The Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos For Oily Hair
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Hair washing is always a bit of a chore, but when you have oily hair that requires a daily shampoo, it's even more of a hassle (trust me, I feel your pain). Finding a shampoo that's a good fit for your hair type comes with its own set of struggles, as many formulas contain oils and silicones, which, while moisturizing for some hair types, can make oily hair get greasy even faster. If you dye your hair and can't rely on sulfates to give you a deep clean, the best sulfate-free shampoos for oily hair are where you'll want to turn your attention. These shampoos may declare that they're free from sulfates right on the label, but you can always investigate the ingredients list for yourself, keeping an eye out for names like sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and sodium coco sulfate. Additionally, ingredients like salicylic acid and apple cider vinegar can be helpful for cutting through buildup and excess oil on the scalp.
Shampooing Tips For Oily Hair
Perhaps even more important than the shampoo you use is how you wash your hair if it’s prone to becoming greasy quickly. This may seem obvious, but you should always concentrate your shampoo at the roots of your hair, being careful not to cause damage with your nails by aggressively scrubbing. You'll also want to be sure that you're applying conditioner to the ends of your hair only, as it can make your hair look oily and weighed down if you use it on your scalp (and even too much through the lengths of your hair). After you’ve let your conditioner sit for a few minutes, take the time to wash it out thoroughly, as any residual conditioner will make your hair look and feel a lot greasier.
And forget all of those people who told you that you just need to train your hair to stop being so greasy. While that may work for those whose oily scalps are a result of over-stripping the natural oils their scalp produces, the American Academy of Dermatology confirms that for those of us with oily skin, shampooing your hair on a daily basis is just the way it is.
Shop The Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos For Oily Hair
In a hurry? Here are the best sulfate-free shampoos for oily hair:
1. Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Oily Hair That Needs Volume: Living Proof Full Shampoo
2. Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Oily Hair That's Curly: Carol's Daughter Wash Day Delight
3. Best Drugstore Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Oily Hair: Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Shampoo
4. Best Prestige Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Oily Hair: Fekkai Apple Cider Detox Clarifying Shampoo
5. Best Sulfate-Free Tea Tree Oil Shampoo For Oily Hair: OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp + Teatree Mint Shampoo
6. Best Exfoliating Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Oily Hair: Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo
1. Writer's Pick: Best Shampoo For Oily Hair That Needs Volume
I have fine hair that gets greasy, like clockwork, after 24 hours. Since too much dry shampoo can irritate my scalp, that typically means I'm washing my hair Every. Single. Day. Living Proof’s Full Shampoo helps my hair last a little bit longer before delving into oil slick territory with its lightweight formula that also adds a little lift. In addition to being free from sulfates, it's also free from silicones, which I have found weigh my hair down and contribute to making it look oily. Rather than include extra de-greasing ingredients, the shampoo uses an amino cleansing complex to remove oil from the scalp without drying it out, and amaranth peptides to plump up your hair strands for a fuller finish once it's dry. It also contains marine algae to help protect your hair from environmental damage and keep your color looking fresh for longer.
Key Ingredients: Amaranth Peptides Size: 8 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes
Relevant Review: "This shampoo cleans my hair well, leaves it soft, and adds volume. It does not weigh my hair down or leave it feeling greasy."
2. Best Shampoo For Oily Hair That's Curly
Curly hair can get oily, too, particularly if you have curly hair that's finer in texture. Carol's Daughter Wash Day Delight was formulated to cleanse curly hair of excess oil and buildup without drying it out. Because of its gentle formula that's silicone-free and sulfate-free, it can even be used on super-fine hair to give it a thorough clean and detangle knots. One of the star ingredients in here is micellar water, which helps lift away product buildup, while salicylic acid exfoliates the scalp without any harsh scrubbing. To soothe the scalp and moisturize hair, aloe vera and glycerin have also been included in the formula.
