Natural Hair Care

What Shampoos & Conditioners Really Do

16th April 2015

These facts and helpful hints will give you a better understanding on how to properly condition and cleanse your natural hair as well as the backgrounds on the very products you use.

History of Shampoo

Shampooing the hair has been around since ancient times originating in India where a variety of herbs and extracts were used to cleanse the hair. They used a very effective main ingredient that was derived from the pulp of the soapberry which is a natural surfactant. European travellers later brought this fascinating concept back to Europe calling it shampoo leading to the modern less naturally based shampoo’s most use today.

How Shampoo’s Made

The main ingredients in shampoo’s usually are a surfactant, sulfates, and a co surfactant. Other ingredients include salt (sodium chloride), preservatives, fragrances as well as other substances which control the texture, foaming nature, toxicity and ph level.

Function of Shampoo

The function of shampoo is to remove the unpleasant build up of oils and dirt from your hair they do so by effectively removing all oils including naturally produced oil’s. Shampoo with unnatural ingredients leave hair feeling dry because of the removal of naturally produced oil’s needed for moisture.

History of Conditioner

Conditioner dates back centuries mainly containing essential oils like jojoba and tea tree oil. Modern hair conditioner was brought about at the turn of the 20th century by a famous perfumer at the time. Modern science furthermore changed the ingredients which led to the conditioners that we use today containing hardly any natural ingredients.

How Conditioner’s Made

The main ingredients are moisturisers, reconstructors, detanglers, thermal protectors, oil’s, surfactants, preservatives and sunscreen. These ingredient do benefit the hair but are synthetically processed.

Function of Conditioner(s)

Pack Conditioners- These thick creamy mixtures bind to the hair and glue the hair’s cuticle like scales together. The high contents of surfactants lay on and form a thick layer over the hair. (Aussie 3 Minute Miracle)

Leave In- These tend to be thinner in texture and the surfactant structure leaves a lighter layer over the hair and acts like an oil leading to less tangled, smoother and easier to deal with hair.

Ordinary Conditioners- Combine both factors of leave in and pack conditioners, these are usually used after shampooing the hair.

Factors To Take Into Account

1. If you’re using shampoo use one containing natural ingredients that will gently cleanse the hair (they do exist). Demonising shampoo is a huge mistake due to the fact that they do cleanse and remove product build up which can stunt hair growth and cause dryness.

2. If you’re using a pack conditioner which usually is a deep conditioner or a conditioner that penetrates, remember that this is just a way to thickly coat your hair and is long lasting and not a permanent solution. If you’re using a leave in you can use it often and can aid your hair in  softness and manageability. If you’re using an ordinary conditioner be sure to check the ingredients and to not apply a lot of it directly to the scalp.

3. Your hair’s cuticles will be open due to the reaction of the water hitting your hair so really massage in the conditioner and allow it time to penetrate. If you have trouble holding moisture try using steam and a hot oil treatment after washing your hair.

4. Using natural ingredient based hair products is the best way to go as far as getting your hair to really become moisturised. The ingredients list of these products should tell you that most widely used hair products are far from natural and contain chemicals that benefit your hair but must be neutralised by other chemicals.


The science of washing your hair is pretty straight forward by doing research on this topic i’ve discovered that I could probably easily make my own all I need is a surfactant, a balanced ph level and something to moisturise my hair and I’d be good to go. Writing this has definitely made me want to try DIY methods but I can’t discount the pretty good products lines out there. All in all do your research ladies and always remember to read the ingredients list.


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1 Comment

  • Reply Jen | 25th July 2016 at 2:13 am

    Many thanks for sharing this interesting post. You did a great job on researching everything. I have thought about making my own shampoo but I have not started yet. Knowing what you are putting on your hair is a huge advantage.

    Bye Jen

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