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The 18 Very Best Shampoos for Fine Hair

With specific picks for volumizing, texturizing, moisturizing, and more.

Photo: Marcus McDonald
Photo: Marcus McDonald

In this article

I have fine hair, and it’s hard not to burn with envy when a friend tells me they only have to wash their hair “once a week or so.” As I have smaller, less porous strands of hair (which often betray me by glistening with oil at the root mere hours after washing), it feels like I’m stuck in a constant time loop of washing and drying my hair — and that’s before I even factor in the time spent trying to will some body into it.

But fine hair doesn’t have to be a nuisance. In fact, hairstylist Marco Santini notes that the correct shampoo is all you need to keep fine hair looking its best: “You want a good shampoo, and that’s it.” However, I know tracking down the perfect formula takes time (I’ve tried plenty) — especially if your fine hair is dyed, damaged, or curly. To help speed up the process, we turned to Santini and eleven other experts to find the best shampoos for all types of fine hair. I then tested several of their picks to find the best shampoos for all fine-hair types. Below are their picks, which include shampoos for texturizing and volumizing fine hair as well as those formulated for chemically treated hair and to help remove product buildup (plus a Strategist-favorite shampoo that costs less than 10 bucks).

What we’re looking for

Sulfate free vs. non–sulfate free

When we reported on the best sulfate-free shampoos, the experts we spoke with explained that sulfates are essentially detergents in the surfactant family that give shampoo that satisfying lather. Some hairstylists advise steering clear of them, especially if you have damaged hair (since they can be stripping) or if your skin is sensitive to them. However, sulfates are highly effective at cleaning your hair and scalp, especially if you have oily hair or product buildup, which are problems that often affect fine hair, so an argument can be made for both sulfate-free and non-sulfate-free shampoos. Whatever your preference, you’ll see I’ve noted throughout which shampoo falls into each category.

Scent

Like any beauty product, shampoo is often scented. Since there’s nothing worse than having a cloud of fragrance you hate follow you around all day, I’ve noted the scents of each shampoo below.

Size

If budget is an important factor, you’ll want to keep an eye on the total ounces of shampoo you’re getting per dollar.

Best shampoo for fine hair overall

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Fresh | Size: 8.45 oz.

Some context about my hair: I’ve been using Olaplex for two years to repair some lockdown bleach damage. Recently, my main focus is on finding a shampoo that will help add some oomph to my flat hair. I’ve been curious about the Volu shampoo since Rio Viera-Newton (who also has fine hair) recommended it. I’ve now been using the Volu for a few months, and it hasn’t disappointed. When I let my hair air-dry, it’s less limp, and when I make the effort to blow-dry, I can clearly see the bounce all the way from the root.

Brooke Jordan, owner and master stylist at the Bird House in Gowanus, told me that the shampoo is a favorite of his as it’s free of parabens and sulfates, gentle enough to use every day, and detangles the hair so you don’t need to use conditioner (though if your hair is superlong, he suggests using a very small amount of conditioner on just the ends to get rid of knots; otherwise, he says, skip it altogether). Jordan also told me that regardless of how often you wash, “dry shampoo really is a good friend, even on clean hair — it can give you more volume and texture.” So I’ve been pairing the Volu with my favorite dry shampoo, and now I only need to wash it once or twice a week.

Best less expensive shampoo for fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Fruity | Size: 12 oz.

For a quarter of the price of the Davines Volu Shampoo, you can get this bottle of sulfate-free shampoo from Monday, a popular New Zealand–based hair-care line that Strategist writer Dominique Pariso has sworn by since purchasing it close to a year ago. “My hair is very oily, and while I’ve tried lots of expensive shampoos before — from Oribe to Sachajuan — this is the only one that ever gets my hair compliments,”  says Pariso. “It adds a good amount of body and, most important, a lot of shine without weighing my hair down or making it look greasy (and for only $7 a bottle at that).”

Best clarifying shampoo for fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Fresh | Size: 6.3 oz.

Fiona Guidice, owner of Fiona Hair NYC, recommends periodically washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove product buildup. This keeps your hair from getting weighed down and keeps your scalp clean and healthy, she adds, noting that “a healthy scalp grows healthy hair.” She’s a fan of this charcoal-infused shampoo from IGK, which she calls “a beautiful, low-maintenance line.” It contains tea-tree oil and witch hazel to soothe the scalp.

Best less-expensive clarifying shampoo for fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Non-sulfate free | Scent: Floral | Size: 10.5 oz.

Stylist and color expert Gregory Patterson recommends using a clarifying shampoo about once a week to minimize buildup. This one from Ion is “a gentle powerhouse” that should give your hair a “total detoxifying reboot,” he says. And it costs more than three times less per ounce than the IGK shampoo.

Best volumizing shampoo for fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Fruity, woodsy | Size: 8.5 oz. 

“Dallas Thickening Shampoo by R+Co not only works magic on fine hair. It has a heavenly scent as well,” says Fred Connors, owner and creative director of FRED Salon. It’s formulated with biotin to increase hair strength, vitamin B5 to add luster, and saw palmetto for extra body, making it perfect for anyone with fine hair who wants “bombshell volume” when they blow-dry. To maintain that volume on day two (or three), Connors suggests an old-school trick: “Pull hair into a ponytail or bun on the very top of your head and secure with a scrunchie — do not use an elastic, as it can bend hair and make it look weird when you let it down in the morning.”

Jordan’s other big fine-hair-care tip is to schedule frequent haircuts. Since it’s smaller in diameter, fine hair tends to be fragile and thus more breakable. “Think of it like a branch — a thick branch is harder to snap,” she says. Frequent haircuts means removing dead weight and maintaining shape, which all can make your hair more lightweight and, therefore, increase its volume.

Best texturizing shampoo for fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Non-sulfate free | Scent: Fresh | Size: 8.4 oz. 

Jordan loves using Sachajuan Ocean Mist Volume Shampoo to add serious texture to fine hair. “The shampoo gives your hair structure and maintains strength without stripping it of its essential proteins,” she says. If you really want to amp up texture, she recommends using this shampoo and letting your hair dry, then styling it with the Ocean Mist sea-salt spray, which, unlike many other sea-salt sprays on the market, uses sugar as well as salt to keep hair from drying out (and to give it a little extra grit).

Best shampoo for thinning fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Non-sulfate free | Scent: Lemon, basil, fir with notes of florals, herbs, patchouli, vanilla, and amber | Size: 10.1 oz.

If your hair is both fine and thinning, trichologist Rochelle Hunter Mosley likes this shampoo from Paul Mitchell. With thinning hair, the shampoo you use is extremely important, because you need it to add body and volume as well as shine — something this one delivers, she says. It contains a blend of growth-stimulating ingredients like kakadu plum, pea peptides, clover flower, turmeric, and ginseng. “It lathers and cleans extremely well,” adds Mosley.

Best thickening shampoo for fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Slightly floral | Size: 8.4 oz.

Siobhan Benson of CutLoose BK likes this clay that, once combined with water, develops into a lightly scented foam. “This product is marketed to men but works great for anyone with thinning hair,” says Benson. “With a high concentration of pure rhassoul clay, known for being high in minerals and calcium, it absorbs impurities that clog the scalp while the Tahitian algae adds density and detoxifies.” You just need to lather a quarter-size amount into wet hair to see a difference and encourage long-term growth.

Best plumping shampoo for fine hair

Kevin Murphy Plumping Wash
$35
$35

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Botanical | Size: 8.4 oz.

Maria Elizabeth Burns, founder of Salon deZEN, is a “lover and advocate” of Kevin Murphy’s Plumping Wash. She says the formula adds shine, thickness, and volume in a way that’s almost “miraculous.” Plus the whole bottle is recyclable.

Best shampoos for oily and fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Fresh | Size: 8 oz. 

One of the trickiest parts of caring for fine hair is figuring out how often to wash it. “It’s easy to say that you shouldn’t wash your hair very often, but a lot of my clients with fine hair tell me it drives them crazy to wait too long,” says Jordan. If your hair is super-oily, to the point that you must shampoo every day, Gregorio Ruggeri of Salon Ruggeri suggests New Wash. “My clients who have fine hair and wash their hair every day have found the right type of body-boosting components from using New Wash,” he says. New Wash is technically a shampoo-and-conditioner replacement, which means it’s more like an essential-oil-based hair cleanser that washes hair without any suds. It’s formulated without detergents or synthetic compounds, doesn’t dry hair out, and leaves hair conditioned and tangle-free. Because it’s a two-in-one product, it’s no-fuss and ideal for someone looking for a streamline, low-maintenance routine. For those who need more convincing, former Strategist writer Molly Young gave the shampoo a ringing endorsement, writing, “The results are wild. My long hair air-dries perfectly, with no ‘squeaky’ texture. It is shiny and falls in loose waves, like it did when I was a kid. I don’t need to blow-dry it. My chronic flaky scalp is gone forever.”

Best shampoo for dry fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Herbal | Size: 6.7 oz. 

Just because fine hair tends to get oily at the roots doesn’t mean it can’t be dry at the tips. If you feel like you need to pump up the moisture, take the advice of Connors, who likes the “luxurious” formula of the Sisley Paris Revitalizing Volumizing Shampoo, because it is chock full of vitamins and minerals to nourish and protect your hair and scalp — including magnesium, zinc, and vitamins B5 and B6. It contains camellia oil, which he says “makes your hair feel like silk without weighing it down.” And although his shampoo is the most expensive on our list, Connors assures me that a little goes a long way.

Best less expensive shampoo for dry fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Floral | Size: 8.5 oz.

