The 8 Best Shampoos For Kids
My toddler was born with a full head of hair, so I’ve been mindful of keeping his locks healthy and shiny from the beginning. The best shampoo for kids works for your child’s hair type — whether they rock curls or straight hair — and have nourishing ingredients without harsh ones, like parabens.
Determining your kid’s hair type is a helpful step in finding the right shampoo for them. Straight hair (Type 1) is naturally more prone to knots and can benefit from detangling shampoos that will help keep knots at bay. Wavy hair (Type 2) is best nourished by shampoos that smooth strands, moisturize thicker waves, or mitigate oiliness, depending on the hair. Curls (Type 3) and coils (Type 4) benefit from moisturizing shampoos that clean hair without stripping natural oils; keeping strands hydrated is key.
You’ll start to notice a few ingredients in kids' shampoos that show up time and time again for their particular benefits. Shea butter is excellent for moisturizing hair and the scalp. Coconut oil helps remove sebum buildup from the hair's follicles and strengthens strands, while olive oil softens hair and can even help get rid of dandruff.
Then there are some ingredients that are best to avoid. Harsher shampoo ingredients you may want to skip in your child’s hair care include phthalates, parabens, and sulfates (which can be irritating or drying, especially if your child is prone to eczema). If your child has especially sensitive skin, you may want to avoid products with fragrance as well.
With all this in mind, below are the best shampoos for kids. Each of my eight picks is highly rated on Amazon, including a few with thousands of reviews.
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.
1. The Best Shampoo For Oily Hair
The best shampoo for oily hair focuses on ingredients that help keep oil levels in check on the scalp and hair. Nettle, cedar bark, and sage are included in the formula to help control the scalp's sebum oil levels, according to the manufacturer. Reviewers report this shampoo works well for thick hair, too.
The pH-balanced shampoo is free of sulfates, parabens, and phthalates. This is a highly rated pick and reviewers commented they particularly love it for their elementary-age to pre-teen kids.
A helpful review: “Miracle fix for oily hair! I never leave reviews, but this product deserves one! I have a 10-year-old girl with thick, long hair. She is on swim team, and we battle chlorine. We have also started to have issues with build up (I would call it cradle cap if she were younger!) and oiliness. I have tried everything. Head and Shoulders, salon brands, apple cider vinegar, and even a prescription shampoo, but this gave me the best results. Her scalp is clean and smells fresh! No more funky smelling hair and dandruff. The pump is a bonus, because I feel like we waste less product.”
2. The Best Shampoo For Straight Hair
This detangling shampoo for kids is ideal for any kiddo who runs from a brush or comb, but it's especially great for those with straight or fine hair, especially if it tangles or gets knotted easily. It is highly rated on Amazon, with over 2,000 reviews, and one shopper commented they’d give this shampoo 100 stars if they could.
This shampoo's key ingredient is keratin, which works to strengthen and condition hair, making strands shinier and more elastic. It's also formulated with aloe vera, jojoba oil, and pro-vitamins B and E for adding shine and elasticity and removing static. This shampoo is free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, soy, dairy, gluten, and nuts; however, it does contain phthalate-free fragrance.
A helpful review: “This shampoo is the best for my daughter’s easily tangled hair. We also use the conditioner, and they have been a game changer for getting her hair brushed. We have tried many top name brands, and this one has been the best for her fine, straight hair.”
3. The Best Shampoo For Curly Hair
This shampoo for curly hair contains ingredients like keratin to boost hair strength and protect curls from damage, watermelon seed oil that imparts shine and can even provide relief for an itchy scalp, and naturally hydrating olive oil and plum seed oil. It's completely free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, formaldehyde, synthetic colors, and dyes and won't dry out your little one's hair, according to reviewers.
This highly rated shampoo is said to smell "delicious" (like cupcakes, according to one reviewer) and many parents confirm that it gives bounce and shine to their children's curls.
A helpful review: "Amazing scent. My toddler begs me to wash her hair because she loves the scent so much! Not to mention the softness and shine it leaves in her hair making the perfect subtle curls."
4. The Best Shampoo For Dry Hair
This shampoo is ideal if your child has dry, delicate strands because it uses shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil to nourish parched strands and comes with the added benefits of mango butter, a moisture-rich emollient. Orange blossom extract can help soothe sensitive scalps, while carrot oil and vitamins B-5 and E promote healthy hair growth by preventing breakage. This formula also helps define curls and add overall brightness to hair.
Here's what's not in this bottle: sulfates, parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, and petroleum.
This pick is also available in a highly rated set with both a shampoo and conditioner.
