If you take a walk down the shampoo aisle at CVS — let alone do a search for “shampoo” online — the options can make your head hurt. There are shampoos for dry hair, thinning hair, and color-treated hair, and while we’ve done deep dives into several of those categories, we were curious to hear what stylists and salon owners would suggest for some overarching favorites. So we reached out to a panel of experts to hear about their old and new standbys, the shampoos they reach for when working with clients and cleaning their own hair alike.
Before we delve into specific products, though, here are a couple of general shampooing tips: If you’re wondering how often you should wash, Brooke Jordan, co-founder and master stylist at the Bird House in Gowanus, recommends “no more than twice a week,” and when you do shampoo, try her star-shape cleaning method. “I always recommend first making sure your hair is pretty wet,” she says, “then putting about a quarter-size drop of shampoo in your hand, lathering it in your hands, and then tapping some on your head at your temples, on the top of your head at the crown, and two at the nape,” making what would look like a star of shampoo on your head. Then get to scrubbing. “Do that once, rinse, repeat and do it again,” she says. “The pattern is to your pleasure.” Now that we have that down, let’s go on to the best shampoos.
Masami Hosono, creative director of the gender-neutral East Village hair salon Vacancy Project, told us about Malin + Goetz’s Moisturizing Shampoo. She uses the shampoo in her salon and has been a fan of the brand for years. “I’ve been using Malin + Goetz for a really long time — like eight years — at work,” she says. “We only use the Moisturizing Shampoo and the Cilantro Conditioner.” According to Hosono, the shampoo works well for all hair textures, “curly to straight, thick or thin.” Despite its being sulfate free, it’s still “very foamy” — though Hosono adds that she “doesn’t really care that much” about whether a shampoo is sulfate free. “I like the Malin + Goetz shampoo because it’s not 100 percent organic and it’s also not 100 percent chemical,” she says. “It has both, and you really need both, especially if you have a color or anything chemical in your hair. It’s really for any hair type, and it’s not too heavy.”
Malin + Goetz’s Moisturizing Shampoo also receives high praise over at the Cut: “I could tell it was instantly moisturizing, and the touches of neroli and basil had a sophisticated scent that I enjoyed,” reports Jessica Prince Erlich. And Stephanie Louis, the chief executive and operating officer of Stylebox Salon in Prospect Heights, is also a fan of the brand. “We totally agree that Malin + Goetz is rock-on awesome,” she says. “Nearly everything in the line is really, really good.” We heard about the brand when we talked to experts about the best shampoos for dandruff, too. For its effectiveness on all hair types, its balance between organic and nonorganic ingredients, the high praise the brand receives overall, and the shampoo’s appeal to both women and men, we’re calling this one our best all-around.
Best shampoo for normal hair
“If I were to talk about my all-encompassing favorite shampoos and conditioners, one of my favorites is Sachajuan Normal Hair Shampoo,” says Jordan. “It’s so simple and so effective, it smells amazing, and the ingredients are incredibly high-quality.” Jordan tells us that while Sachajuan does use sulfates, the shampoo’s ingredients are produced in “small batches in Sweden” and that “in Europe, they have so many more regulations for their beauty products then we do, so essentially anything that’s made in Europe is sort of automatically going to be a little safer than what’s produced here.” The brand’s products have regularly made our more specific shampoo and hair-product guides — not to mention being a favorite of Rio’s mom. And given the effectiveness of the brand’s more targeted treatments and Jordan’s ringing endorsement, we’re calling this one the best for “normal” hair that’s right down the middle between not too oily and not too dry.
Best shampoo for frizzy hair
If you’ve got some frizz you’d like to smooth out, Jordan recommends this shampoo from Davines, a brand she loves “for the quality of their products, as well as their commitment to sustainability.” She adds, “They produce everything in this one factory in Italy, and a lot of their ingredients literally come from local farms.” One of those ingredients is Minuta-olive extract, which, according to the Davines website, is farmed in Messina, Italy, and is loaded with fatty acids and vitamin E — ingredients that help add moisture to hair and combat frizz. “It’s just a really beautiful, yummy shampoo,” says Jordan. “It smells amazing, and it does smooth the hair but it’s not so heavy that it creates any kind of weight in the hair.” She notes that the only hair type she wouldn’t recommend this shampoo for is very fine hair — the moisturizing properties won’t do much for you in the way of volume — but otherwise, anyone can use this one.
Best (less expensive) shampoo for frizzy hair
Another frizz-fighting option was recommended to us by Louis, who says “any hair type or texture” can use Redken’s Frizz Dismiss Shampoo to keep frizzy hair at bay. She notes that the shampoo is both sulfate and “salt” free — and as we’ve reported before, sulfate- and salt-free shampoos are generally the safest to use on color- or keratin-treated hair. And while the price is still higher than what you might pay for the more common drugstore brands, it’s a little lower than the Davines; if you’ve invested in a color or keratin treatment, it may be worth the extra money to prolong the effects of these often expensive treatments.
