The science behind shampoo ingredients

The science behind shampoo ingredients

Your clients may see it as “just shampoo”, but we know it’s so much more. As a product that is used often, shampoo has a cumulative impact on hair health. We know we are preaching to the choir here, but the shampoo that your clients use can make a HUGE impact on their hair’s looks and health. Let’s take a look at shampoo works and what that impact could be. 


What is shampoo? 

At its most basic level, shampoo is a cleanser that is specifically designed to be used on hair. There are many types that target specific hair types, textures, and concerns but at the end of the day the main goal of a shampoo is to remove dirt and oil from the surface of the hair and scalp. Just about all shampoo—regardless of the brand name or benefits are made up of the same basic parts.  

The main components of a shampoo are: 

Surfactants: get a bad rap, but are really just here for the cleansing 

Parfum: makes hair smell nice is arguably the most complex part of formulation 

Preservatives: keep shampoo from “going bad” and makes them shelf-stable 

Conditioners: coat the hair, making it easier to comb and can give shine 

All milk_shake shampoos are formulated using high-quality natural ingredients and are designed to support the overall health and wellbeing of hair. While they are designed to cleanse hair, we include key ingredients in all of our formulas for added benefits and protection.  

All about surfactants 

The bulk of the cleansing work in shampoo is done by surfactants. These tiny molecules are responsible for “loosening” and trapping surface level dirt and oil from the hair shaft.  

There are 4 main groups of surfactants which are categorized by the type of ionic charge they carry (e.g. positive, negative, both, and no charge). Within these 4 groups are TONS of different combinations of molecules. All this to say, there are no “good” or “bad” surfactants—just some that are more gentle than others.  

Sodium Lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are two of the most common—and controversial—surfactants found I shampoo. They both produce a strong lather, which make them a popular ingredient choice for manufacturers. However they can also be too strong for some hair types. While the majority of milk_shakes’s retail shampoos are SLES free, we offer several options that are both SLS and SLES free: 

Make My Day 

Sweet Camomile Sensorial Mint 

Energizing Blend Purifying Blend ,Normalizing Blend 

Sun & more all over shampoo 

Flower Power Color Maintainer Shampoo  

milk_shake shampoos that are sulfate free: 

Color Maintainer (original formula) 

Integrity Nourishing shampoo 

Fun fact: surfactants are both hydrophobic—meaning they repel liquid—and hydrophillic, which means they are also capable of bonding with water, on a molecular level. The hydrophobic part of the molecule removes grease, while the hydrophillic portion’s role is really determined by what type it is. 

We don’t want to put you to sleep, so we’ll leave it at that. 


shampoo & pH 

This is where things get interesting. The pH level of shampoo is pretty important. Whenever we apply product to hair, we disrupt the pH level. The more alkaline—or higher the pH level—the more the hair shaft will be opened. The more acidic —or lower the pH—the more sealed the hair shaft will be. Healthy hair has a baseline pH level of 4.5-5.5. 

This means that a shampoo with an acidic pH will help to seal the hair shaft. This is  why we always recommend using Color Specifics products after a color service—even our acidic hair color treatment the GLOSS. With a pH level of 2.8-5.0, our back bar only Color Specifics products are designed to seal the cuticle after a color service—leaving hair vibrant, shiny, and protected for longer.  

Most milk_shake retail shampoos have a pH level of between 5.0-6.0 while our conditioners range from 3.5-5.0. The combination of these two products helps to balance the pH level and keep it within the healthy range.  


See the full range of milks_shake shampoos here >>>