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Much like finding the perfect full-coverage foundation or creamy concealer, choosing the best shampoo for your hair type can easily turn into a wild goose chase.
Not to mention, the subject of in-shower hair care can be pretty dividing. How often should I use shampoo each week? What’s the best shampoo for oily hair? Dry scalp? Thinning hair? Do I really have to rinse and repeat?
These questions are all valid, especially if your No. 1 goal is to achieve salon-worthy hair at home (with or without the TikTok-famous Dyson Airwrap, but that’s an article for another day).
That said, we consulted two hairstylists who provided the 411 on all things shampoo, from ingredients to how to apply it to your scalp.
“If you feel the shampoo is no longer working for your needs, it’s time for a change to address the latest concern,” Amy Abramite, hairstylist, salon educator and creative director at Maxine Ltd. in Chicago, told the Post. “Having a few different shampoos in the shower to rotate is an effective way to treat multiple concerns simultaneously.”
But, scrubbing a sudsy formula on your strands is more trial-and-error than anything else, which is why I put 35 of the most sought-after shampoos to the test — including the best dry shampoos I tested, as well as the best personalized shampoos I reviewed after taking hair quizzes from three top brands. (Related: best hair conditioners we tested).
After more than six months of careful consideration, I laid out my first impressions and how each ranked after many shower karaoke sessions (thanks, Ariana).
Plus, for more hair advice, check out our expert-backed FAQ for the answers to your burning questions.
I like to say my hair type is a little bit of everything, which made testing a unique experience for touching on different hair types and textures. My hair is the Goldilocks of texture (not too thick or too thin) and is a hybrid of curly and wavy.
But, when blown out, I can lean to almost straight — as long as slight frizz is tame (which, can rely heavily on choosing the right shampoo).
What’s more, after visiting a dermatologist, I realized I have a dry scalp (which is pure genetics) and find that dandruff shampoos help mitigate severe dryness. However, my hair tends to become oily if I don’t wash it every other day.
Plainly stated, I’m a mut of hair types, which is why I wanted to get to the bottom of which shampoo makes my hair the least oily, the least dry and how I can avoid formulas that simply won’t work well.
“The key is to identify the primary challenge with the hair or scalp and specifically target that concern,” Abramite adds. “For example, if the hair is feeling dry to the touch, a hydrating shampoo will nourish the strands and balance moisture for optimal health.”
Not only that, but ingredients play a big role. “You should make sure the shampoo is suitable for your hair type and addresses any issues you may be experiencing, such as dandruff, dull and lifeless hair or damaged hair,” Andrew Fitzsimons, celebrity hairstylist for Kim Kardashian, Megan Fox, Jennifer Lopez and more, told the Post. “It’s critical to check ingredients for harmful chemicals to avoid exacerbating your hair problems further.”
Click to jump to a specific shampoo:
According to Abramite, a good dandruff shampoo “should eliminate dandruff and soothe the scalp without irritation.” Plus, she recommends finding a bottle with salicylic acid because it “gently exfoliates to remove flakes while moisturizing to ease itchiness.”
Fitzsimons also recommends looking for include Pyrithione Zinc, Ketoconazole and Sulfur. “Pyrithione Zinc and Ketoconazole are both anti-fungal drugs that kill the fungus on the scalp that causes flaking and helps break down the buildup of dead skin cells.”
If you’re prone to scratching your scalp every now and again, Oribe’s Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo is a godsend. Formulated with salicylic acid, per Abramite’s recommendation for flaky hair, it revived the strands near my roots and hydrated my dry scalp.
Not to mention, this formula is vegan, recommended for all hair types and textures and will hydrate your hair from root to tip.
Pairs well with: OUAI Detangling and Frizz-Fighting Leave-In Conditioner, $28
Truthfully, OUAI’s Detox Shampoo is a breath of fresh air on my strands. It’s best on oily hair but deeply cleansed product buildup on my scalp and diminished the effects of dandruff.
Plus, it’s formulated with apple cider vinegar and keratin that visibly worked in tandem to strengthen my hair strands. Oh, and the smell is like a salon in a bottle!
When first introduced to Fekkai’s Apple Cider Detox Shampoo, I didn’t have high hopes. A three-step washing process? Who has the time for that? But, I was proven wrong.
This entire line not only refreshed the natural bounce and body of my hair but it gently removed flaky buildup near my roots. And, it’s one of those shampoos that leaves your hair squeaky clean (which I love).
Including pyrithone zinc to combat dandruff, First Aid Beauty’s recently launched Anti-Dandruff Shampoo that fights flakes and soothes the scalp. Personally, it worked for me and impressively didn’t dry out my scalp.
