20 Best Shampoos for Oily Hair
There's no reason limp, greasy locks have to get you down. The right shampoo can change everything.
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via amazon.com (2), via ulta.com
Say sayonara to slick strands
Every type of hair has its challenges, but if you have oily hair, you might be particularly frustrated. After all, the effects of a good wash and styling session should last more than a few hours, right? What causes hair to get greasy and lifeless-looking so ridiculously fast? “All of the skin on our body with hair has sebaceous, oil-producing glands,” explains Papri Sarkar, MD, a dermatologist based in Massachusetts. “These glands are most plentiful on the face and scalp, and when they’re stimulated by hormones or temperature, they release more sebum onto the scalp and the hair. This makes the hair oily.” While you can’t change your body chemistry and your natural tendencies, you can get to the root of this problem, so to speak, by choosing the best shampoo for your hair—specifically, the best shampoo for oily hair.
“You want a shampoo that can remove your excess natural oils but that doesn’t weight down the hair when styling,” says Joel Warren, creator of the Salon Project at Saks Fifth Avenue stores. “Oil can also build up on your scalp and clog pores, eventually preventing hair from growing. This can actually lead to thin hair.” That’s why he recommends that those with very oily scalps wash their hair every day. The right product can help remove oil, protect your hair, and make it easier to style.
We’ve rounded up the 20 best shampoos for your hair type, whether you’re looking for a shampoo for thinning hair, a budget-friendly option, or something the whole family can use. And, of course, don’t forget to pair it with a great conditioner—yes, oily hair needs one, too!
WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo
This brown bottle is one of the Amazon products you’ll use every day—and for good reason. “For people with oily scalps without dandruff, I generally look for shampoos with ingredients like salicylic acid or apple cider vinegar,” says Dr. Sarkar. “They may be able to clean the oil from the scalp better than a regular shampoo.” This sulfate-free formula makes it a shoe-in for those with added color, tinting, or chemical treatments, and the mild amount of apple cider vinegar leaves a fresh, clean feeling without a pungent stink.
Neutrogena Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo
If you’re looking for a low-budget way to deeply cleanse your scalp and strands of excess sebum, this under-$5 Neutrogena Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo is the way to go. It’s also a favorite for other hair types when you need to remove buildup from hair gel, spray, and other styling products. Just be careful not to use sulfate-inclusive formulas like this one if you’re aiming to preserve your hair color or chemical treatments such as perms or relaxers. “Shampoos with sulfates work well, but they can decrease the longevity or damage your perm or color,” Dr. Sarkar says. If you use clarifying formulas with sulfates frequently, you’ll want to invest in some of the best hair masks to replenish hydration to your ends.
Head and Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo
“If you have dandruff in addition to an oily scalp, which is common, seek out pyrithiazone zinc, salicylic acid, tar, or selenium sulfide in the ingredients list,” advises Dr. Sarkar. “This affordable shampoo is not just for dandruff—it also helps oily scalps.” One thing you’ll want to avoid if you struggle with oil? Dr. Sarkar cautions against trendy follicle-clogging ingredients like coconut oil as a natural treatment for dandruff since there’s a good chance you’ll be left with an even oilier, grimier scalp than before.
Not Your Mother’s Blonde Moment Purple Shampoo
If you have blonde or silver tones, stick with blue and purple-based shampoos, according to Warren, who sees a variety of light tones in his New York salon. “[When] people lighten their hair, those oils from the scalp have a yellowing tendency that can make blonde or gray hair have a yellow tinge.” Allowing brassy yellow hues to overtake a good-quality salon color is one of the worst hair color mistakes you can make, which is why balancing yellow and orange-hued oily tresses with blue and violet shades is an easy way to prolong your hair color’s vibrance and intended hue. Amazon reviewers say this affordable Not Your Mother’s formulation is just as good as similarly marketed high-end products, helping to extend the time between dye jobs and “keep your blonde in check.”
Paul Mitchell Shampoo Two
“I like Paul Mitchell’s Shampoo Two for a color-safe clarifying option,” says Warren. This formula is actually the best shampoo for oily hair that can stand up to a routine, because it goes to work removing dulling buildup and encouraging the scalp to produce less and less oil over time in a gradual fashion. The squeaky-clean finish and crisp, energizing lemon scent make it a favorite of top stylists, too. Pro tip: Don’t forget about the conditioner, but just use it on the ends, advises Warren.
