shampoos are effective cleansers
Contrary to popular belief,
no shampoo can permanently alter the natural state of your hair. The most a
product can do, experts say, is temporarily improve its appearance and
manageability. Pretty much all shampoos on the market today contain the same
basic ingredients: water, cleansing and lathering agents, and a few
preservatives. The main difference between brands is in the additional
ingredients they include to treat specific types of
hair. In general, shampoos fall into five basic
Types of Shampoo
Also called conditioning shampoos, moisturizing shampoos are the most common type. Ideal for users with naturally dry or frizzy hair, these products contain conditioning agents such as silicone, panthenol, and natural oils. These compounds smooth and nourish the hair shaft, resulting in a softer, sleeker appearance. Conditioning shampoos are also excellent for hair that's been damaged by heat styling or color treatments.
These shampoos contain antifungal ingredients to reduce the fungi that cause dandruff. They are considered over-the-counter drugs and are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many dandruff shampoos are harsh on hair and should be rotated with a regular shampoo to keep hair from becoming too dry.
While traditional shampoos are used in the shower with water, dry shampoos are becoming an increasingly popular alternative. These powder or spray products, which are applied to the roots of hair, contain ingredients like cornstarch that absorb oil, making hair appear cleaner in between washings. Most dry shampoos also contain fragrance to give hair a fresh, clean scent. Experts say these products are good for adding volume to fine, limp hair. They can also extend the length of time between wet shampoos, which makes them handy for travel, and they're useful for people who spend long hours working or studying and who don't always have time to shower and need a mid-day refresh. However, they don't clean hair well enough to completely replace your standard shampoo.
Clarifying shampoos, also known as deep-cleansing shampoos, contain extra detergents to rid the hair and scalp of buildup. These shampoos are ideal for individuals who use a lot of styling products, such as gels and hairsprays, on their hair. Over time, such products can coat the scalp and hair shaft, leaving a residue that can reduce manageability. The high levels of cleansing agents in clarifying shampoos clear away that residue, but they can also strip away the hair's natural oils. Experts recommend following up with a good conditioner after using a deep-cleansing shampoo to replenish any moisture that was washed away. Clarifying shampoos are often intended for periodic use, and users find that even those made for daily use can be too drying if used every day.
To avoid stinging babies' eyes or irritating their sensitive skin, baby shampoos contain mild, low-foaming detergents. The downside is that these gentle shampoos aren't as effective as other types at cleaning dirt, oil, and product buildup from adults' hair. However, if you don't use a lot of styling products or need a shampoo suitable for extra-sensitive skin, a baby shampoo may be all you need for basic cleaning.
According to our sources, a
shampoo's effectiveness has little, if anything, to do with its price. Because
there are only a few effective ingredients used for cleaning hair, there isn't
that much variation from one shampoo to the next. We found at least as many
recommendations for drugstore shampoos costing less than $10 a bottle as we did
for the pricey salon brands with their fancy packaging and celebrity
endorsements, which can cost $20 or more. The one exception is dandruff
shampoos: here, pricier products with stronger ingredients can handle tougher
cases than inexpensive brands.
Finding The Best Shampoo
"Best Beauty Buys: Hair"
"16 Hair-Thickening Shampoos and Conditioners, Recommended by the Pros"
The most reliable way to
evaluate shampoos is a blind comparison test, in which the users don't see the
product's label and can't be influenced by the brand name. However, we found
only one test of this type: Good Housekeeping's evaluation of dry shampoos from
2014. To pick the best shampoos in other categories, we looked at
recommendations from style pros at beauty magazines like InStyle and Allure, as
well as reviews from thousands of users on sites like Amazon.com, Walmart.com
and Makeup Alley. Based on these reviews, we've identified the shampoos that do
the best job of getting hair clean, soft, shiny, and manageable, without
irritating the skin.
best shampoos leave hair clean, soft, and shiny
Most shampoos that aren't
otherwise labeled are moisturizing shampoos, which contain extra ingredients to
soften and condition the hair. Some products promise to do this with exotic
botanical ingredients, like argan oil or shea butter; others use
scientific-sounding compounds like "conditioning polymers" and "lipid
agents." In the final analysis, though, what matters most is not what's in
the shampoo but how well it does what it's supposed to do: get hair clean,
shiny, and soft, and for that job, we found the most positive reviews for (Est. $5 for 25.4 oz.).
