The 9 Best Shampoos for Oily Hair of 2023
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Balance the scalp without leaving the rest of your hair feeling dry.
Finding a shampoo that suits those with oilier hair types is challenging. The formula should effectively clean hair without stripping it of necessary oils, enhance its natural shine, and extend the time between hair washes. The perfect oily hair-friendly shampoo will work seamlessly with the rest of your hair care routine.
"You want to look for ingredients that are gentle cleansers and moisturizers," says Sarah Lund, STYLE.MASTER for the KEVIN.MURPHY brand.
We researched shampoos with varying ingredients, formula types, scent profiles, and price points to determine which best benefit those with excess sebum production on the scalp. We also spoke with Lund for her expert take on the best shampoos for oily hair.
Best Overall: Kérastase Specifique Bain Divalent Balancing Shampoo
What Stands Out: This formula purifies the scalp of excess oil while moisturizing dry ends.
What Could Be Improved: It costs the most per ounce of any shampoo on our list.
The Kérastase Specifique Bain Divalent Shampoo is a lightweight clarifying shampoo that keeps hair hydrated while detoxifying the scalp from sebum and odor. A combination of amino acids, salicylic acid, and vitamin B6 work together to enhance shine and protect dry and damaged ends, so you end up with hair that is shiny, voluminous, and easy to brush out post-shower. The added fragrance of Indian basil, freesia, and sandalwood feels fresh without being cloying.
This surfactant-based shampoo allows for a lush lather, and while it does contain sulfates (which can be beneficial for removing excess buildup) it is still safe for color-treated hair.
Price at time of publish: $40
Key Ingredients: Amino acids, vitamin B6, and sodium laureth sulfate
Size: 8.5 ounces
Scent: Indian basil, freesia, and sandalwood
Best Drugstore: OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp + Teatree Mint Shampoo
What Stands Out: This budget-friendly shampoo deeply cleanses hair without stripping strands of moisture.
What Could Be Improved: It may be too drying for those with damaged ends.
The OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp + Teatree Mint Shampoo is an easily accessible choice that doesn't skimp on quality. Infused with tea tree oil, peppermint extract, and witch hazel, this shampoo removes excess sebum and odor in a non-stripping or irritating way. The formula uses sulfate-free surfactants, which means even those with damaged or color-treated hair can effectively incorporate this shampoo into their hair washing routine.
Price at time of publish: From $8
Key Ingredients: Tea tree oil, peppermint extract, and witch hazel
Size: 13 and 25.4 ounces
Scent: Sweet peppermint, iced vanilla, and tea tree
Best for Fine Hair: Virtue Full Shampoo
What Stands Out: The protein-enriched formula adds volume from the inside out.
What Could Be Improved: Its fragrance may be overwhelming to some.
Fine hair needs a scalp-clarifying formula that adds volume and lightweight hydration. The Virtue Full Shampoo achieves just that with the brand’s Alpha Keratin 60ku, a proprietary protein that mimics the naturally-occurring keratin found in the hair. This ingredient works to repair damage from the inside out, earning more points for this sulfate- and cruelty-free shampoo.
Price at time of publish: From $40
Key Ingredients: Phospholipids, pink pomelo, artichoke leaf, and Alpha Keratin 60ku protein
Size: 8 and 17 ounces
Scent: White pear, spearmint leaf, and lemon essential oils
Best for Thick Hair: Ouai Detox Shampoo
What Stands Out: Apple cider vinegar helps to purify the scalp of excess oil and product buildup, while keratin helps strengthen hair.
What Could Be Improved: Overuse could strip hair of moisture and damage color.
This cult-favorite shampoo makes use of apple cider vinegar, an ingredient that is well-known for its clarifying abilities. It's also infused with keratin, resulting in a formula that purifies the scalp of oil and product buildup without stripping the lengths of natural oils. It also has the brand's signature Melrose scent, a rose-forward blend of bergamot, lychee, and white musk. Do note that this shampoo is only meant for weekly use, and overuse can cause damage to hair and hair color.
