obsessive tester

The 23 Best Shampoos for Every Type of Hair

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Retailers

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How often you wash your hair can be a surprisingly divisive topic. One camp says you should do it every day; another says go ahead and put it off for as long as humanly possible. For some, it’s the perfect excuse to practice a little self-care and take an “everything” shower; for others, it’s a tedious task as annoying as removing makeup after a long night out. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, shampoo is the first step in a quality hair-care routine, so it’s important to find one that is best for cleansing your strands.


How often should you shampoo your hair?

The best broad answer is “as often as you need to,” says Colin McCarthy, a hairdresser at Mark Ryan Salon in New York City. “The vast majority of people will likely want to wash their hair a few days a week, giving themselves days off in between, but there are people on either side of that spectrum who either need to wash their hair every day or can go a full week without even rinsing it.” McCarthy says that fine hair and thinner strands can appear greasy in just one day while thick, coarse, curly, processed, or natural hair can last longer between washes, because it better absorbs any naturally occurring oils. If he had to give a number, he suggests once a week at minimum.

Ali Sherry, a hair stylist and colorist at Serrano Salon in Los Angeles, agrees that the number depends on many factors but says that you should definitely wash your hair if there’s a buildup of sweat or you’ve been in, say, the ocean or a pool and need to get debris or chlorine out of your strands.

Is it possible to wash your hair too frequently?

Similar to how you approach cleansing your face, it’s important not to overdo it when it comes to washing your hair. Sherry explains that over-washing will throw off the natural balance of healthy oils that moisturize the scalp and hair. “Without them, you can dry out and irritate your scalp, causing your hair to be dry, brittle, and dull,” she says.

Which ingredients should you look for in a shampoo?

McCarthy says ingredients vary and each has its own benefits. If you’re looking for some detangling action, seek out shampoos with fatty alcohols that can provide extra lubrication — like stearyl and cetyl alcohol. If you need moisture, glycerine and panthenol will deliver results. For hair reconstruction and damage control, opt for formulas with keratin or soy proteins. And for shine and smoothing, shea butter and jojoba oil are your friends.

Now that you have the lay of the (shampoo) land straight from the hair experts, here are 26 of the best shampoos for every hair texture, style struggle, and scalp issue. Even the laziest among us will look forward to lathering up with these.

The best shampoo for hair growth

Pros: Cleanses scalp; sulfate-free; leaves hair feeling thicker
Cons: Not color-safe; doesn’t lather a lot

The apple-cider vinegar in this formula helps coat your hair cuticle, which makes your strands shiny and soft. Vitamin B5 is another ingredient that strengthens hair, helps promote growth, and prevents hair loss, which is a big reason why reviewers said they noticed their hair becoming denser after using this. It’s also a favorite of the Cut Shop’s senior editor, Bianca Nieves. Of course, everyone is different, so the effects can vary, but if your hair is on the thinner side or you want more volume, this is a worthy shampoo to try. One note is that reviewers said it isn’t super-foamy, but as long as you can trust that it is working, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the shine and how balanced your scalp feels after use.

The best shampoo with natural ingredients

Pros: Great smell; makes hair silky soft; reduces frizz; sulfate-free
Cons:  Doesn’t lather a lot

Inspired by ayurvedic practices, this South Asian brand has ingredients like pink lotus, ashwagandha, and amla (also known as Indian gooseberries) to soften hair, reduce scalp irritation through nourishment, and promote hair growth, respectively. The heavenly jasmine scent makes the chore of cleansing your hair feel more like a spa ritual, and the pump makes it easy to apply the product as well.

The best affordable shampoo with natural ingredients

Pros: Great smell; 90 percent naturally derived ingredients; sulfate-free; affordable
Cons:  Doesn’t have a pump cap like the conditioner 

For a less expensive option that also highlights its plant-based ingredients list, turn to new beauty brand California Naturals. Created by the founder of Playa Beauty, it captures the essence of the West Coast in a bottle with its bergamot, orange blossom, and eucalyptus scent. Agave nectar, coconut, and sunflower-seed oil combine to combat dullness, dirt, grease, and whatever else you might have afflicting your hair. A month after its launch, it sold out on the brand’s website, but thankfully it continues to be available at Target for a wallet-friendly price.

The best hairdresser-approved shampoo

Pros: Tames frizz; leaves hair hydrated, shiny, and revived 
Cons: Bottle is only 10 oz, those with longer or thicker hair may run through it quicker

McCarthy and Sherry both recommend the brand Shu Uemura, so you know it’s worth a try. This specific formula cleanses and moisturizes just the right amount, according to Sherry. She says it’s great for fine hair, thanks to its lightweight nature, but it also works for those with average to thick strands. It contains moringa and red-algae extract for a boost of hydration and protection from outside pollutants. The 4.5-star rating (out of five) on Sephora means our beauty-loving peers can’t get enough of it either.

