If searching for the perfect shampoo is wrong, I don't want to be right. For many women, choosing a shampoo and conditioner is kind of like dating—you'll settle for the one that's right in front of you (read: the bottle near checkout), but as more variety becomes available, the pickier you want and need to become.
As rote as it seems, haircare needs to be taken as seriously as skincare is, which is why Marie Claire's editors decided to share our go-to shampoo and conditioner picks for every hair type—from frizz-prone to heat damaged to perfectly healthy. Stock up on our favorites, below, and feel free to use "washing my hair" as an excuse anytime you want to get out of a date.
"I have a very thick kinky-curly mane that requires a ton of moisture. Deep conditioning once a week is an absolute must in order to keep my hair hydrated and manageable. What I like most about this conditioner is the nice slip it gives my coarse strands, allowing me to easily detangle them. I apply the conditioner, then apply a conditioning heat cap, and I let it sit in my hair for about 30-45 minutes. The directions say to leave it in for 15-20 minutes before rinsing, but personally I believe the longer it stays the softer the curls." —Chelsea Hall, Executive Assistant to the EIC and Creative Director
"I’m nowhere near a natural blonde, so a few weeks after I get highlights my icy color turns brass fast. I keep this shampoo in for at least 10-15 minutes (that’s the secret!) because the longer the time, the better results. After using it for a week, the ashy color comes back in full force. This shampoo can be slightly drying, so I focus on my ends and use a deep conditioner after to lock in the moisture." —Susanna Hayward, Designer
"I have days when I feel like I need to really cleanse my body—usually the Monday after a weekend of indulging in fried or rich foods. Along with a green juice to restart my insides, I use Fekkai Apple Cider shampoo to wash away build up (perceived or real) from my hair. Nothing like a clean slate to start the week off right." —Joyce Bautista Ferrari, Managing Editor
"I’m a serial shampoo dater. Anytime I run out of a bottle, I feel the need to try out something else because who knows what else is out there?! But sometimes when you find the one you have to stick to it, and that my friends is the wonderful Redken Curvaceous Lo-Foam Cleanser. It has no sulfates, takes me around six months to go through the jumbo bottle, and just understands me. I've bought it twice in a row now (does this mean I'm in a committed relationship?) and I have more curls than waves, which is why I go with the Lo-Foam. If you have wavy hair, go for the High-Foam." —Bianca Rodriguez, Editorial Fellow
"I could rave for days about this power duo. I have really straight hair, but I’d highly recommend it for anyone that needs a dose of hydration without compromising volume. The shampoo is like a juice cleanse for your hair, so your scalp feels super clean minus the dryness. Its conditioner complement has the texture of a creamy banana smoothie (and smells like one too) so the sensory experience is 10/10. But the real perks come after you step out of the shower; I’ve never had my hair feel so soft—or my dyed brown color so vibrant—without having to use a hair mask. The formula is packed with fatty acids and antioxidants from bananas and coconuts, so it’s like a whipped concoction of nutrients for your strands." —Hana Hong, Beauty Assistant
"I have a ton of hair, but its texture is very fine, which means the wrong shampoo will make my scalp really greasy...really fast. On top of that, I color it a vampy shade of espresso every couple months, and non color-safe formulas suck the cool-tones out of my strands. Living Proof’s Color Care line give my roots the bounce and squeaky-clean feeling I crave, and it keeps my color as rich as the day I left the salon." —Taylore Glynn, Associate Beauty & Health Editor
"Natural girls know that dryness is the enemy. Hydration comes first with my curls no matter the season. During the summer, fall, winter, and spring, dryness finds a way to creep back into my coils and leave my hair looking a hot mess. But when I nourish my hair with the hydrating agents, like olive oil and botanicals found in this creamy conditioner, my hair feels healthy and strong for a whole week. (Yes, I go a whole week without washing my hair. It's FINE, I'm alive.)
I love using a wide-tooth comb and raking this conditioner through my hair from root-to-tip to make sure it's evenly distributed throughout the hair shaft. Then, with this still on my hair, I use my fingers and the comb to detangle. Afterwards, I put on a shower cap and let my curls steam in a hot shower to penetrate the hair follicle even further." —Maya Allen, Digital Beauty Editor
"I’m not the type of person to spend a lot of money on my haircare routine—I used to just get whatever drugstore brand of shampoo and conditioner smelled nice. But then I tried to grow my hair out after a tryst with baby bangs (a haircut that was described, I’m sorry to say, as 'brave'). It was taking forever to get even a little bit of length and there was still a lot of damage because I tend to run my hair through the ringer—drying, straightening, curling, you name it.
