Some of us live for our hair, frequenting the salon for deep conditioning masks or blowouts, and buying the latest styling tools or trendy hair care lines. The rest of us remember to grab a new bottle of shampoo while we’re in the pharmacy buying Doritos at 10 p.m.
Whichever camp you fall into, you deserve a quality shampoo that suits your hair type and budget. Here, Select talked to dermatologists and hair experts about what to look for in a shampoo, and the experts also recommended some of their favorite products.
How to find the best shampoo for your hair
Shampooing removes dirt and product buildup from your scalp and hair. But frequent shampooing — or overwashing — can strip away the natural oils that help hydrate and nourish hair and could result in a dry scalp, dehydrated strands, hair loss and hair thinning, according to dermatologist Dr. Rina Allawh. How often you should wash depends on your hair, but if it has become brittle or your scalp is itchy, you may be overwashing. Alternatively, if your hair looks greasier than usual, you may be using the wrong shampoo: to avoid either fate, a look at a bottle’s descriptions and ingredients can go a long way.
The best thing you can do to find a quality shampoo that’s right for you is to go for a shampoo for your hair type or texture, according to the experts we spoke to. For example, brands like Design Essentials and Briogeo specialize in coarse hair while Ouidad is well-known for collections targeting curl patterns. In Allawh’s opinion, most people can utilize a “nourishing shampoo” once or twice a week that simultaneously cleanses and moisturizes their hair, regardless of their natural hair texture. She also advised opting for shampoos with moisturizing ingredients like ceramides, shea butter, glycerin, dimethicone and jojoba and coconut oils, if your hair is on the drier side. If your hair tends to get oily and needs volume, try a fine hair shampoo that avoids those heavier oils and uses gentle cleansers. In our guide to the best shampoos for fine hair, New York City-based trichologist and hair health expert, Shab Reslan recommended looking for gentler cleansing ingredients like sodium lauryl sarcosinate or cocamidopropyl betaine
If you have scalp issues like dandruff, or an oily, acne-prone scalp, then you may want to opt for more specialized ingredients. Anyone dealing with dandruff can opt for “helpful ingredients” with antifungal benefits like pyrithione zinc and selenium sulfide, recommended board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. For an oily, acne-prone scalp, King recommended exfoliating and oil-absorbing ingredients like tea tree oil, salicylic acid and charcoal.
You can also find shampoos pretty much everywhere you like to shop for beauty products. Beyond the popular Sephora, Ulta and Dermstore, department stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s carry an array of shampoos. Mega retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Target likely have your shampoo needs covered, too — if you prefer “clean” hair products, here’s how to navigate Target Clean and Clean at Sephora, both of which carry shampoos.
Best shampoos for different scalp needs
Below, we rounded up dermatologist-recommended, highly-rated shampoos that can tackle any scalp issue, from psoriasis to thinning hair.
Best shampoo for dry, sensitive scalp: Vanicream
This shampoo is free of parabens, sulfates (like sodium lauryl sulfate, which can irritate the scalp and dry out hair) and fragrances that can cause flaking, itching and rashes, according to Allawh. Vanicream says its shampoo is compatible with all hair textures, ranging from straight to kinky-curly. It has a 4.5-star average rating from more than 9,276 reviews on Amazon.
Best overall dandruff shampoo: Neutrogena
Neutrogena’s shampoo is formulated with 3% salicylic acid, a popular skin care ingredient that can help balance out dandruff and scalp psoriasis, according to Allawh. It’s “a powerful keratolytic, meaning it helps to remove the thick scale from the scalp,” she said. It has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 12,200 reviews on Amazon
Best dandruff shampoo for oily hair: REfresh
“If your hair produces a lot of sebum,” or oil and has dandruff, said King, try this shampoo that is formulated with apple cider vinegar and salicylic acid “to exfoliate and offer anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.” It’s also free of parabens (preservatives that can disrupt hormones) and has additional moisturizing ingredients to keep the scalp and hair from getting dried out.
Best dandruff shampoo for dry hair: Dove
King recommended this "mild" Dove shampoo because it is made with pyrithione zinc, an ingredient that boasts antibacterial and antifungal properties. She noted that this shampoo is color-safe and "can decrease yeast on the skin without causing irritation." If you're dealing with dandruff on already damaged hair, King advised shampooing four times a week "to minimize flares." This shampoo has a 4.5-star average rating from 718 reviews on Amazon.
