Facebook Pixel Code
 

Best Baby Shampoos

Updated December 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 78 Models Considered
  • 9 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 134 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best baby shampoos

    Last Updated December 2018

    When you hold newborns for the first time, it's hard to resist touching their delicate skin and soft hair. Baby skin and hair need special care to prevent irritation and stay clean. Baby shampoos are specially formulated to clean without being overly harsh on new skin. In an effort to make bath time easier, these shampoos have also been designed to be gentle on the eyes and reduce tears.

    As more and more options enter the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for your baby. However, you’ve come to the right place. Here at BestReviews, we’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to. We’ve put together this shopping guide to help you find a baby shampoo that checks all the boxes on your list.

    So cuddle up with your little one or take some time to yourself while you browse through our guide to find the perfect baby shampoo.

    Some shampoos moisturize better than others. Those that dry the hair and scalp may leave behind more tangles. If your baby has thick, full hair, moisturization should be a primary consideration.

    How are baby shampoos different?

    All shampoos use surfactants to clean hair by cutting through dirt and grease. Shampoos formulated for adults use lauryl sulfate, alcohol, and other ingredients that can be too harsh for a baby's skin.

    Baby shampoos contain milder surfactants called amphoteric surfactants that don't burn the eyes. They're not as effective at removing grease, nor do they lather like a sulfate. However, most babies don't get dirty enough to need a stronger formula. Because amphoteric surfactants are less harsh, the natural moisturizers remain intact and the hair is left feeling soft.

    See below for other harsh ingredients that you might want to watch out for as you shop for baby shampoo.

    Gentle, natural clean that locks in moisture

    This hypoallergenic shampoo boasts one of the gentlest formulas on the market. The natural ingredients include avocado, which helps retain moisture beautifully. It’s free of harmful chemicals, preservatives, and additives, so you know your baby is getting a natural cleanse that won’t irritate sensitive skin – and it’s used to treat cradle cap.

    Types of baby shampoos

    All-natural/organic: All-natural and/or organic products continue to grow in popularity for two reasons. First, they're more likely to contain ingredients that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. And second, certified organic products are exposed to fewer chemicals during the growing, harvesting, and manufacturing processes. Both reasons make all-natural and/or organic baby shampoos a popular choice. These shampoos come in fragrance-free or natural scent options like orange blossom or calendula.

    Shampoo/body wash combos: It's simply easier to use a single bottle for all your baby's washing needs. Shampoo/body wash combos are formulated to clean your baby's skin and hair to simplify the bath time routine.

    Alcohol-free: Alcohol-free labels can be somewhat misleading because there are both good and bad alcohols used in shampoos. The kind you want to avoid are called short-chain alcohols. These alcohols dissolve oil while helping other shampoo ingredients mix and work together. Unfortunately, short-chain alcohols mix so well with water that they quickly dissolve both oil and water from the hair, leaving it dry. Without natural oils, your baby’s scalp can easily become dry and irritated. Alcohol-free shampoos avoid short chain alcohols such as the following:

    • Ethanol

    • SD alcohol

    • SD alcohol 40

    • Alcohol denat

    • Propanol

    • Propyl alcohol

    • Isopropyl alcohol
       

    Most baby shampoos avoid these ingredients anyway because they can be eye irritants. However, if the formula doesn’t say alcohol-free, check the label to see what kind of alcohol it contains, just to be safe.

    Special formulas: Certain skin and scalp conditions may necessitate using a specially formulated shampoo. You can find options for all of the following:

    • Cradle cap: While cradle cap doesn’t pose a medical risk to your baby, cosmetically it can be troubling to parents. Cradle cap formulas contain butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and salicylic acid to break up the distinct cradle cap patches. Many of these formulas also contain climbazole to prevent cradle cap from returning.

    • Dry scalp: Moisturizing baby shampoos can help eliminate dry, flaky skin on the scalp. These shampoos may contain synthetic and/or natural moisturizers.

    • Dandruff: Yes, babies can get dandruff, too. Baby dandruff shampoo has ingredients to moisturize and gentle medications to reduce dandruff.

    • Eczema: Dry, red, itchy eczema can be hard to get rid of or may be irritated by some shampoos. Specially formulated shampoos and body washes can clean eczema-prone skin without causing a breakout. Many of these formulas are also hypoallergenic.

    • Calming: Calming baby shampoos are typically infused with lavender. If you have a particularly fussy baby, you might want to give one of these shampoos a try close to bedtime.
    CAUTION

    SLS concentration has a big impact on the irritation it causes. Even minute amounts of such an irritant could be too much for a baby.

