Scanning the aisles to find the best drugstore shampoo? Go with our recommendations and tips to discover the ideal formula for your hair type.
You’ll notice how well your mane responds to the right type of drugstore shampoo and save money in the process!
Looking for the Best Drugstore Shampoo?
Drugstore shampoo might be your usual purchase, or maybe you’re used to splurging on high end brands for all your scalp and hair-cleansing needs.
In any case, using a cheaper shampoo from the drugstore is going to leave you disappointed unless you’re buying a formula that’s actually designed for your hair type.
Even if you’ve tried drugstore shampoos in the past and liked the results pretty well, we think you’ll be able to find an option that better meets the needs of your mane with our recs.
It’s all about taking your hair type — whether it’s coarse or fine, thick or thin, straight or curly — into account to choose the best drugstore shampoo formula.
Let’s take a peek at all the things you need to look for in a drugstore shampoo to narrow your options and focus on the ones that are a good fit for your hair type.
What to Look for in a Drugstore Shampoo
Drugstore shampoo formulas differ based on the type of ingredients they contain to clean your hair and meet your hair type’s unique needs.
Some shampoos contain only basic cleansing ingredients, while others add in hydrating moisturizers, buildup-busting clarifiers, strengthening proteins, or volume-boosting starches.
When you start looking for the best drugstore shampoo for your hair, you’ll need to be familiar with some of the terminology used by shampoo brands to determine which formulas are a good fit:
- Regular: Basic shampoos with mild, gentle cleansers that remove oil, dirt, and light buildup for normal, oily, dry, or combination hair
- Clarifying: Designed for non-daily use, usually on oily hair, to remove product, dirt, and oil buildup on strands to reveal deeply cleansed hair ready for conditioning
- Strengthening: Formulated with hydrolyzed proteins to strengthen and support hair structure for less breakage and snapping
- Purifying: Contains natural ingredients like charcoal, plant and herb extracts, and detoxifying clays to deep-clean hair
- Moisturizing: Hydrating formulas for dry hair that contain moisture-attracting humectants; may contain natural oils, honey, glycerin, aloe vera, or shea/cocoa butter
- Volumizing: Body-building formulas designed to add lift, bounce, and volume to strands with starches, caffeine, vitamins, and minimal heavy moisturizing ingredients
- Damage or bond repair: Contains strengthening proteins, vitamins, oils, and/or silicones meant to rebuild damaged hair by filling in gaps, rebuilding disulfide bonds, and smoothing strands for a healthier appearance and feel
- Color-treated: Sulfate-free formulas designed for colored hair with gentle cleansers that remove oil and dirt without stripping chemical color away or fading hair dye
In addition to the different types of drugstore shampoo to choose from, you’ll also find a few specialty products that boast being free from harsh chemicals and additives found in many basic shampoos.
Here’s what you might see touted on many drugstore shampoo labels and what it means:
- Sulfate-free: Contains no harsh sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and may be free from other sulfates too; often contains milder sulfate-alternative surfactants like cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium lauroyl glycinate, glucosides, and glutamates to cleanse hair.
- Silicone-free: Contains no silicones that coat hair strands and lead to buildup over time, weighed-down strands with less volume, flatten curls, and prevent normal moisture entry and exit from strands.
- Paraben-free: Contains no preservative/antimicrobial parabens that are used to extend shampoo shelf life, prevent microbial (bacteria, fungus, yeast, etc.) growth, and may cause scalp irritation.
- Phthalate-free: Contains no lubricating phthalates that increase fragrance longevity and increase shampoo absorption; have been linked to hormone and endocrine disruption.
- Fragrance-free: Contains no synthetic fragrances; may be free from natural fragrances as well.
- Cruelty-free: Contains no ingredients that have been tested on animals and final product has not been tested on animals.
- Vegan: Contains no animal-derived products or byproducts like honey, beeswax, collagen, keratin, or silk protein in order to be 100% vegan.
With all these things in mind, it can be a little overwhelming to choose a good shampoo from your local drugstore shelf.
You need the best drugstore shampoo — one with all the right ingredients for your hair type and none of the bad stuff that can irritate and harm your mane. Take a look below to see our top recommendations of drugstore shampoos for different hair types.
