14 Main Ingredients of Shampoo – Hair Care Guide!

With customized shampoo on the rise nowadays, people, especially women, are becoming tickled and vibrating about the idea of creating a shampoo with only the ingredients their hair demands.

Still, each shampoo ingredient has a specific purpose, and you could be losing its perks only because it’s not being added to your shampoo product. We have written this article as a guide to explain the main ingredients of shampoo.

We know that not every user is well-versed with the main ingredients of shampoo, and it takes some research to understand each ingredient’s perks and how it works. Take this glossary to all the impossible-to-pronounce and uncanny words generally found on a shampoo bottle.

14 Main Ingredients of Shampoo


Sulfates is a highly useful foaming and cleansing agent that works exceptionally well for normal users. It helps you get rid of undesired dust and oil from your hair besides giving a glossy look.

Therefore, Sulfates are a high-end cleaning agent commonly found in a wide variety of detergents and shampoos.

The most reliable indication that shampoo contains sulfates is its ability to create plenty of lather while taking a shower.

Due to highly efficient cleansing properties, lots of companies around the globe utilize multiple varieties of sulfates in their ingredients to create a stunning product that performs.

Shampoos Hub
Shampoos Hub

Their cons are pretty common in the cosmetic world.

Cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson states that although sulfate-based shampoos clean the hair strands effectively, they can also remove the essential oils from the strands and cause skin irritation.

Therefore, it’s recommended that using the right amount will eventually lead to a shampoo that meets your expectations.

Otherwise, some buyers also prefer to use sulfate-free products, which do not include sulfate but also have the same effects as sulfates.

Unfortunately, their a-bit-high prices nowadays are preventing people from purchasing them. Because of the economic budget, people still tend to buy inexpensive products in which sulfates are still used as the main ingredient.


Pro tip: “Any ingredient’s name on your shampoo bottle that ends with the suffix -cone is a silicone.”

Silicones help formulate slip in your hair and are also the big reason for your smooth, silky hair after washing.

Specìically, Silicones contribute to the “smoothness & eloquence” of your hair as a result of regular use. They even prevent frizz and make your hair look straighter.

Last but not least, silicone also prevents hair from getting damaged by hot irons and hair dryers too.


Zinc Pyrithione

Zinc Pyrithione is the best dandruff remover; this ingredient affects your scalp rather than hair. It slows down the process of skin cells production and blocks up the flakes.

Haircare brands use Zinc Pyrithione in their products only to make sure good scalp health. However, Zinc Pyrithione is not really necessary unless your scalp has the clumps of skin cells, a.k.a flakes.


Water is usually the prime ingredient added in most shampoos, as it generally takes up the biggest proportion of a shampoo’s formulation. This is an imperative ingredient as it helps merge all ingredients collectively, and it’s considered the best hydrating ingredient.

Parabens (Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben)

When it comes to preserving the quality of ingredients used in the formula, nothing can replace parabens. Yes, you heard it right! Parabens are preservative compounds widely used in multiple categories of products, including cosmetics, food industry, medicine production.

Para-hydroxybenzoic acid provides a sufficient supply of parabens, which is a common thing we find in many naturally occurring fruits and veggies such as cucumber, carrots, and onions.

The chemical formulation of different paraben compounds eliminates bacterial growth besides resisting the formation of yeast and fungi. This increases the shelf life of your shampoo so that you can use it over a longer period of time.

Some people might question the usage and legality of using parabens as a preservative agent. However, laws across different states in the US allow companies to utilize the compound for creating sustainable products.

As such, it is not a new concept being used today. Instead, people all around the world have been using this as a reliable preservative agent for more than a hundred years.

Glycol Distearate

Ever pressed the shampoo into your hand and observed it had a nice, pearl-like ending? That’s because of glycol distearate.

Glycol Distearate is added to various kinds of shampoos to help hair conditioning.

Citric acid

Citric acid is a naturally occurring compound that is filled with amazing benefits for hair. With its weak acidity, it is one of the most significant naturally occurring acids commonly found in lemon, grapes, tomatoes, and papayas, etc.

Citric acid is a common antioxidant that is produced and utilized to protect the oils in shampoos. Citric acid is used to reduce the pH to around 5.5. It is a mild acid that may be readily adjusted. Shampoos are frequently made with an acidic pH (5.5) because the hair follicles lay flat at that pH, making hair smoother and shinier.

Citric acid is also a preservative because, unlike other acids, it inhibits bacterial development.


This is one of the renowned and most significant shampoo ingredients, another form of vitamin B5. It provides moisture to your hair and is used for conditioning and hydration.

Sodium Chloride

Sodium chloride is nothing less than a blessing for people having oily hairs. It helps draw the moisture out and balance the moisture level of your hair. It is one of the primary thickening agents that cosmetic industries use across the globe to enhance the value of their products.

