If you have really oily hair, hair washing may very well be a daily activity for you. Maybe, if you're super lucky and load up on tons of dry shampoo, you can get away with skipping a day. 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.
Typically lighter and containing a lower concentration of rich, hydrating ingredients, these formulas instead focus on removing excess grease—and product buildup 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.
In order to determine which shampoos for oily hair we recommend, we conducted hours of research and tested out some of the most loved oil- and grease-fighting shampoos. Our testers used these shampoos for six weeks, evaluating each formula's texture and feel, how well it removed excess oil, and how it make their hair look and feel in general. Those that performed best appear on this list.
Nécessaire The Shampoo
Provides deep cleanse without stripping
Known for chic branding and elevated formulas, Nécessaire has nailed it yet again with this shampoo. Though a fragrance-free shampoo might sound boring to some people, it’s a dream for those who are headache-prone, suffer from allergies, or prefer their perfumes to be the star of the show. The texture of the formula is rich and gel-like, and we were incredibly impressed by how well it lathers. Just mild massaging of the scalp will produce a creamy bunch of bubbles, making for a sensorial experience as you cleanse your hair and scalp.
The list of things we love about this shampoo is long, but at the top is just how well it cleanses excess oil and product buildup from both the scalp and the lengths of the hair. It works to break down grease, sweat, dry shampoo, and even hair oil and leave-in products applied to the strands. Though many shampoos that provide such a deep cleanse feel incredibly stripping on the skin and often suck the life (and moisture) out of the hair, this one doesn’t. Perhaps that’s because it’s formulated with nourishing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and mild plant surfactants. It effectively gets the job done while maintaining a comfortable and balanced feel on the scalp—it even leaves the hair feeling light, fluffy, and incredibly soft. We could sing the praises of this formula even more, but let’s leave it at this: it’s extremely effective, fragrance-free, color and keratin safe, and compared to other similar options, fairly priced.
Price at time of publish: $28
Hair Type: All | Size: 250 ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Kristin Ess Deep Clean Clarifying Shampoo
Effectively removes excess oil without stripping
Light, pleasant scent
Could lather better
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly shampoo that will give your oily hair a good cleanse, we recommend this one. It contains a proprietary strengthening complex that helps to smooth the appearance of damaged strands, and we love that it works to cut grease and grime without overdrying the hair. Though it’s suitable for all hair types, the texture is really lightweight, making it particularly easy to massage through fine hair. This is a formula that you’ll probably want to shampoo twice with because it doesn’t lather all that well on the first shampoo—but once it cuts through the initial layer of grime, it lathers beautifully on the second shampoo.
We love that it manages to deeply clean the scalp and hair without over-stripping and causing significant dryness or irritation. It leaves the hair feeling soft and clean and looking shiny. And if you prefer shampoos that aren’t overly fragranced, you’ll also appreciate that this one has just a light floral scent.
Price at time of publish: $13
Hair Type: All | Size: 296 ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Bumble and bumble Sunday Shampoo
Effectively cleanses oil and buildup
Helps prolong the period between washes
Comes in several sizes
Is a bit drying
There are regular showers, and then there are those showers where you do it all—we’re talking shaving, deep cleansing, a hair mask, etc. This perfectly named shampoo is ideal for when you need a complete reset for your hair—something you might try to achieve as part of your do-it-all routine if you have some extra time on Sundays. It’s a clarifying formula that works to completely rid your hair of grease, product buildup, and pollution that could be coming from your water or environment. While it might be a bit too harsh for everyday use, it’s fantastic achieving a super deep clean.
The formula contains ginseng root and sage leaf extract to cleanse, as well as rosemary extract to stimulate the scalp. It creates a nice lather with minimal effort required, and it absolutely does what it claims to do. One of our testers even noted that it cleaned her oily scalp so well she was able to go one to two days longer than usual in between washes. The caveat to this is that it can be drying on the strands, so we recommend applying a nourishing hair mask to the lengths of your hair after shampooing. Considering how effective it is, how easy it is to lather and rinse out of the hair, and the fact that it comes in multiple sizes, we highly recommend this shampoo from Bumble and Bumble.
