The 12 best shampoos of 2021 for every hair type and budget

The 12 best shampoos of 2021 for every hair type and budget


Shampooing is essential to help remove dirt and product buildup from the scalp and hair. But frequent shampooing — sometimes called overwashing — can strip away the natural oils that help hydrate and nourish hair and could result in a dry scalp, dehydrated strands, hair loss and hair thinning, according to dermatologist Rina Allawh, MD, FAAD. While there is a plethora of options out there, shampoo shopping doesn’t have to be complicated. An easy filter for your choices is your hair texture. For example, brands like Design Essentials and Briogeo specialize in coarse hair while Ouidad is well-known for collections targeting curl patterns.

In general, everyone can utilize a “nourishing shampoo” that simultaneously cleanses and moisturizes the hair once or twice a week, regardless of their natural hair texture, noted Allawh. She also advised opting for shampoos that boast moisturizing ingredients like ceramides, shea butter, glycerin, dimethicone and jojoba and coconut oils.

If you have scalp issues like dandruff, oiliness, or acne, then you may want to opt for more specialized ingredients.

  • Anyone dealing with dandruff can opt for “helpful ingredients” with antifungal benefits like pyrithione zinc and selenium sulfide, recommended board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD.
  • For oily, acne-prone scalp, King recommended exfoliating and oil-absorbing ingredients like tea tree oil, salicylic acid and charcoal.

You can also find shampoos pretty much everywhere you like to shop for beauty products. Beyond the popular Sephora, Ulta and Dermstore, department stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s carry an array of shampoos. Mega retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Target likely have your shampoo needs covered, too — if you prefer “clean” hair products, here’s how to navigate Target Clean and Clean at Sephora, both of which carry shampoos.

Best shampoos

We found dermatologist-recommended shampoos across hair textures and scalp needs, as well as a couple of other top rated picks based on expert guidance.

Best overall shampoo: Aveeno

Aveeno Pure Renewal Shampoo

Aveeno’s pH-balanced shampoo boasts a 4.6-star average rating from nearly 2,060 reviews on Amazon. Allawah described this sulfate-free shampoo as “lightweight” and highlighted that it contains a hydrating blend of minerals and proteins that helps protect the hair from “harmful and damaging environmental chemicals.”

Best affordable shampoo: Dove

Dove Nutritive Solutions Daily Moisture Shampoo

Allawah is also a fan of Dove’s “gentle” shampoo because it features a blend of moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, which gives an “extra boost of hydration” to the scalp and hair. Dove claims that when you utilize both the Daily Moisture Shampoo and Daily Moisture Conditioner, you’ll have 10 times less breakage when combing through your hair compared to using a non-moisturizing shampoo alone. This Dove shampoo boasts a 4.6-star average rating from nearly 4,360 reviews on Walmart.

Best shampoo for oily hair: AQUIS

AQUIS Prime Detoxifying Hair & Scalp Wash

King recommended this shampoo for those dealing with an oily or acne-prone scalp because it is formulated with a trio of anti-acne ingredients: charcoal, witch hazel and salicylic acid. She noted that this shampoo “gently” removes product buildup, pollution and hard water, “as well as gently exfoliate to reduce scaling without stripping the hair of its natural oils.” King advised using the hypoallergenic shampoo once every three or four hair washes. This Aquis shampoo received a 4.9-star average rating from nearly 50 reviews on Neiman Marcus.

Best shampoo for dry, sensitive skin: Vanicream

Vanicream Free and Clear Shampoo

This $10 shampoo is free of common allergens — parabens, sulfates and fragrances — that can cause flaking, itching and rashes, according to Allawh. Vaniceram claims its pH-balanced shampoo is dermatologist-tested and compatible with all textures, ranging from straight to kinky-curly. It boasts a 4.5-star average rating from more than 5,770 reviews on Amazon.