Plus, the lather generated is rich and frothy, which helped to replenish my dry hair. If you’re looking for a well-formulated product that doesn’t cost upwards of $100, this one’s your best bet.
“Those who have oily hair should look for a shampoo that includes ingredients that are clarifying and exfoliating such as alpha-hydroxy acids but should stay away from sulfates which can overly strip the hair,” Fitzsimons recommends. “Lactic acid, an AHA, works to break down the dead skin on the scalp and remove any product build up. This improves the scalp’s natural moisture, keeping your hair hydrated and healthy.”
It’s also a good idea to find a shampoo that targets excessive sebum at the scalp. “Sebum is the body’s natural oil and, when there is too much, the hair gets greasy and weighed down,” Fitzsimons added.
Not only is Dae’s Daily Shampoo clad in a 60s retro bottle but it’s one of the freshest scents and softest cleans your hair will ever be exposed to. When my hair tends to become oilier — especially after a workout — this shampoo is the one that performs the best.
Ideal to capture oils and wonderful on straight and curly hair alike, this clean-formulated shampoo detoxifies impurities without stripping your hair of its natural oils.
If you’re on the market for a salon-quality shampoo that doesn’t break the bank, Biosilk’s Silk Therapy Shampoo is your best bet. Whenever I’m getting ready to go out, this formula is one of the most reliable to prepare my hair for a natural shine and boost — especially with the brand’s Silk Therapy Shine On Spray ($14).
Plus, after washing, my hair lasts a good three to four days without another wash. Typically, I wash my hair every other day so the fact Biosilk combats against unwanted oiliness is an amazing feat.
First things first — fine hair is when the stands are slender in diameter compared to coarse hair where the diameter is larger, according to Abramite.
“A densifying shampoo plumps the size of strands with hyaluronic acid making hair feel thicker through hydration,” she said. “For hair thinning from breakage due to heat styling or chemical over-processing, a repairing shampoo is best.”
As for ingredients, Fitzsimons recommends “caffeine, green tea, pumpkin seed and rosemary oil,” specifically. “Caffeine promotes hair growth by stimulating hair follicles,” he adds. “Green tea, pumpkin seed and rosemary prevents hair loss by strengthening hair follicles.”
If you have thinning hair and want a formula that provides volume but without drying out your hair, Christophe Robin’s Delicate Volumizing Shampoo is one of the gentlest I’ve tried. It has a subtle rose scent, is enriched with baobab leaf extract to lightly wash your hair and doesn’t excessively lather — giving you the ultimate hydration and full-bodied look.
Plus, QVC has a variety of beauty items to look through ASAP. The retailer isn’t just on TV — and we love shopping its site for some of the most unique, buzzy brands.
Picking up steam in the haircare industry is Alterna’s Caviar Anti-Aging Multiplying Volume Shampoo. It’s a great “volumizing shampoo,” which Abramite recommends for thinning or fine hair as this shampoo type “creates weightless lift at the root area resulting in fullness and body.”
After shampooing, my hair doesn’t feel tangled, stringy or dry. Instead, it feels refreshed — the formula serving as a wonderful primer to be styled. Not to mention, it’s sulfate-free, smells amazing and is a product I recommend to everyone I know in real life.
Meet Alterna’s sister formula, the Clinical Densifying Shampoo. Per Abramite’s recommendation, densifying shampoos “plump individual strands for thicker-looking hair with more substance.”
That said, it’s a wonderful formula to interchange with the brand’s Multiplying Volume Shampoo for the illusion of thicker, fuller hair. However, this one is better suited for body and bend toward your hair’s ends rather than the roots.
Take things up a notch with this sweet-smelling blend of ginseng, biotin and aloe. Upon first wash and ever since, it’s been a revitalizing bottle I’ve reverted to for a fun and fast-absorbing clean.
Not only does it provide a decent amount of volume but it’s specifically rooted in how well it lifts and rejuvenates the hair at the crown of my head. And, this makes sense, as the shampoo is said to target oiliness, shine and volume as primary concerns.
Though both Abramite and Fitzsimons recommend splurging on a high-end shampoo because the ingredients are higher-quality, drugstore shampoos are still an on-the-fly option that’s sure to meet anyone’s budget.
“Cheaper shampoos are more likely to contain harsh detergents or surfactants, which can strip the hair of natural oils, weakening it and leaving a residue that can cause breakage when combined with styling products,” Fitzsimons said. “The key to finding the best drugstore shampoos is to read the ingredient list carefully. Opt for products with higher-quality components, fewer fillers and additives.”