Price at time of publish: $16, $30, $86
Hair Type: All | Size: 60, 236, 1000 ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Ouai Detox Shampoo
Effectively removes product buildup and oil
Comes in recyclable packaging
Comes in several sizes including a refill
Smells like apple cider vinegar
Is a bit drying on the lengths of the hair
If you use dry shampoo consistently, it’s important to ensure that your hair-washing routine is effectively getting rid of the remnants every once in a while. Why? Because buildup can contribute to a greasy scalp. This clarifying formula works to purify and detoxify the scalp by washing away buildup and grease. It contains apple cider vinegar which aids its purifying capabilities, but some people find that the scent from it is pretty unpleasant. If the scent doesn’t bother you, then we think you’ll love this formula.
The texture is rich and creates a smooth lather, and it’s meant to be left on in the shower for a few minutes to fully work its magic. Once you rinse it out, your hair will be left feeling squeaky clean. Admittedly, it is a bit drying, so this is another shampoo that we recommend following up with a deep conditioner. Though it’s a bit drying on the lengths of the hair, it doesn’t leave the scalp feeling stripped or irritated. Another thing we love about this shampoo is that it comes in fully recyclable packaging as well as a range of sizes, including a large refill size. So if you’re trying to adopt a more sustainable hair care routine, this shampoo will get bonus points in your book.
Price at time of publish: $14, $32, $40, $64
Hair Type: xx | Size: 89, 300, 474, 946 ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Shaz & Kiks Balancing Clay Hair Cleanser
Cleanses oil without stripping
Enhances curl shape
Prolongs period between washes
Exfoliating bits can be tricky to rinse out
People with curly hair are often more prone to dryness—but there are exceptions, and using leave-in products and dry shampoo can contribute to buildup and grime. So if you have curly hair or you just prefer a shampoo that’s a bit more gentle than other clarifying options, we think this is a great choice for you. It has a unique formula and texture—it comes in a tub and feels almost like a clay mask—but it lathers well and works to efficiently cleanse the hair and scalp. It’s formulated with clay native to India, which works to absorb excess oils, as well as hibiscus flower to help reduce hair shedding. It strikes the perfect balance between being so gentle that it doesn’t effectively remove oil and buildup and so harsh that it strips the scalp and dries out the strands. After washing with this formula, our hair felt clean and soft, and our curls looked extra bouncy.
It also contains Indian blackberry bits to provide subtle exfoliation, which is great if you’re dealing with flakiness, but it’s worth noting that while we didn’t have trouble washing the bits from the hair, some online reviewers noted they struggled to fully remove them. Between how satisfying the texture is to apply, how effectively it cleanses, how beautifully it enhances the shape of curls, and how delicious it smells, recommending this product is a no-brainer.
Price at time of publish: $30, $42
Hair Type: Wavy, curly | Size: 90, 230 | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo
Effectively cleanses in one shampoo
Doesn’t feel stripping
Helps extend time between washes
Reviewers note it can be stripping on hair color
Hard water is full of minerals, and over time these minerals can create a buildup in the hair which can result in greasiness and dull-looking hair. If you’re showering in hard water consistently, it’s a good idea to use a shampoo (like this one) that works to neutralize mineral buildup. With just one shampoo, this formula works to cleanse the scalp of excess oil and remove copper, iron, magnesium, and calcium, which are often found in hard water. It creates a fine lather that’s easy to massage around the head, and we love that you don’t need to shampoo and rinse twice with it—it’s super clarifying the first time around.
Though it claims to be safe on color-treated hair, and we personally didn’t see any issues with it fading or altering color, beware that some online reviewers say this formula did alter their color. However, if you’re working with your natural color and you want a product that will reduce oiliness and neutralize mineral buildup, this is a solid choice.
Price at time of publish: $25, $50
Hair Type: All | Size: 250, 1000 ml | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Color-Treated Hair
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Triple Detox Shampoo
A little bit goes a long way
Has a light, earthy scent
Cuts oil effectively
Keratin and color-safe
Can be a bit drying
We know that frequent shampooing can shorten the life of your color and keratin treatment, so if you have these treatments and oily hair, you might find yourself between a rock and a hard place. The solution? A really good cleansing shampoo that’s safe on keratin and color. We love this one because it doesn’t disturb color or treatments, but it works to completely cut through excess oil to reveal squeaky clean, soft, and shiny hair. It’s formulated with activated charcoal to absorb oil, as well as an anionic polymer to remove buildup and pollution.
