The 10 Best Drugstore Shampoos, According To Hairstylists
If you’re like most people, you spend a good amount of your paycheck on your hair—coloring it, cutting it, styling it, you name it. That’s one of the main reasons why hairstylists are big proponents of also spending a decent amount of money on the hair care products you use at home, specifically your shampoo and conditioner. After all, you wouldn’t spend hundreds of dollars on a gym membership, not to mention hundreds of hours exercising in that gym, only to eat cheap junk just to save money, right?
The same concept is true for your hair. If you’re going to spend a couple hundred dollars a month on your strands, you might as well not cheap out on products that might negate some of the benefits of the hair services you’re paying for. “What you’re really paying for is the research behind high-quality products and the ingredients that protect and nourish your hair,” says Tina Malhotra, a stylist at Mia Wagner Salon in New York City. “As a daily washer myself, I know it makes a huge difference to use quality products to maintain my hair’s health and avoid harsh ingredients that can strip it or leave heavy buildup and residue.”
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But before you go and drop big bucks at fancy beauty stores, know this: You can find top-notch shampoos at your local drugstore. The key to finding the best drugstore shampoos, however, is being choosy about what’s on the ingredient list, says Malhotra. “Cheaper shampoos tend to have harsh detergents or surfactants that can strip the hair of essential natural oils, thus weakening the hair, and also leave behind a residue that can cause breakage when paired with styling,” she says.
When shopping for a shampoo, make sure it doesn’t contain harmful ingredients such as SLS (sodium Lauryl sulfate), harsh detergents, silicones or alcohol, which can dry out the hair with repeated use. “Sulfate-free shampoos will be free of the heavy, soapy agents that create a lot of lather, but don’t be fooled—less lather in the shower does not equate to hair that’s less clean,” says Malhotra. If your hair is color-treated or highlighted, she also recommends looking for a color-safe shampoo.
Ready to shop? Ahead you will find the best drugstore shampoos, according to hairstylists.
The Best Drugstore Shampoos
Looking for volume and bounce? Lauren Paglionico, founder of Lrn Beauty in New York City, recommends Volume Bloom from BIOLAGE. “This shampoo gently cleanses your hair without stripping your color and adds both volume and shine.” She recommends using the Matrix Biolage Volumebloom Cotton Conditioner along with it to make sure your hair is getting the most out of wash day.
In addition to being sulfate-free and color-safe, this shampoo is super gentle on the hair, which is a major plus for those with dry, brittle strands, notes Malhotra. “It still provides a really nice lather so you’ll feel clean and nourished,” she adds. Another plus is its fresh yet subtle scent, which smells like an aromatic garden.
“This shampoo contains over 50 natural ingredients including coconut oil, aloe, and neem oil to leave your curls tamed, smooth, and bouncy,” says Paglionico. It’s free of phthalates, parabens, and other harmful ingredients, and it is also cruelty-free. As an added bonus, the coconut and hibiscus scent of this shampoo is incredibly intoxicating in the best way without being overbearing.
This drugstore shampoo has a host of quality ingredients for an affordable price, with the two most important being collagen and biotin. Biotin, specifically, helps prevent thinning hair and may help hair grow in areas where it is scarce, notes Malhotra. Collagen can strengthen the hair proteins and prevent follicle damage. “This shampoo is great for plumping up fine hair, gentle enough to use on color-treated and chemically-treated hair, and is good if you wash daily or more than four times a week,” she adds.
If you’re looking for a shampoo that deep cleans and degunks the scalp without stripping it of essential moisture or damaging your color, Paglionico recommends this stuff. Tea tree oil cleanses and invigorates the scalp while adding shine to strands. Oh, and don’t let the price deter you: The bottle is huge (an entire liter) and should last you several months at least—even if you’re sharing it with roommates or a significant other.
“The queen of the drugstore shampoo aisle, Pantene has actually had a few great formulas over the years that are sulfate-free and gentle on the hair,” says Malhotra. The one she particularly likes is Moisture Boost, which is infused with rose water, pro vitamin B5, and antioxidants for silky-smooth and frizz-free hair.
Purple rice might not seem like an ingredient you’d want to slather in your hair, but Daniel Koye, a licensed cosmetologist and hairstylist who works in theatre, film, and television, highly recommends it to his clients, as it reduces friction and strengthens weak strands. “Shea butter, argan oil, and jojoba oil help soften the hair and keep your color lasting longer,” he says. “plus, you can use a quarter-size amount to wash your entire head of hair.”
If you’re not really sure where you fall on the spectrum of hair types, but you don’t want to risk buying a shampoo that doesn’t line up well with your needs, this is a great option. The pro-formulated shampoo is made for all hair types, lathers efficiently, and lightly clarifies. “It gently removes build-up without stripping your hair, is color-safe and also cruelty-free,” Paglionico adds.
In addition to the affordable price, this is one shampoo you will become addicted to for its smell and how silky it leaves your hair. “This shampoo has rose oil and peach juice, which nourish, revive, and give strength back to your hair,” says Koye. It’s also free of sulfates, phthalates, alcohol, and artificial colors.
It may be last on our list, but it’s one of the best drugstore shampoos to hit the market recently. This shampoo is a must-try, adds Malhotra. “A few of the key clean ingredients include coconut oil, which nourishes the hair, along with shea butter,” she says. “It also includes a rice protein to strengthen the follicle and is safe for daily use on all hair types.”
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