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The 12 best shampoos of 2021 for every hair type and budget


Shampoo is essential in helping to remove dirt and product build-up on the scalp and hair. But frequent shampooing – sometimes called over-washing – can remove natural oils that help hydrate and nourish hair and could lead to a dry scalp, dehydrated strands, hair loss and thinning hair, according to dermatologist Rina. Allawh, MD, FAAD. While there are a plethora of options, buying shampoo doesn’t have to be complicated. An easy filter for your choices is the texture of your hair. For example, brands like Design Essentials and Briogeo specialize in thick hair while Ouidad is well known for its collections targeting curly designs.

In general, anyone can use a “nourishing shampoo” that simultaneously cleanses and moisturizes hair once or twice a week, regardless of their natural hair texture, Allawh noted. She also advised opting for shampoos with moisturizing ingredients like ceramides, Shea Butter, glycerine, dimethicone and jojoba and coconut oils.

If you have scalp issues like dandruff, oily, or acne, you can go for more specialized ingredients.

  • Anyone who has to do with dandruff may opt for “useful ingredients” with antifungal benefits such as zinc pyrithione and selenium sulfide, Board Recommended Dermatologist Hadley King, MD.
  • For oily scalp prone to acne, King recommended exfoliating and oil-absorbing ingredients like tea tree oil, salicylic acid and coal.

You can also find shampoos just about anywhere you want to buy beauty products. Beyond the popular Sephora, Ulta and Dermstore, department stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s offer a range of shampoos. Mega retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target probably cover your shampoo needs as well – if you prefer ‘clean’ hair products, here’s how to navigate Target Clean and Clean at Sephora, which both offer shampoos.

Best shampoos

We’ve found dermatologist-recommended shampoos for hair textures and scalp needs, along with a few other top-rated choices based on expert advice.

Best overall shampoo: Aveeno

Aveeno Pure Renewal Shampoo

Aveeno’s pH Balanced Shampoo has an average rating of 4.6 stars out of nearly 2,060 reviews on Amazon. Allawah described this sulfate-free shampoo as “lightweight” and pointed out that it contains a moisturizing blend of the minerals and protein which helps protect hair from “harmful and damaging environmental chemicals”.

Best affordable shampoo: Dove

Dove Nutritive Solutions Daily Moisturizing Shampoo

Allawah is also a fan of Dove’s “gentle” shampoo as it contains a blend of moisturizing ingredients like glycerine, which provides “extra hydration” to the scalp and hair. Dove claims that when you use both the Daily Moisturizing Shampoo and Daily Moisturizing Conditioner, you will have 10 times less breakage when combing your hair compared to using a non-moisturizing shampoo alone. This Dove Shampoo has an average rating of 4.6 stars out of nearly 4,360 Walmart reviews.

Best shampoo for oily hair: AQUIS

AQUIS Prime Detoxifying Hair & Scalp Cleanser

King recommended this shampoo for those with an oily or acne-prone scalp because it is formulated with a trio of anti-acne ingredients: coal, witch Hazel and salicylic acid. She noted that this shampoo “gently” removes product build-up, pollution and hard water, “and gently exfoliates to reduce flaking without stripping hair of its natural oils.” King advised using the hypoallergenic shampoo once every three or four hair washes. This Aquis shampoo received an average rating of 4.9 stars out of nearly 50 Neiman Marcus reviews.

Best shampoo for dry and sensitive skin: Vanicream

Transparent and vanicream-free shampoo

This $ 10 shampoo is free from common allergens – parabens, sulfates, and fragrances – that can cause peeling, itching and rashes, according to Allawh. Vaniceram claims its pH balanced shampoo is dermatologist tested and compatible with all textures, ranging from straight to frizzy curly. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars out of over 5,770 reviews on Amazon.

