The Best Mild Shampoos

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.

Elite Daily/Amazon

When it comes to determining your ideal hair-washing routine, multiple factors come into play. Whereas finer textures might need a daily wash, curly hair types often lather up just once per week. Things like your styling routine, the weather, and other hair (or scalp) concerns can impact how often you wash your hair, too. When in doubt, the easiest way to get your hair clean without disrupting your scalp is with a gentle, no-frills shampoo. The best mild shampoos are free from harsh cleansing agents called sulfates, which can dry out your scalp and hair if you shampoo frequently or have hair (or skin) that’s already prone to dryness. Instead, they combine gentle cleansing agents with conditioning ingredients like panthenol, shea butter, and hydrolyzed proteins.

How To Identify Sulfates

Using a shampoo with sulfates isn't the worst thing in the world, and they're often more effective for oily hair types or those looking to remove product buildup. However, they can also strip your hair and scalp of moisture and oil if used too frequently — something that those with dry hair (or a dry scalp) need to be especially careful of. Plus, if you dye or highlight your hair, sulfates can potentially cause your color to fade faster. Typically, shampoos will note that they're sulfate-free right on the label, but if you want to investigate the INCI list for yourself, look for the following ingredients:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium laureth sulfate
  • Ammonium lauryl sulfate
  • Disodium oleamine sulfosuccinate
  • Triethanolamine lauryl sulfate

Other Benefits To Using A Mild Shampoo

Mild shampoos are also great for anyone with scalp sensitivities and hair concerns like dryness or thinness because they're formulated to be gentler and often contain more conditioning ingredients. If your scalp is sensitive or if you have skin that's prone to irritation in general (something that can be aggravated by the hair products you use), look for a mild shampoo that doesn't contain any fragrances, dyes, parabens, phthalates, or pore-clogging oils. You might also prefer a mild shampoo that's free from silicones. Though they do promote smoother hair, silicones can build up over time, leading to hair that looks (and feels) weighed down.

Shop The Best Mild Shampoos

In a hurry? Here are the best mild shampoos:

  1. Best Mild Clarifying Shampoo: Ouai Detox Shampoo
  2. Best Mild Shampoo For Sensitive Scalps: SEEN Shampoo
  3. Best Mild Shampoo For Fine Hair: Living Proof Full Shampoo
  4. Best Mild Shampoo For Dry Hair: Aveeno Oat Milk Blend Shampoo
  5. Best Mild Shampoo For Curly Hair: Cantu Sulfate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo
  6. Best Mild Shampoo For Detangling: Carol’s Daughter Wash Day Delight Sulfate-Free Shampoo With Rose Water
  7. Best Mild Shampoo For Color Protection: Amika Vault Color-Lock Shampoo
  8. Best Mild Purple Shampoo For Blondes: Joico Blonde Life Violet Shampoo

1. Best Mild Clarifying Shampoo

A mild clarifying shampoo may sound like a bit of an oxymoron, but hear me out. This Ouai Detox Shampoo removes product buildup and hard water deposits that can lead to dryness, but without using any harsh sulfates. The color-safe formula includes apple cider vinegar to help gently exfoliate the scalp and remove residue while leaving hair shiny, plus hydrolyzed keratin to leave hair softer and smoother. The shampoo can be used once per week by all hair types, and it's infused with the brand's Melrose scent — a blend of rose, bergamot, and white musk.

Beneficial Ingredients: Apple Cider Vinegar, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Glycerin Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: Yes Fragrance-Free: No Size: 10 oz.

2. Best Mild Shampoo For Sensitive Scalps

Whether you have a skin condition like eczema that leaves your scalp more sensitive, or you're prone to dryness, flaking, or even acne, this dermatologist-created shampoo is as gentle as they come. SEEN Shampoo is a sulfate-free, silicone-free, fragrance-free formula that was developed by Harvard-trained dermatologist Dr. Iris Rubin for those experiencing skin and scalp irritation exacerbated by hair care products. PETA and Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty-free, the shampoo is noncomedogenic, so it won't clog pores and contribute to acne. It's also a gluten-free and soy-free product that's safe for all hair and skin types, including those with color-treated hair.

