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Although the rest of your body can tolerate them, your scalp might not. We’re talking about the ingredients in personal care products that irritate sensitive skin. Sulfates, fragrances, alcohols, and parabens are usually the culprits that dry out the scalp and leave it itchy, red, and flaky.
If you have a skin condition or are losing your hair, the consequences of using the wrong shampoo can be quite bad. But we researched to find the best shampoos for sensitive scalps and reviewed them here for you. Take a look and choose a new product to soothe your skin today.
- Best Shampoos for Sensitive Scalps (2020 Update)
- 1. Cleure Hypoallergenic Shampoo
- 2. Vanicream Free & Clear Hair Shampoo for Sensitive Skin
- 3. Sebamed Everyday Shampoo for All Hair Types and Sensitive Scalp
- 4. Paula’s Choice All Over Hair & Body Shampoo Fragrance-Free Shampoo & Body Wash
- 5. Nurture My Body All-Natural Everyday Shampoo
- 6. Kerastase Dermo-Calm Bain Vital Haute Tolerance for Sensitive Scalp Hair Shampoo
- 7. Jason Fragrance-Free Shampoo
- 8. Earth Science Shampoo for Sensitive Hair & Scalp
- 9. Shampoo for Oily Hair & Oily Scalp – Natural Dandruff Treatment for Women & Men from Maple Holistics
- 10. Klorane Shampoo with Oat Milk
- 11. Aquaphor Baby Wash & Shampoo
- 12. Babo Botanicals Moisturizing Baby Shampoo
- 13. MenScience Androceuticals Daily Shampoo
- Tips to care for a sensitive scalp
- Popular Articles
Best Shampoos for Sensitive Scalps (2020 Update)
1. Cleure Hypoallergenic Shampoo
Cleure’s Hypoallergenic Shampoo protects sensitive scalps with a gentle formula backed by a satisfaction guarantee. There are no fragrances, no sodium lauryl sulfate, no gluten, no salicylates, and no formaldehyde. It’s also cruelty-free and pH-balanced.
Out of those irritants, sodium lauryl sulfate is one of the most common and also one of the most drying to the skin. It’s a detergent that creates a lather to lift away dirt and oil. In the process, it makes a pleasant foam that leads the user to believe it’s really doing a good job.
But the main problem with sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, is that it strips too much of the skin’s natural oil. That weakens the protective barrier and may also lead to excess oil production to compensate. If you have sensitive skin, the first ingredient to look for on the label is SLS. If it’s one of the top five ingredients, put the bottle down and look elsewhere.
Back to the Cleure shampoo…it’s recommended by dermatologists and the American Contact Dermatitis Society because it’s free of allergens. It’s safe for color-treated hair and all hair types. In fact, if you’re looking for a gentle shampoo for your curly hair, you can try this one.
2. Vanicream Free & Clear Hair Shampoo for Sensitive Skin
Vanicream, the maker of sensitive skin care products, offers this Free & Clear Shampoo that’s pH-balanced. Shampoo that’s pH-balanced generally has a slight acidity that matches the pH of skin, which is 5.5. That’s important because this acidity seals in moisture and keeps out microbes and pollutants.
If you were to wash with a shampoo that made your scalp alkaline, it would dry out your skin. Have you ever used one that left your hair like straw? That might have happened because it contained harsh sulfates, or it might have been too alkaline. As you can see, there are multiple dangers to sensitive skin hidden in the average shampoo.
But to continue, Vanicream Free & Clean also lacks other irritants like dyes, sulfates, parabens, fragrances and masking fragrances. It doesn’t even contain Cocamidopropyl betaine, a much gentler surfactant than SLS.
But besides all the ingredients it doesn’t have, Vanicream’s shampoo has other benefits. It contains panthenol, an essential component for strengthening hair. And since there is no scent, this product is suitable for anyone.
3. Sebamed Everyday Shampoo for All Hair Types and Sensitive Scalp
Users who said that they had dandruff from seborrhea before using this shampoo report that the product solved the problem. It cleared up the flaky patches and left their hair shiny and healthy.
It’s also good to know that the formula is free from harsh detergents. But customers who are sensitive to fragrances or propylene glycol may want to look elsewhere.
4. Paula’s Choice All Over Hair & Body Shampoo Fragrance-Free Shampoo & Body Wash
Paula’s Choice Shampoo is also a body wash. It’s an all-in-one solution that simplifies your shower routine. And it’s gentle for color-treated hair and sensitive scalps.
None of Paula’s Choice products contain fragrances, and none are tested on animals. And if you take the time to read the label, you’ll learn about the purpose of each ingredient.
For example, you’ll see that the shampoo contains aloe for hydration and panthenol to replenish moisture. There’s also a detangling agent and cleansing agents. And those cleansing agents might, unfortunately, cause a problem for sensitive scalps because one is sodium laureth sulfate or SLES.
Just like its relative, sodium lauryl sulfate, SLES can irritate the skin. In fact, some people develop an allergic reaction to it over time.
We’re not chemists, able to weigh the ingredients in the bottle to see if the formula is balanced enough to neutralize the effects of SLES in the shampoo. But our experience with Paula’s Choice is positive, and there are many positive reviews, so we judged this one a risk worth taking.
5. Nurture My Body All-Natural Everyday Shampoo
Nurture My Body’s All-Natural Everyday Shampoo has a low hazard rating of 1 on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep database. In fact, it looks like the entire product line from this company also scores as low hazard.
To achieve this safety standard, the formula contains no parabens, harsh detergents, or petroleum derivatives. It has certified organic ingredients packaged in a BPA-free recyclable bottle. And it’s backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
While all these statistics sound great, the question remains whether this is a good shampoo or not. It certainly seems to be based on the pleased comments left by customers. And the ingredients list also sounds delicious, with infusions of marshmallow root and chamomile, plus seaweed extract and horsetail, too.
