Good, cheap shampoo is like the holy grail of beauty products. Unlike, say, mascara or nail polish, it’s pretty much an essential, even if you only wash your hair a few times a week. Based on a completely unscientific survey of consumer reviews, Twitter, and the recommendations of friends, here are my picks:
1. Pantene Pro-V Always Smooth Shampoo–Mention that you’re in the market for an inexpensive shampoo, and Pantene is usually the first name that pops up. Some people complain about the slightly waxy feeling it leaves behind, but to me, Pantene’s formula almost eliminates the need for styling products altogether.
2. Suave Clarifying Shampoo. Not for daily use unless you have an uber-oily scalp (despite what Suave might claim on the bottle), this deep-cleansing shampoo removes all manner of gunky product, leaving behind glowing, more manageable hair. Works as well as clarifying shampoos triple the price.
3. Sunsilk Hydra TLC–summer hair, beware. This stuff will knock out pesky flyaways and help restore your chlorine-parched locks to top condition.
4. Johnson’s Baby Shampoo–yeah, it’s supposed to be for your 6-month-old, but the super-gentle formula is the frugal girl’s secret weapon against fading hair color.
5. Dove Advanced Care Pro Age Shampoo–the best for plumping thin (and thinning) hair. Almost always sold out, and for good reason.
6. Aussie Moist–I used this in high school, so I’m transported by its violet bottle and utterly original smell; but beyond Aussie’s sentimental value, this is a solid pick for long, unprocessed hair that needs daily moisture.
7. Earth Science Shampoo for Sensitive Hair & Scalp–for families that struggle with chemical sensitivities (like mine), this stuff is manna from heaven. It’s fragrance-free and actually lathers, unlike many other natural, alcohol-free shampoos.