Vicious Curl Foaming Curl Cleanse
Different hair textures require different methods, which is why Warren suggests using a hydrating cleanser that removes extra buildup without stripping particularly delicate hair of the moisture it needs. He likes this paraben- and sulfate-free formula from Vicious as an alternative to co-washing for naturally curly and heavily textured hair. It adds weightless hydration while removing oily scalp residues, foams as if it was brimming with sulfates even though it’s not, and boasts a blend of coffee, green tea, acai, goji, and other healthy growth-promoting botanicals. Picking the right shampoo for your hair texture is one of the best curly hair tips, and it’s important for retaining shape and texture.
Matrix Biolage HydraSource Shampoo
Keeping hair hydrated is one of the most important things you can do before styling frizzy hair, and even the oiliest scalps can lead to dry ends. That’s why this bottle of Biolage could be your new best friend. When combined with the rest of the HydraSource system, it leaves hair up to 15 times more moisturized after a single application. It’s suitable for colored and chemically treated hair, harnesses the cleansing and hydrating properties of natural aloe, and whisks away impurities with the efficiency of a clarifying shampoo. This shampoo is best for especially thirsty strands that fall victim to the weighed-down effect of excess scalp oils.
Hair La Vie Shampoo
Tackling more than one issue at a time might be complicated for some shampoos, but this hydrating Hair La Vie shampoo rinses away sebaceous oils, adds hydration to hair, and helps encourage strong, healthy growth. Heavy-feeling oils are rinsed away and replaced with ultra lightweight marula and peppermint oils to nourish strands and protect delicate scalp skin, while proteins and amino acids help repair damaged, brittle tresses. It’s a little pricey, but reviewers say a little goes a long way; plus, you get a shampoo and conditioner in this set. Verified Amazon reviewer Terry says: “I have tried several products to combat my thinning hair, but I was losing the battle until I found Hair La Vie. The shampoo and conditioner give my hair a true salon treatment. [After] only one week, I can already see and feel the difference. I love it!”
Headquarters for Oily Roots & Scalp Cleansing Shampoo
Attention, deal shoppers: This shampoo for oily hair is one of the best products to buy at Walmart, and not just because it’s an absolute steal at under $8. The Headquarters brand is exclusive to Walmart right now, is incredibly affordable, and offers neutral packaging that anyone in your house with an oily scalp would be thrilled to use. It’s loaded with fresh basil and grapefruit extracts to brighten, cleanse, and clarify even the oiliest of scalps. Don’t worry—it won’t dry your hair out when used with the coordinating, dreamy-scented conditioner.
eSalon Volume Color Care Shampoo
This everyday cleanser boosts body and shine for added fullness and movement, and prevents color fade for up to 30 washes. Pretty impressive, right? Reviewers with oily, thin hair rave about how well it works, too. “All the products I use from eSalon are superb, so I decided to try [this shampoo], although I did not think it would be much better than what I was using. Well, it is better!” raves one customer. “It keeps my color from fading as fast, and it helps my fine, straight hair look fuller with body, too.” If you want fuller hair, here are some of the best hair-thickening shampoos to try.
Pai-Shau Opulent Volume Cleanser
If you love a luxurious beauty product or just can’t imagine life without premium shampoo, this Pai-Shau Opulent Volume Cleanser truly lives up to its name and makes a wonderful last-minute gift for her, thanks to quick Amazon Prime shipping. The tea-infused bundle cleans, promotes healthy growth, and wipes away heavy, dulling oils to promote intense shine and unmatched softness. It also smells like an elegant European parfumerie, but that’s just a bonus.
COLAB Dry Shampoo Overnight Renew
You can forget all the mess and fuss of regular dry shampoos, because this almost-magical can of COLAB Overnight Renew is designed to sop up extra oils as you sleep, leaving your hair perfectly refreshed and voluminous by morning. Simply apply a few carefully aimed spritzes of the soothing eucalyptus and lavender-scented formula and drift off to sleep as your scalp is conditioned, cared for, and degreased. COLAB is also cruelty-free and vegan-friendly, so it’s a total win for just about everyone.
Aveda Rosemary Mint Purifying Shampoo
This nature-first purifying cleanser is rich with clarifying vinegar, deep-cleansing and nourishing micelles, and organic rosemary, peppermint, and spearmint to refresh the hair and scalp while awakening the senses. Reviewers love that it makes hair feel “super clean but nor overly stripped” and that it allows them to go a few days without washing, and the scent is a nice perk—the perfect “fragrance for those who hate fragrance.” It’s a classic bottle that beauty lovers have adored for years, and one of the best home spa products for leisurely afternoons of DIY beautification.