My stylist recommended Pureology because it’s sulfate-free and really gentle, but also works to strengthen your hair and minimize breakage. It’s not cheap—an 8.5 oz bottle is almost $30—but because you only use a quarter-sized amount even for medium-length hair, it lasts me over two months, sometimes more. Now my hair is a lot stronger, I have fewer split ends, and it’s growing so much faster. It’s an investment that I’m happy to make, and I couldn’t recommend it more." —Cady Drell, Former Senior News and Culture Editor
"A lot of hair products on the market tend to do absolutely nothing for those of us with more textured, porous hair, so finding the perfect shampoo and conditioner to implement into my regiment has taken some time. My hair has transformed quite a bit over the years—from a giant afro to a cute tapered cut to my current a low caesar—but OGX's shampoos and conditioners have been my go-to. I swear by its argan oil of Morocco line. At any length, both the shampoo and conditioner keep my hair hydrated and shiny, and the smell is everything!" —Ineye Komonibo, Former Editorial Fellow
"I've been using this Adama brand for a couple years now. The shampoo feels rich and the conditioner leaves my hair smooth and relatively frizz-free. I wash my hair every single night, and the conditioner is light enough not to weigh down my very fine, straight hair. They are both sulfate- and paraben-free, so the hippie side of me is satisfied. They also smell really nice and pear-ish." —Bridget Burns, Photo Editor
"I love Moroccanoil products. Their shampoo (and conditioner) are my shiny, silky-soft hair jam. I remember trying Moroccanoil for the first time and realizing that my naturally very fine, frizzy hair can actually look smooth and—despite my total lack of skills with a hairdryer—like I’d just left a haircut. I turned my mom on to the stuff as well, so now the smell is homey and familiar to me. Plus, whenever I get a whiff of that Moroccanoil shampoo smell, it’s a nice little reminder that I’m likely having a good hair day." —Sally Holmes, Digital Director
"There’s a cheap British drugstore brand called Alberto Balsam that, I kid you not, has the most luxurious shampoo I’ve ever used. You can order it on Amazon, but it needs to ship all the way from England, so the shipping costs make it decidedly not-cheap. #BringABToAmerica" —Jenny Hollander, Deputy Editor
"I only condition a couple of times a week, so I like to use hydrating hair masks instead of conditioner (yes, I’m lazy). I’m hooked on Kérastase Masquintense, which is specifically developed for dry, thin hair. I went through a phase in my late teens of straightening my hair every day without heat protection—look, it was the early ‘00s—and the only thing that saved my hair was this." —J.H.
"Growing up, I never paid attention to the shampoo I used. (Literally, I'd use anything as long as it smelled good.) That changed the first time I dyed my hair a couple years ago. I never realized how harsh and terrible brand-I-shall-not-name was until it stripped all the color out of my hair. That's when my hair colorist (and my mom!) recommended something sulfate-free, and I fell in love with this L'Oréal Ever Pure shampoo.
It's super cheap, I can easily pick it up at the drugstore whenever I run out, and it comes in a variety of formulations depending on your hair type. (Same goes for the conditioner.) I got my hair colored again while using the shampoo and the dye actually lasted. A concept!" —Rachel Epstein, Associate Editor
"Growing up, I wanted 'hair like the girls in the Pantene commercials,' so I started using...no surprise here...Pantene Pro-V. I've tried countless of their formulations over the years, and ultimately landed on the Smooth & Sleek version with argan oil. I have A LOT of hair, so I definitely don't need volumizing shampoo. And I don't color or heat style it. I just need something basic that will allow me to wash my straight, kinda kinky, flyaway-filled hair and go without looking like I stuck my finger in a light socket. After using this shampoo and conditioner pair, my hair dries straight, shiny, and slo-mo-hair-toss-worthy." —Danielle McNally, Director of Features and Special Projects
"My longstanding favorite shampoo/conditioner combo has been Paul Mitchell’s lemon sage thickening shampoo and conditioner. My boyfriend’s mom actually introduced me to this line after we bonded over our similar hair types! I have fine hair and am always hunting for ways to make it look like it’s not just hanging off my scalp.
This duo makes my hair feel like each strand is actually fuller, while maintaining the soft texture that it has naturally, instead of drying it out like a lot of other volumizing products tend to do. An added bonus is that all Paul Mitchell products are cruelty-free, so I can enjoy my fuller, shinier hair without feeling guilty." —Morgan McMullen, Visual Designer
“Growing up, my mom was strictly about Pantene. You know those huge ones with a pump they have at Costco? Yep, that was it for me and my family. Then, in middle school, I got psoriasis and had to use a medicated shampoo that burned and smelled horrible. It made me wish I could use normal shampoos.
Since being in this industry I’ve tried countless shampoos—fancy, drugstore, vegan, hotel—and I can honestly say I like John Frieda ones the most. I love the way they smell and it takes me back to my California beach days, even if it's just for five minutes. Oh, and a disclaimer: I’m not blonde, so don’t let the packaging fool you. It is for everyone.” —Krystyna Chávez, Social Media Editor
"I switch on and off between two different shampoos because I read that always using the same one can cause buildup and make it less effective over time. I have straight, fine hair so I try my best to use only the most gentle products. I love Briogeo’s gingseng shampoo because it smells amazing and it's sulfate-free. The formula also contains biotin, which helps to grow hair and that's something I currently need since my hair has been shedding like crazy.
I wash my hair every other day, but if I have back-to-back washes (i.e. I worked out on Monday and Tuesday) I use—surprise!—baby shampoo for day two. It cleans my hair really well and if it’s safe/gentle enough for babies, it’s definitely good for my thin hair.
The one thing I have not used since high school is conditioner. I found that no matter what brand I try, my hair feels greasy the next day even though I just washed it the night before." —Marina Liao, Fashion Editor
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