I have never discovered a shampoo that not only offers a mega bang for your buck (I mean, just look at the size of the bottle) but how gentle it applies and how airy it makes your hair feel. Plus, it has a delicate floral scent that makes you feel like you’re hot off a salon chair.
But, more specifically, this sulfate-free shampoo is a great drugstore score. However, I find it’s best to switch this up with other shampoos, as using this formula too frequently can sometimes make my hair appear flat.
Perfect to grab from your drugstore if you’re in a pinch and want a shampoo and conditioner combo that freshly washes your hair, Herbal Essences’ Sulfate-Free Potent Aloe + Hemp line is a great add-to-cart duo.
For one, it’s a trusty reliable I’ve been using for months and doesn’t dry out my hair or leave it super greasy. It’s the Goldilocks of formulas (especially if Goldilocks is on a budget).
Infused with watermelon and sunflower seed oils, it’s unbelievable how this shampoo is (1) labeled drugstore and (2) less than $10. Not Your Mother’s makes it accessible to bring health to your hair just as well as other pricier ones I tested.
Though there aren’t extreme frills and deep cleans, it didn’t strip my hair which, unfortunately, has been the case with other drugstore shampoos I’ve tried in the past. There isn’t a bad thing to say about this sweet scent.
“Curly hair tends to be dry so a moisturizing shampoo will soften curls, add bounce and define the shape,” Abramite explains. “A sulfate-free shampoo with amino acids gently cleanses without stripping natural oils and strengthens the internal structure by repairing cuticle damage.”
And, Fitzsimons echos this to a T. “Curly hair tends to be much drier than those with straight hair because the natural oils from the scalp are unable to travel throughout the hair shaft and distribute moisture evenly, resulting in dry and fragile hair,” he said. “It’s important to look for very hydrating and non-stripping shampoos that contain ingredients that will reduce frizz without weighing down the curls.”
No lie, I once had a conversation with a Sephora beauty director who told me “everyone should experience this shampoo at least once.” And, its extremely fresh peppermint scent makes it all worth it.
While my hair leans wavy to curly, I find that my hair is clean — the scent making me nostalgic from my earliest blowout appointments with a minty shampoo. But, based on the brand’s strong line of deep conditioners, creams and gels, this shampoo is likely more effective on super curly or coily hair.
I’m just going to come out and say it — AG Hair’s Curl Fresh Shampoo is the best shampoo for curly hair I’ve tested. And, this shampoo will actually “enhance your natural curls,” as the formula doesn’t weigh them down or mitigate their natural vivacity.
That said, this vegan formula would earn a six out of five stars if possible. Containing peptides, quinoa, keratin and rice extract, you won’t find more of a superfood blend for your luscious locks.
Briogeo’s Farewell Frizz Smoothing Shampoo is a dreamboat for curly hair that’s prone to frizz. It’s designed for all hair types and textures, is vegan and even gave my hair more fullness.
So, the mixture of a fresh scent, a lessening of the frizz and a strong bounce make this one of the best I’ve tried.
Enter the crowd-favorite Olaplex, a mighty addition your bathroom shelf and even more powerful addition to your hairwashing routine. Mixed with the brand’s No. 3 and No. 5, its Bond Maintenance Shampoo feels like the formula seeps into your scalp for gentle, refreshing vibrance.
It’s unmatched and wonderful on curly hair, namely because it’s incredibly moisturizing, which Abramite explains is best to soften the curls, add bounce and define the shape.
Editor’s note: Olpalex’s haircare has been reformulated to remove an infertility-linked ingredient out of its products.
“Clarifying shampoos, also known as purifying or deep cleansing shampoos, are designed to eliminate product buildup and natural oils from your hair that your regular shampoo may overlook,” Fitzsimons said. “Clarifying shampoos should be used only when absolutely necessary, or once a month as they might be drying and can trigger sensitive reactions in some people.”
This shampoo type is ideal to purify, exfoliate and detoxify the scalp and hair for overall good health, too, according to Abramite.
The first of each month, I’ve been using Adwoa Beauty’s Blue Tansy Clarifying Gel Shampoo and, let me tell you, my hair is cleansed.
But, equally as good as its detox capabilities is how much shine it provides. It’s almost like I used a hair mask, but instead I just went through my normal shampoo and conditioner cycle in the shower.
Truthfully, I’ve been wary of any shampoo that claims to “reconstruct” my hair. It seems intense and I wasn’t sure if that terminology is what my hair needed. But, Chi proved me wrong and its formulation is especially effective for a once-in-awhile detox that gives your hair a glossy shine, too.
I decided to pay homage to the talked-about-everywhere blowout salon, Drybar. With its line of products for sale, I was impressed with how purifying — and sweet-smelling — its Cure Liqueur Strengthening Shampoo is.