6. Kerastase Dermo-Calm Bain Vital Haute Tolerance for Sensitive Scalp Hair Shampoo
Kerastase’s Dermo-Calm for Sensitive Scalp Shampoo contains Calophyllum oil to soothe inflammation. Calophyllum oil is also called Tamanu oil, and it comes from Asia and Polynesia. It’s rich in fatty acids, and it speeds up healing from injuries and irritations.
The formula also has glycerol that attracts moisture to skin and hair. And there’s menthol for a refreshing sensation. Finally, there’s an antimicrobial ingredient called piroctone olamine.
Take note that you’ll find SLS listed on the label. And menthol that makes skin tingle pleasantly can also dry out skin. But overall, customers report that this shampoo leaves their hair shiny and soft.
7. Jason Fragrance-Free Shampoo
The Jason Fragrance-Free Shampoo is a popular choice among shoppers with sensitive skin and scalps. It’s gentle enough for color-treated hair, too. That’s practical since color treatments can turn an otherwise healthy scalp into a sensitive one, at least for a while.
The formula contains Vitamin B5 (panthenol) and aloe to moisturize and sage to add shine. There are no sulfates, parabens, or phthalates.
8. Earth Science Shampoo for Sensitive Hair & Scalp
The Earth Science Shampoo has coconut-based detergents that are milder than SLS, but still effective at creating lather and lifting away grime. It also contains natural extracts of jojoba, wheat germ, and chamomile to moisturize hair and scalp. There is no artificial fragrance, and the formula is vegan.
A large number of reviewers self-report that they have sensitive scalps. They rely on this shampoo to safely wash their hair without experiencing bad reactions. On the downside, those with fine hair say that the shampoo seems to leave their hair tangled. As a result, plan on pairing this product with an appropriate conditioner.
9. Shampoo for Oily Hair & Oily Scalp – Natural Dandruff Treatment for Women & Men from Maple Holistics
Although the big name brand dandruff shampoos are effective, sometimes they are too harsh for sensitive scalps. In that case, try this product from Maple Holistics. It’s enhanced with botanical ingredients like rosemary, basil, cypress, and lemon to cleanse oily hair and clear up flaky skin. And it smells fabulous naturally.
10. Klorane Shampoo with Oat Milk
Among Klorane’s selection of shampoos is this one with oat milk. It’s hydrating to hair and scalp. It doesn’t build much lather because it’s free of sulfates, too. And since it doesn’t contain silicones, it leaves locks light and shiny.
11. Aquaphor Baby Wash & Shampoo
If you’ve had bad experiences with adult shampoos, why not try one made for babies? Infants have notoriously sensitive skin so it’s a safe bet that their products will be safe for adults with sensitive scalps. On the downside, these formulas might not be strong enough if you have oily hair. And you may need to use a conditioner, too.
Our first selection among the many baby washes on the market is this one from Aquaphor. It’s tear-free and does not contain irritants like preservatives or fragrances. Instead, it’s fortified with panthenol and chamomile to soothe and moisturize skin and hair.
12. Babo Botanicals Moisturizing Baby Shampoo
Parents who use Babo Botanicals Baby Shampoo on their children love the scent. The comforting aroma comes from natural ingredients like calendula, chamomile, aloe, and watercress. And the formula is gentle enough to rate 1 for safety on the EWG Skin Deep database.
We spend a lot of time researching what ingredients to avoid when caring for sensitive skin. This vegan shampoo hits all the important points. It’s free from parabens, phthalates, sulfates, formaldehyde, gluten, soy, nuts, and synthetic dyes and perfumes. It’s even packaged in a BPA-free bottle.
Unlike some popular baby shampoos, Babo Botanicals leaves hair shiny and silky, not overly dry. And it also moisturizes the scalp.
13. MenScience Androceuticals Daily Shampoo
If you’re experiencing hair loss and you have a sensitive scalp, try the Androceuticals Shampoo from MenScience. It clarifies skin and hair with alpha hydroxy acids, removing residue from hair care products as well as oil and dead skin that clog follicles. It also contains Vitamin E and panthenol to repair and strengthen strands. There are no artificial fragrances or dyes in the bottle.
Tips to care for a sensitive scalp
Did you know that your scalp has more blood vessels than anywhere else on your body? And all those hair follicles create a vast number of tiny openings in your skin that can let in irritants. It’s no surprise that your scalp might be the most reactive part of your body when it comes to allergens and chemicals. So let’s go over a few simple tips to help you care for your sensitive scalp.
- Rinse well—let the water wash away all the shampoo you used until your hair squeaks clean
- Use lukewarm or cool water for washing and rinsing
- Use a shampoo without sulfates and silicones
- Try a clarifying shampoo once a week
- Protect your head from sunburn
- Get a head massage
If you rinse well with lukewarm or cool water, you’ll remove most of the irritants that might be in your shampoo. And the low temperature will close up pores and soothe the skin.
Then, a clarifying shampoo once a week gets rid of follicle-clogging buildup. It’s like what exfoliating can do for your face.
Of course, protecting your scalp from sunburn is only logical. But if you wear a hat, choose ones with good ventilation that you can wash.
Finally, get a head massage to increase circulation and lower your stress. Regular massages can make a noticeable difference in the well-being of your scalp.
Try one of the best shampoos for sensitive scalps to make a positive change today. Your hair and skin are crying out for help, but you have solutions at hand to take care of the problem. There are many good products available that cleanse your scalp and hair safely and leave them moisturized and healthier.
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