However, people having keratin treatment must not employ any quantities of sodium in their shampoo formula. In the end, it will have an annulling effect and will be worthless.


This silicone-based polymer is used in various cosmetics like primers as it yields velvety slip to the skin. It works the same way as your shampoo does.

Dimethicone is perfect for hair conditioning, and it makes them feel sleeker before you pour conditioner on them.

Fiber Actives

Ingredients like fiber actives are substantial for damage-repair shampoos because they help repair hair damage and achieve fine hairs within the hair cuticle.

Many cosmetic brands offer their clients go-to shampoos for damage recovery and conditioning, which not only work as conditioners but repair damaged hair in one to three uses.


Have you ever thought about why particular products have specific instructions on the “shake well before use!”? Because shaking makes shampoo ingredients blend and move around.

However, you don’t usually see this instruction on a shampoo bottle. Why? Carbopol is the ingredient that floats throughout the fluid and carries off the need to shake the shampoo before usage.


They are added in hair masks and conditioners in considerable amounts to strengthen hair follicles. Soy amino acids and wheat protein are usually enlisted in shampoos claiming better hair health. This type of ingredient works magnificently for people with over-processed, damaged, or heat-styled hair.


They are added in shampoos and hair conditioners to tame frizz. Cetrimonium methosulfate and cetrimonium chloride are the most common examples. They serve best for curly and coarse hair.

What Ingredients Should You Look For in a Shampoo?

As opposed to commercial shampoos, natural shampoos are gentler on your scalp and hair, yet they can clear them as effectively as chemical-based shampoos, and they have more lasting benefits.

Let’s summarize the ingredients that you should search for in a shampoo.


Primary Ingredients

The following items are essential for making your own DIY shampoo at home.

  • Cleansing Agents such as sulfates for enhanced repair
  • Castile soap
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Dimethicone helps in conditioning.
  • Water- the most important thing that mixes up the whole thing.
  • Benzethonium chloride and Benzalkonium chloride – these ingredients are surfactants, antimicrobial, and preservatives.
  • Parabens – are used as a surfactant for their antifungal and antibacterial properties.
  • Zinc Pyrithione is useful against dandruff and prevents flakes.
  • Silicones give hair its shine and smoothness.
  • Citric acid help nourish hair follicles
  • Proteins improve the overall health of your hair

Secondary Ingredients

  • Retinyl Palmitate – this is palm oil in its synthetic form.
  • Artificial fragrances – for enhanced fragrance and desirable aroma for the perfect formula.
  • Propylene Glycol is used as moisturizers in baby products, hand sanitizers, shampoos, and conditioners.
  • Diethanolamine – also popular as NDEA, gets absorbed through the skin easily and is associated with liver, bladder, stomach, and esophagus cancer.
  • Glycol Distearate for a soft texture
  • Panthenol is important for moisturization
  • Sodium Chloride acts as a thickening agent.
  • Detanglers eliminate frizz.

How To Make Your Own Shampoo?

DIY shampoo is not difficult to make with the ingredients mentioned above. You only have to maintain an excellent balance between the quantities to get what you are looking for.

Select the Ingredients You Wish to Use

Another thing that is important in this regard is that not everyone likes using all the ingredients in their shampoo-making recipes.

Therefore, you can skip the items that you think are not going to be useful for your hair.

Mixing of Primary Ingredients

Take similar quantities of Castile soap, water, and vegetable oil and mix them with the desired quantities of the rest of the ingredients selected from the list. For instance, you can mix one cup each of water, Castile soap, and vegetable oil.

Once you have completed stirring these things, you can certainly add nearly 1-2 tsp of the rest of the desired ingredients from the list.

Adding the Secondary Ingredients

After you have stirred everything perfectly from the primary list, it is time to add things from the second list. For instance, you can add 1 tsp of fragrance oil to the mixture if you want the aroma of your choice.

Similarly, if you want to soften the texture of the mixture, you can easily add half a spoon of Glycol Distearate for the desired result.

The addition of components totally relies on your choice. However, you must use the recommended quantities if you want a perfect result.

Rest the Mixture for 24 Hours

After mixing desired quantities of items from the primary and secondary ingredients list, it’s time for some rest. Pour the mixture into a soap mold and rest it for 24 hours before you start using it the next day.

Wrap Up

There are various types of shampoos available in the market, each with a unique formula, ingredients, purpose, and price.

For splendid results for your hair, choose plant-based, organic ingredients and try to skip shampoos with phthalates, hexachlorophene, formaldehyde, parabens, and sulfates.

Know your hair type and choose the ingredients that can best serve their purpose – you’ll thank yourself for the silky, shiny, soft, and healthy hair.

Edna Feber

I’m Edna. I'm here to guide you about hair products and maintenance tips. You'll fine here product reviews regarding hair tools, hair color, hair care and more along with tips to keep your hair healthy!

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