Recommended on all hair types, it’s especially great for damaged hair. I enjoy using this about a month or two after I trim my hair, to ensure that once split ends may start to rear their ugly head, my hair is still fresh and clean.
“A moisturizing shampoo locks in hydration, nourishes the scalp and boosts hair shine,” Abramite said. “Plant and seed oils will replenish and restore by sealing in moisture and smoothing the cuticle from scalp to ends.”
Plus, simply changing your shampoo could help you get rid of mild to moderate irritation and minor dandruff. “Look for products that contain coconut oil, tea tree oil, salicylic acid, and apple cider vinegar, since these ingredients can help alleviate itchiness,” Fitzsimons recommends.
You know a product is good when you simply have no words to describe it other than just buy it. In all seriousness, this shampoo smells like almond paste (delicious rainbow cookies if you’re a fan) and makes my hair sudsy soft — in the best way possible.
Plus, it’s a shampoo I most frequently use in my hair-washing routine. You simply can’t beat the price and it contains a rich amount of replenishing oils, which our experts approve of.
If you suffer from the irritation of a dry scalp, Aveda’s Nutriplenish Light-Moisture Shampoo is one of the best you can use. It’s a sulfate-free, invigorating shampoo that I’ve gotten everyone hooked on in the past few months.
Specifically, my roots looked cleaner and more voluminous after several months of using this product. For salon quality, it’s a good one.
One of the trendiest Instagram brands has one of the most impressive formulations for shampoo I’ve tried. It’s one of the most hydrating, too, if that’s what you’re after.
The pretty bottle aside, it truthfully is a compliment-worthy scent that leaves a powerful clean. I’ve been impressed and love using this on special occasions (though you can use it every day, of course).
From the makers of one of the best leave-in oils the haircare industry has to offer, Moroccanoil’s Hydrating Shampoo is exactly what it sounds like — a blessing for dry hair.
I love using this with the other brand’s products — like the famous Moroccanoil Treatment ($48) and Luminous Hairspray ($26) when I’m styling my hair. Plus, the scent is driven by paradise and it’s an exceptional formula to try for your dry hair.
Holy salon. OUAI’s Shampoo has to be the best-scented shampoo in this entire edit. It’s a shampoo that deserves even more hype than it already boasts, too, especially for its smooth shine and anti-frizz properties I notice upon styling.
If you’re looking for a full-bodied routine, OUAI has an incredible leave-in conditioner ($28) and treatment mask ($38) that makes me feel like a queen. It’s a must-buy, to say the least.
“Sulfate-free alternatives are a little gentler than those with sulfates,” Fitzsimons explains. “It’s best for individuals with dry, frizzy curly hair texture, or color-treated hair. This type of shampoo helps to preserve the natural oils on the scalp and hair, resulting in more moisture in your hair.”
According to Abramite, “apple cider vinegar naturally balances the pH levels of the hair and increases shine by smoothing down the cuticle and eliminating frizz.” This, paired with the fact that AG Hair’s formula is sulfate-free, has worked near-miracles on my natural curls.
This formula is heaven in a bottle. Combining coconut oil, mango seed butter, rosehip oil and even hydrolyzed quinoa, it’s a force to be reckoned with. My natural curls have never been more enhanced and clean, thanks to this sweet-smelling, sulfate-free shampoo.
I’m obsessed with shampoo bottles that stand tall in my shower and are just as darling on my hair. Luckily, Amika’s Normcore Hydrating Conditioner fit the bill, and I’ve been obsessed with using it throughout the week.
When this easily absorbable formula is paired with the brand’s Glass Action Hydrating Hair Oil ($29) and Blow-Dryer Brush ($79), you’ll have insanely amazing hair. Plus, if you have natural curls like me, this shampoo coupled with the brand’s Curl Corps Curl Defining Cream ($26) is a divine duo.
Just like a superfood smoothie, Briogeo’s shampoo and conditioner combo feature matcha, apple and kale to bring health to your hair. I love how bouncy the formula makes my natural curls. Plus, it even helps tame frizz and add some fresh shine to my roots.
“Dry shampoo is a powdery shampoo substitute that does not use water to cleanse hair,” Abramite explains. “It can be used anytime the hair is feeling dirty, which for some is daily after a visit to the gym or for those who quickly get an oily scalp.”
But, the golden question — what makes a dry shampoo good? According to Abramite, a good dry shampoo “doesn’t leave visible powder or flakes in the hair for a dusty appearance.” And, it should invigorate your style with a fresh scent.
