Shampoos are one of the most widely and frequently used personal care products today.
The main benefit of using shampoos is the removal of dirt on the hair. Similarly to dirt on the skin, dirt on the hair consists of sweat, sebum and its breakdown products, dead skin cells, residues of cosmetics and personal care products, dust, and other environmental impurities carried in the air.
Most of these compounds are not soluble in water; therefore, washing the hair with simple water would not be sufficient to remove dirt. Shampoos contain surfactants (similar to skin cleansers), which are able to remove oily particles from the hair.
From the aspect of their chemical nature, shampoos are surfactant-based preparations. Therefore, their cleaning principle is emulsification. Surfactants surround and trap tiny droplets of fat, which in this form can be rinsed off from the hair and scalp. Insoluble particulate soil can be removed by electrostatic repulsion between the soil and the hair fiber assisted by repulsion between the surfactant molecules adsorbed onto the hair fiber and those dissolved in the soil.
Today shampoos are available as liquids, gels, emulsions and powders. Most commonly, shampoos are colloidal dispersions of various surfactants in water. Basic components of a classical shampoo are cleansing agents, thickeners, and water. Usually, various additives are also incorporated in the formulations in order to help the cleansing process, enhance the aesthetic properties, increase foaming, and make the hair shine.