The 9 Best Shampoos
This wiki has been updated 8 times since it was first published in January of 2020. Nourishing your hair to its healthiest requires the right shampoo. But with the huge variety of options on the market, finding the one that's right for you can be overwhelming. So we have taken the time to research the top selections for all hair types. Note that chemicals in some shampoos may cause negative reactions. If you have sensitive skin, ask your doctor about what substances to avoid. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 10, 2021:
To be perfectly clear, many of these great shampoos are meant for cleaning dry to moderately oily hair. If you have extremely oily hair or suffer from continued dandruff or even scalp dermatitis, we recommend considering a more specialized oily-hair shampoo or one made just for dandruff in addition to contacting a specialist.
As far as our rankings go, they have only changed due to our removal of an out-of-production formula from Jason. The rest boast largely natural ingredients and are designed to gently clean hair while allowing it to retain some of the inherent chemicals that keep it healthy every day.
February 15, 2020:
There are some chemicals that are found in many shampoos that are worth mentioning for health reasons.
While they are FDA approved and have little or no negative side effects on most people, sulfates can cause skin rash and dry out the hair and scalp. Specifically, sodium lauryl sulfate may irritate eyes, skin and the body if ingested.
If you have sensitive skin, eczema or psoriasis, you may want to use a sulfate-free shampoo like the OGX Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco. People with dry, died or frizzy hair may also want to look into a sulfate-free option like the AG Hair Colour Savour because shampoos with sulfates can further remove moisture and oils.
That said, sulfates are excellent at cleaning oils and dirt out of hair. They create suds and make it easier to spread the lather over large surface areas. There are many great shampoos like the Dove Hair Dermacare Scalp that contain sulfates and work well for many people.
Here are a few more substances that you may want to avoid:
Parabens help reduce bacteria growth and increase shelf life of cleaning agents; however, they can mimic estrogen hormones. Some researchers argue that they can increase the risk of breast cancer if used long-term.
Alcohols can dry out hair; however, not all alcohols have the same impacts. The ones you may want to avoid typically contain "prop." This includes Isopropyl alcohol and propanol. Others like Cetearyl alcohol may not have a negative effect on hair.
Diethanolamine also displaces dirt and oils, having an emulsifying impact and helping shampoo spread over large amounts of hair. Banned by the European Commission, scientists found a correlation between this chemical and cancer in animal studies and inconclusive findings about human health implications.
Triclosan is also worth noting. Manufacturers were restricted from using it in antibacterial soap because of its association with hormone disruptions, which can lead to other health risks.
Formaldehyde is correlated with cancer in animal testing and can pose a threat to humans. Specifically, look out for Quaternium-15, a carcinogenic formaldehyde that's sometimes found in hair cleaners.
The choices on this list address hair care overall. If you want to treat a specific issue or have a niche you are looking for, you may find our posts on dandruff shampoos, alcohol-free shampoos and tear-free shampoos to be useful.