Dove Daily Moisture Shampoo earns
strong ratings of 4.4 stars out of 5 or better in thousands of reviews on sites
like Walgreens.com, Walmart.com and Amazon.com. Users say that it leaves their
hair soft and smooth without weighing it down with residue. Dove Nutritive
Solutions Daily Moisture Shampoo is designed to leave hair up to five times
smoother (compared to standard, non-conditioning shampoo). Formulated with
Dove's proprietary Pro-Moisture Complex, this shampoo progressively nourishes
to leave your hair healthier over time.
Reviewers say Dove Daily
Moisture Shampoo works well on a variety of hair types, from normal hair to
dry, frizzy, or curly hair, leaving users with smooth, silky hair. Some
reviewers say they turned to Dove shampoo after having success with Dove's
other products and wanting a shampoo that doesn't contain irritating fragrances
or dyes, noting that this shampoo left their hair feeling clean without
stripping it of natural oils. We did read a few isolated complaints from users
who say this formula left their hair feeling dry or that it irritated their
skin or scalp, but the majority of reviewers report excellent results. A drugstore
brand, Dove Nutritive Solutions Daily Moisture Shampoo is affordable and
readily available at most grocery stores and drug stores.
If Dove Daily Moisture
Shampoo doesn't work for your hair, (Est. $7 for 25.4 oz.) is a solid
alternative, earning a recommendation from editors at InStyle as the best
inexpensive shampoo and conditioner for normal hair. Hundreds of reviewers at
Amazon.com agree, contributing to a rating of 4.7 stars out of a possible 5. Reviews
elsewhere are a touch lower, with a few hundred contributing to a rating of 4.3
stars out of 5 at Walmart.com.
Reviewers say that Pantene
Pro-V Daily Moisture Renewal Hydrating Shampoo leaves their hair soft, smooth
and shiny, and most say it has a pleasant scent. Some users say that it helps
to repair hair that's dry and damaged from the use of other products and leaves
their hair thick and full. There are some detractors, however, including a few
who say this shampoo made their hair drier, and some who say that it's too
thick and heavy for fine hair, leaving a residue that makes hair flat, greasy
and sticky. Many users say it's an excellent shampoo for people with thick,
curly or frizzy hair, offering the moisture and smoothness they need for more
If you have coarse, curly
hair but want to avoid residue build-up, experts recommend (Est. $14 for 12 oz.). About.com's beauty expert
Julyne Derrick says DevaCurl's non-lathering formula cuts down on frizz,
cleansing hair while simultaneously moisturizing it for a smooth, silky result
without stripping your hair of natural moisture or artificial coloring. DevaCurl
No Poo Shampoo works for all curl types, but the company also makes (Est. $22 for 12 oz.) for wavy hair and (Est. $15 for 12 oz.) for
Experts at InStyle magazine
say DevaCurl No-Poo Shampoo's non-lathering formula contains peppermint and
grapeseed oil to stimulate and cleanse both the scalp and hair without
stripping it of the natural oils that are essential for healthy, nourished
hair. Reviewers at Amazon.com rave about DevaCurl No-Poo Shampoo, with hundreds
of users contributing to a rating of 4.3 stars out of 5. Some users say that it
works great for straight hair, too, although the majority of reviewers turn to
DevaCurl No-Poo for coping with coarse, dry and curly hair that's typically
unruly and difficult to manage without the right hair care products. A few
dozen reviewers at MakeupAlley.com are less enthusiastic, contributing to a
lower rating of 3.5 stars out of 5.
Reviewers typically say their curls come out clean, soft, and
shiny, but a few of them feel this shampoo doesn't really moisturize well
enough to be worth the price. Also, not all users are fans of this shampoo's
scent, which they describe variously as resembling mint, citrus, eucalyptus,
and cold cream. All
DevaCurl hair care products are free of sulfates, parabens and silicones,
making them a great choice for people who want a more natural option.