These 13 Shampoos Are the Secret to Having a Good Hair Day

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In the (seemingly neverending) quest for good hair, it’s important not to underestimate the importance of a good shampoo. Forget extensive styling protocols consisting of multiple products or tech-y hot tools: Good—no, great hair starts in the shower.

In fact, choosing the right shampoo can help you address your specific hair woes or needs or can help you avoid potential irritants and hair-damaging ingredients. It’s also essential to choose a shampoo that works with any coloring or treatments you may have.

Maybe you never pay much attention and just grab whatever bottle of shampoo is in front of you at the drugstore, or perhaps, you’ve been devoted to the same salon brand since high school and have never tried many of the new iterations that have launched since then. Either way, we strongly advise you to stock your shower with any of these top picks, which offer a little something for everyone.

Keep reading for the best shampoos on the market.

Best Overall: R+Co Television Perfect Hair Shampoo

R+Co
What We Like
  • Soothes the scalp

  • Boosts shine

  • Strengthing

What We Don't Like
  • Strong scent

There’s truly nothing that this all-star sudser, a favorite of Byrdie's former Senior Social Media Manager Kelly Gallagher, can’t do. It helps moisturize both hair and scalp (thanks to ingredients such as babassu seed oil and glycerin) and imparts volume and shine, all while smoothing, softening, and strengthening your hair. In short, it leaves your hair looking commercial-ready after every wash.

Hair Type: Wavy, curly, coily | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Original | Size: 8 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Budget: Climaplex Moisture & Repair Shampoo

Climaplex Moisture & Repair Shampoo

Target

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Lathers well

  • Hydrating

What We Don’t Like
  • Can be heavy for finer hair

Everything from the packaging to the formula of this pick feels much more high-end than its under $10 price tag. It touts a proprietary technology that helps to repair damaged protein bonds and strengthen the cuticle, the outer layer of the hair (and also guards against environmental damage, too). The shampoo lathers beautifully even though it’s sulfate-free, rinses cleanly, and leaves hair feeling more moisturized, even before you reach for conditioner.

Hair Type: Dry, damaged | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Clean | Size: 13.5 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Drugstore: Pantene Pro-V Blends Micellar Shampoo

Pantene Pro-V Blends Micellar Shampoo

 Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Deeply cleanses

  • Helps control excess oil

What We Don't Like
  • Contains sulfates

You’ve seen micellar waters in the skincare aisle; this shampoo works by the same mechanism of action. Tiny micelles act like magnets to attach to and whisk away dirt and oil yet are gentle enough to not over strip your hair. It’s a staple in our showers, leaving our hair feeling and looking completely clean every time. Plus, you can nab a big ol’ bottle of it at the drugstore for cheap.

Hair Type: Fine, thin | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Fresh | Size: 10.1 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Drugstore, Runner-Up: Herbal Essences Avocado & Argan Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Herbal Essences Avocado & Argan Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Walmart

What We Like
  • Nourishing

  • Smells good

  • Affordable

What We Don’t Like
  • Can be heavy for finer hair

The staple drugstore brand continues to make standout haircare, and this shampoo is no exception. Avocado oil, argan oil, and aloe make it extra hydrating and nourishing. It’s also sulfate-free, cruelty-free, and in true Herbal Essences fashion, it smells absolutely delightful.

Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Citrusy | Size: 13.5 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Damaged Hair: Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo

5
Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo
What We Like
  • Strengthens

  • Lathers well

  • Softens and smooths

What We Don't Like
  • Can be a little drying

This is a staple for Byrdie Editorial Director Hallie Gould, thanks to its deeply reparative prowess. Like its in-salon treatment counterpart, it contains ingredients that work to repair broken protein bonds in your hair. Translation? Hair becomes softer, smoother, and generally looks and feels better. Another plus: The formula is sulfate-free, so it shouldn't strip much-needed moisture, and Gould points out that it’s the only sulfate-free shampoo she’s found that lathers well.

Hair Type: Color-treated, damaged | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Original | Size: 3.3 fl. oz. or 8.5 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Volumizing: Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Volumizing Shampoo

Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Volumizing Shampoo

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Smells good

  • Volumizes

What We Don't Like
  • Watery texture

Got limp hair? Shampoo choice is even more crucial for you than for most. Yes, you need something that’s going to effectively clean—fine hair tends to be naturally oilier—but the last thing you want is a formula that’s going to further weigh down your hair. Enter this pick.

The formula relies on ginseng to help make hair look fuller and boost it long-term. And speaking of instant gratification, it also contains a sugar starch that thickens hair, so it looks more voluminous as soon as you step out of the shower.

