Overprocessing your hair or leaving it unprotected when using your favorite hot tools, can cause unwanted damage to your hair. Damaged hair often feels rough and brittle to the touch, says Piersten Gaines, hairstylist and founder of Pressed Roots hair salons in Texas. It may also lack elasticity, appear frizzy and can visually exhibit split ends, breakage, and a generally lackluster appearance, according to Gaines.
While there are haircuts and various professional salon treatments you can get, you can begin your hair recovery and repair journey at home by using a protein- and moisture-rich shampoo.
We spoke to experts about how specific shampoos can help your damaged hair, what causes damaged hair and how to treat it. We also compiled a list of expert-recommended shampoos and highly rated options that are in line with their guidance.
How we picked the best shampoo for dry hair
If you want to cleanse and combat damaged hair along with its associated side effects, our experts recommend considering the following:
- Ingredients: A good shampoo for damaged hair ideally has proteins like keratin to strengthen the hair shaft, according to Gaines. You should also look for sulfate-free shampoos since they won’t excessively strip natural oils from the hair, according to Gaines.
- Hair type: Finding a shampoo that is tailored to your hair type and texture is essential so that your hair gets the treatment it needs, according to our experts.
The best shampoo for damaged hair in 2023
Below, we rounded up expert-recommended shampoos for damaged hair with various types as textures. We also included highly rated options that align with our expert’s guidance.
This gentle shampoo, which is suitable for all hair types, comes recommended by Jenna Pitocco, a hairstylist and co-owner of Love, Dunnette, a salon, in New York City. It rebuilds broken peptide bonds from chemical services and is a fantastic way to begin the recovery process, according to Pitocco. It also mimics the natural pH of your scalp, which helps keep your hair cuticle healthy by preventing it from swelling and becoming damaged, according to the brand. It has a clean citrus scent and is also safe for those with color-treated hair, according to K18.
This option is great for those with textured hair who need hydration, according to Gaines. It has ingredients like algae extract, panthenol, and biotin, which help treat and define coarse, curly, and coily hair, says Gaines. Reviewers say their curls look shiny and soft, and have less breakage overall.
This shampoo is like Botox for the hair because it helps correct damaged hair and restores moisture, according to Brooke Jordan, a hairstylist and co-founder of The Bird House, a salon in Brooklyn, NY. The creamy formula strengthens your hair’s cuticles, according to the brand; by strengthening your cuticle and giving it necessary proteins, you’re able to protect it from damage, says Jordan. While the shampoo is very moisturizing, it can be a bit heavy for fine hair, so she recommends using it if you have medium/thick hair.
This shampoo can help combat breakage, dullness and dryness for all hair types, according to Jordan. The cream-to-foam shampoo uses lentils, which are reparative and amino-acid rich (amino acids are the building blocks of the protein found in our hair), to protect and repair the hair, says Jordan. Reviewers say this made their hair — of various textures and types, including those with low porosity hair, feel soft and more manageable.
This shampoo comes recommended by Gaines for those with coarse, curly, and coily hair. It has ingredients like agave extract to strengthen and soften hair, and mango butter to add moisture, according to the brand. It also has lavender to help soothe the scalp, promoting a healthy environment for hair growth. This is particularly beneficial for people with coarse hair prone to dryness and irritation, according to Gaines.
If you have brittle, fine, dry and damaged hair, consider using this shampoo, according to Jordan. The strengthening shampoo has hyaluronic acid, plant-based protein and daisy and honeysuckle extract to reinforce cuticle strength and structure, hydrate, prevent breakage and fortify brittle ends, according to the brand. Reviewers say a little goes a long way with this shampoo; it leaves an overall clean feeling.
Julie Davis, a hairstylist and owner of Eden West Salon in Charleston, South Carolina, recommends this shampoo because it focuses on adding strength back to the hair. It can do so because it has proteins to rebuild the bonds internally, soybean oil for moisture retention and vitamin B5 and vitamin E for strength, according to the brand. Suitable for all damaged hair types, the shampoo has a floral fragrance with notes of bergamot, lotus flower and cedarwood, according to R+Co.
