If you ask five different women how often they need to wash their hair , you’ll probably get five different answers. Some women can go weeks without using shampoo. Others depend on dry shampoo to keep their hair fresh and clean looking for days. My straight, fine hair requires daily washing, otherwise it quickly looks greasy , limp, and stuck to my head, as if I just took a long walk in the rain.
Recently, I’ve started to worry my daily washing habit is actually hurting my hair. “Shampooing every day can be damaging for the scalp if you’re using a harsh product with stripping or drying properties,” explains dermatologist Ilyse Lefkowicz , M.D. The sulfates —the ingredient that gives shampoo its suds—can remove natural oils from the hair and scalp. The more you strip away natural oils with drying ingredients, the more oil your scalp will produce to compensate, effectively causing even more oiliness. At the same time, sulfates can also be extra drying along the hair shaft, especially for color-treated hair like mine. The result: Greasy roots, fried ends . Which is exactly what happens to my bleached-blonde hair after a week of daily shampooing.
But it turns out that the shampooing itself isn’t always the issue—it’s the type of shampoo I’m using. “It’s more important to make sure the shampoo is gentle enough to use on your hair,” hairstylist and Redken brand ambassador Rodney Cutler tells me. To compensate, I initially tried out shampoos without sodium lauryl sulfate, which is one of the harshest detergents in shampoo. The only problem: Most of these suds-free shampoos and cleansing conditioners are formulated for coarser hair types, meaning they make my fine hair look flat and blah.
So I adjusted my search, seeking a shampoo with the perfect balance. No SLS to protect my bleached hair, but enough cleaning power to leave my oily roots looking shiny and new. After some digging and first-person product testing, I found five shampoos that are gentle enough for fine-haired girls like me to use on a daily basis. Every once in a while I return to a shampoo with sulfates to get a true clarifying treatment, especially if I've used a lot of product or dry shampoo. But most weeks, I just use these gentle options every day. And after weeks of testing, my hair looks healthier and feels softer. Using these shampoos helps keep my hair lively and full without taking away from its shiny and smooth texture.
Leonor Greyl Lait Lavant a la Banane , $45
This shampoo is the one that turned me on to using washes with a thin, watery texture. At first, the lack of lather really had me worried my hair wasn’t getting clean. But I was hooked when I saw how shiny and soft my hair looked when it dried. It’s exactly the gentle rinse my fine hair needs, leaving it neither limp nor lifeless.
Get it: $45, dermstore.com
Redken Clean Maniac Micellar Clean-Touch Shampoo , $20
This shampoo has a thick, gel-like texture if you want something with more grip than a light rinse. When using any type of shampoo, Cutler says to concentrate your shampoo on your scalp —there’s no need to scrub the mid length and ends. He explains that this will only dry hair out, leaving you with dull, broken ends.
Get it: $20, bedbathandbeyond.com
Nexxus Hydra-Light Weightless Replenishing System Shampoo , $13
This shampoo provides amazing moisture to keep hair soft and healthy without weighing it down and leaving it flat. It also has a creamy lather, which I feel gives a more fulfilling shampoo experience than other SLS-free shampoos. After using this shampoo and the conditioner, my hair is bouncy and shining.
Get it: $13, target.com
Hair Story New Wash , $50
OK, so technically this isn’t a shampoo. It’s actually marketed as a totally new way to wash your hair . This lotiony wash cleans while also providing hydration like a conditioner. I was afraid this product would leave my fine hair weighed down, but it actually rinses away without any leftover residue.
Get it: $50, amazon.com
Playa Everyday Clarifying Shampoo , $32
Instead of using your typical harsh detergents, this shampoo uses a hydrating coconut-derived cleanser called capryl glucoside. There isn’t too much of a lather, which I was more accustomed to by the 10th shampoo trial. I loved that I was still able to get a voluminous blow-dry after using this moisturizing formula.
Get it: $32, playabeauty.com