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When you're dealing with oily hair, hair washing is a daily activity. Maybe, if you're super lucky and load up on tons of dry shampoo, you can get away with skipping a day. Maybe. While there's some debate amongst experts as to whether or not daily washing is a good move or if you should try to stretch out washes in order to "retrain" your scalp, one thing is for certain: Whenever you do wash, it's in your best interest to use a shampoo specially formulated for oily hair.
Byrdie Researched & Approved
When it comes to oily hair, the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Shampoo is our top choice. Formulated with three different types of clay, its oil-absorbing and deep-cleansing prowess is unmatched. Another great affordable option is Neutrogena Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo, which gently clarifies and exfoliates the scalp to keep oil under control.
Typically lighter and containing a lower concentration of rich, hydrating ingredients, these instead focus on removing excess grease—and product residue from all that dry shampoo—to leave your hair looking and feeling fresh and clean. Similarly, they usually contain more or stronger detergents (yes, like sulfates) or exfoliating ingredients to help rid the scalp of excess oil, notes Hannah Draeger, stylist at One10 Beauty in Nashville.
To help narrow down your search, we tested out some of the most loved oil- and grease-fighting shampoos out there. Our testers used these shampoos for weeks at a time, rating each formula's texture and feel, ingredient list, and how well it actually keeps their scalps and roots in check. We then combined these results along with our own research of top-rated products to compile this list.
Keep reading to see the best shampoos for oily hair.
Best Overall: L'Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Shampoo
Doesn't strip hair
What do buyers say? 87% of 12,800+ Amazon reviewers rated this products 4 stars or above.
You’ve likely seen clay in face masks geared toward oily skin, and the ingredient can have similar benefits in haircare. More specifically, this shampoo relies on three different types of clay to absorb oil and purify roots. We know that kind of sounds like a recipe for dry, stripped hair, but on the contrary—it’s specially formulated to keep the lengths of your hair nice and hydrated. Grease-fighting while still providing your strands with much-needed moisture? Pretty impressive, which is why this drugstore pick earned the title of Best Overall.
Byrdie contributor Ashley Rubell took this shampoo for a spin, and needless to say, she was very impressed; she gave it a perfect five-star rating. She noted that it not only kept her oily roots in check, allowing her to extend her time between washes, but her ends also felt much softer and less frizzy.
Hair Type: Oily, dry | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Fresh | Size: 12.6 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Overall, Runner-Up: Kérastase Specifique Divalent Balancing Shampoo for Oily Hair
Doesn't strip hair
Another one of our all-around favorite options, this formula manages to hit that ideal balance of degreasing your roots and scalp without totally stripping and drying out the rest of your hair; credit an amino acid that’s responsible for both qualities. The shampoo also has the added benefit of imparting the ideal amount of lightweight volume to hair and leaving it soft and shiny, too.
Hair Type: Oily, dry | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Basil, freesia, sandalwood | Size: 8.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Budget: Neutrogena Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo
May be drying
This newbie has a clarifying and mildly exfoliating formula (always a good thing if you have a greasy scalp). But don’t worry, it’s still nice and gentle, and free of parabens found in many shampoos. We’d be remiss not to mention the citrusy, grapefruit scent, too—a refreshing pick-me-up on sleepy mornings.
Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Grapefruit | Size: 6 ounces, 12 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Drugstore: OGX Weightless Hydration Coconut Water Shampoo
May be drying
Rather than relying on heavy silicones and or butters, it boasts lightweight coconut water to impart just the right amount of moisture (because even if your roots get oily, your ends still need hydration). Couple that with a residue-free formula, and it’s a solid drugstore choice for anyone with oily hair.
Hair Type: Dry | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: N/A | Size: 13 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
What Our Editors Say
"This formula is one of my drugstore staples. It's sulfate-free, so I know it won't strip my hair and cause me to produce more oil, but it still leaves me with that squeaky-clean feeling. I have an oily scalp, and dry shampoo is a must for me, too, but this leaves me with the perfect canvas to extend my style for days." — Kathryn Vandervalk, Editorial & Strategy Director
Best Preventative: Paul Mitchell Shampoo Two
Minimizes future oil production
May leave fine hair limp or dry
This pick earns our vote for working in two different ways. Infused with jojoba leaf extract and white ginger, the formula aims to not only remove unwanted oil pretty much right away but also helps to minimize future oil production to tamp down greasiness over time. It’s color-safe, too, and leaves hair super shiny and voluminous.
Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Lemon | Size: 16.9 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
FYI: How you use these shampoos matters, too. “Really focus on working the shampoo into the scalp and roots since the mid-lengths and ends need less cleansing,” explains Susan Ford, Master Stylist and Creative Director at Asha Salon Spa in Chicago. Additionally, spend a little extra time under the water to ensure you thoroughly rinse out your shampoo.
Best Clarifying: WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo
Is there anything apple cider vinegar (ACV) can’t do? When it comes to your scalp and hair, its high acidity makes it choice for deeply purifying and balancing pH levels to help keep both healthy. It’s also a great astringent, which may help minimize excess oil. This formula uses raw and natural apple cider vinegar to do all of the above.
Hair Type: Dry | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Sweet apple, coconut | Size: 16.9 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
What Our Testers Say
"I was a fan of the results I got from the WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo. I did pair it with the recommended conditioner, which includes coconut oil and avocado oil, and I found that my hair was shinier, smoother, and healthier-feeling the next day." — Leigh Weingus, Product Tester
Best Clarifying, Runner-Up: Fekkai Apple Cider Detox Shampoo
Protects against environmental factors
Can use daily
Here’s another great option to reach for when your hair really needs a deep clean. We appreciate that it contains both apple cider vinegar to purify, prevent bacteria build-up, and offer anti-inflammatory benefits, along with salicylic acid to help gently exfoliate and extra dead skin cell build-up. Still, it’s gentle enough to be used daily, a good thing since it contains a proprietary environmental protection complex to shield your hair from sun and pollution.
Hair Type: Oily | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Green apple, mint | Size: 8.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Fine Hair: Pantene Pro-V Blends Micellar Shampoo
Has micellar technology
May be drying
Fine hair and oily hair go hand-in-hand: “Finer hair and hair with less texture tends to show the effects of oil more,” says Ford. Adding insult to injury, fine hair is also more likely to get weighed down by the heavy moisturizing ingredients in many shampoos. If you’re dealing with greasy, limp hair, seeking out formulas that are lighter and clearer (versus thicker and milkier looking) is a good move. This pick, in particular, utilizes Micellar Technology to clean fine hair without stripping it or weighing it down.
Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: N/A | Size: 10 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Fine Hair, Runner-Up: Pureology Pure Volume Shampoo
May be drying
Reach for this guy if you have oily hair, fine hair, or that oh-so-fun combination of both. (Oh, and it’s safe for color-treated hair, too.) In our experience, it’s ideal for completely and totally removing any excess oil or residue while also imparting tons of lift and volume at the roots and throughout the lengths of our hair.
Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Minty, herbaceous | Size: 9 ounces, 33.8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Sulfate-Free: Drunk Elephant Cocomino Glossing Shampoo
May be drying
The truth of the matter is that many clarifying shampoos for oily hair rely on a good amount of sulfates; they’re the detergent-like soaps that work to effectively de-grease. In short: They can be very harsh and stripping (not to mention a no-no for those with colored hair). If you’re searching for a sulfate-free option, try this go-to recommended by former Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue. Rather than using sulfates, it relies on coconut-based surfactants to do the hard-hitting cleansing, removing dirt, products, and oil while imparting plenty of softness and shine. Plus, unlike many other sulfate-free shampoos, this still lathers beautifully.
Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: N/A | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for a Combination Scalp: SheaMoisture African Black Soap Bamboo Charcoal Deep Cleansing Shampoo
May be drying
Just like you can have combination skin, you can also have a combination scalp. (Telltale signs included both oily and dry patches or having either one at different times of the year.) When that’s the case, you want a shampoo that’s going to effectively remove the excess oil, but not make any dryness worse—this one does exactly that. The formula is infused with charcoal and willow bark extract, a natural precursor to oil-dissolving salicylic acid, and for the dry parts, there’s balancing and skin-soothing tea tree oil.
