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These Shampoos Are Basically Guaranteed to Give You Great Hair

Great hair starts in the shower, with the perfect shampoo for your hair type and needs. The Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab scientists have a long history of testing shampoos for all hair types and concerns, including shampoo for dry hair, color-safe shampoo, thickening shampoo, and shampoo formulated for oily or greasy strands.

When we test shampoos, the products are first label-blinded by Lab scientists to eliminate brand bias and distributed to testers across the country to use in their hair routine at home. Consumers then evaluate the products on their performance, including how well they cleanse hair, how they make hair look and feel, and ease of use, from dispensing to lather, scent, how well they rinse, irritation level, and more.

We also test shampoos in the Lab using a swatch-wash station in a process where exact doses of each formula are dispensed onto human hair swatches of different textures and types. This allows us to calculate cleansing ability. Last, all of the testing data points (usually in the thousands!) are tallied to determine the winning formulas.

How to find the best shampoo for your hair type

With endless options lining hair product aisles, where to start? First, zero in on your hair type or issue, then identify key terms related to it on product packaging. Here, what language to look for based on common hair concerns and conditions, according to the Beauty Lab:

  • For dry hair, shop "moisturizing,” “hydrating,” “nourishing,” “replenishing” or “softening.” These shampoo and conditioner formulations are made with higher quantities of conditioning ingredients to coat strands, making them silkier and more supple.
  • For thin/flat hair, look for“volumizing,” “thickening,” “bodifying,” “fullness” or, to remove excess oil or buildup, “clarifying.” These are formulated with the lowest level of conditioning ingredients, which can weigh down fine strands.
  • For color-treated hair, shop “color protection,” “fade protection,” “color care” or “color safe.” These procuts have gentler or lower ratios of cleansers and more conditioners to prevent color loss.
  • For damaged hair, look for “strengthening,” “repair,” “damage repair,” “reconstructing,” “fortifying” or “anti-breakage.” These picks provide the highest dose of conditioning to replenish moisture and protect strands that are over-processed due to chemical treatments (like coloring), heat (from hair dryers and heat tools), or mechanical damage (e.g., brushing).
  • For frizzy hair, shop “smoothing,” “polishing,”frizz control,” “frizz protection” or “anti-frizz.” Your strands need good conditioning in both shampoo and conditioner formulas to infuse hydration and to smooth hair’s surface, preventing pouf.

It's also important to buy the matching shampoo and conditioner set when possible.“Shampoos and conditioners are developed and tested for efficacy in pairs, which allows their manufacturers to optimize ingredients for their individual
functions,” explains GH Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D. “Mixing brands and collections may produce less effective results, including under- or over-conditioning.”

Now you're ready to start shopping! Here, the best shampoos and shampoo brands to guarantee gorgeous, healthy hair (and great hair days!) whether yours is thin, medium, or thick, including drugstore and professional picks, tested by GH Beauty Lab scientists.