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The 13 Best Hypoallergenic Shampoos for Sensitive Scalps

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If lately you’re finding that wash day leaves you with an irritated scalp (rather than a clean one), chances are you might need to try a different shampoo. See, some shampoos contain ingredients that can cause allergic reactions like redness, itchiness and breakouts, and switching to a hypoallergenic shampoo can help. To walk us through the ins and outs of hypoallergenic shampoos, we asked one of Hollywood's leading haircare specialists to weigh in.

Meet the Expert:

  • Philip B. is a scalp expert and founder of Philip B

What Is a Hypoallergenic Shampoo?

“Hypoallergenic means that a formula that is free of allergens and ingredients that can potentially be harmful to your skin and scalp,” explains Philip B. So, whether you have a sensitive scalp or you’re allergic to specific ingredients, this type of shampoo can be a safer option to use in the shower. Plus, it's often gentler on the skin and contain other ingredients that help relieve related concerns like itchiness, redness or inflammation. 

OK, How Do I Know If I’m Allergic to a Shampoo?

It can start with mild irritation like itchiness, redness or burning. There are also more noticeable signs, like breakouts, flakes and patches. Overall, if you’re experiencing any sort of irritation on your scalp, you should reconsider your current regimen. And if you continue to see a pattern in your symptoms or have any severe reactions (like heavy breathing or hives) after using a shampoo, always consult with a dermatologist.

What Ingredients Cause an Allergic Reaction? 

When it comes to shampoo (or any haircare products for that matter), they are often jam-packed with different ingredients, so it’s hard to pinpoint which ones are the culprit without further testing. But if you have a sensitive scalp and are concerned about causing irritation, here are some common ingredients to look out for when shopping for a new shampoo:

  • Fragrance: Yes, we want our hair to smell nice after a wash, but the added fragrance can do more harm than good. “Fragrances are the primary cause of skin allergies and should be avoided for those with sensitive skin. Note: A product may be labeled “unscented,” or “fragrance-free,” but may still contain plant extracts or essential oils that can be irritating,” adds Philip B.
  • Sulfates: These harsh surfactants can strip away your natural oils and leave your scalp feeling super dry, which can exacerbate other issues like itchiness or flaking. (Psst! Not all sulfates are created equal. We compiled a list of sulfates to avoid.) 
  • Botanical Extracts: From lavender to tea tree oil, people with sensitive skin may want to avoid certain botanical ingredients and essential oils.
  • Other Ingredients: Philip B. notes formaldehyde releasers, parabens and certain preservatives should be avoided as well. Examples: Methylparaben, imidazoldinyl urea and methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI). 

How Do You Choose the Right Hypoallergenic Shampoo? 

You’ll want to keep these three factors in mind before adding a new shampoo to your cart:

  • Your Hair Type: Do you have natural hair? Thinning hair? Color-treated hair? Similar to regular shampoos, hypoallergenic shampoos often cater to specific hair types and textures. Look closely at the formulas and cater your choice to what works best for your hair.
  • Your Hair Concerns: From dandruff to dryness, consider what your hair needs help with and see if the shampoo in question addresses the same things. 
  • Any Skin Reaction: The beauty of hypoallergenic shampoo is its gentle formula, but if you’re trying a new shampoo for the first time, you still want to do a patch test on your wrist. Wait 24 hours and see if you have any sort of reaction. If not, you may proceed.  

How Do I Check If a Shampoo Is Hypoallergenic or Not? 

Take a closer look at the ingredients. At a minimum, you want a shampoo that’s free of fragrances, artificial dyes and sulfates, as those are common irritants for people with sensitive skin. Note: The FDA doesn’t currently have any set standards or specific guidelines to regulate hypoallergenic products and leaves it to manufacturers to decide whether or not they fit the bill, so keep that in mind when you’re shopping around. 

And if you don’t have the time (or patience) to scour the haircare aisle, we found the 13 best hypoallergenic shampoos for sensitive scalps, according to reviewers that stand by them.