Just a quarter-size amount of the formula creates tons of bubbles and an intense lather that’s really satisfying to massage across the scalp. It leaves the scalp feeling fresh and rejuvenated, and while it is just slightly drying on the strands, this can be easily mitigated by following up with a deep conditioner. Lastly, we love that it features a spa-like earthy scent that’s not overpowering.
Price at time of publish: $32
Hair Type: All | Size: 160 ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
AG Hair Care Natural Balance Apple Cider Vinegar Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Gentle but effective formula
Texture is a bit watery
Sulfates—which act like detergents in shampoo formulas—are not inherently bad. They often get a bad rap because they can be a bit harsh and stripping for those who have dry or damaged hair, but these ingredients can be really effective at cutting excess grease from oily hair. However, if you prefer to stick to sulfate-free formulas but you still need something to effectively wash your oily hair, this shampoo is for you.
The lightweight texture is a bit watery, which takes some getting used to, but it does lather despite this, and you don’t need to use a lot of product to get the job done. It’s formulated with apple cider vinegar to help break down oil, as well as argan oil to enhance shine. It gives the hair a deep cleanse without drying out the scalp or strands, and we adore the soft, super-shiny results it creates.
Price at time of publish: $34, $68
Hair Type: All | Size: 355, 1000 ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Our favorite shampoo for oily hair is the Nécessaire The Shampoo, thanks to how well it cuts oil and grime, its fragrance-free formula, and how soft and shiny it leaves the hair. If you’re looking for something that will balance your oily hair while maintaining the integrity of your color, we recommend the Perfect hair Day (PhD) Triple Detox Shampoo.
Meet the Expert
- Hannah Draeger is a hairstylist at One10 Beauty in Nashville.
- Susan Ford is the master stylist and creative director at Asha Salon Spa in Chicago.
- Sal Salcedo is a hairstylist at Nova Arts Salon in Los Angeles.
How We Tested
In order to determine what shampoos for oily hair stand out from the competition, we had a wide range of testers with oily hair each take home one shampoo and use it consistently for six weeks. During the testing period, testers evaluated the formulas based on how they felt while applying them, how well they absorbed and controlled oil, and how they made the hair look. Each shampoo was given a ranking in each category, and those that ranked the highest overall appear on this list.
Other Options We Tested
Briogeo Mango + Cherry Balancing Shampoo
This balancing shampoo lathered beautifully and didn’t feel stripping, but the consistency was incredibly liquidy and, therefore, a bit challenging and messy to apply.
Nexxus Hydra-Light Weightless Moisture Shampoo for Oily Hair
We loved how well this lightweight formula lathered, but it didn’t impress us in terms of its cleansing and oil-reduction capabilities.
Kerastase Bain Divalent Balancing Shampoo
This popular shampoo does a nice job at cleansing excess oil from the scalp, but we don’t love that it doesn’t lather much, and we found that it made the hair a bit frizzy.
What to Look for When Buying Shampoo for Oily Hair
Clarifying or Rebalancing Formulas
When you have oily hair, it’s best to seek out shampoos that claim to be clarifying or rebalancing. "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 Hannah Draeger, hairstylist at One10 Beauty in Nashville. If you’re looking for a classic clarifying shampoo, we recommend the Bumble and Bumble Sunday Clarifying Shampoo.
"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 Susan Ford, master stylist at Asha Salon Spa in Chicago. The Nécessaire The Shampoo and the Kristin Ess Deep Clean Clarifying Shampoo both contain sulfates and do an excellent job at cleansing excess oil without completely stripping the hair. But if you prefer to go sulfate-free, we recommend the AG Hair Balance Apple Cider Vinegar Sulfate-Free Shampoo.
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. 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?
There’s really no right answer to this question—it all depends on what works best for you. But 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. She considered dozens of products for this roundup, researched peer-reviewed journals, and consulted our testing insights. Our product testers tried some of the top-rated products for weeks at a time, taking note of how well they delivered results as well as any extra product features. Melanie's 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.
Alyssa Kaplan is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and product tester specializing in cosmetics. She has very oily hair and has personally tested several shampoos on this list. She received a bachelor’s degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she studied marketing and product development in the cosmetics industry as well as fashion business marketing. Alyssa has been a commerce writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty.
Punyani S, Tosti A, Hordinsky M, Yeomans D, Schwartz J. The Impact of Shampoo Wash Frequency on Scalp and Hair Conditions. Skin Appendage Disord. 2021;7(3):183-193. doi:10.1159/000512786