Price at time of publish: $32
Key Ingredients: Apple cider vinegar, hydrolyzed keratin, and chelating agents
Size: 10 ounces
Scent: Bergamot, lychee, white musk, and champagne
Best for Curly Hair: Curlsmith Wash & Scrub Detox Shampoo
What Stands Out: This shampoo contains perlite to gently exfoliate the scalp without overdrying curls.
What Could Be Improved: It’s best used in tandem with the brand’s pre-wash primer, which is sold separately.
Those with curly hair will love the hydrating and clarifying formula of the Curlsmith Wash & Scrub Detox Shampoo. The creamy texture includes perlite, a mineral that gently exfoliates the scalp by removing flaking skin and product buildup without altering your natural curl pattern. Thanks to the inclusion of probiotics, this shampoo will regulate the bacterial balance of the scalp to ensure it remains balanced and less oily over time. Just note that the brand recommends using its Super Slip Pre-Wash Primer first, which must be purchased separately.
Price at time of publish: $28
Key Ingredients: Probiotics, apple cider vinegar, perlite, ginger root, dragon fruit juice, wild nettle leaves, guarana extract, and mallow flowers
Size: 8 ounces
Best for Color-Treated Hair: K18 Peptide Prep Detox Shampoo
What Stands Out: This shampoo is free of sulfates and other ingredients that can strip color and moisture from color-treated or bleached hair.
What Could Be Improved: It’s meant to be used only as needed and not in place of an everyday shampoo.
Those with color-treated hair should pay close attention to the ingredients in their clarifying shampoo. Harsh surfactants like sulfates can strip the hair of moisture, an after-effect of using bleach, and remove dye from the hair faster than sulfate-free shampoos. The K18 Peptide Prep Detox Shampoo stands out for this hair type thanks to its use of activated charcoal, salicylic acid, and patented K18peptide. These ingredients cleanse the scalp of excess oil, dirt, and environmental toxins in a gentle and nourishing formula.
Price at time of publish: $38
Key Ingredients: Activated charcoal, salicylic acid, K18peptide
Size: 8.5 ounces
Scent: Clean citrus
Best Volumizing: Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Volumizing Shampoo
What Stands Out: This shampoo adds volume without weighing down the hair—and it smells great.
What Could Be Improved: The formula can be difficult to work into a lather.
The Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Volumizing Shampoo from Briogeo promises to volumize and lift fine, limp hair without stripping moisture. The formula includes maltodextrin—a natural starch—which coats each strand to add volume that is missing from finer hair. Added ginseng encourages blood flow to the scalp as biotin strengthens the ends. Plus, gentle chelating agents cleanse even the oiliest of scalp types to reveal hair that feels full and revitalized.
Price at time of publish: From $28
Key Ingredients: Ginseng, biotin, vitamin B5, maltodextrin, and witch hazel
Size: 8 and 33.8 ounces
Scent: Ginger, orange, and grapefruit
Best Clarifying: Bumble and bumble Sunday Shampoo
What Stands Out: This weekly clarifying shampoo uses sodium laureth sulfate to achieve a deep clean and rich lather.
What Could Be Improved: It’s not safe for color-treated hair.
The Sunday Shampoo is infused with one of Lund's favorite ingredients, rosemary extract, which helps to dissolve buildup and stimulate hair growth. This clarifying shampoo is meant to be used no more than once per week. It contains sodium laureth sulfate, which does all the heavy lifting when it comes to achieving a rich lather and detoxifying the scalp of excess sebum, dirt, and product. It even works well to remove chlorine from the hair post-swim. Plus, its invigorating scent will leave you smelling as fresh as you feel. Just keep in mind that it’s not safe for color-treated hair.