Hair Type: Curly | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Bamboo charcoal | Size: 13 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Shampoo Alternative: GIRL+HAIR CLEAR+ Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Rinse
If you’re trying to stretch out the time in between shampoos, but dry shampoo just isn’t cutting it, try this rinse instead. You use it like you would a shampoo, though rather than being detergent-based, it instead relies on acidic apple cider vinegar to remove oil and balance the pH of both your hair and scalp. The formula also boasts rice water with strengthening proteins and works as an effective detangler, too.
Hair Type: Wavy, curly, chemically-treated | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Apple | Size: 10.1 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Dandruff: First Aid Beauty Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Has pyrithione zinc
Dandruff is a complicated condition with a variety of factors that come into play. But to put it simply, oil is one of the major factors, and those dealing with dandruff often tend to have an oilier scalp and hair as well. Enter this shampoo, which uses pyrithione zinc (one of the best flake-fighting ingredients there is) while also soothing the scalp and leaving hair smooth and shiny. And true to brand fashion, the formula is safe for sensitive skin with naturally-derived fragrance.
Hair Type: Dandruff | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Tropical | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Long-Lasting Oil Control: Klorane Oil Control 2-in-1 Mask Shampoo
May be drying
If shampoo alone just isn’t cutting it, consider working this into your routine. As the name suggests, it’s part mask, part shampoo, but we like to think of it as more of a treatment product than anything else. It’s meant to be used weekly, in place of shampoo, for two months; all you have to do is mix the powder with water (it transforms into foam), and let it sit on your scalp for one to two minutes. Organic nettle and clay help combat excess oil and keep it under control for up to 48 hours, making this the ideal heavy-hitter to try when your hair is feeling super oily.
Hair Type: Oily | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: N/A | Size: 3 grams per sachet | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Natural: Reverie Suna Exfoliating Shampoo
Doesn't strip hair
This one earns our vote both for boasting a squeaky clean ingredient list and being gently exfoliating. It's a good one to help remove excess build-up, be it from too much oil, product residue, dead skin, or all of the above. Namely, hibiscus flower extract does the gently exfoliating part, while Moroccan lava clay helps pull out sebum and impurities. Still, there’s also hydrating sodium hyaluronate in the mix to keep both scalp and hair balanced. We also love the fresh and woodsy scent that is derived entirely from natural essential oils.
Hair Type: Balanced, oily | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Woodsy, minty | Size: 8.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
For anyone and everyone with oily hair, the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Shampoo is a surefire pick, boasting three different types of clay that work wonders when it comes to sopping up excess oil from the start. It’s just one of many affordable options that work wonders when it comes to deep cleansing greasy hair. We’re also big fans of the Neutrogena Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo, OGX Weightless Hydration Coconut Water Shampoo, and Pantene Pro-V Blends Micellar Shampoo. (The latter is also great for those with fine hair.) And if you’re battling both excess oil and flakes, try the classic First Aid Beauty Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, which is effective yet still gentle on both scalp and hair.
Meet the Expert
What to Look for in a Shampoo for Oily Hair
Clarifying or Rebalancing Formulas
"This terminology indicates that the shampoo contains higher amounts of cleansing and exfoliating ingredients, which ultimately will help better rid your scalp of excess oil," says Draeger.
"While you can totally go sulfate-free if you prefer, this is one instance where a shampoo that does contain sulfates may be a good idea, simply given that they're better at providing a deep clean," says Ford.
How much shampoo should you use on oily hair?
The correct amount of shampoo varies depending on your hair length, but getting it right is crucial; you want to end up with clean hair and minimal product waste. Use this guide: Those with short hair should use a nickel-sized amount; for medium hair, aim for a quarter amount; and for long or thick hair, use a half-dollar amount.
How often should you wash oily hair?
According to hairstylist Sal Salcedo, it’s best to shampoo twice in a row instead of washing your hair more frequently. This provides a more thorough cleanse, allows you to go longer between shampoos, and minimizes oil without stripping.
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. Her hair is both fine and oily (as in, she has to wash it every day kind of oily), so she’s extremely familiar with and has used many of the oily shampoos on the market. Among the ones on this list, the Pantene and Drunk Elephant options are currently in her shower.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough shampoos for oily hair from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.
Gavazzoni Dias MF, Pichler J, Adriano A, Cecato P, de Almeida A. The shampoo pH can affect the hair: Myth or Reality? Int J Trichol. 2014;6(3):95. doi: 10.4103/0974-7753.139078