The 5 Best Drugstore Shampoo by Hair Type
Reaching for the wrong drugstore shampoo isn’t going to do your strands any favors. So skip the uncertainty and grab a shampoo that’s actually formulated and designed just for your hair type!
Here’s the best drugstore shampoo for you to try according to your hair type.
Best Drugstore Shampoo for Dry Hair
Strands *always* thirsty, no matter how much moisture you throw at it? Renpure Coconut Cream Nourishing Shampoo is about to be your jam.
This thick, hydrating formula has everything dry hair needs with none of the nasties that lead to irritation and scalp issues. And it smells like a heavenly coconut paradise.
Renpure’s moisturizing, nourishing shampoo injects hydration a la shea butter, coconut oil, argan oil, and tea tree oil deep into strands for a smoother, shinier finish. It makes even brittle, dry hair feel luxuriously soft after a single shampoo.
If you want silky glass hair, this affordable shampoo (under $7 for a big bottle!) needs to be in your hair care arsenal. Renpure only uses plant-based cleansers with no harsh sulfates, dyes, parabens, or phthalates.
It’s just pure, gentle moisture with a great scent. If you’re shopping for an affordable shampoo you can easily pick up locally or online, you won’t regret giving this one a go.
Best Drugstore Shampoo for Oily Hair
Greasy gals (I get to say that because I’m one of you), nothing is more frustrating than washing your hair and watching your roots turn into an oil slick within 24 hours.
If you’re sick of grappling with greasy roots, try the drugstore oil-fighting champ: L’Oreal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Rebalancing Shampoo.
Unlike harsh clarifying shampoos that get rid of grease temporarily but also strip every ounce of moisture from your hair, this clay-based shampoo is designed to actually rebalance your scalp’s oil production for genuinely clean, less greasy hair.
It deeply cleanses those oily roots and absorbs oil with natural clays while providing a touch of moisture that keeps ends hydrated. Proper lightweight hydration sends your scalp a clear message: “We’re properly hydrated here, no additional grease production needed, thanks.”
You’ll love the fresh, clean fragrance and super-affordable price for this powerhouse drugstore shampoo. You might find that you’ll save money with this shampoo by washing less often, too.
Best Drugstore Shampoo for Fine Hair
Fine hair presents a unique challenge when buying shampoo because it’s so easy to weigh down those baby-fine strands. Most moisturizing, damage-repairing, and shine-enhancing formulas are just too heavy for your hair.
What you need is John Frieda Volume Lift Weightless Shampoo. This low-cost alternative to high-end volumizing shampoos won’t weigh your mane down with unnecessary heavyweight moisturizers.
Instead, it’s formulated with Air-Silk Technology — just their fancy terminology for volumizing wheat protein, caffeine, and cloudberry extract. You’ll get incredible root lift and all-over volume that makes fine hair look dense and plump with a single wash.
It does contain sulfates, but for fine hair that can’t handle much if any heavy buildup, that’s a given. You’ll love the lightweight clean and pumped-up volume this formula lends your baby-fine strands. The light floral scent is nice and not overpowering.
It’s a really affordable drugstore option that gives high-end results. For soft, bouncy, and lifted hair that’s anything but flat, you need to give this shampoo a try.
Best Drugstore Shampoo for Coarse Hair
Coarse hair has a larger diameter than fine and medium hair strands, so of coarse it needs a smoothing, hydrating shampoo formula that makes strands softer and more pliable.
Enter Garnier Whole Blends Smoothing Coconut Oil + Cocoa Butter Shampoo, which is our favorite cleanser for ultra-thick, coarse hair. If you thought your coarse strands had a mind of their own and were next-to-impossible to tame, you just haven’t tried this miracle shampoo yet.
It bathes your mane and scalp in a hydrating matrix of smoothing coconut oil and cocoa butter for soft strands that obey your every command. Or most of them, at least.
Say goodbye to style-ruining frizz (even in high humidity!), brittle strands that feel like straw, and wonky curls that cry out for moisture.
This formula will get your thick strands the hydration they need to feel soft, lie smooth without frizz, and look shinier and healthier than ever. It’s perfect for coarse hair that’s straight, wavy, curly, or coily.
It’s scented lightly with the intoxicating scent of coconut for a sweet aroma that smells clean and faintly tropical. Stock up on this affordable, paraben-free shampoo because running out will *not* be an option once you see the results.