The best shampoo for frizz-free hair

Pros: Controls frizz; helps detangle hair
Cons: Some said it leaves residue

This rich, silicone-free shampoo not only smooths but it lays the groundwork for a magical, humidity-proof shield on every strand, too. Now you can safely live your life during those sticky months without worrying about looking like someone rubbed a balloon all over your head.

The best strengthening shampoo

Pros: Moisturizing and helps repair hair
Cons: May weigh down finer hair

Damaged, brittle strands aren’t a concern anymore now that Olaplex has entered the chat. Made with patented bond-builder technology that actually relinks the broken hydrogen-sulfur bonds causing hair damage, this product brings real results and works on all hair types no matter the texture. It restores the pain your hair has felt from heat to bleaching to chemical treatments.

The best shampoo for dry hair

If touching your hair throughout the day reminds you of straw rather than silk, you may need something that does a little more than cleanse. While thinking all your shower thoughts, this nutritive shampoo infuses each strand of hair with glucose proteins and nourishing lipids so you get that soft, slo-mo commercial hair-flip shine even before you move on to conditioner.

Pros: Great smell; leaves hair soft; lathers with a small amount of product
Cons: Not the best for colored hair

The best luxury shampoo

Pros: Smells amazing; doesn’t weigh your hair down
Cons: Expensive; jar container can be inconvenient in the shower 

The value proposition for using this very expensive shampoo, as Jean Godfrey-June once said, is to ask yourself, “Well, do I need to look especially good today?” If the answer is yes, consider this shampoo, which has the texture and feel of very rich honey and gives you simply much “better” hair. It’s been a secret favorite of beauty editors and rich ladies for years.

The best drugstore shampoo for shiny hair

Pros: Affordable; makes hair shiny and smooth 
Cons: Some said it made their hair feel waxy 

This is a classic drugstore shampoo with a score of 4.7 out of 5 on Amazon and Target. The product brags that you can go 72 hours between hair washes and your hair will still be moisturized and shiny.

The best shampoo for natural hair

Pros: Helps regrow hair; strengthens damaged hair; sulfate-free
Cons: Some said it felt drying

This nourishing shampoo is the perfect companion on long and winding natural hair journeys, which can be filled with damage from heat styling, perms, dyeing, and so on. It combines the power of things you hear about in home remedies, like omega-rich Jamaican black castor oil and repairing shea butter, conveniently mixed with a touch of peppermint to get your scalp invigorated for all that new hair growth that’s down the road.

The best pH-balancing shampoo

Pros: Thoroughly cleanses without disrupting your scalp
Cons: Some said it doesn’t lather as much as it should

Lest you forget that your scalp is a microbiome, this shampoo is all about balancing that environment to promote healthy hair growth. It’s ideal for those who go a little heavy on styling products as well as those who have average to dry hair. Mustard-seed oil is the key ingredient that evens out pH levels, and the formula is dermatologist-tested for those scalps that need a gentle yet effective cleanse, which both Sherry and reviewers love.

The best shampoo for smooth hair

Pros: Leaves hair shiny and smooth 
Cons: Expensive

The shea oil in this creamy, pearlized shampoo formula hydrates and fights frizz, while the macadamia oil nourishes hair. Bonus: The citrusy, woodsy fragrance just oozes fanciness.

The best for serious dandruff


Pros: Targets the most stubborn flakes; works quickly 
Cons: Some with thicker, curly hair say it’s hard to get the product to their scalp

This is a great option if you have really serious dandruff but don’t want to get a prescription quite yet. It contains the same active ingredient — ketoconazole — found in many doctor-prescribed dandruff shampoos but in a smaller dose. It has a big fan base on Reddit.

The shampoo that feels weightless and moisturizing

Pros: Unscented for those sensitive to fragrance
Cons: Some said their hair doesn’t feel as clean as it could be

Shampoos that say they’re “hydrating” can be heavy and weigh down especially finer hair. This light formula is super-mild, hydrates in a weightless way, and helps add shine to hair due to the inclusion of macadamia nut oil.

The best affordable shampoo if you’re not sure what you need

Pros: Best value; great smell; paraben- and silicone-free 
Cons: Some said it made their hair feel waxy

When your hair simply requires a hearty cleansing and you don’t have any specific issues you want to address, this is a very pleasant choice for under $10. The fragrance is beachy but not in a way that will make you feel like you’re washing your hair with a piña colada.

The best shampoo if you have really thick hair

Pros: Great smell; cleanses scalp thoroughly but still easy to rinse out
Cons: Some said it felt drying

For thicker hair, wash day can be a drag, but this shampoo is formulated to deeply moisturize and fight frizz and repair damage. The marshmallow-root extract in this formula provides proteins that soften and moisturize thick hair, while the shea butter helps to lock it all in. And it’s topped off with a signature fresh Ouai scent with notes of Italian lemon, orange, peony, iris, and lily.

