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The Best Shampoo

Last updated on July 27, 2022

Our Review Process

Don't Waste Your Money is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Shampoos

View All Recommendations
Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Runner Up

Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Paraben & Silicone Free Shampoo

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

Garnier Fructis

Pure Clean Paraben & Silicone Free Shampoo

Made for hair that's not too dry or oily, this shampoo has a fruity scent and is lightweight without silicones. It has added ingredients like vitamin E and aloe for softness.

Overall Take

Budget-Friendly OptionThis is a good option for everyday cleansing and leaves your hair soft.

 We Also Like

Tea Tree Special Vegan Color Safe Shampoo

Tea Tree

Special Vegan Color Safe Shampoo

This shampoo's ingredients allow for a thorough cleansing and won't harm color-treated hair. While anybody can use it, it particularly benefits those with scalp conditions such as excessive oil or dandruff.

Overall Take

Versatile ChoiceWhether you have dandruff or oily hair, this powerful shampoo could help.

 Strong Contender

BIOLAGE Color Last Color Protecting Shampoo

BIOLAGE

Color Last Color Protecting Shampoo

Made especially for those with dyed hair, this option provides a gentle cleaning that won't harm your hair color. It also lacks parabens and has nourishing ingredients to prevent dryness.

Overall Take

Slows Down FadingConsider this shampoo if you want to keep your colored hair from fading too quickly.

 Also Great

Selsun Blue Anti-Dandruff Moisturizing Shampoo

Selsun Blue

Anti-Dandruff Moisturizing Shampoo

If you have dandruff, this shampoo can both offer relief and help avoid further recurrences. It works by including both medication and aloe. The formula is ideal for dry hair.

Overall Take

For Special UseThis budget-friendly option helps with dandruff issues and adds moisture.

Buying Guide

Since it’s so routine to use shampoo and many brands seem similar, you might wonder if it really matters which type you choose. While any kind of shampoo will handle the basic task of cleansing your hair of excess oils and buildup, the ingredients and benefits you get will vary. To find the best shampoo, you’ll need to look at factors such as your scalp condition, hair type and any sensitivities or preferences regarding ingredients.

First, determine whether your scalp is more on the dry or oily side. If you have an oily scalp, you’ll want a shampoo that focuses on deep cleansing such as a clarifying shampoo, and you’ll want to avoid options that add moisture and make the issue worse. On the other hand, a dry scalp benefits from moisturizing formulas that might contain aloe or other nourishing ingredients. If you experience dandruff, a medicated shampoo can be a great option for your scalp.

Next, think about your hair type and any special concerns you have. For example, you could have hair that stays dry and breaks easily, so a bond builder formula might be best. You might regularly dye your hair and want something that won’t strip your color fast, or you could have frizzy, curly hair and benefit from a shampoo that hydrates and smoothes your hair. If you have thin hair, look for volumizing shampoos and avoid formulas that are too heavy. If you don’t have special concerns, then you could opt for an everyday shampoo that gently cleans.

While exploring shampoo options, be aware of ingredients that could be problematic for your situation. For example, alcohol in shampoo can make dry hair even drier, while mineral oil can increase oiliness. While sulfates help with lathering and cleaning, they can also make dyed hair fade more quickly. You might also have sensitivities to certain fragrances or concerns about ingredients such as formaldehyde and sodium chloride.

There’s a good chance the right shampoo for you will be in liquid form as that’s the most popular. However, you can choose from shampoo bars and dry shampoo too. You’d use a shampoo bar much like a bar of soap: you’d wet it so that it foams up and then apply it to your hair. Dry shampoos offer convenience between regular washes since you can simply spray it at your dry hair’s roots, massage it in, let it sit a bit and then brush out your hair.

What to Look For

  • You’ll want to follow the right hair washing process to get the best results. This means starting with a thorough warm rinse before applying any shampoo. Next, you’ll mix the shampoo with a little water and then carefully clean your scalp before you continue down your hair. After you’ve rinsed the shampoo, you can apply a conditioner, leave it in for the specified time and then give your hair a final rinse.
  • If you want to cut your hair washing time, you can consider a two-in-one shampoo that also conditions your hair. However, you’ll want to keep in mind silicones from the two-in-one shampoo and other hair products can weigh down your hair, so you might opt for a clarifying shampoo from time to time.
  • The amount of shampoo you should use for each wash depends on your hair. While you’ll use less with thin hair and more with coarse hair, using about a quarter’s size is a good rule of thumb for medium hair. In addition, special formulas like medicated dandruff shampoos might instruct you to use a certain amount.
  • You might wonder if you’re washing your hair often enough, and it ultimately comes down to your lifestyle and how oily your hair gets. If you’re someone who sweats every day or you have thin hair, daily washing is a good idea. On the other hand, going a few days without washing can work fine if you’re not sweating or your hair is thick and doesn’t get oily quickly.
  • Always check the ingredients listed for a shampoo to see if there’s anything you’re sensitive or allergic to. For example, tea tree oil can cause reactions on the scalp for those with allergies. If you do experience issues after using a certain shampoo, you’ll want to contact your physician.

More to Explore

Check out some interesting facts about shampoo:

  • Long before commercial shampoo came out, people would find other ways to clean their hair. For example, some people would use the regular bar soap they wash their bodies with, while Indians in the 1500s would use boiled herbs and berries.
  • While dry shampoo has especially been popular in recent years, it’s far older than you might think. Both children and adults used a version called Minipoo in the 1940s through 1960s, and you’d use a special mitt with it.
  • Some people opt to make their own shampoos with household ingredients such as water, baking soda, essential oils, vinegar or even soap.

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