If your hair lacks shine or tends to feel dehydrated and frazzled, chances are you currently have dry hair. To combat that brittleness and get your hair back on track, experts recommend incorporating a shampoo specifically aimed at dry hair into your shower routine.
Alongside haircuts and professional remedies, incorporating a shampoo that will add moisture to your hair is key, says Brooke Jordan, a hairstylist and co-founder of The Bird House, a salon in Brooklyn, NY.
We spoke to hairstylists about how shampoo can revive dry hair, what to consider when shopping and how to determine which option is best for you. We also compiled a list of expert-recommended shampoos, highly rated options and shampoos we have tried ourselves.
How we picked the best shampoo for dry hair
If you’re trying to add moisture and hydration back into your hair with the help of a shampoo, experts recommend considering the following factors:
- Ingredients: A shampoo’s formula — and knowing what ingredients to embrace versus avoid — is one of the most critical factors in adding moisture back into your hair. Look for shampoos with hydrating ingredients like seed oils, coconut oil, shea butter and aloe vera, and avoid formulas with sulfates, according to our experts. Sulfates tend to further dry out hair and can even strip it of color if you have color-treated hair, says Julie Davis, a hairstylist and owner of Eden West Salon in Charleston, South Carolina. Instead, opt for a gentle, mild alternative that can cleanse the hair and scalp without causing too much damage, according to our experts.
- Hair type: Knowing your hair type is as important as knowing what ingredients are in your shampoo. Some moisturizing ingredients tend to be heavy oils, while others are lightweight, so what may work for your hair type may not work for others. For example, if you have coarse hair, you will want dense ingredients like shea butter because the hair strands will absorb it. Meanwhile, shea butter may actually weigh down finer hair, so consider using something lightweight like jojoba oil, according to Jenna Pitocco, a hairstylist and co-owner of Love, Dunnette, a salon, in New York City.
- Price: Shampoos can vary widely in cost with drugstore options being the most affordable while salon-grade products will be significantly more expensive. Find your price point and choose something you’re willing to buy three to four times a year, says Illeisha Lussiano, hairstylist and founder of The Way, a salon in New York City.
The best shampoo for dry hair in 2023
Below, we rounded up expert-recommended shampoos for dry hair for all hair types as textures, as well as ones we have tried ourselves along with highly rated options that align with our experts’ guidance.
A collective favorite of our experts, Davis uses this to help cleanse and treat her weak, dry and fine hair. “Any time I use it, it’s almost like a spa treatment,” says Davis. “I feel like my hair feels so much more moisturized, and it’s a really good reset, especially for dry hair.” Apply the paraben-free shampoo and gently massage it into your scalp and hair until the gel turns into a cream. After rinsing, use the Momo conditioner for the best results, according to Davines.
One of Jordan’s favorite lines is Oribe’s moisture control line because it has moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, panthenol and sunflower seed oil to add hydration back into the hair. It’s especially great for those with medium to thick hair and those who have wavy, curly, or coily patterns, according to Jordan. That’s because the shampoo will help define those patterns as well as tame frizz and add shine, according to the brand. You can also pair it with its matching conditioner or hair mask.
If you have coily, dry, highly textured hair or locs, both Lussiano and Freda Brown, a hairstylist and owner of The Loc Shop, a salon in Maryland, recommend using this sulfate-free shampoo. It has quinoa, glycerin, jojoba oil, aloe vera and honey to help cleanse both the scalp and the hair and increase moisture and hydration, according to the brand. Reviewers say their hair is noticeably softer and shinier, and is easy to comb through and detangle. To use, work the product from your roots to your ends once a week or as often as needed.
A go-to product for Pitocco is this co-wash cleansing cream that washes and conditions your hair at the same time. It uses oils like jojoba seed oil and aloe leaf juice to cleanse the hair, while ingredients like glycerin help condition, according to Pitocco. It’s also available in a deep formula for oily hair and a rich formula for extremely coarse or dry hair, says Pitocco.
I consistently use and rebuy this moisturizing and hydrating shampoo to make my dry and damaged wavy hair feel soft and hydrated. I gently massage it into a lather before rinsing and follow it up with its accompanying conditioner. When my hair is feeling extremely dry, I use it twice a week and like that it leaves behind a subtle scent of sandalwood, amber and musk.
This Silky Clean shampoo is great for smoothing away frizz and bringing back moisture to the hair, says Brown. It has a water-based herbal infusement, aloe vera, glycerin and vitamin E to help combat dryness and potential breakage, according to the brand. “This is my go-to no matter what stage [my clients’] are in the locking process,” says Brown. “My hair and clients’ hair feels great after I use it and you can see and feel that difference.”
