to the beauty supply, and find similar products that were cheaper. I found some of my own favorite products that way!
      Just thought I would share 🙂

  15. Posted June 20, 2013

    Is the Vidal Sassoon pro series the best drugstore shampoo you’ve found? I don’t dye my hair and use very little heat on it so I don’t feel like my hair needs the extra salon quality love. And I just can’t stomach paying $50 for shampoo and conditioner. 🙂

  16. Posted June 20, 2013

    Hi, what would you recommend for a thin, not generous, blonde hair that needs volume. I have had it toned a couple of times, but did not dye it. f there is a post on this issue, I would appreciate a link. For some reason the search options do not work for me. I am located in Austria, in case you have any suggestions for shampoo and Co products, would you be so kind to give international brands as suggestion?

    Thank you for your time!

  17. Posted June 20, 2013

    What do you think about the Ovation hair products? There have been ads all over the radio

  18. Posted June 20, 2013

    I just found a shampoo called Dermorganics, for anyone looking for something cruelty free and more natural. Sulfate and paraben free, vegan, gluten free, no animal testing…..and they claim the shampoo is gentle enough for your skin and face. So far I love it. Lathers well, has a great smell, and makes my hair feel soft and does not weigh it down. I used to swear by B&B Gentle Shampoo but this is a great more natural alternative.

  19. Carly says
    Posted June 20, 2013

    Pureology is one of my favs, I also like Davines for colored hair!


  20. Posted June 20, 2013

    WEN hair products changed my life! Never buying shampo or conditioner again folks.

  21. Posted June 20, 2013

    WEN hair products changed my life! Never buying shampo or conditioner again folks.

  22. Posted June 20, 2013

    I love Purology. It’s a little pricey but it fixed my dried fried hair! Defiantly trust your stylist, they don’t get a commission on recommending a product!!

  23. Ashlee says
    Posted June 20, 2013

    You just described my hair but not the solution 🙂 Very Oily Scalp and tangled ends.

    Also I feel like stylist only recommends what they have in the shop and I just don’t love it.

    • Kelty says
      Posted June 24, 2013

      Me too! On both accounts.

  24. Sarah says
    Posted June 20, 2013

    My head is very oily and the only shampoo/conditioner I’ve found that gets it clean and makes my hair feel great is Biolage Normalizing shampoo. Sometimes I go back to a cheap shampoo to save $ but after a short time my crown gets oily again and it seems it can only be fixed with Biolage!

  25. Posted June 20, 2013

    thank you for posting this. I just got finished getting my hair cut and sat with my stylist and asked her, how she would diagnose my hair. Is it coarse, etc. She determined my hair is thick as all get out, not exactly coarse but leans that way, and that it’s very well hydrated so whatever I’m doing with hydration to keep it up. So I was happy to see I was doing OK with that. I am notorious for getting a hair cut now (June) and then waiting to get another one, again probably right before Thanksgiving. Yes, that’s correct. Heaven help her. But it’s true I notice that when I’m ready for a good cut, my hair won’t hold curl, at all. And the ends are simply dry, not damaged, no split ends, just ready to be rid of.

  26. Posted June 20, 2013

    I am loving Costco’s Kirkland brand of shampoo and conditioner. I’ve used it for a couple of years now and it keeps my dry hair really moisturized. Plus its parabin free, vegan products, and protects my color too. I did recently try a sampler of Fekkai this last week though when we went on vacay and I really liked how my hair felt!! So now I’m thinking about switching. LOL

  27. Posted June 20, 2013

    Oh my gosh. Why do I feel like I should have always known this? I ALWAYS match shampoos and conditioners! I hope to catch your Facebook call for questions for the July FAQ video. I would really like to hear your opinion/advice on “no-pooing” (using baking soda and apple cider vinegar).

    • Posted June 20, 2013

      I’ve tried it. Gets my hair nice and clean, but not always moisturized. I love WEN, although it is expensive.

  28. Posted June 20, 2013

    I have naturally curly/ very dry hair. Any advice on a shampoo conditioner I should use?

  29. Posted June 20, 2013

    I am a shampoo/conditioner addict. Everyone who uses my bathroom always comes out saying, “Wait, aren’t you the only one who lives here? Why do you have 4 different sets of shampoo?” Haha!! I like to switch it up and not use the same product on my hair all the time. *shrug*

  30. Whitney says
    Posted June 20, 2013

    Living Proof is my favorite shampoo ever! I even worked for a beauty company that made shampoo…. oops. =X haha!