Key Ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Aloe Leaf Juice Size: 16.9 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes
Relevant Review: "Super-clean hair at the first use. My hair is very oily and curly, so this helps. It doesn't leave it dry and itchy."
3. Best Drugstore ACV Shampoo For Oily Hair
For a drugstore find that helps with clarifying and soothing the scalp, try this Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo. Like most Aveeno products, colloidal oatmeal extract is the main ingredient in this shampoo, which is particularly beneficial for dry, itchy, and irritated scalps. Meanwhile, the apple cider vinegar helps to remove product buildup and cleanse oily scalps without causing any irritation. Plus, it can make your hair look shinier.
Key Ingredients: Apple Cider Vinegar, Colloidal Oatmeal Extract Size: 12 oz. Cruelty-Free: No
Relevant Review: "This stuff is amazing! I used to have to wash my oily hair every day, but since starting this, I am able to go a day between washing and it has made my hair so shiny. […]"
4. Best Prestige ACV Shampoo For Oily Hair
Another apple cider vinegar shampoo, this one combines the gentle clarifying ingredient with salicylic acid to lift away dead skin cells that can mess with the health of your scalp (and by extension, your hair). Fekkai’s Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Clarifying Shampoo is also packed with lightweight moisturizing ingredients and extracts that help to protect color-treated hair and prevent damage from things like sun and pollution exposure. Additionally, vitamin B5, ginger root extract, rice protein, and edelweiss flower extract all work to strengthen hair while providing heat and environmental protection. If you find it’s too deep-cleaning for everyday use, you can use this shampoo just once a week, rotating with a non-clarifying formula on your other hair-washing days.
Key Ingredients: Apple Cider Vinegar, Salicylic Acid Size: 8.5 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes
Relevant Review: "I absolutely love this shampoo! It makes my hair smell great and it literally feels fresh. You don't need to use a lot, a little bit goes a long way. Your hair still smells fresh 24 hours later and your hair does not dry up or get oily. Yes I totally recommend this awesome shampoo.”
5. Best Tea Tree Oil Shampoo For Oily Hair
Tea tree oil has become a popular ingredient for helping to treat acne and oily skin, so it's no surprise that it's made its way into shampoo, too. OGX’s Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp + Teatree Mint Shampoo has more than 7,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, many of which praise the formula for its ability to help reduce excess oil on the scalp. The shampoo also contains witch hazel, another topical ingredient commonly used in skin care to help with reducing oiliness and inflammation.
Key Ingredients: Tea Tree Oil, Witch Hazel Size: 13 oz. Cruelty-Free: No
Relevant Review: "I purchased this shampoo because my hair would get oily the next day after washing it. I tried different shampoos, and they all had the same effect on me. […] I used the shampoo on a Tuesday and by Thursday evening, it was barely getting greasy, so for me, it's already a win. […]"
6. Best Exfoliating Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Oily Hair
If you're in need of a deep cleansing treatment, you can use this Briogeo Scalp Revival Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo once each week on its own or followed up with your usual shampoo. Designed to be used by all hair types, this treatment is even safe for color-treated hair because of its sulfate-free and silicone-free formula. Vegetable-derived exfoliators and binchotan charcoal remove product buildup and dead skin cells while drawing out impurities, and tea tree oil provides anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits, which may help reduce scalp irritation and combat excess oiliness. There are a few heavier moisturizing ingredients, like coconut oil and castor oil, in this shampoo, but because of the multiple exfoliators, they really just balance things out (rather than over-moisturize and weigh your hair down).
Key Ingredients: Charcoal Powder, Tea Tree Oil Size: 8 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes
Relevant Review: "[…] I have a very oily scalp, but sometimes my hair tends to dry out on the ends. I usually use this treatment once a week. I massage it into my scalp and let it sit for a few moments and then wash [it] out. I will follow up with a clarifying shampoo. It smells so good, and I can definitely tell a difference in my scalp and the number of days I can go without washing."
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.