Best Cheap Shampoo
- Published on
- By Maralyn Edid
Shampooing your hair two or three times a week, or even daily, is reason enough to reserve a spot in your shower caddy for one of the best cheap shampoos. Finding the product that works for you, however, may be a chore. Witness the hundreds of brands and shampoo categories vying for your dollars. You'll find oily hair shampoos, dry hair shampoo, flat hair fixes, color-treated or damaged hair shampoo, and more. There are pricey shampoos and budget alternatives in every one of the shampoo niches.
Cheap Shampoo Buying Guide
We whittled down our list to nine categories of cheap shampoos and identified one or two best products that cost no more than about 40 cents an ounce, which for a 12-ounce bottle is a maximum of $4.80. (Shampoo containers come in all sizes, and usually the cost per ounce decreases as the volume increases, and vice versa.) In certain categories we had to look beyond this limit because of the specialized nature of the shampoo (e.g., dandruff shampoo) or the limited selection.
Here are our picks: Garnier Fructis Fortifying Daily Care (starting at 28 cents/oz.) and Dove Cool Moisture Shampoo (starting at 29 cents/oz.) for everyday/normal hair; Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo (starting at 9 cents/oz.) and Neutrogena Anti-residue Shampoo (starting at $1.06/oz.) for clarifying purposes; Aussie Moist Shampoo (starting at 17 cents/oz.) and Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion Smooth Vitality (starting at 28 cents/oz.) to moisturize hair; L'Oréal EverPure Moisture Shampoo (starting at 71 cents/oz.) for color-treated/chemically-processed hair; Herbal Essence Body Envy Volumizing Shampoo (starting at 29 cents/oz.) to add volume; John Frieda Frizz-Ease Care Straight-Ahead Style-Starting Shampoo (starting at 59 cents/oz.) and TRESemmé Flawless Curls shampoo (starting at 16 cents/oz.) for curly hair; Johnson's Baby Shampoo (starting at 25 cents/oz.) and Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo (starting at 55 cents/oz.) for babies; Aveeno Nourish + Dandruff Control Shampoo and Selsun Blue 2-In-1 Maximum Strength Dandruff Shampoo, both starting at more than 60 cents an ounce, to control dandruff; and Suave for Men (starting at 22 cents/oz.) and Adidas 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash (starting at 37 cents/oz.) for men's hair-wash needs.
Each of these cheap shampoos is easy to find in the drugstore, supermarket, or online. In assembling the list we were guided by the dominant opinion expressed in shampoo reviews but factored in comments from consumers with less satisfactory experiences. Our research was hampered by the relatively small number of consumer and expert shampoo reviews for individual shampoos. This isn't too surprising, though, given the enormous variety of product offerings and the frequency with which manufacturers introduce slight variants on existing formulas. We also noted that the boundaries between the various shampoo niches is quite fluid, such that any given shampoo marketed for a particular hair type might work well for consumers with another hair type. And, of course, not everyone responds the same way to personal care products; one that proves gentle and effective for dozens of users may be irritating or drying or oil-inducing for others.
What's remarkable is how recently this explosion of hair care products came on the scene. In 1908 the New York Times explained the "rules" of shampoo: Women should aim for "soft and glossy" hair by singing split ends and applying and rinsing olive-oil Castile soap four times. In the opening years of the 20th century, specialists recommended shampooing once every two weeks, or up to every six weeks for hair in good condition. Then, in the 1930s, Dr. John Breck introduced a shampoo that was marketed with portraits of "Breck girls" who became role models for many American women, right up to the 1970s when the iconic poster of golden-tressed Farrah Fawcett hit the walls of men's dorm rooms.