Hair Type: Fine, thin | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Floral | Size: 8 fl. oz. or 33.8 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Curly Hair: GIRL+HAIR CLEANSE+ Water-To-Foam Moisturizing Sulfate Free Shampoo For Curly Hair

Girl + Hair Cleanse+ Water-to-Foam Moisturizing Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Curly Hair

 Courtesy of Sally Beauty

What We Like
  • Softens and smooths

  • Soothes the scalp

  • Female-owned brand

What We Don't Like
  • Could be more hydrating

Curly hair undoubtedly requires a little extra TLC and calls for carefully chosen products, shampoo included. This is a surefire pick, specially formulated for curly, kinky, coiled, and natural hair. Sulfate-, alcohol-, and paraben-free, this pick helps curls retain moisture with shea butter and even has tea tree oil to help address scalp issues.

Hair Type: Wavy, curly, coily | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Tea tree | Size: 10.1 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Curly Hair, Runner-Up: Pattern Beauty Clarifying Shampoo

Pattern Clarifying Shampoo

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Smells good

  • Deeply cleanses

  • Strengthens

What We Don’t Like
  • Shouldn’t be used daily

This option is especially good for those with curly, kinky, or coily hair who need an extra deep clean. It’s intended for type 3 and 4 curls, helping to remove even the most stubborn product residue from the scalp and hair without stripping the natural moisture that’s oh-so-important for curly hair. It also contains panthenol, for strengthening purposes.

Hair Type: Curly, kinky, coily | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Floral | Size: 7.8 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Sensitive Skin: SEEN Skin-Caring Fragrance-Free Shampoo

Seen Skin-Caring Fragrance-Free Shampoo

Ulta

What We Like
  • Soothes the scalp

  • Dermatologist-designed

  • Safe for sensitive skin

What We Don't Like
  • Could be more hydrating

We know what you’re thinking—this is a shampoo story; why are we talking about skin? Well, not only is your scalp skin, but shampoo can also be the culprit behind all kinds of skin issues, from breakouts to weird rashes. That’s why we think this pick is so excellent; the dermatologist-designed shampoo is non-comedogenic (so it shouldn't clog pores) and is formulated without a long list of possible skin irritants. But don’t worry, it still does a superb job as a shampoo. Filed under: Why didn’t we think of that?

Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: None | Size: 8.6 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for All Hair Types: Alterna My Hair My Canvas Me Time Everyday Shampoo

Alterna
What We Like
  • Smells good

  • Balances hair and scalp

  • Strengthens

What We Don't Like
  • Could be more hydrating

Consider this a foolproof, universal crowd-pleaser. It checks all of our shampoo criteria boxes, effectively cleansing while potentially strengthening hair with a vegan, botanically-derived, protein-rich caviar and delivering protective antioxidants to boot. Happy reviewers note that it tends to work just as well on fine, thin hair as it does kinky curls, and we’d be remiss, not to mention the clean, fresh scent we can’t get enough of. 

Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Original | Size: 8.5 fl. oz. or 16.5 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Oily Hair: Kérastase Specifique Divalent Balancing Shampoo for Oily Hair

Kérastase Specifique Divalent Balancing Shampoo for Oily Hair

Sephora

What We Like
  • Deeply cleanses

  • Smells good

  • Boosts shine

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

This sudser truly strikes the ideal balance between removing excess oil without ever stripping the hair. More specifically, it works to break down oil on your roots and scalp but still imparts plenty of hydration through the mid-lengths and ends. The result? Hair that’s more voluminous, non-greasy, and still totally soft and shiny. The fresh scent is just a bonus.

Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Fresh, herbal | Size: 8.5 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Color-Treated Hair: Pureology Hydrate Shampoo

Pureology Hydrate Shampoo

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Safe for color-treated hair

  • Smells good

  • Concentrated formula

What We Don’t Like
  • Can be heavy for finer hair

If you color your hair, opting for a dedicated, color-safe shampoo is a must when it comes to safeguarding your shade. Not only is this one sulfate-free, but it also contains a unique antifade complex that relies on sunflower seed oil and a UV filter to ward off sun-induced color changes. Per the name, it’s also very thick and creamy, imparting lots of moisture. And while it is a bit more expensive, it is super concentrated; a little goes a long way, and you can get up to 75+ uses from just one bottle.

Hair Type: Balanced to thick | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Herbal | Size: 9 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Frizzy Hair: Living Proof No Frizz Shampoo

Living Proof No Frizz Shampoo

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Works in just one wash

  • Safe for color- and chemically-treated hair

  • Softens and smooths

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

Combat errant flyaways with this shampoo. It smooths hair after just one wash, thanks to jojoba esters that work to help block out frizz-inducing humidity. And instead of relying on sulfates to do the cleansing (which can end up stripping out moisture and, ironically, causing more frizz), this uses an amino cleaning complex to effectively remove dirt, oil, and product residue.

