Look for This Ingredient in Your Shampoo to Make Sure Your Hair Is *Actually* Clean

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After sudsing up with shampoo and conditioner, you're probably leaving the shower feeling fresh and ready to take on the world. But I have some bad news for you: Despite the sudsing, your hair and scalp might not be as clean as you think they are.

That's right: Even though they're supposed to get rid of any product, oil, and dead skin buildup on your scalp, many shampoos often contain skin-clogging ingredients like silicones and sulfates that only add to the problem (not to mention the dirt and oil your hair naturally accumulates), leaving behind a residue that limits blood circulation to the hair follicle and prevents your hair from being strong and healthy.

There is a simple way you can ditch the dirty hair for good, though: Make sure the shampoo you're bringing home contains salicylic acid.

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Yes, the famed acne-fighting skin-care ingredient is great for your hair, too. "Salicylic acid is a highly effective shampoo ingredient that keeps your hair healthy and prevents dandruff," says Sacha Mitic, hair stylist and co-founder of Sachajuan. "It both unglues and washes away excess sebum from your skin, and has been found to help acne developing on your scalp and even your face," he says—always a good thing, since scalp acne (aka folliculitis) is no. joke. Plus, "using a shampoo with salicylic acid loosens dry skin so you can clear existing dandruff away, reduces itchiness, and also reduces the formation of dandruff on your scalp." Even if you're not prone to acne or dandruff, the ingredient's exfoliating power will ensure that you don't have any nasty buildup in your hair.

Some great salicylic acid shampoo options: Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo ($18) is a solid drugstore pick, while cult hair brand Oribe also puts sal acid in its Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo ($46). (Mitic's brand also uses salicylic acid in their Scalp Shampoo, $28).

Thank you, salicylic acid, for being the hair care MVP that I never knew I needed—until now. No more dirtiness in disguise for me.

Never want to buy a bottle of shampoo again? Lather up with these portable—and plastic-free—shampoo bars. Also, check out the scalp-first shampoos that allow you to wash your hair less.

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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