Today's cheap shampoos and upmarket shampoos are differentiated one from another by little more than their packaging, marketing, and obscure ingredients. Note, however, that all hair-wash products start with water and detergent. Fragrances, moisturizers, foamers, and what have you are the value added. The detergents are all FDA-approved and shouldn't irritate your scalp, although some do for some consumers. The detergents typically used in shampoos across all price categories include ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and sodium lauryl sulfate. Some shampoos may also contain the gentler TEA or MEA. So-called organic shampoos without sulfates are also available, but generally don't lather well. And some "natural" ingredients, such as menthol, peppermint, and eucalyptus, can irritate your skin. More importantly for frugal consumers, organic shampoos carry rich price tags.
During our research we noticed that many women are serial shampoo shoppers. That is, they find a low-cost shampoo they like and stick with it for a while and then go off in search of the next cheap shampoo that lathers well, makes their hair shine, doesn't dry it out or grease it up or irritate their scalp. Often the incentive to try something new is a coupon or sale that makes an already cheap shampoo even cheaper but worth trying. (It could be the shampoo you've been dying to meet but were too risk-averse to try and the incredibly low price means even if you hate it, you haven't wasted much money.) We also noted that women often choose the shampoo and write the review for the guys who use the product, so this guide should prove doubly informative to female readers.
Best Shampoos for Normal Hair
If you have so-called normal hair -- neither dry nor oily and relatively healthy and undamaged -- a cheap everyday shampoo should work for you. The best shampoos for normal hair dispense with the harsh clarifying elements commonly found in products for oily hair and in those that remove residues and build-up.
They generally contain a mild detergent, some preservatives and fragrance, and a chemical agent that affects viscosity and feel. The best shampoos for normal hair stand up to daily use; they hydrate your hair and don't irritate your scalp, lather well, and rinse out easily. Our pick for best cheap shampoo in the everyday category is Garnier Fructis Fortifying Daily Care (starting at 28 cents/oz.) and the runner-up is Dove Cool Moisture Shampoo (starting at 29 cents/oz.).
Garnier Fructis Fortifying Daily Care is a low-cost everyday shampoo touted by its manufacturer as containing active fruit concentrates. The formula includes vitamins B3 and B6, which ostensibly provide shine and strength, and other ingredients that make this hair-wash product sound like a tropical import: sugar cane and lemon peel, camellia leaf, and apple extracts. There are also assorted unpronounceable chemicals, along with alcohol and sodium laureth sulfate, which is one of the milder detergents.
This best shampoo for normal hair wins praise in many quarters for its value pricing and softening, full-body effect on users' hair. Reviews for Garnier Fructis Fortifying Daily Care are comfortably above average. We read a few critical comments on Viewpoints, but users posting Garnier Fructis Fortifying Daily Care reviews there are generally upbeat. They say it moisturizes, leaves no residue, and doesn't irritate their skin; one asserts that washing damaged hair with this shampoo is akin to pouring water on a wilted flower. Garnier Fructis Fortifying Daily Care reviews on Total Beauty, however, are more divided, especially the recent postings. Some user reviews say Garnier Fructis Fortifying Daily Care boosts color-treated hair, brings out the shine, controls frizz, and doesn't leave hair dry even with daily washing. Others say a conditioner is absolutely necessary and still other consumers assert that the product makes their hair feel heavy, slimy, and sticky; one user reports it caused expensive highlights to fade.
Garnier Fructis Fortifying Daily Care is thick and viscous with a scent that shampoo reviews describe as lightly fruity and very pleasant. It's far less costly than salon products and seems to do the job just as well. This is the best cheap everyday shampoo for consumers with heavier, thicker hair; people with thin hair may feel a bit overwhelmed.
The good cheap shampoo for normal hair is Dove Cool Moisture. This is a mild product that contains sodium laureth sulfate and TEA-sulfate rather than the harsher ammonium detergents. It's a favorite of the editors at Real Simple, who approvingly note the cucumber scent and the tingling sensation while shampooing. Dove Cool Moisture also carries hints of green tea.
