This Is the One Time You Should Never Mismatch Your Shampoo and Conditioner

Is it really that big of a deal to use different brands? We got to the bottom of it.

Anyone who’s ever studied the back of their shampoo already knows what every bottle says: “This product works best with insert same-brand conditioning product here.”

And if you’ve ever wondered if it’s a serious suggestion—that somehow the ingredients in one brand of shampoo could have a catastrophic reaction with the ingredients in a different brand’s conditioner—most stylists say ‘no.’

This-is-the-One-Time-You-Should-Never-Mismatch-Your-Shampoo-and-ConditionerTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com

“[Brands] sell matching products because, well, they want to sell more product. By recommending that they work well together, they’re able to sell an entire line. A lot of it is marketing,” Susan Raffy, a cosmetic chemist and president of Susan Raffy Consulting, told Refinery 29. “The only way that brands could substantiate claims [that their products work better together] is if they tested their formulas against other brands. That’s expensive. It rarely happens.”

In fact, most stylists recommend choosing a shampoo that addresses your hair’s needs as they are from the scalp to mid-length and a conditioner that suits it from mid-length to your ends. That means if you’ve got flat hair with dry ends, choose a volumizing shampoo and a hydrating conditioner.

So what’s the outlier to this rule? Hair you’re treating for dandruff or itchiness. One Proctor and Gamble study found that pyrithione zinc, the active ingredient in Head & Shoulders cleanser, is decreased by 60 percent if users don’t follow up with the brand’s matching conditioner.

Moral of the story: Mix away, as long as you’re not treating your scalp for dandruff.

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