Best shampoo for thinning hair: Keranique
If you want fuller hair, Allawh recommended this shampoo with 2% minoxidil, a topical “ingredient [that] has been clinically shown to promote hair growth in both men and women,” she said. (Minoxidil is found in Rogaine.) Keranique’s “gentle” shampoo is also sulfate-free and formulated with moisturizing ingredients like panax ginseng root extract and arctium majus root extract, which the Allawh said helps “prevent further hair loss.” A gentler, sulfate-free is key to a healthy scalp if you have thinner hair, noted Reslan: “The thinner and finer the hair, the more sensitive the scalp is as it lacks the same protection and coverage thicker hair provides.” Keranique has a 4.4-star average rating from more than 3,000 reviews on Amazon.
Best shampoos for all hair types
Below, we rounded up dermatologist-recommended, highly-rated shampoos that suit various hair types, from curly to oily.
Best affordable shampoo for most hair types: Dove
Allawh is a fan of this nourishing Dove shampoo because it is formulated with a blend of moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, which gives an “extra boost of hydration” to the scalp and hair, she said. Dove says that pairing its $12 Daily Moisture Shampoo and Daily Moisture Conditioner can result in less breakage when combing through your hair. This Dove shampoo has a 4.6-star average rating from nearly 4,360 reviews on Walmart.
Best affordable shampoo for dry hair: Dove
If your strands are dry and brittle, moisturizing ingredients like a hyaluronic serum (which is also a skincare staple) may help hydrate your hair, and King said she likes this Dove option. She finds that when paired together with Dove’s Hydration Spa Conditioner, the set “leaves my hair feeling soft and moisturized without feeling oily or weighed down," she said. "And they are sulfate free.” This Dove option has a 4.2-star average rating from over 500 reviews on Amazon.
Best shampoo for fine hair: Maxxam Volumizing
Hair health expert Reslan likes this option from Maxxam because it accomplishes exactly what a fine hair shampoo should: It won’t add build up and instead will “gently cleanse the hair and scalp to promote healthy hair growth,” and “make it appear fuller,” she said. Its formula is “not only gentle and free of harsh sulfates, but also nourishes the scalp, improves volume and strengthens the hair by using a soothing Kelp Extract Complex,” she added.
Best shampoo for curly hair: Shea Moisture
This Shea Moisture shampoo uses a blend of hydrating ingredients like coconut oil, to help “preserve the natural bounce and curl of the hair while maintaining the healthy shine of the hair,” Allawh said. The sulfate-free shampoo, formulated for textured, curly or thick hair, according to the brand, has a 4.5-star average rating from 17,705 reviews on Amazon.
Best shampoo for natural hair: Oribe
Although Oribe’s moisture shampoo is the most expensive option on this list, Select author Nicole Saunders called it her favorite for “helping to hydrate my hair and minimize frizz.” This shampoo received a 4.6-star average rating from more than 768 reviews on Amazon. The brand also released a Dermstore exclusive bundle with all six items from the collection, if you prefer.
Best detangling shampoo: Design Essentials
Beyond being free of pesky ingredients like sulfates and parabens, this shampoo is formulated for those with wavy, curly and kinky hair in mind. Design Essentials also says this color-safe shampoo, which is part of the brand’s Almond and Avocado collection, is gentle enough to be used on chemically treated hair, plus extensions and wigs. This Design Essentials shampoo has a 4.6-star average rating from nearly 4,285reviews on Amazon.
Best baby shampoo: Burt's Bees
Babies deserve quality shampoo too, even if the hair on their head is still on its way. Allawh recommended this “gentle and safe” shampoo for babies — and adults with sensitive skin — because the Burt’s Bees formula “lacks harsh ingredients that typically trigger dry, flaking skin in newborns and infants such as sulfates, parabens, fragrance and phthalates,” she told us. It is the only shampoo on our list that can also be used as a body wash. It has a 4.7-star average rating from 3,405 reviews on Amazon.
Best dry shampoo for oily hair: Dove
According to hairstylist Courtney Foster, you can utilize a dry shampoo up to three times a week between washes to add volume and keep your hair looking clean and not greasy. Allawh recommended this relatively affordable dry shampoo because “many dry shampoos may be too drying on the scalp and cause brittle or hardened hair. This dry shampoo helps to soak up the grease while maintaining hair moisture” she said. Dove’s dry shampoo earned a 4.4-star average rating from nearly 14,200 reviews on Amazon.