Although Dove Cool Moisture Shampoo is part of the company's Damage Therapy line, reviews indicate that users with many types of hair find this product quite satisfactory. Consumers with coarse, thick hair or fine, straight hair, with chemically-treated hair or unadulterated hair write that the product makes their tresses feel and look healthy and smooth, doesn't leave knots, and cleans well. On Makeup Alley, women with oily hair and highlighted hair, be it wavy or dry, say Dove Cool Moisture leaves their hair bouncy and free of grease (in the first instance) and smooth and hydrated (in the second). We read Dove Cool Moisture Shampoo reviews on Viewpoints asserting that it moisturizes greasy hair, works well on curly hair, and is effective for men and women alike.
Still, some users aren't totally pleased. One consumer raves in a shampoo review on Total Beauty about the clean and relaxing scent but adds that the product doesn't adequately hydrate her dry, frizzy hair. Another user, facing the onset of cold weather and fly-away hair season, issues a plea for improved moisturizing in this product. We also noted a Dove Cool Moisture Shampoo review on Drugstore.com from a consumer who says that a year of use took the shine and softness from her hair. But such complaints constitute a small minority of the reports we found. Dove Cool Moisture is marketed for normal hair, although it apparently does the trick for hair with other characteristics, as well.
Best Clarifying Shampoos
When the "yuck" builds up on your hair what you need is the best cheap clarifying shampoo. This specialized hair-wash product rescues hair by stripping the build-up caused by natural oiliness and residue from hairsprays, gels, swimming-pool chlorine, and even your favorite shampoo and conditioner. The moment your hair has lost its shine, you know it's time. But be forewarned: cheap clarifying shampoos can clean out the good, like moisture and hair color, along with the bad. So use it sparingly -- a few times a month -- and try to time things so you're not using it right after an application of hair color.
As we pored through shampoo reviews, it was soon clear that the evidence pointed to Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo (starting at 9 cents/oz.) and Neutrogena Anti-residue Shampoo (starting at $1.06/oz.) as the best products for hair that's oily or weighed down by residual build-up.
Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo is a deep-cleaning shampoo formulated to rid your hair of product build-up and natural residues. Clarifying shampoos normally are recommended for less frequent use, but Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo is pH balanced and marketed as suitable for daily use. Ingredients include the detergents ammonium lauryl sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate, which also work for oily hair. Although these two ammonium components can be harsh for some scalps, we didn't come across Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo reviews reporting this problem. Consumers are largely thrilled with this cheap clarifying shampoo, and many women report that they do, indeed, use it every day. Reviews on sites like Viewpoints praise the effectiveness of Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo, describing the end result as hair that feels light, full, shiny, and clean and a scalp that doesn't itch. One woman with long, wavy hair that requires a daily wash writes on Walgreens that it makes her hair soft and bouncy, and another with long, thick, dyed hair says it removes build-up and leaves her hair without knots. A shampoo review on Amazon posted by an African-American woman comments on the deep cleaning from weekly shampoos that don't disturb her palm-rolled locs. We also found reports of its usefulness during the summer season for removing the build-up of sweat and swimming pool chlorine, not to mention smoke from all those campfires.
Some less than enthusiastic Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo reviews also surfaced during our research. One consumer writes on the Walgreens site that it turned her fine, wavy hair into a thick, straight oil slick. And an editor at Total Beauty says that she likes the lather but doesn't appreciate the stripped and wiry feeling of her hair after shampooing. One woman who posted a Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo review on that site notes that her favorite guys use the product to remove the grit and grime that accumulates during the work day but cautions that the heavy-duty stripping action may not be for everyone. Indeed, various review sites suggest pairing this best clarifying shampoo with a conditioner.
Reviewers of Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo are divided about the fragrance. As noted above, men use this product, as well, and part of the attraction may be the scent, which one post claims is decidedly not "girly." On the other hand, the Total Beauty editor considers the fragrance off-putting.
Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo is a once-a-week treatment that supposedly removes nearly all the dulling build-up left by shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. This anti-residue shampoo isn't exactly cheap, but it's one of few clarifying shampoos on the market that garners good reviews and is formulated to complement, not replace, your regular shampoo. Manufacturer's usage recommendations aside, we found that some consumers with oily hair apply Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo daily, to no ill effect, and others indulge just a couple of times a month. Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo is suitable for all hair types and contains ammonium lauryl sulfate and glycerin.
Despite its perch far above our budgetary scale, we didn't notice much griping about price in reviews of this best clarifying shampoo. Rather, we read numerous comments about the results being worth the cost. In Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo reviews on Amazon, for example, one user mentions that it holds her curls better than similar products and another says her hair stays clean longer. Shampoos reviews on Drugstore.com note the refreshing after-effects; that is, fluffy, shiny, and healthy hair. Although one long-term user writes in a Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo review that it doesn't give much body, she says it keeps her scalp itch- and flake-free. Another consumer reports it's one of few products that don't cause her scalp to break out, and others say it makes their scalps feel clean and tingly. Users also comment in shampoo reviews that weekly use allows conditioners to better penetrate hair follicles, and application before a color treatment has a similar effect.
But some consumers are not entirely satisfied. Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo reviews on Makeup Alley and Total Beauty are mixed. One reviewer with self-described thick, oily hair calls this anti-residue shampoo her hands-down favorite while another muses that it does what it claims to do with ingredients that aren't so special given a price that seems high. Where one writer raves about the shampoo, another with dry hair says she was hoping it would help control her oily scalp but actually made her hair seem drier. We also read comments about needing a heavy-duty conditioner after shampooing because so much natural oil is removed.
A pleasing scent and good lather are hallmarks of Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo, according to shampoo reviews. Posts also indicate that some loyal fans (including guys) have used this product for 10 years or more.
Best Moisturizing Shampoos
One antidote for dry hair is a good, cheap moisturizing shampoo. The best of the bunch can rehydrate your hair and promote the production of natural oils.
A blogger at Beautiful With Brains says the best cheap moisturizing shampoos should contain emollients (softening and soothing substances such as coconut oil and aloe vera), humectants (substances that help keep other substances moist, such as glycerin), and silicones (heat-resistant, man-made compounds). You should avoid cheap shampoos that contain the harshest detergents, like ammonium lauryl sulfate, and be sure to follow up with a good conditioner. Lifestyle changes, such as washing your hair less often, shunning dyes and perms, avoiding excessive exposure to the sun, and drinking lots more water, can also help replenish dry hair.
Our research into the best moisturizing shampoos pointed us to Aussie Moist Shampoo (starting at 17 cents/oz.) and Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion Smooth Vitality (starting at 28 cents/oz.). Both are among the 16 shampoos singled out by Real Simple magazine in a test of 195 shampoo products. We also found that consumers are equally enthusiastic about these two cheap moisturizing shampoos.
Aussie Moist Shampoo gets credit in shampoo reviews for restoring moisture to color-treated hair, to winter-stressed hair, and to frizzy hair. Among the usual array of shampoo ingredients and some of the harsher cleansers, Aussie Moist also contains jojoba oil, aloe vera, sea kelp, silicones and humectants. And yet, dozens of Aussie Moist Shampoo reviews loudly applaud the product's pleasing results, not to mention the value pricing.
Consumers posting reviews on Makeup Alley, for example, comment on the shine and silky softness of their hair, the absence of tangles, and the lightly aromatic scent; one user says it brought her damaged hair (thanks to years of dyeing) back to life. Aussie Moist lathers well, gets at the bad oils without stripping your hair, and seems to improve hair texture, according to Aussie Moist shampoo reviews on Viewpoints. That goes for hair affected by hard water, as well; one user post on Amazon reports that her husband's hair went from stiff and unmanageable to soft and easy to control once he started using Aussie Moist. Last but not least, the pocket-friendly price draws many grateful comments.
Aussie Moist doesn't win over everyone, however. A few reviews refer to itchy scalps, hair that feels weighted down or greasy, and a scent that can be overwhelming while shampooing although it lingers pleasantly throughout the day.
Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion Smooth Vitality Shampoo is aimed at consumers with dry, brittle hair that may have been damaged by dyes or perms. It gets a marketing boost from supposedly naturally-derived ingredients, such as something called Cassia Complex, as well as ginger, aloe vera, and calendula (a healing gel). Together with the cleanser sodium laureth sulfate, these and additional components are meant to restore moisture, shine, and softness to your hair while reducing the negative effects of combing and brushing.
Does Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion Smooth Vitality Shampoo live up to its claims? For the most part, yes, according to reviews on the best moisturizing shampoos on several websites. One African-American consumer comments in a Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion Smooth Vitality review on MySears.com that she only needs to wash her daughters' hair once instead of three times for clean results. Users' posts at Amazon and Total Beauty note the shiny, silky feel after washing say this cheap moisturizing shampoo shields their hair from the effects of humidity, makes it easy to style, limits breakage, and adds volume. Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion also wins points for its scent and rich lather.
Although plenty of consumers assert Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion is the all-time best moisturizing shampoo, there are contrarians in the bunch. Some reviews on Viewpoints, for example, report the product is hard to rinse out, makes hair look dull and lifeless, and doesn't do much for tangles or improve the texture of untreated hair. In short, they conclude, Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion is nothing special. And while we read a few gripes about what some users consider a relatively steep price for a drugstore shampoo, many users say plentiful coupons and frequent sales push Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion well into the budget bracket.
Best Shampoos for Color-Treated Hair
Identifying the best color-treated shampoo for budget-minded consumers with damaged hair was no easy task. Through our research we learned that citric acid can help, as can other acidic additives. eHow recommends a chemical with the long name of cocamidopropyl betain to attract moisture and protect color-treated hair from static electricity , and adds that sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate -- two common detergents found in shampoos -- can actually strip colored hair. Bottom line: Go for a good cheap color-treated shampoo that does not use these ingredients.
We found that L'Oreal EverPure Moisture Shampoo (starting at 71 cents/oz.) is the best shampoo for damaged hair. It's a bit on the pricey side but nonetheless earns loud acclaim from users who posted shampoo reviews on several websites. Sulfate-free shampoos for color-treated and chemically-processed hair are even more expensive when purchased in a salon, so consumers seem reconciled to stepping out of their budget zone for this product.
The justification, apparently, is the end result. In L'Oreal EverPure shampoo reviews on Amazon, consumers say their hair feels soft and tangle-free and the product lathers well and is gentle on colored hair. Similar experiences with this best color-treated shampoo are reported in reviews on the L'Oreal website, where consumers write that their hair feels smooth and clean, less dry and fuller-bodied, and color treatments don't get stripped out. One user who posted a L'Oreal EverPure review on Walmart notes that this relatively cheap hair-wash also keeps her color-treated hair from turning brassy and another simply says her color pops.
The one aspect of L'Oreal EverPure Moisture Shampoo that draws complaints is the fragrance. The combination of rosemary and juniper (and mint in the associated conditioning product) is a real turn-off to some users. Although a good number of consumers claim they actually like the smell, others find it overwhelming. One says her husband even comments on it, and another says it reminds her of perfume worn by old ladies.
Best Volumizing Shampoos
Adults with hair that's fine and light and often looks flat or limp can get a boost from the best cheap volumizing shampoo. Shampoos that give some "oomph" to your hair are formulated to increase the moisture around the hair follicle and cuticle, which enlarges the shaft and gives the appearance of thicker hair. Panthenol (related to vitamin B5), proteins, collagens, emollients, and keratins are key ingredients that are relatively expensive and add to the per ounce cost of the best volumizing shampoos.