The best shampoo for dandruff

Pros: Color and keratin treatment safe; contains salicylic acid to alleviate flakes and irritation
Cons: Expensive; might not be best for those sensitive to fragrance

Hidden inside this eye-pleasing, millennial-pink bottle is a shampoo to help you fight a flakey scalp. If you are battling dandruff but looking for a milder, not so clinical option, this product’s formula incorporates 2 percent salicylic acid, vitamin C, and caffeine to get your scalp clean and stimulated. And it all smells like a luxe blowout.

The best shampoo for a deep cleanse

Pros: Refreshing scent of rosemary, geranium, orange, and peppermint, feels great
Cons: Inconvenient packaging, might be too abrasive for sensitive scalps

If you’ve ever felt the desire to shave your head and start fresh, maybe try this first. This whipped shampoo made of exfoliating Himalayan pink salt gently and deeply cleans your hair, with a special focus on your roots. It will be the closest your hair comes to feeling weightless — unless you decide to pick up that razor. Just know, scalp care becomes even more important with shorter hair.

The best shampoo for detangling

Pros: Inexpensive; moisturizes and prevents knots
Cons: Some said it felt drying 

The Mane Choice creates intentional hair treatments that treat everything from growth to strength. This shampoo caters to detangling even the kinkiest curls. It not only helps to loosen knots but softens hair. Plus, with its blend of biotin and vitamin E, it will stimulate your scalp.

The best shampoo for curly hair

Pros: Cleansing, smells good
Cons: Some say the product has no slip so curls do not feel soft; inconvenient packaging 

Sans sulfates, this cleanser helps to gently wash away buildup. It smells like a fruity cereal and “is moisturizing and doesn’t dry out my scalp,” says Chinea Rodriguez, a shopping writer at the Cut.

The best shampoo for fine curls

Pros: Leaves hair bouncy and hydrated; formula isn’t too thick
Cons: Some say it irritated their scalp 

If you have finer hair that happens to spiral, you’re always feeling like Goldilocks, looking for the right amount of product that keeps curls plump and hydrated but not heavy and limp. This oil-infused formula is moisturizing enough to prevent fine curls from frizzing yet gentle enough that it won’t completely sabotage your hair by weighing it down.

Best clarifying shampoo for thick curly hair

Pros: Great smell; clean ingredients, clarifies and moisturizes
Cons: Tub container can be inconvenient in the shower

Ceremonia is rooted in Latinx heritage, and because the scalp is one of the most absorbent parts of the body, the brand makes sure its formulas are all packed with natural ingredients. Primarily sourced from Latin America, the ingredients in this scrub shampoo include Bolivian mountain salt for physical exfoliation, papaya enzymes to aid in removing product buildup, and prickly pear extracts to moisturize and smooth frizz. And obviously this makes the product smell amazing. Customers love it at Sephora, giving it a 4.8 out of 5 stars.

The best color-safe shampoo

Pros: Cleansing, color-safe
Cons: Thin, runny consistency

You need to be careful of using gels and dry shampoos too often. Build up can cause your scalp to be irritated and your hair to be weighed down and dull, but this color-safe, non-stripping clarifying shampoo from K18 Biomimetic Hairscience removes 99 percent of product buildup. Rodriguez says she uses this for a deep clean and it doesn’t dry out her hair or scalp.

The best shampoo for brunettes

Pros: More affordable than a salon trip; gives brunettes rich color
Cons: Some said it felt drying

If you’re worried your brunette hair is becoming as brassy as a doorknob, this shampoo will help with that. With each wash, it gently deposits a tiny bit of pigment using a mix of cocoa and primrose oil, deepening and helping your color look more rich without staining your strands. The before-and-after reviews on Amazon offer compelling proof.

The best everyday shampoo for oily hair

Pros: Mild fragrance, clean and vegan ingredients, no sulfates SLS & SLES, gentle
Cons: Some said it felt drying

Whether you have fine or thin hair, are working out a ton, or simply your lifestyle requires you to be washing your hair often, you want to make sure you are using a product that is not stripping your hair and scalp of its moisture. This gentle yet powerfully cleansing product has a lightweight formula that is great for all hair types so you do not have to worry about overwashing.

The best sustainable shampoo

Pros: Plant-based ingredients, sustainable packaging, formulated for sensitive scalps
Cons: Not available at larger stores; 8.5 oz. bottle

Liana Blum, the Cut’s deputy photo director, enjoys this sustainable option. After working in fashion, hair stylist, Sabrina Szinay, had yet to find a hair product that combined performance with sustainable design, so she set out to found Sándor. This zero-waste, luxurious, plant-based shampoo has a pH-value that helps balance your scalp’s microbiome, and also looks so chic in your shower.

The Best Shampoos for Every Type of Hair