We Tried 8 Shampoos for Dry Hair and This Is the Best

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woman looking in the bathroom mirror, brushing her dry hair
Photo credit: Anetlanda/istockphoto

DRY HAIR DRAMA

If you have dry hair, you face a Goldilocks-like dilemma when choosing a shampoo. Some leave hair looking healthy but don't clean your scalp. Others clean the scalp but leave already-dry hair with flyaways and a lack of softness (or, worse, a crisp quality more often associated with autumn leaves). To make things more complicated, many brands avoid the "dry hair" label, instead emphasizing words like "moisturizing," "hydrating," and "nourishing" on the bottle. We tested eight products for three days on straight, fine hair damaged by repeated color treatment. Here they are, listed from cheapest to priciest, along with our pick for the best shampoo for dry hair.

Prices and availability may vary.

Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Moisturizing Shampoo
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

HERBAL ESSENCES HELLO HYDRATION MOISTURIZING SHAMPOO

Est. Price: $2.99 for 10.1 fl. oz. | Buy it at Target
Scent: Medicinal coconut
Recommended For: Slightly dry hair
Not Recommended For: Very damaged hair
What It Claims to Do: This creamy shampoo promises to deliver a deep clean with rich hydration, and do it without parabens, gluten (is that a thing for your hair?), or mineral oil. It's allegedly color-safe and pH-balanced.

senior woman shopping for shampoo in grocery store
Photo credit: vgajic/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF HERBAL ESSENCES HELLO HYDRATION MOISTURIZING SHAMPOO

While Herbal Essences manages to deliver a pretty decent product for a rock-bottom price, the shampoo itself is overly perfumed and has an ultra-shiny, chemistry-set-blue color, despite claiming to be "90 percent naturally derived." While most shampoos have a list of ingredients that are hard to pronounce, this shampoo seemed especially artificial. While it wasn't 100 percent color-safe (some color was seen running down the drain), it didn't seem to strip hair color, either. The result was overwhelmingly scented hair that didn't feel dry but wasn't out-of-this-world shiny, either.
L'Oréal Elvive Total Repair 5
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

L'ORÉAL ELVIVE TOTAL REPAIR 5

Est. Price: $4.99 for 12.6 fl. oz. | Buy it at CVS
Scent: Floral
Recommended For: Damaged or dry hair
What It Claims to Do: L'Oréal makes some big promises on behalf of its Elvive Total Repair 5 shampoo, claiming it will fix five "visible signs of damaged hair": split ends, weakness, roughness, dullness, and dehydration. The secret apparently lies in arginine K-complex, which penetrates the root of the hair, and ceramide, which is said to mend broken hair fibers.

woman in shower washing her hair
Photo credit: southerlycourse/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF L'ORÉAL ELVIVE TOTAL REPAIR 5

L'Oréal has always had a decent reputation when it comes to beauty products, but this shampoo exceeded expectations. It works up a thick lather — a dab will do you, so a bottle goes a long way — and leaves hair feeling clean without stripping it of moisture. It also seemed to repair split ends and tame flyaways, making hair feel and look healthy, if not TV-commercial glossy, after washing. Although it didn't restore very damaged hair to like-new status (the brand alleges the shampoo can undo a year of damage), it's not overstating it to say this shampoo did deliver on another important promise: instant results, and for a very low price.
OGX Argan Oil Of Morocco Shampoo
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

OGX ARGAN OIL OF MOROCCO SHAMPOO

Est. Price: $5.49 for 13 fl. oz. | Buy it at Target
Scent: Fresh
Recommended For: Curly hair
Not Recommended For: Fine hair
What It Claims to Do: This sulfate-free shampoo promises to undo the damage from almost every hair villain — heat tools, styling, and chemical processing — with the power of Moroccan argan oil and avocado oil.

woman washing her hair with shampoo
Photo credit: RuslanDashinsky/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF OGX ARGAN OIL OF MOROCCO SHAMPOO

This shampoo left hair shiny and soft, and made it look less damaged, but it was hard to rinse away. Although it doesn't produce a lot of lather, it does leave a bit of a film unless you spend some extra time in the shower washing it out. Fine hair seemed slightly limp, but this shampoo would likely work very well for someone with coarse or curly hair who might appreciate the hydrating qualities even with a little extra weight. The product also has a light, fresh smell, the most appealing of any shampoo we tried.
Aveeno Nourish + Moisturize Shampoo
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

AVEENO NOURISH + MOISTURIZE SHAMPOO

Est. Price: $5.99 for 10.5 fl. oz. | Buy it at Walmart
Scent: Clean laundry
Recommended For: Dry hair
Not Recommended For: Very damaged hair
What It Claims to Do: This shampoo promises to clean and nourish hair in just three washes. It's made with something called Nourishing Wheat Complex, which is a blend of wheat protein and wheat germ oil intended to restore strength, softness, and shine. As part of the brand's Nourish+ regimen, it claims to reduce breakage by 95 percent.

woman in wet hair in bathroom smiling
Photo credit: Goodluz/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF AVEENO NOURISH + MOISTURIZE SHAMPOO