These products are a small segment of the hair-wash market. There aren't a lot to choose among, particularly at the lower-price end of the category. Moreover, our research indicates that cheap volumizing shampoos generally promise more than they deliver. That said, we found one best volumizing shampoo that could be worth a try: Herbal Essence Body Envy Volumizing Shampoo (starting at 29 cents/oz.). It contains the cleansers sodium laureth suflate and sodium lauryl sulfate, as well as coral flower and nectarine extracts. The manufacturer claims this lightweight formula adds moisture and shine.
What really gets users going about Herbal Essence Body Envy, according to shampoo reviews, is less the body-building effect than the scent. Consumers on sites like Drugstore.com and Viewpoints rave about the fragrance, saying it's delightfully botanical, fruity, and fresh. They also commend the volumizing shampoo's texture, lather, and cleansing action, with some noting in Herbal Essence Body Envy reviews on Walmart that it works well on oily hair and helps manage frizz and static. Users also comment approvingly on the price-value relationship.
What users don't totally agree on, however, is whether this cheap volumizing shampoo actually adds volume. Herbal Essence Body Envy reviews on Total Beauty report mixed results; for example, one says it works better than upmarket salon products and boosts body while another says she doesn't see much difference in her hair. Shampoos reviews on other sites are similarly divided, with many users asserting it makes limp hair thicker and some claiming to have attracted compliments on the new look while others grouse that Herbal Essence Body Envy adds little in the way of volume but does dry out their hair. Several users suggest following up with conditioner, although one simply suggests choosing a different product if your hair is already dry.
Best Curly-Hair Shampoos
Curls might seem endearing, but most people looking for a cheap curly-hair shampoo are fighting the frizzies or ringlets and waves that drag. This typically happens with hair that's gone dry, so you want a product that contains some silicone, which coats the hair, locks in moisture, and helps keep frizz at bay and curls in shape.
This is another shampoo niche filled with products that sit slightly above our cheap ceiling. But we found one best curly-hair shampoo that reviews indicate is worth the investment and another that's well within the budget zone on a per ounce basis.
John Frieda Frizz-Ease Care Straight-Ahead Style-Starting Shampoo (starting at 59 cents/oz.) is the more expensive pick but is our top choice for best cheap curly-hair shampoo. In addition to its high price, it registers at the high end of the scale in shampoo reviews on sites like Drugstore.com and Amazon. Users with self-described wavy or curly hair report John Frieda Frizz-Ease gives their hair a sleeker look and smoother feel, and minimizes the need for straightening irons; one review says it even took the frizzies out of her straight hair. We did come across an occasional shampoo review expressing disappointment about its effect on very frizzy, curly hair, although an African-American consumer writes that it made her very curly hair more manageable. Users also like the scent and gentle cleaning, and several comment that it beats out even pricier curly-hair shampoos and hair treatment strategies.
Curls also get some love from TRESemme Flawless Curls shampoo (starting at 16 cents/oz.), according to product reviews. This very cheap curly-hair shampoo contains Vitamin B1, which moisturizes hair without weighing it down, as well as sodium laureth sulfate, keratin, and panthenol. According to TRESemme Flawless Curls reviews posted on Total Beauty, curls are liable to pop out all over and split ends likely to disappear after shampooing. Shampoos reviews on the TRESemme website are equally glowing, saying this hair-wash tames unruly curls, eliminates tangles and frizz, and generally makes hair feel healthier, shinier, bouncier. Users also note that a little goes a long way, making this best cheap curly-hair shampoo even more of a deal.
Best Baby Shampoos
Sometimes it's hard to improve on a tried and true product, and we concluded that Johnson's Baby Shampoo is the best money can buy for that age group. Chances are you were raised on the product that famously proclaims "no more tears" during bath time. And chances are you use this cheap baby shampoo for your children, and perhaps someday they will for theirs.
Indeed, Johnson's Baby Shampoo (starting at 25 cents/oz.) is a reliable stalwart, one that holds its own as best baby shampoo against upstart competitors that aim to provide the very same benefits. And rival offerings abound these days, with baby shampoos bearing labels from traditional baby-products companies, like Gerber and Huggies, and from hair-products companies, like Suave and Aveeno.