Best thickening shampoo
This one is packed with ingredients, including biotin, pro-vitamin B5, and coconut oil, that will pump up hair’s strength and thickness. It can be used on any hair type, according to Jordan, who recommended this one as a “catchall product” for giving hair a boost. What also really impressed us is the shampoo’s UV-protection properties. “R+Co puts an ingredient in all of their shampoos that’s basically like putting an SPF on,” Jordan says. “It protects your hair from the sun.” UV protection is particularly useful for those who color their hair, because it will help make the color last longer, “especially in the summer months if you’re spending any time on the beach,” she adds. All of the brand’s shampoos are also sulfate free, another draw for those with color-treated hair, and while the thickening properties of this shampoo will benefit anyone looking for a little more bounce, they’re really helpful for those whose hair has become brittle from treatments. (Jordan reminds us that UV protecting does not mean heat protecting, so if you’re styling your hair with hot tools, don’t forget to use a heat-protecting product.)
Best hydrating shampoo
Shirley Hagel, an advanced creative stylist at Parlor salon, raved about this hydrating shampoo from Aveda. “My all-time-favorite shampoo for a wide range of people is Aveda’s Sap Moss,” she says. “It provides weightless hydration. It’s so lightweight that it’s great for even me with my fine, thin hair.” According to Aveda’s website, the shampoo is formulated with Iceland moss and larch-tree sap, which add hydration to hair without weighing it down. Hagel says the shampoo is so hydrating her husband even uses it for his beard, which she describes as having a “much coarser texture” than her hair. She also says she would recommend Sap Moss Shampoo for those with gray hair, which is “often coarser” and would benefit from the moisturizing properties.
Best (less expensive) hydrating shampoo
Another shampoo that happens to be color safe and is, according to Louis, an incredibly moisturizing “staple” product is Verb’s paraben- and sulfate-free Ghost Shampoo. It includes moringa oil, which is a tree-derived essential oil known for its hydrating properties, as well as UV protection (like the R+Co Dallas shampoo) that helps protect color and shine. We’ve heard good things about this shampoo before: We named it our best overall sulfate-free shampoo, and it’s also a favorite of Sephora reviewers. One raved, “It feels almost magical when it lathers,” and another said, “This shampoo basically gave me shampoo-commercial hair.”
Best shampoo for scalp issues
Hagel names Aveda’s Scalp Benefits Shampoo as another favorite. “It helps balance the pH of the scalp and balance sebum levels,” she says. “A lot of people complain about a dry or oily scalp, and this is a great option for either.” She notes that both of her Aveda picks are safe to use with color-treated hair as well.
Best shampoo for volume
Dhiran Mistry, a hairstylist at the David Mallett salon in Soho — whose in-house brand of shampoo Mistry says “makes hair feel really soft and smooth” and can be used on all hair types — told us the Shu Uemera Muroto Volume shampoo is a great choice for those with fine hair who are looking for a daily-use volumizing option. (This is different from our “best thickening” pick in that we’re talking more about the appearance of bigger hair here, rather than treating the hair with vitamins to thicken it from the inside out.) “Both paraben- and silicon-free, this shampoo is great for removing any buildup on the scalp or hair shaft and will generate a good lather,” Mistry says. “If you have fine hair, you can use it daily, or if you have really greasy hair with tons of product buildup, this will help strip all the excess dirt.”
Best shampoo for color-treated hair
We’ve heard about this shampoo from many stylists and hair experts, and when we reached out to some specifically about the best shampoos for color-treated hair earlier this fall, this was their pick. Blackstone NYC colorist Patti O’Gara told us, “This sulfate-free shampoo will rebuild the bonds damaged through coloring, gradually transforming dry, broken, and brittle hair back to a healthier state.” The experts we spoke to for this story were similarly enthusiastic about the shampoo. “This is amazing for color-treated hair,” says Louis. She elaborates that it’s ideal for those who color their hair, because it “repairs protein bonds in hair, limits split ends and subsequent hair breakage, and helps keep hair smooth and frizz free.” Mistry also suggested Olaplex for color-treated hair. “All color can damage hair bonds,” he says. “This shampoo is really good with flyaways and frizz control and will lather well and restore the internal strength of the hair.”
Best shampoos for curly hair
“This is a hydrating shampoo for all curly hair types,” says Louis. “It’s really incredible.” The shampoo comes from Tracee Ellis Ross’s new hair-care line, which offers products for curly, coily, and tight textured hair. The shampoo is formulated with moisturizing ingredients including aloe-vera-leaf juice, coconut oil, and honey, and the scent is a lovely-sounding blend of jasmine, bergamot, and sandalwood.
Hagel told us this shampoo from Aveda is great for curls because it’s gentle and moisturizing. “Truly, it’s great for anyone looking for an extra-gentle moisturizing cleanser,” she says. “It removes buildup and excess oil and moisturizes with organic babassu oil.” She adds that this would be a good choice for someone looking to shampoo less often, as well as for someone with thick hair. “I find thick-haired people are often people that can go longer between shampoos,” she says. “Be Curly Cowash is great for anyone trying to space out shampoos.” The babassu oil is also meant to help fight frizz.
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