Difference Between Shampoo and Conditioner

Shampoo vs Conditioner

The main difference between shampoo and conditioner is in the purpose for which they are used. Shampoos and conditioners are two common FMCG products that are used by one and sundry to keep their hair in good, healthy, and manageable condition. These are closely interrelated items that are enough to confuse a common person until he or she is fully aware of the differences between the two. It was shampoo that appeared on the scene earlier than conditioner. Shampoo soon caught the imagination of the people as it gave them an option to take great care of their hair, and to clean their hair of dirt and debris from something that was specifically made for hair, and not skin. Later, the conditioner was introduced by the same soap making companies that produced shampoos to make your hair smooth and silky after washing them with shampoo. However, it is not just the order in which a shampoo and a conditioner are used on hair that is important, but also the real purpose behind each of them.

What is Shampoo?

To begin with, shampoos have an altogether different purpose from conditioners. Shampoos are meant to make hair cleaner. To be exact, shampoos are used for outer cleaning of the hair and scalp. When it comes to ingredients, basically shampoos are closer to soaps as they are meant to remove dirt from hair. Some commonly used ingredients in shampoo are citric acid, ammonium chloride, glycerin, panthenol, etc. Sulfate and glycol is used in some shampoos, but those are considered as strong chemicals that create irritation to the scalp. So, most of the good shampoos are sulfate free. However, the ingredients in shampoo are gentler than those in soap and see to it that sebum, which is a protective covering of hair, does not get washed away completely while washing hair. Wash your hair with soap and see the difference as sebum gets washed away, and the hair become rough.

The pH values of shampoos are mostly kept at 5.5 using citric acid. So, it is natural for shampoo to be acidic in nature. Shampoos are to be kept on the hair only for a few minutes before rinsing hair with water.

Difference Between Shampoo and Conditioner

What is Conditioner?

The conditioners are used to make the hair that is cleaned with shampoo silky smooth and manageable. The conditioners are even gentler on your hair than shampoos and contain moisturizers and proteins for health and bounce of your hair. The conditioner has a low pH value than shampoo. The conditioners look after the internal health of your hair. Thus, conditioners have a low pH value to help produce amino acids for better health and shine of hair. When it comes to applying conditioners, you will notice that they do not produce lather and are applied after hair has been cleaned with a shampoo.

It is interesting that you do not get to see an advertisement about shampoo and conditioner being brandished by a celebrity. Shampoo has one advertisement, while a conditioner of the same company is shown in another advertisement. Invariably, the celebrity would say that he uses a particular shampoo to get rid of dirt and debris to keep hair clean, while in another ad of a conditioner, the celebrity would try to convince you to use the particular conditioner to make hair more manageable and smooth to look more impressive. It is thus clear, that conditioners are more for making it easier to comb after cleaning hair with shampoo.

These days differences between shampoos and conditioners are reducing as both are being fortified with vitamins to confuse people more. However, the thing to be noted is that even the vitamins added to a shampoo are different from the vitamins used in a conditioner.

What is the difference between Shampoo and Conditioner?

• Purpose:

• Shampoo is meant to clean the hair and scalp.

• Conditioner is meant to make the hair smooth and more manageable.

• pH Value:

• Conditioner has a lesser pH value than shampoos, though both are acidic in nature.

• Lather:

• Shampoos produce lather as they are aiming at cleaning the hair. However, nowadays, there are sulfate-free shampoos that do not form lather.

• Conditioner, generally, does not produce lather as it is applied to nourish the hair not to clean it.

• Gentleness:

• Shampoo can be rough on hair as the main purpose is cleaning.

• Conditioners are gentler than shampoos on hair.

• How to Use:

• First, you have to apply shampoo to your scalp and hair and rinse it thoroughly.

• Once the shampoo is washed away you can apply conditioner.

• Ingredients:

• Some commonly used ingredients in shampoo are citric acid, ammonium chloride, glycerin, panthenol, etc. Sulfate and glycol are used in some shampoos, but those are considered as strong chemicals that create irritation to the scalp.

• Some commonly used ingredients in conditioner are moisturizes, reconstructors that contain hydrolyzed protein, nut and seed oils, lubricants, sunscreen, etc.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner bottles by FlickreviewR (CC BY 2.0)