How do the best baby shampoos avoid irritating babies' eyes? According to Wikipedia, the magic is produced in one of several ways, and sometimes in combination, depending on the particular formula; that is, by diluting the product, raising the pH above that found in adult shampoos, and/or adding surfactants (cleansers) that are less likely to irritate, sting, or burn a young child's eyes.
Our top budget pick in the baby shampoo category, from Johnson & Johnson, is famed for its gentle ingredients (it's hypoallergenic and contains no soap) and promised results. Based on the baby shampoo reviews that we read, this product hits the mark. One grandfather writes in a Johnson's Baby Shampoo review on Epinions about having used the shampoo for much of his life and continuing the tradition with the grandchildren. Other reviews for this cheap baby shampoo mention the good lather, the soft feel of the child's washed hair, the pleasant baby smell, and eyes that don't get red or irritated. Adults also appreciate this latter quality; one consumer posting a Johnson's Baby Shampoo review on Amazon says it's particularly useful during allergy season when he doesn't want to further stress his itchy eyes.
Johnson's Baby Shampoo apparently has a few non-traditional uses, as well. Laundry, for example: one consumer post on Drugstore.com tells of using the product for her delicate hand-washables. Removing makeup: according to Johnson's Baby Shampoo reviews on Makeup Alley, all you need do is put a small amount on a wet cloth, lather up, and then gently wipe your eyes or your skin and rinse; it's also an effective cleanser for makeup brushes and hair extensions. Baths for babies and pets: shampoo reviews on Epinions say this best baby shampoo works well for cleaning up the usual baby-food messes and wiping down your pooch.
Second on our list of best baby shampoos is Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo (starting at 55 cents/oz.), which is at least double the per-ounce price of Johnson's. This dual-purpose product is also hypoallergenic and free of soap, and it contains oat extract that's supposed to be both soothing and moisturizing.
Parents, for the most part, confirm the claims. Baby shampoo reviews on Diapers.com laud its mildness and effectiveness as both body wash and shampoo. It holds strong appeal for parents of babies with sensitive skin, who write in Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo reviews that it leaves children's skin soft and supple, even in the presence of eczema, and is gentle and effective on babies' hair. That said, we came across a dissent in baby shampoo reviews at Drugstore.com, where one user asserts it had a drying effect on an adult's skin and another reports that shampoo dribbling into her toddler's eyes caused the child to scream.
Best Dandruff Shampoos
Dandruff is nasty stuff, but a good cheap anti-dandruff shampoo can mitigate the symptoms and the embarrassment. Still, the most effective product isn't your only line of attack. Experts at Beauty Tips Online note that dandruff may be present because of clogged or overactive oil glands, hormonal imbalance, or stress, and it may also indicate the presence of a fungus. In addition to treating the problem with a mild, cheap dandruff shampoo, you can alter your diet. Experts suggest drinking less coffee and tea while upping your intake of water, and eating fewer refined and processed foods while consuming more leafy greens and fruit. At the extreme, you may need to see a doctor.
Assuming you decide to stick with a hair-wash remedy, look for anti-dandruff shampoos with ingredients such as coal tar, salicylic acid, sulfur, ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, or zinc pyrithione. Frugal shoppers should be aware, however, that anti-dandruff shampoos aren't, strictly speaking, cheap. The best products we found, Aveeno Nourish + Dandruff Control Shampoo and Selsun Blue 2-In-1 Maximum Strength Dandruff Shampoo, start at more than 60 cents an ounce. There's no getting around the cost issue here because of the ingredients. But you don't need to use gobs of the stuff, so a typical 10- or 12-ounce bottle should last a while.
Our first pick for best anti-dandruff shampoo, Aveeno Nourish + Dandruff Control Shampoo (starting at 60 cents/oz.), has none of the specific dandruff-fighting ingredients but is formulated to soothe itchy scalps and is safe for color-treated hair. It's infused with lavender, peppermint, wheat complex, wheat germ oil, and oat proteins, along with other ingredients that include the cleansers ammonium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate.
