Can Shampoo Cause Hair Loss?

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dermatologist
Written by Arshiya Syeda

What do you do when you notice extra hair in the drain? The very first hair product that you want to change is your shampoo, right? But, is shampoo really the cause of your hair fall?

Well, not all shampoos are hard on your hair and cause hair loss. It depends on the ingredients , which strip natural oils from your scalp and damage your locks. Also, factors like the frequency of shampooing and the amount of shampoo used contribute to hair loss. This article explains what to avoid in shampoos to minimize hair loss. Scroll down for more information!

Ingredients You Should Avoid

Several ingredients in shampoos can contribute to hair loss. Some of them can be irritants and cause scalp inflammation, making your hair thin and brittle. High alcohol percentage in the shampoos can dehydrate your hair. Ingredients, such as mineral oil and petroleum, which are used as lubricants, might weigh the hair down. Hence, look for shampoos that are devoid of such ingredients.

Here’s what you need to avoid:

  • Sulfates

Ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) are the two most common sulfates used in shampoos. They are strong detergents that have good cleansing and foaming properties that create a rich lather. But the downside is that they can make your hair dull, frizzy, rough, and prone to tangling (1). These sulfates are potential irritants, even at low concentrations, and cause hair damage.

  • Sodium Chloride

Sodium chloride, also known as table salt, is used as a thickener in shampoos. It might dry out your hair and scalp and cause eye irritation and itchy scalp. High concentrations of sodium chloride can also cause hair loss (2).

  • Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is an antibiotic that helps keep your shampoo safe and shelf-stable. But high concentrations of formaldehyde can cause contact allergy and rashes (3). It is also considered a carcinogen (4). Formaldehyde and other preservatives penetrate the hair and damage it, leading to hair loss.

  • Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol acts as a humectant and helps nutrients penetrate your scalp. However, it can can irritate your scalp (5). If you cannot find shampoos without this ingredient, go for products with a low concentration of propylene glycol.

  • Alcohol

Stearyl, cetearyl, and cetyl alcohols are found in many shampoos. These alcohols are very drying and might strip the natural oils of your hair. Thus, use shampoos with less concentration of alcohol.

  • Fragrances

If you have sensitive skin or hair, avoid artificial fragrances and colors in your shampoos. They can cause scalp irritation. Switch to fragrance-free shampoos.

The following section has busted some myths related to shampoos and hair. Scroll down to know more.

Common Myths About Shampoo And Your Hair

Myth 1: If You Use Same Shampoo For Long Time, Your Hair Stops Responding.

You have probably heard that changing your shampoo every once in a while is necessary because your hair gets used to it and does not respond to the formula any longer. However, the truth is far from this.

If your shampoo is not as effective as it used to be, it might be due to changes in your lifestyle, food habits, or medications. It might also be due to a change in the formula or the wrong formula for your hair type. Too many surfactants in the shampoo can leave your hair dry, or too many ingredients can coat the hair and weigh it down. Hence, the solution is not to switch up shampoos but to choose one suitable for your hair type and issues.

Myth 2: Your Hair Will Clean Itself Without Using Any Shampoo.

If you do not wash your hair, it will gather dust, dirt, and be coated in the sebum and oils releases from the sebaceous glands. Shampooing once a week is a must. Heard of the no-poo method? This involves washing your hair with a gentler alternative to traditional shampoos – like vinegar, baking soda, or just water. The no-poo method helps prevent scalp irritation and dryness caused by harmful ingredients in your shampoo. It also helps reduce the overproduction of greasy oils on your scalp. By avoiding shampoos, you are limiting your hair’s exposure to irritants.

Myth 3: Frequent Shampooing Damages Your Hair.

A shampoo not meant for your hair type or with harmful ingredients can damage your hair. Frequent shampooing strips the natural oils of your scalp and causes dryness. Thus, use a shampoo as per your hair type, and follow up with a leave-in conditioner. Remember, overusing any hair care products might hamper your hair health.

So, do you have to shampoo your hair at specific intervals? Find out in the next section.

How Often Should You Shampoo Your Hair?

It depends on your hair type and scalp condition. If you have dry hair, shampoo not more than twice a week. On the other hand, oily hair types may require daily washing. If you have a normal hair type, shampoo your hair whenever you feel like you need it.

How Much Shampoo Is Enough?

10 ml shampoo is enough to clean your hair thoroughly. Also, the amount of shampoo required depends on your hair type and volume.

To reap maximum benefits from shampooing, remember these points.

Points To Remember

  • Massage your scalp frequently to improve blood circulation and achieve healthy and shiny hair.
  • Avoid 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner products as they cause product buildup.
  • Use a leave-in conditioner for extra smoothening and moisturizing your hair.
  • Rinse your hair with lukewarm water as cold water discourages blood flow to your scalp.

Final Thoughts

Shampoos eliminate dirt and extra oils from your scalp and hair. They also help soften your hair and add shine. Ensure to pick a shampoo as per your hair type to prevent damage. Scan the ingredients list and avoid the elements that might dry out your hair. A good quality shampoo that is best suited for you will help prevent hair loss and make it healthy.


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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).