Shampoo reviews

You could save hundreds of dollars a year. Our top shampoos were all from supermarkets.
Learn more

04.Fact or fiction?

Additives in your shampoo make your hair healthier

  • As hair is dead, we find any claim of a product making it ‘healthy’ to be stretching a point. However, hair can reflect a person’s state of health. Woman blow-drying her hair
  • An additive may make the hair look and feel better and become more manageable. For instance, vitamin B can act as a binder in a shampoo, which will protect the hair. However, while hair is derived from living cells that are within the skin, it’s unlikely that vitamins added to shampoo would be able to get into these cells. A healthy diet would probably be more beneficial.
  • Other additives such as protein may coat the hair shaft and make it look shinier.
  • Herbs can also add fragrance and condition the hair, but experts say the effect is cosmetic and temporary. One expert said shampoos that don’t contain sodium laurel sulphate or its equivalent, and contain herbs such as peppermint or chamomile, may benefit the scalp. Other experts said they thought tiny amounts of herbs found in some shampoos probably have little function other than for marketing hype.
  • Some companies use plant-derived ingredients not as additives, but in order to avoid synthetic chemicals.

Shampoo can build up on your hair

  • There was some contention about this point among the experts we consulted. Some said that while they hadn’t seen any scientific publications on the subject, they’d observed it. Others agreed, saying conditioning oils and silicon that bind to the hair to make it shinier and smoother can build up over time, making the hair look flat and heavy.
  • Another expert said there was no supporting scientific evidence that build up exists. He said he’d studied hair that had been washed with shampoo containing silica, (a substance sometimes accused of causing build up). He compared it to hair washed with shampoo that didn’t contain it, and hadn’t observed any difference.

You should change your brand of shampoo regularly as the scalp and hair become ‘immune’ to the same shampoo eventually

  • Again, some experts said that while they couldn’t give a scientific reason to support this, many people claimed to benefit from doing so. Another expert said build-up of substances found in shampoos on the hair may cause them to become less effective over time.

Sodium Lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) cause cancer

  • Commonly used as surfactants these chemicals are sometimes accused of being carcinogenic.
  • There seems to be some evidence that SLS and SLES can cause irritation to the skin and eyes, but this depends on a number of factors such as concentration, pH and contact time. And some people may also be allergic to SLS/SLES.
  • We couldn’t find any conclusive evidence that they are carcinogenic.

Sign up to our free

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.