Price at time of publish: $25
Key Ingredients: Panax ginseng root, rosemary leaf extract, sage leaf extract, and sodium laureth sulfate
Size: 8 ounces
Scent: Sparkling cassis, watery cyclamen, and mint leaf
Best Bar: Kitsch Tea Tree + Mint Clarifying Shampoo Bar
What Stands Out: This clarifying shampoo bar helps cut back on single-use plastic.
What Could Be Improved: It can be difficult to work into hair.
Bar shampoo is gaining popularity for its environmental benefits, but that doesn't mean the formulas are lackluster. The Kitsch Tea Tree + Mint Clarifying Shampoo Bar is an affordable variant that includes hydrating and strengthening castor oil plus clarifying tea tree oil to leave oily hair feeling cleansed, but never too dry. Free from sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and silicones, this bar should last up to 100 washes and save on the plastic packaging of two traditional shampoo or conditioner bottles.
Price at time of publish: $15
Key Ingredients: Castor oil and tea tree oil
Size: 3.2 ounces
Scent: Tea tree and eucalyptus
With a balancing blend of amino acids and vitamin B6, the Kérastase Bain Divalent Balancing Shampoo is our best overall pick to cleanse oily hair types. The formula has a luxurious lather that won't leave strands feeling weak or brittle. Plus, the added salicylic acid clarifies and restores the scalp to help regulate sebum production.
How to Shop for Shampoo for Oily Hair Like a Pro
Product formula isn't one-size-fits-all, especially when it comes to oily hair. You'll want to consider your hair type and texture before selecting a shampoo. Individuals with both fine and straight hair not only need clarifying ingredients to help minimize the effects of an oily scalp, but they also need volume. On the other side, individuals with thick and curly hair likely need lightweight hydration to maintain their curl pattern and provide needed nourishment. People with color-treated hair must be cautious of harsh surfactants that can strip their color or exasperate damage.
Sulfates are a class of cleansing agents often associated with removing dirt and buildup from the hair and providing a rich lather to a formula. While incredibly effective at creating that squeaky clean feeling we all know and love, sulfates can be too stripping for some hair types. "Nowadays, there are plenty of sulfate-free options to choose from," says Sarah Lund, a STYLE.MASTER for the KEVIN.MURPHY brand. Alternatives include coconut-derived surfactants and sugar-sourced glucosides. These ingredients are much more nourishing to the hair but offer a similar textural experience and cleansing capabilities.
"Fine hair tends to be the hair type most affected by excessive oil," explains Lund. She continues by saying that the strands have difficulty absorbing the excess sebum, which results in limp and weighed-down strands. But this doesn't mean those with thicker or textured hair won't experience increased oil production. Those with curls will need something that simultaneously offers moisture, while those with thick hair should look for products that use gentle chelating agents.
Questions You Might Ask
How often should you wash oily hair?
"Overwashing can actually strip the scalp, causing an overproduction of oil—essentially making things worse," cautions Lund. She suggests avoiding daily washes along with going too many days without hitting the shower. "I find the sweet spot to be 3-4 times a week."
How else can you prevent your hair from getting greasy?
"Oily hair is caused by an oily scalp," says Lund. So it makes sense that you should address your hair care routine the same way you would oily skin. "Think of your conditioner as your moisturizer—if you were to wash your face and not apply moisture after, you would find dry skin that eventually overproduces oil—the same is true for your scalp," she explains. Thus, her expert tip is polarizing: Put conditioner from the roots to the tips of the hair. This technique can help to regulate sebum production, and in conjunction with clarifying-style shampoos, you should notice a decrease in the oiliness of your strands.
Related:The 9 Best Shampoos for Every Hair Type and Concern
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Samantha Parsons, a beauty industry veteran, and writer with experience across the cosmetics, skin, and wellness industries. She researched the best shampoo for oily hair types, considering key ingredients, formula, scent profile, and price point. She also consulted Sarah Lund, a STYLE.MASTER for the KEVIN.MURPHY brand, to solidify these selections.
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