Best Drugstore Shampoo for Damaged Hair
If your mane’s been through the wringer with damaging heat, color, UV rays, and rough brushing or styling, you owe it to yourself to start repairing the damage with a good-quality shampoo.
Damage-repairing OGX Extra Strength Hydrate & Repair Argan Oil of Morocco Shampoo is the choice product for mending strands for healthier texture and strength.
This low-cost formula is designed to fill in the gaps of damaged hair with water-based silk proteins that bond to your hair and smooth strands. The result is softer, shinier, stronger hair that looks and feels less damaged.
The secret is cold-pressed argan oil from Morocco combined with airy silk protein and coconut milk that gives strands more elasticity and strength.
You’ll stop breakage and hair fall in their tracks when you switch to this damage-defying sulfate-free, paraben-free shampoo. The smell is a subtly delicious blend of coconut, tangerine, and vanilla — it’s beyond phenomenal.
With your sweet-smelling, healthy-looking mane, everyone’s going to ask you what kind of shampoo you’re using. It’s up to you whether or not to reveal your secret to gorgeous hair costs less than $12!
Things to Consider When Switching Shampoos
Now that you’ve found the best drugstore shampoo to try from Amazon or your local retailer, you’ve got a few things to think about before you officially make the switch.
Here’s some food for thought before switching shampoos:
- Get scientific with it. Before you start using your new shampoo, jot down the date you start using it and the type of shampoo in a journal or notes in your phone. Note the type of shampoo you’ve been using previously and how often you’ve been washing as well as what you’re switching to. Track the changes you notice in your hair along the way – is it softer? Shinier? Stronger? Falling out less? Volumized? Greasier? Weighed down? This will help you determine the results of your shampoo switch with scientific accuracy so you can see if it’s worth continuing to use.
- Make sure you’re shampooing properly. Your results could be skewed if you’re not applying and using your new shampoo as recommended. Make sure you’re following the rules of how often to wash your hair (2-3 times/week for most). Concentrate lathering at your roots and only use as much shampoo as you need to lather and cleanse your hair. That’s roughly a quarter-sized amount or less for medium-textured hair of average density.
- Rinse the right way. Failing to rinse out your shampoo properly will make even the best drugstore shampoo give sub-stellar results. Using a smaller amount of shampoo makes it easier to thoroughly rinse. Use cold water to rinse out your shampoo fully. The cold water helps reseal the outer cuticle layer for more shine and moisture retention. Rinsing thoroughly helps you avoid jump-starting buildup by leaving residue behind.
- Don’t buy new shampoo at random. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the different options for shampoo, especially with appealing marketing terms plastered on every bottle. But don’t buy a new shampoo at random – it can wreak havoc on your hair! Stick to the shampoo recommended for your hair type here, or choose one that meets your hair’s biggest need (moisture, volume, oil control, etc.).
- Get the matching conditioner or hair care set. If there’s one available (and most of the time, there is), grab the matching conditioner that’s part of your new shampoo’s hair care system. You’ll still get good results from the shampoo alone, but these formulas are designed as part of a complete hair care system that often includes shampoo, conditioner, leave-ins, masks, and pre-shampoo treatments for the best results.
So, What’s the Best Drugstore Shampoo?
Finding the best drugstore shampoo for your hair type is going to transform your strands by giving them precisely what they need and none of what they don’t.
By focusing on getting a shampoo that’s tailor-made for your hair type, you really don’t need to shop for high-end shampoos from luxe beauty brands to get great results.
Affordable drugstore shampoos can give your hair the deep clean and moisture, smoothness, volume, or oil control it needs to look and feel its best. Try the recommended shampoo in this guide for your hair type.
You’ll notice more manageable, healthier hair that looks and smells great. We found that the best drugstore shampoo options came from well-known, trusted brands like L’Oreal, Garnier, OGX, John Frieda, and Renpure.
Their formulas use the same types of hair-and-scalp nourishing ingredients as their higher-end counterparts for a fraction of the price. Once you switch to a low-cost shampoo that’s formulated just for your hair type, you’ll see a major difference in how your hair looks and feels.
Track your progress and results with the new formula to see if it’s worth sticking with long-term. Don’t forget to follow other easy steps to repair and prevent damage for hair that’s less “Oh no” and more “Ooh la la!”
Check out the Best Drugstore Conditioner guide next to complete your new cleansing and conditioning routine!