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Expert Explains Why Some of Our Most Effective Shampoos Stop Working

We’ve all been there… had a shampoo that we raved about to all our friends—the product that topped all the others, that never-travel-without item. But suddenly, after a handful of successful uses, that magical product suddenly loses its luster.

Why does this happen? We’re leaving that to an expert! We reached out to Kiku Chaudhuri, who cofounded SHAZ & KIKS innovative scalp prewash with her sister. Keep reading to find out what’s really going on with your shampoo, and how to regain that magic!

Mane Addicts: What causes one shampoo to initially work wonders for our hair?

Kiku Chaudhuri: The main component in most any shampoos is surfactants. There are various kinds (sulfates are surfactants, there are coconut-based surfactants and many more), and their primary job is to clean dirt and oil off your scalp. Remember, shampoo’s first job is to clean your scalp. What your hair and scalp is feeling with any shampoo is the cleansing wonders of whatever type of surfactant is in that particular shampoo. 

MA: Why do those wonders often suddenly stop after several washes?

KC: A shampoo doesn’t necessarily all of a sudden stop working. If your scalp and hair are not reacting properly to your shampoo after the first few washes, then most likely whatever is in your shampoo is not right for you. Again, there are different types of surfactants—harsh to mild—and there can be a nice initial reaction to it during the first 1-2 washes, but it may not be right for you long-term.

Also, another big factor of a shampoo’s “magic” wearing off can be driven by what’s externally happening in your life. Seasons change, so do environments, maybe you’re going to the beach or swimming pool more, traveling, or trying new hair styling products. All these external factors can change your hair and scalp needs. Just like how you might change cleansers and moisturizers according to summer or winter for your face, the same thing needs to happen with haircare. You might need gentler shampoos at times, and then maybe clarifying shampoos at other times.

MA: Is it possible that one shampoo will remain working consistently without fail?

KC: As I mentioned, a shampoo really can’t just stop working. There’s no scientific way that the ingredients in the formula would stop functioning. The way for one shampoo to work for your hair and scalp consistently is that variables don’t change. First off, the ingredients are the right fit for you and then your life would have to be pretty consistent, as in there’s very little change in your environment and lifestyle. That’s pretty unlikely, so I would say no, one shampoo cannot address your hair needs always without fail.   

MA: If your favorite shampoo suddenly stops working wonders, what do you advise?

KC: Really analyze what has changed externally for you. Seasons changing is a big one (maybe it’s gotten drier or more humid), maybe you’re using more dry shampoo or getting more sun or doing sweatier workouts. I always recommend you keep a few different types of shampoos in your shower. A clarifying one, a daily, gentle one, and a deeper scalp scrub. If you feel like you’ve gotten build-up, use the clarifying one. If your hair and scalp feel dry or sensitive use the gentle, daily one, and I advise the scrub every 1-2 weeks as needed. Of course, every hair type has different traits and characteristics, so build out your shampoo crew accordingly. 

MA: Anything else you’d like to add on this matter or on what your product can do to enhance hair health?

KC: Something to know and keep in mind is that water and your washing routine can both be drivers in damaging your hair. The reason is because your hair is porous, and when you jump in the shower and start getting it wet, your hair starts absorbing all that water, which for your hair structure isn’t good because it swells up and becomes weak and susceptible to breaking. That’s why we always hear “wet hair is weakest hair.” So now you can imagine your hair is wet and in a weak state, you start lathering up with your shampoo — this furthers “weathering” and causes tangles and potential frizzing. That’s where our hero product really comes in. In Ayurvedic practices (which is what we grew up with), we were taught to always massage a prewash into our scalp and dry hair before we shower to help protect it from the potential damage it goes through during our wash routines. 

Our Back to Your Roots Scalp+Hair Prewash has unique mix of oils that penetrate your hair shaft to strengthen from the inside, and creates a protective shield around your dry strands, so when you get into the shower, a lot less water is able to enter and weaken it. It also is formulated with a pH that’s right at the natural state of your scalp/hair pH (~4.5). This is really helpful because it’s able to balance both water (pH 7) and shampoos (~8). This keeps your whole hair ecosystem—scalp and hair strands—at a balanced pH level after your wash. 

(Photo courtesy of Shaz and Kiks)

Another way to get your hair in order? Keratins! Follow THESE guidelines for your own safety if you’re considering receiving the treatment.

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