There are two major styles of whitening shampoos: brightening shampoos and heavy surfactant whitening shampoos. Both styles are effective at enhancing the color of white coats, but they each use a different approach to get the job done.
Brightening shampoos are designed to brighten and enhance the natural color of coats without bleaching or harsh chemicals. These shampoos are formulated with optical brighteners that attach to the hair shaft and help to improve the absorbtion and reflection of light. This gives the coat a brighter, cleaner look.
Most brightening shampoos tend to have either an indigo base or a violet base. Depending on the nature of discoloration in the pet's coat, you may find one formula to be more effective than another when it comes to bringing out the white.
White coats that have a dingy yellow color tend to respond better to an indigo-based shampoo, while coats that are more lemony yellow respond better to a violet-based shampoo.
Since brightening shampoos are designed to enhance the existing coat color and have no bleaching agents, they are suitable for use on pets with multi-colored coats or dark coats as well.
Heavy Surfactant Shampoos
Heavy surfactant shampoos are designed to scrub the hair shaft down to the cuticle to remove stains. While most shampoos contain some surfactants, the shampoos in these whitening blends are super-charged with surfactants to power away stains.
Heavy surfactant shampoos are effective for use on white, cream, pale gold and light silver coats. Care should be taken in using these shampoos on multi-colored coats, as the formulas can cause fading if left on too long.
How fast does a whitening shampoo work?
It may take several treatments to gauge the effectiveness of a whitening shampoo, so it's important to advise your client that it make take time to see the true results. The longer a coat has gone untreated, the harder it can be to remove set-in stains. The effectiveness of the treatment also depends on the type of coat you're working with.
Coats that are cottony and porous—like those of a poodle or a bichon frise—are more likely to absorb the shampoo and thus will respond to a whitening treatment faster.
Coats that are coarse or wiry—such as those of terrier breeds—are less likely to absorb shampoo. It may take longer to see the results when treating these coats.
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