Hair Type: Balanced to thick | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Citrus | Size: 8 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

No matter your hair type or concern, there’s a good shampoo out there for you. Two of our top must-haves are the R+ Co Television Perfect Hair Shampoo and the Alterna My Hair My Canvas Me Time Everyday Shampoo; the former has the distinction of moisturizing, volumizing, and adding shine, while the latter is a universally foolproof pick for all hair types. There are also plenty of great shampoos to be found at the drugstore—the Pantene Pro-V Blends Micellar Shampoo and CLIMAPLEX Moisture & Repair Shampoo are two amazing options if you’re on a budget. If you have curly hair, keep in mind that it’s best to choose a shampoo specifically made for your curls, like the GIRL+ HAIR CLEANSE+ Water-To-Foam Moisturizing Sulfate Free Shampoo for Curly Hair.

What to Look For in a Shampoo

Targeted Ingredients

Choose a shampoo that targets your specific hair type and concerns. There are varieties for all sorts of issues, whether you need volume, moisture, curl-enhancement, oil, or frizz control. Some shampoos offer strengthening with special botanicals or proteins like keratin.

If you have a condition such as scalp psoriasis or dandruff, choose a shampoo with active ingredients that help prevent it, such as salicylic acid for the former and zinc pyrithione for the latter.

Gentle Formulations

Popular ingredients in shampoo can actually damage your hair, stripping it of its natural oils and leaving it prone to breakage. One of these ingredient types is sulfates, including sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate, which are chemical detergents that can remove too much of your hair's protective oils and moisture.

You may also wish to avoid parabens, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. The FDA has not banned the use of parabens or determined that they lead to cancer but says more research is warranted.

Some people are more sensitive to fragrances than others. Fragrances might lead to irritation and dandruff in some susceptible people. Choosing essential oil-based scents or avoiding perfumed shampoos might be your best bet in that case.

Color and Treatment Safe

If you color or treat your hair, look for a shampoo that won't counteract your results. Some shampoos will fade color-treated hair, and others are too harsh to use with treatments like keratin or relaxing. Avoid sulfates, sarcosines like sodium lauryl sarcosinate, and sulfosuccinates in particular.

FAQ
  • What is shampoo?

    Shampoo is a cleanser that removes dirt, oil, hair product build-up, pollutants, and sweat. Surfactants are present in shampoo, which are surface-acting agents that react with water and help to break down dirt and oil.

  • What shampoos are bad for hair?

    Some shampoos are harmful to hair because they contain ingredients that can strip it of its natural oils and moisture, leaving hair dry and brittle and prone to breakage. Depending on your hair type and needs, some ingredients that may be best avoided include sulfates, parabens, polyethylene glycols, triclosan, formaldehyde, synthetic fragrances and colors, dimethicone, and retinyl palmitate.

  • Can I use conditioner without shampoo?

    Some people prefer to use conditioner without shampoo, at least some of the time. This may work for some, especially if you find shampooing too frequently leaves your hair dry. Some people use an apple cider vinegar or baking soda rinse before conditioning. However, never using shampoo might leave you with too much oil and product build-up in your hair.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She will try pretty much any shampoo she can get her hands on, which means that there are at least five or six different options in her shower at all times, including many of the ones featured on this list.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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  2. Aziz ZAA, Mohd-Nasir H, Ahmad A, et al. Role of Nanotechnology for Design and Development of Cosmeceutical: Application in Makeup and Skin CareFront Chem. 2019;7:739. doi:10.3389/fchem.2019.00739

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  7. Arianto A, Cindy C. Preparation and Evaluation of Sunflower Oil Nanoemulsion as a SunscreenOpen Access Maced J Med Sci. 2019;7(22):3757-3761. Published 2019 Nov 14. doi:10.3889/oamjms.2019.497

  8. Blakely K, Gooderham M. Management of scalp psoriasis: current perspectivesPsoriasis (Auckl). 2016;6:33-40. doi:10.2147/PTT.S85330

  9. Borda LJ, Wikramanayake TC. Seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff: a comprehensive reviewJ Clin Investig Dermatol. 2015;3(2):10.13188/2373-1044.1000019.

  10. D’Souza P, Rathi SK. Shampoo and conditioners: What a dermatologist should know? Indian Journal of Dermatology. 2015;60(3):248.

  11. Paraben content in adjacent normal-malignant breast tissues from women with breast cancer. Biomedical and Environmental Sciences. 2019;32(12):893-904.

  12. Nutrition C for FS and A. Parabens in cosmetics. FDA.

  13. Contact dermatitis - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic.

  14. 8 ingredients to avoid in your shampoo and conditioner. Genesis College.

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