If you have thick hair or need additional moisture, consider using this shampoo, which has a 4.4-star average rating from over 200 reviews at Ceremonia. The yucca extract cleanses the hair and scalp, while cupuaçu butter, aloe vera and squalane help hydrate it, according to Ceremonia. The formula also has witch hazel, which removes excess oil from your scalp to help you extend the time between washes, according to the brand. If you have thin hair, consider Ceremonia’s Weightless Hydration Shampoo, which helps with hydration without adding oils or butters that will weigh down your hair.
This R+Co shampoo, which comes recommended by Davis, uses antioxidants like vitamin B5 and vitamin E for scalp and hair hydration, and nettle extract to add shine, reduce frizz and prevent breakage, according to the brand. It’s suitable for all hair types, and reviewers say it helps soften their hair, making it feel and look healthy.
If you have thick and curly hair, consider this shampoo that uses water, coconut oil, aloe vera and shea butter (among other ingredients) to cleanse, moisturize, reduce frizz and define curls, according to the brand. Reviewers say this creamy shampoo, which has 4.5-star average rating from over 19,700 reviews on Amazon, is gentle on the scalp and even helps create soft and shiny curls without adding conditioner.
If you deal with dryness, dull hair or extremely frizzy hair, consider using this shampoo, which has a 4.6-star average rating from over 250 reviews at Sephora. Suitable for all hair types, reviewers say it leaves their hair feeling silky, shiny and manageable with less frizz. They also say this helps combat naturally oily and flaky scalps since it’s gentle and leaves their scalp looking and feeling healthy so that they can go longer between washes. This is because it has ingredients like aloe leaf juice to hydrate the hair and scalp, while other ingredients focus on moisturizing, strengthening and adding shine, according to the brand.
Pitocco recommends this formula because it doesn’t leave her client’s hair feeling heavy. Suitable for color-treated coarse, thick and chemically-treated hair, this shampoo uses coconut-derived ingredients and macadamia seed oil to cleanse hair. To hydrate and moisturize, it has aloe vera and Tasmanian sea kelp, according to the brand. Reviewers say one bottle lasts a long time and with each shampooing, their hair is left feeling soft and shiny.
How to shop for shampoo for dry hair
When determining which shampoo is best for your dry hair, our experts recommend keeping your hair type and ingredients in mind when shopping.
It’s just as important to know what to avoid as it is to know what ingredients are best, so you do not further dry out your hair.
Ingredients like glycerin, shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera and seed oils help add moisture to the hair. (If you are concerned about your hair becoming too greasy or weighed down after using a shampoo with oil, look for formulas with lightweight oils like argon, jojoba, grapeseed or sea buckthorn oils, according to Jordan.) Formulas with antioxidants and vitamins, like vitamin b5 and its derivative known as panthenol, are also great for those with dry hair, according to Jordan. Panthenol is an ingredient known for penetrating the hair and providing long-lasting moisture, says Jordan. Brown likes to look for water as one of the first ingredients on a bottle because “that’s going to be the number one source for moisture,” she says.
Opt for gentle formulas that are free of harsh ingredients like sulfates, parabens and silicones. That’s because sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) can be irritating and drying, while parabens are preservatives that tend to dry out your hair, according to experts. Silicones can sometimes create a waxy coating that can give a shiny initial appearance, but in actuality, it is suffocating the hair, according to Davis.
Not every shampoo is color-safe, so some formulas might strip and remove color. Consider options that will help the longevity of your hair color by checking if it’s color-safe or looking at the ingredient list for things like sulfates, which can dull and strip the hair color, according to Pitocco. Color-safe shampoos also tend to have more moisturizing agents and hydrating properties to combat any dryness that color can cause, says Pitocco.
Many shampoos have fragrances; avoid ones that have “added fragrances” as compared to formulas with natural fragrances that come from the ingredients themselves, since these can exacerbate dryness, which will combat your journey to soft, shiny and moisturized hair, says Jordan.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Julie Davis is a hairstylist, artistic director and owner of Eden West Salon in Charleston, South Carolina. Her areas of expertise include balayage, French haircutting, color and extensions.
- Jenna Pitocco is a hairstylist and co-owner of Love, Dunnette, a salon in New York City.
- Brooke Jordan is a hairstylist, co-founder and creative director of The Bird House, a salon in Brooklyn.
- Illeisha Lussiano is a hairstylist and founder of The Way, a salon in New York City. Her areas of precision haircuts, color, intricate protective styles and freestyles along with bridal and editorial styling.
- Freda Brown is a hairstylist and salon owner of The Loc Shop, a salon in Mount Rainier, Maryland. Her areas of expertise include styling and maintaining natural hair and locs.
Why trust Select?
Bianca Alvarez is an associate reporter covering skin care and hair care, whose recent stories include roundups of the best scalp sunscreens and clarifying shampoos. For this story, she interviewed experts and researched highly rated shampoos for dry hair that were in line with expert guidance.