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What Is a Balancing Shampoo?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 21, 2024
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Balancing shampoo is a type of hair cleansing product designed to balance moisture levels in the hair and scalp. Sometimes, hair can become imbalanced when the scalp becomes oily and greasy, but the rest of the hair is dry. In addition, sometimes a dry, flaking scalp and dry hair can also mean that hair is imbalanced. This shampoo gently cleanses to treat these hair issues.

Through effective cleansers and gentle moisturizing ingredients, balancing shampoo is able to restore moisture to dry areas while healing the scalp and preventing it from becoming oily. This type of shampoo works especially well on longer hair that may have some split ends, or on hair that has been treated with chemicals or colored. It is meant to create soft, manageable hair, and often includes ingredients such as proteins, vitamins, and softening ingredients such as shea butter or aloe.

Some balancing shampoos are sold with specific needs in mind. For example, some shampoos are specially designed to treat dandruff, while others may be designed to protect color treated hair. In general, however, the shampoo is good for almost all hair types, because it can deliver moisture where it is needed, and remove oil.

Balancing shampoo is meant to be used every day, but those with especially dry hair may only need to use shampoo a few times a week, simply rinsing the hair and applying conditioner on the off days. Many shampoos have conditioners that are designed to be paired with them; this will give hair the most potential benefits. Keep in mind that to keep hair healthy, it is necessary to not just use a good quality shampoo and conditioner, but also to get regular trims, avoid brushing the hair while wet to prevent breakage, and protect hair from heated styling products with styling creams. It may also be necessary to use a clarifying shampoo every few weeks to remove any buildup from chemical products.

There are many different types of balancing shampoo available for purchase at drugstores or salons. In general, salon brands will cost more, but they may also use higher-quality ingredients. Balancing shampoo often contains a pleasant scent, but fragrance-free versions may be available for those who are sensitive. This shampoo may not work for everyone, however. People who have very dry hair may need to use an extra moisturizing shampoo, whereas people with especially oily hair may need to use a shampoo designed to treat that particular issue.

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Discussion Comments
By anon295854 — On Oct 08, 2012

@ysmina: If you have an oily scalp and dry ends, you do not need a balancing shampoo. You need to cut off the dead ends or use a leave in conditioning treatment for the ends. For the oily scalp you use your normal shampoo. To train your hair and decrease oil production, don't wash every day. If your hair becomes too oily, use a dry shampoo on the days you don't shampoo. After a week or two, you will notice decreased oil production and your hair will balance itself out.

@feruze: For your dry hair and scalp, you need to use a moisturizing shampoo. I would also try a moisturizing conditioner directly on the scalp, rather than just the ends.

By burcidi — On Aug 16, 2011

@ysmina-- You can make your own balancing shampoo at home too.

Store bought balancing shampoos are made with a cleansing agent, moisturizers and soothing ingredients like tea tree oil or sage. You can mix some aloe or jojoba oil with tea tree oil, water and castile soap and you will have your own balancing shampoo! It will be even better than store bought ones because you know exactly what goes in it.

If you don't like this recipe, there are many other ingredients you can add. Looking at the ingredients lists of balancing shampoos at the store might give you an idea. Especially organic or natural balancing shampoos will have close recipes to what you can make at home.

By bear78 — On Aug 16, 2011

@ysmina-- Yea, it does sound like your hair would benefit from this shampoo. I use a balancing shampoo regularly. Mine is kind of the opposite as yours, extremely dry scalp and hair. The balancing shampoo helps clean it without drying it out.

I guess what I would recommend for you is to use it only a couple of times a week rather than everyday. Use another milder but cheaper shampoo on the other days. I don't know if you would benefit as much as you would if you used it every time you washed your hair, but I still think that it will make a difference.

Or you can still wash with it everyday but use a small amount. Don't apply the shampoo directly to the ends of your hair. It's your scalp that mainly needs cleaning because that's where the oil is produced. Take a little bit, foam it up at the roots and run the foam through the rest of your hair once before rinsing.

I think this way, the shampoo will last a long time and the price won't be a problem.

By ysmina — On Aug 15, 2011

I need this shampoo! I have a very oily scalp but dry ends just like the article describes. I have to wash my hair daily or it will become too oily and itchy (just the roots). But washing it every day is very damaging, especially since I have to blow dry it after.

I have seen this shampoo in several pharmacies and stores but it is a bit too expensive for me. I don't think it will last long and the cheapest one is twice the cost of my regular shampoo. I really need it, but don't know what to do.

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