    Baby shampoo features to consider

    Dispensing ease: Pump dispensers are the easiest to use and allow you to keep one hand on your baby. Keeping a hand on your baby is more important in the first few months of life when your little one can’t hold his head up or sit independently. However, as your child gets older and more playful in the bathtub, you might need one hand to keep him from squirming away while you get the shampoo.

    Your other option is a flip-top lid, which could require both hands. Dispensing ease isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re having a hard time deciding between two shampoos.

    Hypoallergenic: These shampoos are designed to reduce allergic reactions. Any formula from eczema to dandruff control can be hypoallergenic. If your baby has already been diagnosed with allergies or allergies run in your family, a hypoallergenic shampoo is probably the right choice.

    Moisturizers: Babies are more sensitive to environmental conditions. Their skin is also prone to drying out if they are bathed too frequently. Baby shampoos often contain natural and botanical moisturizers like aloe and coconut oil.

    Fragrance: You have to be careful when it comes to fragrance. Fragrances are often infused into beauty products with chemicals. Opt for natural fragrances like citrus and lavender. However, you might need to look for a fragrance-free shampoo if your baby has sensitive skin.

    Your baby’s skin and hair: Part of your choice will depend on your baby's natural skin and hair. Thick, long hair might require two washings or a shampoo/conditioner combo, though these combos aren't as gentle on the eyes as a baby shampoo without conditioner. And, of course, babies with sensitive skin, allergies, dandruff, eczema, and/or cradle cap may require a special baby shampoo.

    EXPERT TIP

    When bathing your baby, save shampooing for last to reduce the chances of drying out your baby’s skin.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    If you’re concerned about the environment, there are biodegradable baby shampoos.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Baby shampoo prices

    Inexpensive: Inexpensive baby shampoos start around $0.30 per ounce or less. These shampoos are formulated with gentle cleansers for fewer tears. However, you’ll want to check the ingredients list for any short-chain alcohols that might cause more tears than you’d like.

    Mid-range: All-natural baby shampoos that are tear-, alcohol-, and sulfate-free appear in the $0.50 to $0.75 per ounce range. Plant-based ingredients and natural fragrances are common among these shampoos.

    Expensive: All-natural, organic, sulfate-free, paraben-free, alcohol-free, cruelty-free, and gluten-free formulas come in at over $0.75 per ounce. These pricey shampoos may have a very limited number of ingredients to reduce exposure to synthetic ingredients.

    All-over body wash for sensitive skin

    Weleda’s natural plant-based ingredients are blended to create a shampoo and body wash that’s perfect for sensitive skin. Parents love the heavenly citrus scent. It’s gentle enough for babies with skin conditions like eczema, too.

    Baby shampoo ingredients to avoid

    We’ve talked a lot about the ingredients you want to find in baby shampoos, but here are a few that you would be better off without, such as the following:

    Sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate (SLS): SLS is a common surfactant, emulsifier, and detergent that’s included in skincare products to help them lather. While it’s derived from coconuts, after going through the manufacturing process it contains several harmful chemicals, two of which are classified as carcinogens. It can cause eye and skin irritation, so you definitely don’t want a baby shampoo that contains it.

    Synthetic/chemical fragrance: Most baby shampoos have a mild fragrance, but some fragrances are chemically based, which can be a problem for babies with respiratory problems.

    Parabens: Cosmetic manufacturers use parabens as a preservative. Basically, they help limit bacterial growth in an open container. However, they’ve been linked to hormone disruption, so they should be avoided in baby shampoos.

    Other preservatives: Parabens aren’t the only preservatives that might find their way into a baby shampoo. Phenoxyethanol is another that used to be included in nipple creams until it was discovered that it was ingested by and could be harmful to babies.

    The term “organic” isn’t strictly defined for personal care products. Some brands are open about what they consider organic and how they source ingredients. If you want an organic baby shampoo, check the manufacturer’s website or contact them for more information.

    FAQ

    Q. Can adults use baby shampoo?

    A. Baby shampoos are formulated to be milder than adult products. Babies simply don’t get as dirty as adults. Adults produce far more oil and sweat and, consequently, need stronger shampoos. However, adult shampoos can strip the hair of good oils and natural moisture, which baby shampoos leave behind. Adults can use baby shampoo, but you might have to wash your hair two or three times to get it adequately clean.

    Q. Can baby shampoo be used on toddlers and preschoolers?

    A. Baby shampoo can be used on children of any age. It will still do a good job cleaning older children. However, you might need to add a separate conditioner if your child has thick or long hair.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Kailey
      Kailey
      Writer
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Stacey
      Stacey
      Writer

    BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
    and give us feedback about your visit today.

    Take Survey