Beneficial Ingredients: Hemisqualane, Glycerin, Bisabolol Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: Yes Fragrance-Free: Yes Size: 8.6 oz.

3. Best Mild Shampoo For Fine Hair

This is my go-to shampoo for my hair, which is super-fine in texture and tends to get oily fast. Living Proof's Full Shampoo uses an amino cleansing complex that works to clean hair of dirt, oil, and buildup without leaving it totally stripped. To give fine hair a boost, amaranth peptides have been added to the formula, while marine algae and phytantriol help to preserve color and protect hair from environmental damage.

Beneficial Ingredients: Amaranth Peptides, Marine Algae Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: Yes Fragrance-Free: No Size: 8 oz.

4. Best Mild Shampoo For Dry Hair

When your hair and scalp are in need of more moisture, sulfate-free isn't enough on its own. You'll also want to look for a shampoo that combines soothing and conditioning ingredients, like Aveeno's Oat Milk Blend Shampoo. It’s a lightweight gel formula that's packed with colloidal oatmeal extract, hydrolyzed milk protein, and sweet almond seed extract to soothe away dry, itchy skin while infusing hair with moisture. Plus, it costs less than $10 on Amazon.

Beneficial Ingredients: Colloidal Oatmeal Extract, Hydrolyzed Milk Protein, Sweet Almond Seed Extract Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: No Fragrance-Free: No Size: 12 oz.

5. Best Mild Shampoo For Curly Hair

Curly hair is more prone to dryness than other textures, which is why you'll want your shampoo to be free from silicones and sulfates. Cantu’s Sulfate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo was created for type 2, 3, and 4 curls, blending gentle cleansing agents with shea butter and panthenol to condition as it washes away product buildup, dirt, and oil. The shampoo is also cruelty-free and doesn't contain common irritants or ingredients that can zap hair of moisture, like alcohol, parabens, phthalates, and propylene glycol.

Beneficial Ingredients: Glycerin, Shea Butter, Panthenol Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: Yes Fragrance-Free: No Size: 13.5 oz.

6. Best Mild Shampoo For Detangling

Another curly hair-approved formula, Carol's Daughter Wash Day Delight Shampoo uses micellar water technology to draw dirt and oil away from the hair without stripping it of its natural oils. Silicone-free and sulfate-free, the water-like formula transforms into a rich lather that doesn't cause any friction, so it minimizes tangles and leaves hair softer and shinier as it rinses clean.

Beneficial Ingredients: Glycerin, Salicylic Acid, Aloe Leaf Juice, Rosa Centifolia Extract Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: Yes Fragrance-Free: No Size: 16.9 oz.

7. Best Mild Shampoo For Color Protection

While most of the shampoos on this list are safe for color-treated hair, Amika’s Vault Color-Lock Shampoo was specifically formulated with UV filters and antioxidants to protect your hair from damage and color fading, which can be caused by exposure to sun, pollution, and heat. To preserve your color and nourish dry or damaged hair, you'll find a blend of soybean oil, sea buckthorn seed oil, and hair-strengthening amino acids like arginine, glycine, and alanine in this formula.

Beneficial Ingredients: Glycerin, Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil, Soybean Oil, Amino Acids, Panthenol Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: No Fragrance-Free: No Size: 10 oz.

8. Best Mild Purple Shampoo For Blondes

For blondes who refuse to give up their purple shampoo, Joico’s Blonde Life Violet Shampoo is a mild formula that's gentle on fragile, bleached hair, but tough on brassiness. Violet pigments neutralize and brighten unwanted brassy tones, while arginine, coconut oil, and omega-rich tamanu oil strengthen hair, boost moisture, and amplify shine. You'll want to pair this with the ancillary Blonde Life Violet Conditioner for the best results, and you can use them both two to three times each week.

Beneficial Ingredients: Hydrolyzed Keratin, Coconut Oil, Tamanu Oil, Gardenia Tahitensis Flower Extract, Arginine, Violet Pigments Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: Yes Fragrance-Free: No Size: 10.1 oz.

About The Author:

Marissa DeSantis has worked as a beauty writer and editor for nearly 10 years. Her pieces can be found across print and digital publications like Bustle, Evening Standard, Teen Vogue, and InStyle.