Best shampoo for thinning hair: Keranique

Keranic shampoo

If you want fuller hair, Allawah recommended this keratin-rich shampoo containing 2% minoxidil, a topical ingredient. [that] It has been clinically proven to promote hair growth in both men and women. (Notably, minoxidil is found in Rogaine.) Keranique’s “mild” shampoo is sulfate-free and contains moisturizing ingredients like panax ginseng root extract and arctium majus root extract, which help “prevent hair loss”. It received an average rating of 4.3 stars out of over 4,000 reviews on Amazon.

Best dandruff shampoo: Neutrogena

Neutrogena therapeutic shampoo

According to Allawah, Neutrogena’s shampoo contains salicylic acid, a popular skin care ingredient that can help balance dandruff and scalp psoriasis. She called the 3 percent concentration of salicylic acid in this shampoo “a powerful keratolytic, that is to say it helps to remove thick scales from the scalp.” It has an average rating of 4.6 stars out of over 12,200 reviews on Amazon.

Best shampoo for oily hair: Dove

Dove Refresh + Care Dry Shampoo

According to hairstylist Courtney Foster, you can use a dry shampoo up to three times a week between cleaning your hair. Allawah recommended this relatively affordable dry shampoo because “many dry shampoos can be too dry on the scalp and cause brittle or hardened hair. This dry shampoo helps absorb grease while maintaining moisture in the hair. Dove’s dry shampoo received an average rating of 4.4 stars out of nearly 14,200 reviews on Amazon.

Best Baby Shampoo: Burt’s Bees

Burt’s Bees Baby Shampoo

Allawah recommended this “gentle and safe” shampoo for babies (and adults with sensitive skin) because Burt’s Bees’ formula contains “clean, natural ingredients” like vitamin B and various the minerals. “More important again [it] lack of harsh ingredients that typically cause dry, flaky skin in newborns and infants such as sulfates, parabens, fragrances and phthalates, ”she told us. It’s the only shampoo on our list that can also be used as a body wash and comes in a three-pack if you prefer. It received an average rating of 4.7 stars out of over 3,600 reviews on Amazon.

Best shampoo for curly hair: Shea Moisture

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl and Shine Shampoo

This Shea Moisture Shampoo contains a blend of moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil, which helps “preserve the natural bounce and curl of the hair while maintaining the healthy shine of the hair,” Allawah said. The brand’s sulfate-free shampoo received an average rating of 4.3 stars out of 350 reviews on Walmart.

Best shampoo for natural hair: Oribe

Oribe shampoo for hydration and control

Although Oribe’s vegan shampoo is the most expensive shampoo on this list, it’s one of my favorites to help hydrate my hair and minimize frizz. It smells like a combination of Oribe’s signature complex – litchi, watermelon and edelweiss flower – which help preserve hair color, hydrate strands and protect against oxidative stress, according to the brand. This shampoo received an average rating of 4.6 stars out of over 460 reviews on Amazon. The brand has also released an exclusive Dermstore set with all six items in the collection if you prefer.

Best Detangling Shampoo: Design Essentials

Design Essentials Moisturizing and Detangling Shampoo

This Design Essentials Shampoo has received an average rating of 4.6 stars out of nearly 2,760 reviews on Amazon. Besides being free from annoying ingredients like sulfates, parabens, and phthalates, this shampoo was designed for those with wavy, curly, and frizzy hair in mind. Design Essentials also says that this color-safe shampoo is gentle enough to be used on chemically treated hair, as well as extensions and wigs. It’s also part of the brand’s Almond and Avocado collection, two ingredients that help hydrate hair, prevent breakage and add shine.

Best pH Balanced Shampoo: Dove

Dove Dermacare Shampoo

King recommended this Dove “gentle” shampoo because it is made with zinc pyrithione, an ingredient with antibacterial and antifungal properties. She noted that this pH balanced shampoo is safe for color and “can decrease yeast on the skin without causing irritation.” If you’re dealing with annoying dandruff, King advises shampooing four times a week “to minimize breakouts.” This shampoo received an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 370 reviews on Walmart.

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