Know what shampoo is right for you.

If you’ve spent any time at all in the ever-growing shampoo aisle of any store or your local salon, you’ve likely experienced the overwhelming number of choices and wondered how something as simple as soap for your head could be this complicated.

Clarifying shampoo is meant to strip your scalp and hair of all the gunk that can build up over time. Use a clarifying shampoo no more than two to three times per month, and stay away from clarifying shampoo altogether if you have a dry or flaky scalp. A gentle daily use clarifying shampoo should only be used if you have an oily scalp. Because clarifying shampoo strips your hair, use extreme caution if your hair is color treated and never use a clarifying shampoo on freshly colored hair.

Volumizing shampoo is meant to help give your hair a boost of volume at the scalp. It accomplishes this task by roughing up your hair’s cuticle, creating a “fatter” hair strand and more space between each hair. Volumizing shampoos are great for average to oily scalp conditions, but should not be used on a dry scalp. If your hair tends to be frizzy, use caution with a volumizing shampoo or be sure to follow up with a smoothing conditioner.

Moisturizing shampoo is a great choice when your scalp and hair get dry and full of static. If you live in an environment that experiences dry air, a moisturizing shampoo is a perfect choice to help keep your hair from drying out and causing more damage than necessary. If your hair is damaged or color treated, a moisturizing shampoo can help keep your hair at its healthiest.

Scalp therapy shampoo is helpful for scalps that get dry, itchy or inflamed due to environmental stress, thinning hair, or scalp conditions like dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. Over-the-counter scalp therapy shampoos typically contain ingredients like tea tree, mint or argan oils to soothe and protect the scalp while healing various scalp conditions.

When using shampoo, follow the advice of every bottle: lather, rinse, repeat, with a heavy focus on rinsing to keep your hair from experiencing unnecessary product buildup. Be aware that sulfate-free shampoos may lather less than their harsh detergent-filled competitors, and that’s OK. Avoid shampooing your hair daily to keep your scalp healthy; two to three times a week is best.

Kendra Aarhus is a hair stylist and freelance beauty editor from the heartland with a hair product obsession. She has been a regular contributor at About Style since 2008.