Natural Formula Keratin Intense Pro Straight Shampoo
This intensely nourishing shampoo whisks away dirt, grime, slime, and oils without a trace of sodium chloride, the compound known for breaking down keratin and other expensive chemical treatments. It’s ideal for hair that’s been treated with keratin and other straightening products, and helps protect hair from frizz, flyaways, and irregular curl patterns that can pop up as keratin wears off. It’s also one of the best cheap shampoo picks under $15.
Pattern Clarifying Shampoo
Most clarifying formulas aren’t safe for curlies and coils, but this antioxidant-rich green tea powerhouse is simply the best shampoo for oily hair that’s tightly textured, thick, full of spring-like tight curls. And this should come as no surprise since it’s the brainchild of Tracee Ellis Ross, who sports her own formidable set of curls. This Pattern formulation is loaded with real, natural aloe vera to promote hydration and strength, as well as fragrance notes of exotic florals like jasmine, bergamot, and sweet sandalwood. Here are more Black-owned beauty brands you should really own by now.
Hands down, this is the best shampoo for oily hair that’s attached to allergy- and eczema-prone scalps. It’s a National Eczema Association Award Winner for promoting healthy hair and scalp routines, and it’s completely SLS-free, suitable for seborrheic dermatitis, and formulated to be itch-free. Eczema, by the way, is one of the skin conditions that can worsen with stress.
Rusk Puremix Activated Charcoal Purifying Shampoo
Both men and women adore this rich, black liquid, thanks to sleek packaging, a fresh scent, and a charcoal-based formula that goes head-to-head with oils, impurities, dirt, and other gross grime. It’s also loaded with oats for added strength and quinoa proteins to protect color and shine. Charcoal also combats fungal growth and kicks stinky smells to the curb.
Moroccan Gold Series Salt Free Shampoo
If curly, color-treated hair that also happens to be oily sounds hyper-specific, that’s because it is. Curls on their own require a special level of hydration and care to keep their pattern intact and frizz to a minimum, but once chemical treatments like color or bleach are added into the mix, the level of care required to keep hair shiny, bright, and healthy reaches a whole new level. This Moroccan Gold Series shampoo boasts a salt-free formula that’s safe for color-treated, highlighted, bleached, and even keratin-coated strands, and it features real lightweight argan oil and keratin proteins designed to smooth and seal your hair’s natural cuticles. One reviewer raves that this shampoo “removes scalp oils and flakes without leaving hair crunchy and straw-like.” Is skin also a problem? Check out moisturizers specially designed for oily skin.
Pura D’or Scalp Therapy Shampoo
Whether you’re prone to actual dandruff or just the dry, itchy scalp that comes with seasonal changes, this Pura D’Or Scalp Therapy formula will leave you with clean, hydrated, and healthy surfaces that pave the way to fresh hair and enhanced growth. The ingredients list features natural tea tree, peppermint, patchoui, clary sage, and argan oils for lightweight hydration. And, of course, these powerhouses also effectively remove gunk and debris such as sweat, dirt, and pollutants.
Matrix Biolage Cooling Mint Scalp Sync Shampoo
Yet another Matrix Biolage formula makes our list of the best shampoos for oily hair, and if you try it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without the burst of morning energy it provides. With more than 1,500 five-star reviews on Amazon, it’s become an Amazon’s Choice product, thanks to an invigorating, fresh mint scent and a rich, hard-to-beat lather that lifts oils and leaves strands and scalps ultra-clean.
Amazon reviewers are especially enthusiastic about using it for greasy, hormonal teen hair, with one reviewer writing, “I purchased this for my 12-year-old daughter. Her hair was so greasy that just an hour or two after a wash, it was back to looking oily. After the first use of this shampoo and matching conditioner, her hair is soft and healthy looking. Her hair doesn’t look the least bit greasy now. She recently had to go to a camp with no showers. Even after three days of not washing her hair, it was still healthy looking. This is a keeper.”
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- Papri Sarkar, MD, a dermatologist based in Massachusetts www.drpaprisarkar.com
- Joel Warren, creator of the Salon Project at Saks Fifth Avenue stores