Best shampoo for thinning hair: Keranique

Keranique Shampoo

If you want fuller hair, then Allawah recommended this keratin-rich shampoo that boasts 2-percent minoxidil, a topical “ingredient [that] has been clinically shown to promote hair growth in both men and women.” (Notably, minoxidil is found in Rogaine.) Keranique’s “gentle” shampoo is free of sulfates and boasts moisturizing ingredients like panax ginseng root extract and arctium majus root extract, which help “prevent further hair loss.” It received a 4.3-star average rating from more than 4,000 reviews on Amazon.

Best dandruff shampoo: Neutrogena

Neutrogena Therapeutic Shampoo

Neutrogena’s shampoo features salicylic acid, a popular skin care ingredient that can help balance out dandruff and scalp psoriasis, according to Allawah. She called the 3-percent concentration of salicylic acid in this shampoo “a powerful keratolytic, meaning it helps to remove the thick scale from the scalp.” It boasts a 4.6-star average rating from more than 12,200 reviews on Amazon.

Best shampoo for oily hair: Dove

Dove Refresh + Care Dry shampoo

According to hairstylist Courtney Foster, you can utilize a dry shampoo up to three times a week in between cleansing your hair. Allawah recommended this relatively affordable dry shampoo because “many dry shampoos may be too drying on the scalp and cause brittle, or hardened hair. This dry shampoo helps to soak up the grease while maintaining hair moisture.” Dove’s dry shampoo earned a 4.4-star average rating from nearly 14,200 reviews on Amazon.

Best baby shampoo: Burt’s Bees

Burt’s Bees Baby Shampoo

Allawah recommended this “gentle and safe” shampoo for babies (and adults with sensitive skin) because the Burt’s Bees formula boasts “clean and natural ingredients” like vitamin B and various minerals. “Most importantly [it] lacks harsh ingredients that typically trigger dry, flaking skin in newborns and infants such as sulfates, parabens, fragrance and phthalates,” she told us. It is the only shampoo on our list that can also be used as a body wash and it is available in a pack of three if you prefer. It received a 4.7-star average rating from more than 3,600 reviews on Amazon.

Best shampoo for curly hair: Shea Moisture

Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Shine Shampoo

This Shea Moisture shampoo features a mix of hydrating ingredients like coconut oil, which helps“preserve the natural bounce and curl of the hair while maintaining the healthy shine of the hair,” Allawah said. The brand’s sulfate-free shampoo earned a 4.3-star average rating from 350 reviews on Walmart.

Best shampoo for natural hair: Oribe

Oribe Shampoo for Moisture & Control

Although Oribe’s vegan shampoo is the most expensive shampoo on this list, it is one of my favorites for helping to hydrate my hair and minimize frizz. It smells like a combination of Oribe’s signature complex — lychee, watermelon and edelweiss flower — which help preserve the hair color, moisture the strands and protect against oxidative stress, according to the brand. This shampoo received a 4.6-star average rating from more than 460 reviews on Amazon. The brand also released a Dermstore exclusive bundle with all six items from the collection if you prefer.

Best detangling shampoo: Design Essentials

Design Essentials Moisturizing and Detangling Shampoo

This Design Essentials shampoo received a 4.6-star average rating from nearly 2,760 reviews on Amazon. Beyond being free of pesky ingredients like sulfates, parabens and phthalates, this shampoo was designed for those with wavy, curly and kinky hair in mind. Design Essentials also says this color-safe shampoo is gentle enough to be used on chemically-treated hair, plus extensions and wigs. It is also part of the brand’s Almond and Avocado collection, two ingredients that help hydrate hair, prevent breakage and add shine.

Best pH-balanced shampoo: Dove

Dove Dermacare Shampoo

King recommended this “mild” Dove shampoo because it is made with pyrithione zinc, an ingredient that boasts antibacterial and antifungal properties. She noted that this pH-balanced shampoo is color-safe and “can decrease yeast on the skin without causing irritation.” If you’re dealing with pesky dandruff, King advised shampooing four times a week “to minimize flares.” This shampoo received a 4.5-star average rating from 370 reviews on Walmart.

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