While the miraculous "nourishment" promised in just three shampoos was hard to determine, this shampoo from Aveeno delivers what's promised, which is soft hair that's clean without feeling stripped of all oils or flattened with fancy ingredients. It doesn't give hair a glossy shine and seemingly provides light to moderate conditioning instead of deep damage repair. But it created the richest lather of any shampoo we tried, effectively cleaning the scalp and leaving hair in decent shape without weighing it down.
Nexxus Therappe Shampoo
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

NEXXUS THERAPPE SHAMPOO

Est. Price: $11.97 for 16.5 fl. oz. | Buy it at Walmart
Scent: Coconut
Recommended For: Slightly dry hair
Not Recommended For: Damaged hair
What It Claims to Do: Made with caviar, this silicone-free shampoo for normal to dry hair is lightweight and promises to lock in moisture and help "retain natural movement." It also says it leaves hair primed for conditioning — which suggests it should be used in tandem with the brand's Humectress conditioner, which wasn't part of our test.

woman in shower washing hair
Photo credit: Topalov/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF NEXXUS THERAPPE SHAMPOO

While hair isn't weighed down by Nexxus Therappe Shampoo, it clearly requires some conditioner to achieve the promised results. While our hair and scalp seemed clean after washing, our locks weren't shiny or glossy, and severe damage such as flyaways and split ends were still visible. Still, our hair smelled nice and just needed an extra boost of moisture, as the label suggests.
Shea Moisture Peace Rose Oil Complex Nourish & Silken Shampoo
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

SHEA MOISTURE PEACE ROSE OIL COMPLEX NOURISH & SILKEN SHAMPOO

Est. Price: $8.99 for 10.3 fl. oz. | Buy it at Target
Scent: Rose
Recommended For: Damaged or dry hair
What It Claims to Do: For some consumers, the most compelling thing about this shampoo is not what it does but what it doesn't have: sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, propylene glycol, or phthalates. It's also not tested on animals.

woman selecting bottle of shampoo in store
Photo credit: JackF/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF SHEA MOISTURE PEACE ROSE OIL COMPLEX NOURISH & SILKEN SHAMPOO

This creamy shampoo works up a good lather and cleans without stripping hair of moisture, leaving it soft and shiny, and not filmy or weighed down. Split ends were less noticeable, and hair looked glossy, too. This Shea Moisture shampoo is also color-safe and did not seem to cause hair color to fade despite repeated washings — a welcome bonus. Despite being a thick shampoo, it rinsed out easily. Some users consider the rose scent a bit perfume-y and heavy, but we found it appealing even after a few days of using the shampoo.
Pureology Hydrate Shampoo
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

PUREOLOGY HYDRATE SHAMPOO

Est. Price: $27.99 for 8.5 fl. oz. | Buy it at Target
Scent: Herbal
Recommended For: Damaged hair
Not Recommended For: Fine hair
What It Claims to Do: People rave about Pureology, praising it for an anti-fade complex that preserves hair color and an extraordinary ability to transform fried hair into lustrous, silky locks with just a dab of shampoo — thus making the pricey bottle a little more affordable.

woman shopping for shampoo with friend at drugstore
Photo credit: JackF/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF PUREOLOGY HYDRATE SHAMPOO

As much as other people love Pureology, we were underwhelmed. After washing, our fine hair hung in limp strands, although it did feel soft and look well-conditioned. Unfortunately, the extreme conditioning came at the price of actually cleaning the scalp, which was oily and itchy. Speaking of price, the expense made this product an even bigger disappointment — given the results, it would have seemed too expensive at a fraction of the cost. Still, many people are loyal to this sulfate-free shampoo and credit it with miraculous results.
Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Shampoo
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

FEKKAI BRILLIANT GLOSSING SHAMPOO

Est. Price: $20.99 for 6 fl. oz. | Buy it at Target
Scent: Fresh
Recommended For: Dry and mildly damaged hair
Not Recommended For: Color-treated hair
What It Claims to Do: With olive oil as a key ingredient, this glossing shampoo moisturizes as it cleans. While the price is on the high end of drugstore choices, the product promises shiny, glossy hair.

woman washing hair in shower and holding shampoo bottle
Photo credit: Tihis/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF FEKKAI BRILLIANT GLOSSING SHAMPOO

Although it's not specifically for dry hair, this glossing shampoo does a good job handling dryness. When hair becomes very damaged (think multi-colored dye jobs plus bleach), the shampoo cleans and doesn't weigh down hair, although it's not so great at restoring hair to health. Granted, it may be unfair to expect any shampoo to reverse all damage, and this shampoo is a solid choice for dry hair. Still, users with colored-treated hair should proceed with caution: This glossing shampoo doesn't do much to preserve hair color (nor does the color-care shampoo from this brand), fading a deep and bright dye job in just a few days.
L'Oréal Elvive Total Repair 5
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

AND THE WINNER IS ... L'ORÉAL ELVIVE TOTAL REPAIR 5

Shea Moisture Peace Rose Oil Complex Nourish & Silken managed deep moisturizing without making hair flat or limp, and our hair and scalp still felt clean — a combination that wasn't easy for other brands to deliver. It's likely to be the preferred choice for consumers who want to keep sulfates and other additives out of their hair care regimen. However, L'Oréal Elvive Total Repair 5 lands the same one-two punch for less. It delivers damage repair and hydration while still cleaning tresses at a bargain price.

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