The Best Hypoallergenic Shampoos at a Glance

Best 2-in-1

1. The Honest Company Shampoo + Body Wash

The Honest Company

This 2-in-1 formula aims to give you a gentle wash from head to toe. The soothing formula (featuring aloe juice, chamomilla flower extract and lavender oil) offers a rich lather that rinses clean. It’s also made without any parabens, dyes or synthetic fragrances. With more than 11,000 5-star reviews, customers rave about the calming formula—and how it’s great for little ones, too. “Finally, finally, finally, a shampoo that doesn't have a perfume [scent], and that actually works as advertised. I used it for hair, scalp and face. It's all good, clean and soft with no irritation. Finally. It's on the top of my essential list,” writes one happy customer.

Most Volumizing

Cleure

This shampoo is paraben-free, fragrance-free and color-safe and it features glycerin, a key ingredient that hydrates and soothes sensitive scalps. Thanks to the fatty acids found in the formula, it also removes excess oil and improves volume. “This is the only brand that does not make my scalp burn or itch. It took me a long time to find this," wrote one buyer. "If you have problems with sensitivity to shampoo and conditioner, I highly recommend giving this brand a shot. I also appreciate that this shampoo completely cleans my hair and it doesn't weigh it down."

Most Nourishing

3. Klorane Ultra-Gentle Shampoo

Klorane

With ‘ultra-gentle’ in its name, we had high expectations of this shampoo and we’re happy to report that it delivers. Its lightweight blend, featuring oat milk, promises to soften, hydrate and condition your hair, while also balancing the scalp. One fan found it super helpful for their dry, damaged hair. “This is so gentle for your scalp and smells great! I love that it makes my hair feel clean without stripping too much moisture. [It’s] definitely great for damaged or dry hair. But it’s also great for anyone who doesn't want too much on their scalp. Just a nice, gentle shampoo,” they share.

This gentle shampoo tackles both your hair and scalp health. The aloe vera minimizes irritation and inflammation, while the oat milk and green tea extract blend works to cleanse and calm the scalp and hair. 

As one reviewer explains: “I used to suffer from a very itchy scalp and eczema bumps from either fragrance in shampoos or the shampoos being too harsh, and I haven't had those problems at all since I started using this shampoo about two months ago. I have coarse, thick curly hair and this effectively cleans my scalp even when it's been several days between washes and there's a lot of product in my hair. It is a watery consistency, but as long as you lather it in your hands before applying it to your scalp, it works like a charm! All in all, this is a great regular-basis shampoo to use alongside a monthly clarifying shampoo!”

This daily shampoo promises a deep cleanse that won’t strip away your natural oils. In it, you’ll find a betaine, squalene and rosemary oil blend, which refreshes, softens and clarifies the hair and scalp. It also offers a subtle scent that won’t weigh down your locks, courtesy of natural ingredients (like fresh bergamot, eucalyptus and muddled peppermint) and small doses of essential oils (like citrus and mint).

With nearly 800 5-star reviews, many users appreciate the gentle lather: “I was surprised how amazingly well this product lathered," wrote one. "All sulfate-free/natural products I have tried have been very liquidy and not the easiest to work into my hair [but] this shampoo works even better than products with sulfate[s] in them. I can honestly say, of all the shampoos I've used in my life, this shampoo is the easiest to lather. The smell is also amazing, no complaints there...The shampoo alone has improved the quality of my hair by a lot; it is the softest it’s been in a long while. This is an amazing product and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a natural, sulfate and paraben-free shampoo.”

Best Daily Shampoo

6. JĀSÖN Shampoo

JĀSÖN

This shampoo will likely become a staple in your daily routine. The pro-vitamin B5 formula promises to deeply cleanse and hydrate your hair without stripping away too much moisture. Sage leaf extract adds shine and elasticity, while chamomile extract soothes and calms your scalp. And the formula is paraben-, sulfate- and petroleum-free, so all hair types can try it out. “I have severe allergies to artificial scents and perfumes and it has been almost impossible to find a shampoo that doesn't trigger my allergies," wrote on shopper. "This one is not only unscented and hypoallergenic, but it is reasonably priced and works great. Please don't ever change this product!”