This shampoo repairs and moisturizes damaged hair without weighing it down, making it suitable for coarse and curly textures, even those who want to wear their hair in straight styles, says Gaines. The shampoo’s main ingredient is argan oil, which is a lightweight and nourishing ingredient that has restorative properties to help strengthen the hair, reduce breakage, and help with overall manageability, according to Gaines.
Although this is technically not a shampoo, Jordan recommends this pre-wash, which she says helps relink the bonds that make up the molecular core of your hair. Not only does it build up those bonds, but it also helps reduce breakage, split ends, dryness and frizz, according to the brand. To use a pre-wash, dampen your hair and apply it from root to end and leave it on for three to ten minutes before rinsing; you’ll then follow it up with the bond repair shampoo, according to Olaplex.
If you have fine and damaged hair, consider this volumizing and strengthening shampoo, which has a 4.2-star average rating from 1,850 reviews at Target. The shampoo has a combination of vitamins like vitamin B7 and proteins including collagen to help aid the overall health of your hair while thickening it without weighing down your hair, according to the brand. Reviewers say they notice less breakage in their fine hair after using this shampoo and feel and see more volume, moisture and shine.
This shampoo repairs, strengthens and moisturizes all hair types thanks to vegan protein, plant butters, bond technology and sea buckthorn, according to the brand. Reviewers say this bond-repair shampoo, which has a 4.7-star average rating from over 2,675 reviews on Amazon, helps correct damage, moisturize and reduce frizz. For the most effective results, double cleanse your hair by applying a quarter-sized amount of this shampoo to cleanse and then reapply it to maximize its benefits, according to Amika.
How to shop for shampoo for damaged hair
When determining which shampoo is best for your damaged hair, our experts recommend keeping your hair type and ingredients in mind when shopping.
Ingredients to look for
- Proteins: Ingredients such as keratin or wheat protein, help strengthen the hair structure, reducing breakage and promoting overall hair health, says Gaines. You should also look for labels indicating that there are amino acids, which are the molecules that form proteins, says Jordan.
- Vitamins and antioxidants: These will help protect the hair from any external, environmental damage, according to Jordan. Some common examples include vitamin A, vitamin B5 (panthenol) vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin C and vitamin E, says Jordan.
- Moisturizing ingredients: Since you may experience dryness with damaged hair, finding formulas with ingredients like aloe vera, argan oil, glycerin, and natural oils will help, says Gaines.
- Know what to avoid: There are a few ingredients that may continue worsening the state of your damaged hair, so it’s best to avoid them when/if possible. Sulfates tend to strip the hair of natural oils, parabens can be harsh on the scalp, and alcohol may lead to dryness, according to Gaines.
For damaged hair, a creamy or thicker consistency is preferable as it tends to be more moisturizing. Gels and thinner shampoos may be less hydrating and could potentially strip the hair of its natural oils, according to Gaines.
Choose shampoos specifically formulated for your hair type and lifestyle, says Gaines. For example, those with coarse hair may need extra moisture, those who have curly hair may benefit from formulas with frizz control, while those with coily hair may need moisturizing products that enhance natural curl patterns, according to Gaines.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Julie Davis is a hairstylist, artistic director and owner of Eden West Salon in Charleston, South Carolina. Her areas of expertise include balayage, French haircutting, color and extensions.
- Piersten Gaines is a hairstylist and founder of Pressed Roots, a group of hair salons throughout Texas.
- Jenna Pitocco is a hairstylist and co-owner of Love, Dunnette, a salon in New York City.
- Brooke Jordan is a hairstylist, co-founder and creative director of The Bird House, a salon in Brooklyn.
Why trust Select?
Bianca Alvarez is an associate reporter covering skin care and hair care, whose recent stories include roundups of the best leave-in conditioners and shampoos for dry hair. For this story, she interviewed experts and researched highly rated shampoos for damaged hair that were in line with expert guidance.