  31. Posted June 21, 2013

    is it bad that I just ordered some living proof last week because Jennifer aniston said she uses some of their products LOL

    Q.. do you really think it’s better to buy salon expensive shampoo/cond VS drug store???

  32. Megan says
    Posted June 21, 2013

    But what about something for sensitive skin??

  33. cc says
    Posted June 21, 2013

    I also have an incredibly sensitive scalp. I have tried various root boosters, etc, but they make my scalp itchy. I’ve never had the problem with shampoos and conditioners, only with products. Do you have any recommendations?

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    Posted June 21, 2013

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    Posted June 21, 2013

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  36. Posted June 21, 2013

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  37. Unknown says
    Posted June 21, 2013

    Last night, I found the Vidal Sassoon at Walmart – priced at 3.47 a bottle, and it had a TWO DOLLAR OFF coupon attached to it! SCORE!! 🙂 I bought the hair mask as well. Used it this morning, and my hair felt amazing. With the southeast texas humidity, it’s killing my hair! Thanks for your suggestions!

  38. Posted June 22, 2013

    I couldn’t agree more as a former hair stylist, of the importance of a nice shampoo. The price is always justified because it only take a dot for a whole head of hair so it lasts much longer. Right now I am using Revitalize from Pureology, but I also love Redken. Lovely post!

  39. Posted June 24, 2013

    My hair is really dry and straw-like. I color it, but am currents pregnant and want to wait until the second trimester to do any coloring (at least to cover up the grey (there are alot!) What can i use to make my hair softer and less straw like and less fly awaits (lots of those too). I always just use suave for color treated hair. Any suggestions?

  40. Carolyn says
    Posted June 26, 2013

    I used to just use Head & Shoulder then a conditioning masque every now and then until I tried the Redken Full Body Shampoo & Conditioner, amazing! Been loving that and my hair is looking better than ever.
    <3 Carolyn

  41. Posted July 10, 2013

    Very informative post. Vidal Sassoon is my top choice. Been using it for few years and it works well.

    Cha @ Starmax Online

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  43. Posted August 7, 2013

    Ulta has a Pureology knock off that I love! It’s called Ultimate Pure Color Shampoo. $6.99 and it gets great reviews.

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  45. Posted September 7, 2013

    On reading your tips now I came easily judge which Dry Hair Conditioner is suitable for mine.

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  47. Posted December 2, 2013

    Thanks for tell me the best tips to choose the best moisture shampoo.

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  49. Mandy Lou says
    Posted October 14, 2014

    What do you recommend looking for then if your ends are knotted & dry and your roots are oily?

  50. Cynthia says
    Posted November 5, 2014

    Love your site and your beauty tips, fav videos, and hair tutorials! Would love to know what you think about Kérastase shampoos. I use them and feel they make my hair fabulous. I have also previously used living proof (after reading your recommendations) and Frederick Fekkai. I am not sure if I am benefiting from the placebo effect with the Kerastase line, thinking “my hair is awesome”…simply because I paid so much more for the shampoo. Do you think the Kerastase line is worth the $$?
    Thanks for your time!

  51. Dennis says
    Posted December 2, 2014

    Great information for online shampoo buyers ! According to me, every online shopper must try to purchase herbal fusion shampoo as chemical shampoo only suits certain people with healthy scalp. A major lot of my friends buy shampoo online and today face hair problem such as dandruff, hair fall, itchy scalp and dry hair. Myself i prefer using Anti Frizz control herbal fusion shampoo by Hairwise, which is a complete botanical shampoo that takes complete care of hairs. Why to go for shampoo brands, who don’t guarantee 🙂

    Rest choice depends on the buyer, what he wants and what he dont !
    Anyway i am sharing the link of the herbal fusion shampoo i use –

  52. Sue says
    Posted October 12, 2015

    I was wondering if you could recommend a shampoo for hair regrowth? Would you recommend any of these?

  53. Posted March 22, 2016

    Hey, you put some important points. you can also look at the trend. which hairstyle you want & which shampoo and conditioner are perfect for that style.
    Anyway, Great job !

  54. Marcy says
    Posted March 27, 2016

    my scalp is itchy and im getting bald spots I use wen and davine’s any new recommendations? It is so frustrating.

  55. Elizabeth says
    Posted December 8, 2017

    Do you recommend not buying living proof from places like Walmart?

  56. Posted September 22, 2020

    Hi! I am in the category of number 3 that you are talking about in this post. I have to clarify my hair once a week. The buildup of sweat from workouts and then products makes my hair almost oily. What style of shampoo And conditioner would you recommend?

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