A helpful review: “This is THE ONLY shampoo we can use on our fine, 3a curly hair. Every other product (including other shea moisture shampoos) either weighted my hair down, cause [dandruff], etc... I don't even need to use conditioner, gels, spays, the shampoo alone gives us amazing hair. [...] Everything is perfect about this […]”
5. The Best Shampoo For Texturized Hair
For coils or tight curls, the best shampoo for kids is this gentle and tear-free formula. It's an award-winning shampoo for curly hair with key ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and honey that deeply moisturize your kiddo's hair. Though this shampoo works magic on types 3 and 4 hair, reviewers report they also see the benefits of this formula on wavy type 2 hair.
This brand skips sulfates, parabens, silicones, phthalates, mineral oil, and paraffin in this shampoo. It's a highly rated and affordable pick under $5 with over 2,000 reviews; it's also available as a shampoo and conditioner set.
A helpful review: “My daughter has low porosity 4b/c hair and I love to use this before deep conditioning! We [used] to pre-poo before washing with a different product but this really doesn't [dry] her hair out and it doesn't feel stripped like a lot of shampoos. Very affordable too! I added some in an applicator bottle with hot water to make washing easier and it makes the product last even longer.”
6. The Best Shampoo For Babies
Sensitive skin benefits from this gentle shampoo for kids. This plant-based and biodegradable formula is ideal for newborns and babies who have more delicate hair, and it worked well to cleanse even my toddler's thick hair. Plus, this brand's products have the best scent of any baby product I tried with my little one.
Mustela's signature ingredient, avocado perseose, cleanses the scalp while protecting and hydrating it; it's also used to encourage healthy development of your baby's skin barrier function, according to the manufacturer.
The tear-free shampoo also uses chamomile extract to soften and detangle a baby’s new hair. This shampoo does not contain parabens, phthalates, or phenoxyethanols; it does use sulfates and fragrance. With a 4.7 rating and over 1,600 reviews, parents report this shampoo helped eliminate annoying cradle cap on their babies' heads.
(Looking for something a bit more budget-friendly for sensitive scalps? Try Cetaphil's $5 baby shampoo with soothing calendula.)
A helpful review: “Bought this shampoo because my baby had cradle cap pretty bad. This shampoo helped his cradle cap and left his head soft and smelling wonderful. Will purchase again when ready as the shampoo lasts awhile since you only really need to use a small amount for babies head.”
7. The Best 2-In-1 Shampoo & Conditioner For Kids
For toddlers and kids with hair that could use shampoo and some conditioner, consider this two-pack of 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner for kids. Save yourself a step by cleansing and nourishing your child's head of hair all at once. (I know my toddler doesn't love having products rinsed out of his hair, so I'd rather do this once a bath and be done.)
Reviewers report this shampoo works well on straight, fine, thick, wavy, and curly hair. It's also tested for safety on sensitive skin. The plant-based formula uses botanical and fruit extracts to make hair soft and shiny. This tear-free and nontoxic formula is made without sulfates, parabens, phthalates, dyes, synthetic fragrances, gluten, and soy. Plus, your kid will love the fresh watermelon scent.
A helpful review: “My boys are 6, 4, and 1, and I only want to deal with one bottle of shampoo in their tub. So, they [had] all been using baby shampoo! But clearly the older boys needed conditioner. I was so happy to find this natural 2 in 1 shampoo & conditioner for kids! They’re not bothered with any extra steps to condition their hair (if conditioner was separate, it just wouldn’t happen!!) and they no longer get knots! Their hair looks and feels SO much better. I recommend this stuff for sure!”
8. The Best Shampoo For Eczema
This pH-balanced shampoo for kids can gently cleanse and soothe. The formula features coco-glycinate, a surfactant that hydrates the skin without irritating it. According to the manufacturer, this gentle cleansing supports your baby's developing skin on their scalp, which if disrupted, could develop symptoms of eczema or dermatitis.
The shampoo is recommended for all skin types, including those with eczema, cradle cap, and sensitive skin. This shampoo uses grapefruit essential oils and natural botanical extracts with vegetable-based moisturizers and emollients to cleanse and moisturize skin and hair. It also skips lots of ingredients that could potentially irritate eczema: sulfates, triclosan, formaldehyde, salicylates, parabens, phosphates, SLS, SLES, MEA, DEA, TEA, petroleum-based ingredients, animal by-products, perfumes, and dyes or caustics.
A helpful review: “This shampoo/body wash was one of those Amazon gems I randomly discovered and I will NEVER buy any other product. It’s so gentle on my baby’s skin, light, clean, citrusy [fragrance], great suds. It’s basically perfect. I had been through so many options before because both of my sons have eczema issues. My 3-year-old's scalp was a mess, I’m talking thick dry skin you could peel off, ugh! Nothing worked. We’re 2 months in and it [is] gone... GONE. This stuff is so great, no tears... no residue, does a great job cleaning. Can’t say enough about it!"