Meanwhile, stylist Jon Carlos De La Cruz recommends this cheaper option for those dealing with dry ends. “This is simply a great shampoo for fine hair,” he says. “I recommend always starting with a clarifying shampoo and getting rid of dead cells and buildup, and then using this hydrating shampoo afterward.” Ingredients like keratin protein and argan oil work to repair dry and brittle ends, and the formula is entirely sulfate and paraben-free. Although it’s not necessarily a budget option, De La Cruz advises using the product sparingly (“a little bit goes a long way here,” he says), meaning your bottle will last.

Best shampoo for limp fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Juniper berry, lavender, pine, and cedarwood | Size: 8.5 oz. 

Samantha Musco, founder of Beautébar, calls this color-safe Oribe shampoo “perfect for fine, limp hair,” because “it creates weightless moisture while plumping the hair shaft to create a voluminous appearance.” Jordan is also a fan. “Oribe’s Volume line is my favorite for fine hair,” she says. “It works wonders for building body.” She likes to pair it with the brand’s Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse, which helps hair to keep its body and shape.

Best shampoo for growing out fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Herbal | Size: 10 oz. 

If you’re looking to grow out your fine hair to a Rapunzel-level length, Ruggeri says that Act+Acre Cold Processed Hair Cleanse “helps nurture the growing process.” The formula is rich in vitamins and antioxidants like rosemary, which stimulates circulation in the scalp and promotes healthy hair follicles, helping hair grow longer and stronger from the root. It contains vetiver, lavender, and amaranth oil, all of which strengthen and moisturize the hair shaft, helping to keep it from breaking as it grows.

Best shampoo for chemically treated fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Coconut | Size: 8 oz.

When clients with chemically treated fine hair ask Ruggeri for a shampoo that will help build and protect their hair without making it flat, he told us he always gives the same answer. “Hands down, I always respond with Virtue Recovery shampoo and conditioner,” he says, explaining that the shampoo works by filling in cracks in the cuticle caused by damage from heat, chemicals, and color treatments. Plus the formula is lightweight enough to give fine strands lift and body without weighing them down.

Best shampoo for curly fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Citrus | Size: 8.45 oz. 

Angela Taormino, of Brooklyn-based Union Beauty Salon, always recommends Eufora Curl’n Enhancing Shampoo to her clients who have curly fine hair. The shampoo uses tomato extract to enhance the curl while gently cleansing curly hair, which has a tendency to be dry, she explains. Taormino adds that the formula is color-safe and can be used daily without stripping hair or leaving it feeling over-shampooed.

Best clarifying shampoo for fine curly hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Almond | Size: 12 oz.

“Sometimes you need a good and gentle cleansing of the palate,” says Patterson. For those with curly fine hair, he recommends the sister product to the previously mentioned ID shampoo: This one is specifically formulated for those with curly, coily, or frizzy hair types. “It works by removing any product buildup, freeing your fine hair curls from the constraints of oils, silicones, waxes, and butters,” he says. “This helps your hair receive moisture, which helps spring your curls into action.”

Best shampoo for tangle-prone fine hair

Sulfate-free vs. non-sulfate free: Sulfate-free | Scent: Sweet and nutty | Size 8.5 oz.

Strategist writer Katherine Gillespie began using Bumble and Bumble’s new Invisible Oil Shampoo after the brand sent her a bottle, and she noticed that it immediately made a difference in her hair, which she describes as very fine, straight, and tangly. Because she currently has a “very fussy razor cut with a lot of shaggy layers,” she finds that most shampoos make her hair too dry and fluffy. But the Bumble and Bumble shampoo is “so lightweight yet moisturizing that I can use it every couple of days with no problem, and my hair always looks great afterward — I just air dry it, and I always get compliments,” she says. Even though this shampoo is free of sulfates, Gillespie reports that it lathers in an “extremely satisfying way,” leaving her hair feeling “clean but not squeaky” and not dry or fluffy, which she attributes to its eponymous blend of “invisible oil” — including grapeseed, sweet-almond, coconut, safflower, macadamia, and argan oils.

Some more shampoos for fine hair we’ve written about

Our experts

• Siobhan Benson, founder of CutLoose BK
• Maria Elizabeth Burns, owner of Salon deZEN
• Fred Connors, owner and creative director of FRED Salon
Jon Carlos De La Cruz, stylist
• Katherine Gillespie, Strategist writer
• Fiona Guidice, owner of Fiona Hair NYC
• Brooke Jordan, owner and master stylist at the Bird House
• Rochelle Hunter Mosley, trichologist
• Samantha Musco, hairstylist and founder of Beautébar
Gregory Patterson, stylist and color expert
• Gregorio Ruggeri, hairstylist and founder of Salon Ruggeri
• Marco Santini, hairstylist
• Angela Taormino, hairstylist at Union Beauty Salon

Additional reporting by Dominique Pariso and Tembe Denton-Hurst.

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The 18 Very Best Shampoos for Fine Hair