Shampoo reviews indicate that Aveeno Nourish + Dandruff Control claims both fans and critics. On the plus side, reviews posted on Makeup Alley say it conquers dandruff and the associated dry itchy scalp, works miracles on thick, coarse and curly hair that's been ironed, feels good on the head, and leaves hair soft and vibrant. Consumers also like the mild peppermint scent and the product's ability to root out sprays, gels, and other residues, according to shampoo reviews on Epinions. On the other hand, some users are put off by the smell, and some Aveeno Nourish + Dandruff Control reviewers report that it dries out hair and has little effect on dry scalps. We also found some griping about the perceived high cost of the product.
Selsun Blue 2-In-1 Maximum Strength Dandruff Shampoo (starting at 60 cents/oz.), another good dandruff shampoo, contains zinc pyrithione, an antifungal ingredient that breaks down dead skin cells and treats the fungus associated with the dandruff. Zinc pyrithione is gentle, so you can use Selsun Salon every day, preferably by softly massaging the scalp and leaving it sit for several minutes before rinsing. Among other components, Selsun Salon contains aloe vera and ammonium lauryl sulfate. It boasts a two-in-one formula, which means you don't need a separate conditioner. Selsun Salon is safe for all types of hair.
This is the strongest anti-dandruff shampoo in the Selsun line, and the manufacturer recommends using it at least twice a week. Based on the dandruff shampoo reviews that we read, the product works. Selsun Salon reviews on Amazon say it reduces itching and dry flakes without irritating users' scalps. The scent is mild and easier on the nose than Selsun Blue, comments a dandruff shampoo review on Drugstore.com. Selsun Salon also scores points for its lather and cleaning action, and leaving hair manageable and the scalp feeling moist.
Best Cheap Shampoos for Men
The best shampoo for men is often the same product that women use, so the preferred ingredients for each hair type -- dry, oily, curly, dandruff-ridden, etc. -- are the same as what you find in cheap shampoos targeted to women. And yet, some guys are adamant about wanting a cheap shampoo for men and shun so-called women's shampoos for what they describe as girly-girl scents and packaging and ads featuring only female models. The best shampoos for men tend to emit so-called masculine scents, such as mint or musk, and often come bottled in containers colored white, brown, black, or green.
For this category, we settled on two products: Suave for Men (starting at 22 cents/oz.) and Adidas 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash (starting at 37 cents/oz.).
Men with a variety of hair types -- wavy, oily, straight -- like the rich lather they get with Suave for Men, according to men's shampoo reviews. They also talk up the gentle and effective cleaning, which Suave for Men reviews on RiteAidonlinestore.com say removes build-up and lasts longer compared with other products. Most shampoos reviews of Suave for Men posted on Viewpoints concur, but we did note a couple of comments claiming it actually adds to build-up if you don't rotate it with another cheap shampoo for men and leaves hair looking oily even though it's clean. The scent, meanwhile, is a winner, with men's shampoo reviews terming it masculine and decidedly not flowery or fruity; that is, nothing like what wafts out of a bottle of women's shampoo.
Our second-favorite cheap shampoo for men, Adidas 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash, holds great appeal for its convenience and impact. According to men's shampoo reviews on Drugstore.com, this product lathers and cleans well without drying the hair, scalp, or skin. It's equally effective on straight hair, wavy hair, and curly hair, say Adidas 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash reviews, and it even seems to relieve flaking scalps and skin. Gym rats who post reviews also say they use it after workouts and the 2-in-1 formula means they only need to stow one product in the gym bag or locker. One mom confesses that she bought the product for her teenage son who is now totally hooked, in part because his female classmates like the fresh clean smell. Indeed, one woman who posted an Adidas 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash review says she likes the unisex scent, adding that this cheap shampoo and body wash is gentle enough to use every day.