Shampoo Not Lathering Answered

Sulfate creates the lather in most shampoo and is actually not required in conditioners.

Nevertheless, why some shampoo doesn't lather? Shampoo does not lather if there are insufficient foaming agents in its ingredients or there are dirt, oils or chemical that breaks the bubbles immediately. 

Is it bad if the lather is not formed after applying shampoo to hairs

A shampoo without lather is bad for cleansing since surfactant lather is required to dissolve and create surface tension to clean things like dandruff that cannot be washed with water alone. However, not all lathers are good as they can be created by unhealthy and inexpensive foaming agents like sodium lauryl sulfate or cocamide DEA, MEA, or TEA.

Sapna Palep of Spring Street Dermatology says those who break out on their scalp or hairline should generally look for shampoos free of comedogenic ingredients like oils, fragrance, and, yes, sulfates. 

Why does shampoo not lather the first time?

Having lather the second time will mean the shampoo is working and you had removed the anti-foamers such as dirt and oil. These anti-foamers disperse or break the bubbles before the surfactant could surround the bubble to prevent it from breaking easily.

The lather is basically bubbles of air surrounded by the diluted shampoo. The cleansing agents or ‘surfactants' in shampoo surround and keep the bubbles stable, so they don't pop as quickly or easily.

Regardless, you don't really need to shampoo twice or wait till your shampoo lather to achieve the cleansing effect. Focus on your scalp and not the actual hair as shampoo is usually meant for the scalp. Given that most shampoo comes with complicated chemicals, it is not recommended to shampoo too many times too, unless you really need help removing dirt from long or textured hair.

Why do some shampoos not foam

As the minimal foam is actually required for cleaning, not all shampoo foam well. An organic shampoo usually does not lather much too due to the lack of cheap natural foaming agents and does not need to remove unhealthy build-up from most shampoo.

How do you get the shampoo to lather

It will not be possible to achieve your desired foams since the problem is insufficient foaming agents in the shampoo.

What do you do if your shampoo doesn't lather? Adding more shampoo is a solution to generate more lather but it creates much more build-up which is bad for your hair if not rinsed cleanly. Some recommend natural foaming agents like coconut oil but it does not work for many. 

Rubbing does not really create air bubbles since you are not creating air bubbles unless there are foaming agents.  

Adding more water also does not generate foam but it does help you spread the shampoo more evenly on your scalp.

According to the experts at NYC's Le Salon, this is why it's important to spend at least a full minute rinsing hair of shampoo before moving on to the next step.

If you typically whip through the rinse portion of your hair washing process, you may be doing more harm than good. Especially since it's a shampoo that can cause build-up on hair, not conditioners.

Regardless of the lather, at least let the shampoo sit on your scalp for 3 minutes if it does not contain any sulfate or dangerous chemical. This will allow time for the shampoo to create its desired cleansing effect.

Celebrity hairstylist Charles Baker Strahan said even just having the shampoo sit on your scalp will give you some cleansing benefits. 

Shampoo not lathering hard water

Another possible reason that a shampoo lather for others and not you is that your water source is full of minerals like calcium and chlorine compared to others. Chlorine is added to the water source to kill bacteria and calcium is added to stabilize the ph or acidity level.

Usually, your shampoo is made of stable compounds that do not react easily. In the unlikely case, these minerals might react to your shampoo and cause undesirable effects. 

Is there any downside to using shampoo as a substitute for soap or body wash in the shower

The downside is that shampoo might contain tough cleansing chemicals that are not suitable in the long run. The shampoo also tries to retain essential oils on your scalp since it is needed for your hair growth. This mixture of dangerous chemicals and the inability to remove oil make shampoo unsuitable for long-term use in your skin.

Your body wash is usually alkaline or ph-neutral since it does not require a moisturizer that your face and hair required. The shampoo is also usually acidic due to the hyaluronic acid needed to absorb water. Dr. Beth Goldstein, a board certified dermatologist of Central Dermatology Center, shared about Hyaluronic acid:

Hyaluronic acid can absorb its weight in water, which adds moisture to hair follicles. This helps provide a smooth and less frizzy appearance.


A shampoo is a complex concoction made in labs using inexpensive ingredients. It is difficult to know exactly what is happening and we hope you learn a bit more from this article.

Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
Sky Hoon
Hair Lover, Idea Starter. He started HairQueenie, which is ranked #27 in the FeedSpot Top 40 Hair Care Blogs and mentions in ManeAddicts and Tempest. Hair is not everything but something. He started Hairqueenie to share great hair products. Over time, he found there are more value to share answers to hair problems that cannot be found easily.
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