Unfortunately, trying to narrow down the best hypoallergenic shampoos isn’t as simple as scanning the label for the term itself, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Kristin M. Baird tells Bustle. “The label ‘hypoallergenic’ on beauty or skin care products simply means the product claims to contain fewer allergy-producing substances, known as allergens, than other products. This does not necessarily mean it is allergy-proof or gentler for your skin,” Dr. Baird says. Instead, she suggest people with scalp sensitivities choose dermatologist-recommended products formulated specifically for their hair type, and look for formulas that don’t contain fragrances, parabens, or dyes. “By avoiding these ingredients, people with sensitive skin may experience less allergic reactions such as dryness, itchiness, and inflammation,” she says.
Celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar agrees, and notes that “Hypoallergenic means whatever the company wants it to mean. There are no federal standards governing manufacturers' use of the term.” She says she’s had clients with sensitive skin and allergies buy hypoallergenic products and have serious reactions, so it’s understandable that people with skin sensitives have “trust issues with hair and skin care products,” as she puts it. Aguilar suggests playing it safe by sticking to your most trusted products, always reading labels, and supporting brands who are transparent about their ingredients.
Below, you’ll find five of the best gentle shampoos that are typically well-tolerated by people with sensitive skin, including one chosen by Dr. Baird. Keep scrolling to see them all.
1. Doctor’s Pick: The Overall Best Hypoallergenic Shampoo
A recommendation of Dr. Baird’s, this Free & Clear shampoo is arguably the best shampoo for sensitive skin out there. It’s usually well-tolerated by people with skin and scalp sensitivities because it doesn’t contain any dyes, fragrance, parabens, sulfates, preservatives, or gluten, though it still leaves hair feeling nice and clean. Looking for a gentle conditioner, too? Try the matching Free & Clear conditioner.
2. The Best Hypoallergenic Shampoo For Babies
This shampoo and body wash from The Honest Company is a super-mild, multi-use wash that’s tear-free and safe for all ages. Made from naturally derived ingredients like aloe, chamomile, and coconut oil, it doesn’t contain any parabens, sulfates, or fragrance, so it’s a great choice for sensitive skin. This is a cruelty-free brand that prides itself on doing due diligence on their product research and being upfront about their ingredients, so there are no surprises inside.
3. The Best Hypoallergenic Shampoo For Color-Treated Hair
Most of the shampoos on this list are safe for use on color treated hair, since they’re sulfate-free; however, ColorProof SuperSheer actually aims to keep your hair color looking vibrant in between salon visits, thanks to its unique blend of ingredients. The hydrating formula is made with blue lotus flower, shea butter, and jojoba for moisture and shine, while antioxidants like baobab fruit and edelweiss help keep your hair protected, shiny, and strong. As for what it doesn’t contain? Sulfates, salts, silicones, parabens, and fragrance.
4. Best Value
For less than $15, you get 32 ounces of this JASON shampoo — so it’s the best fragrance-free shampoo for anyone who washes their hair frequently, has a big family, or simply loves a great value. It contains plenty of gentle, hydrating ingredients, including aloe, glycerin, chamomile, and pro-vitamin B5. This is free of parabens, sulfates, and fragrance, and the brand is Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty-free. The pump-top bottle makes dispensing the product super easy, too.
Dr. Kristin M. Baird, M.D., F.A.A.D., board-certified dermatologist
Natalie Aguilar, celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse