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The Best Shampoo for Dry Hair, According to Hairstylists

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

There are few things as frustrating as dealing with dry, damaged hair. According to Kristin Rankin, a stylist at Fox & Jane Salon, “when you have dry hair, typically it’s because it has been compromised in some way,” whether that’s by environmental factors — like UV damage and saltwater in the summer and dry air in the winter — or by your daily hair-care routine. Styling with hot tools, using the wrong kinds of products, and applying chemical treatments such as hair dye can all dry hair out, Rankin says. “What’s happening is your cuticle is lifted,” she explains, “and when that happens your hair is at risk of exposure” to the elements and can no longer retain moisture, which is what results in damaged, brittle hair.

In general, when looking for the right shampoo to hydrate dry hair, the experts we spoke to recommend looking for products that are free of alcohols, silicones, and sulfates, because those ingredients will only dry it out more. And because anyone can get dry hair, regardless of hair type, we asked Rankin and five other hairstylists to talk about the best shampoos for all textures. Read on for their picks, which include shampoos for moisturizing and repairing, as well as options for fine, curly, and thick hair.

Best overall shampoo for dry hair

Oribe’s Moisture and Control line was recommended by half of our experts for its superior hydration and control. According to Lorna Pollack, senior stylist at Kinloch Salon, “this intense moisture shampoo attacks dryness and frizz by calming unruly hair, while also helping to eliminate unwanted volume, leaving the hair feeling sleek and controlled.” The highly moisturizing formula — which is sulfate-free, as well as color- and keratin-treatment safe — is packed with nourishing amino acids that “tame and soften” hair, “leaving it smooth sleek and under control,” agrees Alyssa Sholl, master stylist at Hairroin Salon and Parlour H, who says this is an excellent pick for pretty much all hair types, including curly, kinky, and thick. Tracy Rasmussen, co-owner of Brooklyn-based Bull in the Heather Salon, also loves Oribe, noting she recommends its Cleansing Crème, which is very similar to the shampoo but gives a slightly deeper cleanse, to clients with dry hair who work out a lot. She calls it her “all-time favorite for dry hair” because it doesn’t strip hair while still leaving it feeling clean.

If you’re not sure how often you should be shampooing in the first place, Amanda Power, the founder of Power Hair BK, offers these general guidelines: “I recommend every other day for fine to medium hair, whereas thick hair could go anywhere between three days to a full week. Coarser, thick hair ranges from five to fourteen days between shampoos. The same rules apply for dry hair — don’t overdo it just because your strands feel super parched.”

Best (less expensive) shampoo for dry hair

If you want to get just as much moisture but spend a little less, Sholl suggests Bumble and Bumble’s inexpensive, sulfate-free shampoo, which uses six light oils “to soften, silken, tame, defrizz, detangle, and protect.” Pollack agrees, adding that the shampoo “is great for medium-thick hair of all textures” and also protects hair from the frying effects of UV rays because the formula contains UVA and UVB filters.

Best shampoo for dry fine hair

If you are fine-haired and struggling with dryness, Chelsey Pickthorn, master stylist and founder of Pickthorn Salon, suggests staying away from any volumizing shampoos you may use in your daily routine, as they tend to contain ingredients that exacerbate the problem. To pump hydration back into your strands without weighing them down, she tells her clients to go for the Davines Nourishing Shampoo. Sholl agrees, recommending to pair it with the Davines Nourishing Conditioner, which she calls a “salon favorite.”

Best shampoo for dry curly hair

“I absolutely love the Alterna Haircare Smoothing Anti-Frizz Shampoo for curly hair. It’s super gentle,” says Pickthorn. This is also suitable for older clients or those dealing with a lot of frizz, too. And no matter the texture, Pickthorn has other tip for combatting dry hair: after shampooing, “put your conditioner in, let your conditioner sit for a few extra minutes, and then rinse with cooler water so you seal down the cuticle,” allowing hair to retain more of its moisture.

Best shampoo for dry chemically treated hair

Pollack says this reparative shampoo is perfect for all the “highlighted blondies out there,” explaining that the highly concentrated shampoo deeply penetrates individual strands to help rebuild damaged hair, while also maintaining your color. “Olaplex No. 4 also helps to eliminate frizz and strengthen split ends, which reduces breakage.” If you find that your hair is breaking a lot, Pickthorn suggests investing in silk pillowcases and scrunchies, which she says will put less stress on your delicate strands.

Best shampoo for dry thick hair

“This shampoo helps create shine and tame unruly frizz,” which makes it great for coarse-textured and curly hair, according to Power. It contains monoi oil and sunflower-seed extract, which will “moisturize the hair, as well as prevent your hair color from stripping.” Rankin also loves Kevin Murphy products because they are cruelty-free, and also free of sulfate and paraben. And if using the right shampoo proves not effective enough to get your dry hair back on track, she says that getting more frequent trims with a hairstylist you trust (who can give you a customized maintenance plan) is always your best bet.

Best shampoo for removing product buildup from dry hair

To remove product buildup, stylists generally recommend a clarifying shampoo, but those are probably too harsh for already dried-out locks. Shu Uemura’s Cleansing Oil Shampoo is a bit more unconventional than your normal shampoo; it “uses oils to break down dirt and buildup,” giving hair a clean feel without stripping it, according to Rasmussen.

Best shampoo for long dry hair

If you’re dealing with brittle, tangled ends while growing out your hair, Sholl says Davines Momo Shampoo is the right choice because it is “designed to untangle and hydrate hair, leaving it soft and silky with no heavy feel.” The shampoo has a lightweight gel texture that is packed with Cartucciaru Melon extract, an extremely hydrating antioxidant that contains Vitamin A and C, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc.

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The Best Shampoo for Dry Hair, According to Hairstylists