Most Clarifying

7. DHS Clear Shampoo

DHS

Want a clarifying shampoo that doesn’t dry out your scalp? This one promises a gentle but thorough cleanse that removes buildup, dirt and oil. The nourishing formula doesn't just clean: It conditions and balances your scalp’s pH for stronger, healthier locks overall. The brand claims it’s especially great for curly, thinning, fine and/or gray hair. One customer attests: “DHS Clear Shampoo [cleans] my hair without causing any irritation or allergic reaction. It doesn't dry my hair out as much as some other fragrance-free shampoos. And it causes less hair loss than many others."

Best for Oily Scalps

8. Vanicream Free & Clear Shampoo

Vanicream

Have dandruff or pesky flakes? This shampoo might be the solution. The glycerin blend helps to control oil production, remove build-up and soothe any irritation. It’s also free of formaldehyde, botanical extracts and sulfates that can cause irritation. “There is nothing to dislike about this shampoo," raves one Amazon shopper. 'It is an effective yet gentle, non-irritating, low, pleasant scent and cleans my hair just fine. My scalp has never felt this good...I could never go back to anything else,” says one reviewer.

Best for dry scalps

9. Attitude Hair Shampoo

Attitude

If you’re dealing with dryness, this shampoo is packed with nourishing ingredients, like grapeseed oil, which is said to repair and soften parched strands and skin. The hydrating formula also has olive leaf extract to condition the scalp and brighten dull ends. Plus, there's watercress and Indian cress (which contain a ton of vitamins and minerals) to strengthen hair and encourage new growth. “It smells so good and lathers [in my hair] really well. It has also helped with my dry scalp. [I] finally found a shampoo that doesn’t dry out my hair,” wrote one commenter.

Best Fragrance-Free

10. Kristin Ess Fragrance-Free Daily Cleansing Shampoo

Kristin Ess

Whether you’re looking to remove buildup, improve shine or add volume, this shampoo checks all the boxes. The formula includes betaine, glycerin and aloe to deliver a rich lather without stripping away your natural oils. Plus, you can forget all about parabens, silicones or heavy fragrances. In fact, many customers rave about the fragrance-free formula. As one reviewer shares, “The reason I tried this shampoo is because it's fragrance-free. Heavy perfumes make my scalp itch and leave it red with tiny pimples. I've used this shampoo for two weeks now and no itch or redness. This shampoo really cleans the hair squeaky clean but not dry.”

Best for Sensitive Scalps

11. Philip Kingsley No Scent No Color Gentle Shampoo

Philip Kingsley

If you have a very sensitive scalp, this soothing pick can help. It has no scent or artificial dyes that can potentially irritate the scalp. Instead, the vegan formula cleanses and improves the appearance of your strands using a rich blend of glycerin, citric acid and capryl gluoside. For one commenter, the shampoo helped them and their partner: “We needed a shampoo with no fragrance or SLS that wouldn't dry out my husband and my hair. This completely fits our needs. My husband's scalp has shown significant improvement and it’s not as scaly or itchy. He's amazed.”

Best for Irritated Scalps

12. Odele Ultra-Sensitive Shampoo

Odele

This ultra-sensitive shampoo is formulated with amino acids and oat extract to nourish locks, add shine and reduce breakage while soothing an irritated scalp. It’s great for all hair types, but one user found it to be especially helpful with their psoriasis. “I've struggled to find a shampoo that doesn't cause my scalp psoriasis to flare, and this wins!! My scalp is not irritated after use, and my hair feels clean. It did take me a while to get used to how thick the shampoo is, but it does lather well,” they say.

Expert's Pick

13. Philip B. Gentle Conditioning Shampoo

Philip B.

This conditioning shampoo preserves your hair color, boosts shine and increases moisture without weighing your hair down. Whether you have color-treated, curly or fine locks, this cleanser washes away buildup and leaves a softer finish in its place. “This super mild and gentle formula is made with botanical agents like African shea butter, as well as panthenol (which contains vitamin B5) for healthier, bouncier and pH-balanced locks,” explains Philip B.