After testing more than a dozen shampoos for months on end, Joico’s Weekend Hair Dry Shampoo came up on top. Not only did it, impressively, last for 15 hours but it naturally soaked up excess oil and didn’t make my hair look flat. Instead, it was heightened and volumized.
Amika’s Perk Up Talc-Free Dry Shampoo is one of the winners for an unbeatable scent — seriously, it should be a crime a dry shampoo smells this good. Its formula doesn’t comprise on volume, either, lasting for eight hours without reapplying.
For a budget dry shampoo, Eva NYC’s Freshen Up Invisible Dry Shampoo is a great choice. It doesn’t leave a shiny cast on your roots and freshened up my hair for up to six hours before reapplying or showering.
If you’re looking to kill two birds with one stone — that is, absorbing excess oil and adding some texture and body — the Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Dry Shampoo is one of my favorites if I want to enhance my natural wavy curls. Plus, it lasts for at least seven hours before reapplying.
Alongside testing your top-of-the-mill shampoos of all varieties, I also reviewed three of the best personalized haircare brands: Formulate, Function of Beauty and Prose.
For a more in-depth overview of each, I recommend reading the full review, clad with a list of pros and cons and notes on the processes of each. If there’s ever a fancy event, like a wedding (or, if I just want my hair to look extra perfect), I always resort to these three.
What’s great about Formulate is how you just know it’s professional. You can speak with your chemist (who’s in charge of making your formula based on your hair quiz) and even provide feedback should there be any preferred adjustments.
Personally, this shampoo was one of the best for making my hair feel fuller and bouncy, and I 100% recommend it.
Known for its popular acclaim (and for its pick-your-own-color shampoos), Function of Beauty is one of the most well-known personalized haircare brands that give you the most bang for your buck (IMO). The bottle is huge and it made my hair smooth and virtually frizz-free throughout the day.
That said, it’s well worth the try.
After weeks of testing, Prose was my favorite of the three. Though I recommend and use all of them, something about this formula just worked for my hair.
After taking a hair quiz (much like the two others), you’ll have a fresh-scented formula show up at your door that you can’t help but love.
“Shampooing is a personal choice for everyone and one size does not fit all,” Abramite said. “On average, people shampoo daily or at least once a week. The decision is typically made on how dirty the hair looks or feels from a build-up of product, dirt or oil in the hair or how physically active someone is at the gym.”
Though different for everyone, Fitzsimons recommends looking closely at your hair type.
“Frequent shampooing depletes your hair’s natural oils and dries out your scalp,” he said. “The average person can go two to three days without shampooing their hair. People with fine or greasy hair should wash their hair every other day in general.”
On the other hand, those with medium to thick, wavy, curly, coiled or damaged hair can normally go two to four days without washing — depending on if your curly hair has product buildup, your scalp is itchy or if you exercise regularly you can swap in co-washing between washes.
“You should aim to shampoo twice and rinse in between,” Fitzsimons recommends. “Your hair will get a lot stronger, shinier, and healthier. Over-shampooing can strip natural oils the scalp produces and can lead to dry, brittle and damaged hair.”
The proper way to shampoo hair is to get it thoroughly wet with warm water to prepare it for the shampoo, Abramite offers. “This will immediately begin to loosen and break down the product. Add shampoo into your hands and begin to massage the scalp in a circular motion to work it into a lather. If the hair at the scalp doesn’t lather right away, a second shampoo will be needed to break the product down further to remove.”
Then, rinse your hair thoroughly and add shampoo again and repeat the scalp massage. Once a good lather gets going at the roots add the extra lengths of hair into the massage so the ends get cleansed as well. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and run fingers through hair to check to feel if the hair feels healthy and moisturized.
“The amount depends on the density and the length of the hair,” Abramite said. “For short hairstyles or fine hair, a dime size should be a good place to start. For longer or thicker hair, I recommend starting with a quarter-sized amount and adding more if needed for a good lather.”
“If the seal has been broken on the shampoo bottle and used, it will expire in about a year,” Abramite explains. “If you’re not sure when it was opened, a smell test will do. If the fragrance has a foulness to it, toss it.”
“Apple cider vinegar’s acidic properties can help improve chemically damaged hair by lowering the hair’s pH level by sealing the cuticles,” Fitzsimons recommends. “It can also help to regulate the microbiome on the scalp by reducing inflammation and removing build-up, restoring luster and preventing tangling in the hair.”
“A volumizing shampoo creates weightless lift at the root area resulting in fullness and body,” Abramite said.
According to Abramite, a densifying shampoo “plumps individual strands for thicker-looking hair with more substance.”
“A strengthening shampoo fortifies the internal structure of the hair strand by rebonding to preventing damage and breakage,” per Abramite.