When shopping for kids’ shampoo, it’s likely that you’re bombarded with tons of bright packaging and buzzwords like “paraben-free” and “no phthalates.” Other shampoo brands make the claim that they are “tear-free” or “all-natural,” but what does that even mean? How can you really tell the difference between which products are actually safe for kids and which are just an attempt at “good” marketing? We’re here to help with that, so get ready to lather up.
What to Consider
It turns out that shampoo is pretty complex, so we consulted a board-certified dermatologist to find out exactly what parents should be looking for when shopping for kids' shampoo. Dr. Erum Ilyas, M.D., MBE, FAAD, adult and pediatric dermatologist, tells Best Products that the chief concern of parents shouldn't be the words on the label but the ingredients that make up the shampoo.
Shampoos are made of four primary categories of ingredients: surfactants which cleanse and degrease the hair, conditioning agents to hydrate the hair, special ingredients that address specific concerns like dandruff or sensitive scalps and then fragrances and color additives. Baby and child shampoos, particularly natural brands, eschew harsher versions of the chemicals that are used in shampoos for adults, according to Ilyas.
She tells us that if your baby is prone to eczema or has very sensitive skin, you should avoid products with added fragrances. Ilyas says that “added fragrances can be irritating to the skin and eyes,” but notes that the “preservatives are important to some degree to avoid bacterial overgrowth in products but [that they]may be limited in baby soaps.”
How We Chose
Our team took Dr. Ilyas' suggestions, combed through brands, talked to parents, and washed our own kids' hair to narrow down the very best kids' shampoos with gentle formulas on the market right now.
SheaMoisture has a kids' shampoo-and-conditioner line created to nourish your babe's natural curls. This duo smells like mango and carrot, which is sweet, fresh, and addicting.
These suds are sulfate- and paraben-free, and they're packed with organic ingredients to promote healthy, manageable curls.
Cradle cap, a common skin condition of newborns, can be irritating to a baby's young scalp, and it's often difficult to treat. This soft foam by Mustela is made of 99% organic ingredients, including avocado fruit extract and sunflower seed oil to moisturize the dry flakes and soothe the inflammation.
Mustela's gentle formula has no additional fragrances or additives, making it a truly remarkable shampoo for the most sensitive babies.
Who wouldn't love sudsing up their strands with The Honest Company's orange-and-cream shampoo and conditioner duo?
Kids will love smelling like a creamsicle after bathtime, while the natural ingredients, like jojoba and quinoa extract, make it appealing to parents.
Hello Bello is a vegan, cruelty-free shampoo that is pH-balanced, and made with coconut oil and soothing marshmallow root. The light watermelon fragrance and thick, soapy suds will clean your children's hair even on their sweatiest, dirtiest days. Your littles are sure to love bath time when you pair this shampoo with the matching conditioner.
Coat your tot's strands in this nourishing shampoo made for coily and curly hair. The tear-free formula is infused with the moisturizing power of shea butter, strengthening benefits of coconut oil, and shine-boosting honey. Your little one's hair will be both clean and bouncy.
We can't get enough of Tubby Todd! A small drop of this hypoallergenic soap will clean your child from head to toe. Its delightful scent blend has coconut, rosemary, and lavender. It's formulated with 100% natural ingredients, too.
Your kid will be in fruity heaven with this watermelon cleanser that works as both a shampoo and a conditioner. This natural shampoo features apple and apricot extract, too, for an extra refreshing fragrance.
Your kiddo is entering the tween stage, and their raging hormones can mean rogue funky smells and greasier hair. TBH Kids Oil Controlling Shampoo can help tame one of those issues (hint: not the armpit scents).
The blend of nettle, cedar bark, and sage keeps the natural sebum at bay while vitamin B and E nourish their strands.
Whether you're concerned about your newborn's delicate scalp and skin, or you're worried about your big kid's sensitivity to artificial ingredients, this sensitive baby shampoo has you covered.
This Environmental Working Group-verified pick is packed full of organic, plant-based ingredients, including shea and cocoa butter. You don't have to worry about added fragrances and dyes, as this shampoo is all about delivering the good stuff without any of the unnecessary frills.
If you are in the market for a clean, natural shampoo that uses Mother Nature’s bounty as its top ingredients, this Alaffia shampoo is it.
With a moisturizing base of ethically traded virgin coconut oil, your child's hair won't feel like a haystack after washing. Designed to be used from head to toe, the calming chamomile and yarrow root makes it a perfect addition to their bathtime routine.
I know that the price looks steep, but these are huge bottles, and you're getting two of them. They're meant to be used every day your child is in school, and it works pretty darn well.
If you're worried about potential lice outbreaks affecting your child, bring home a bottle of this natural repellent. Rosemary and tea tree essential oils may help repel lice, and your kid will love the refreshing scent.
We're not going to lie: the fragrance of this shampoo isn't light, but having used it on our own children, we know that it is gentle.
Made with over 98% natural ingredients and a tear-free formula, this is one of the most popular baby shampoos on the market. We're confident you'll love it as much as we do.
Tangled tresses can make wash day the worst day for your sweetie. The Just for Me Curl Peace shampoo gently cleanses your child's strands while cocoa butter and raw honey work to detangle their hair for easier styling.
Learning to swim is one of the best things your child can learn. But, more than likely, their strands are going to take a beating.
Keep your little swimmer's hair looking and feeling lively with this 3-in-1 swim shampoo from SoCozy Kids. The activated charcoal helps with calcium buildup, chlorine, and sun damage.
When kids suffer from a dry scalp and dandruff, it can be confusing and embarrassing for them. The traditional shampoo treatments are full of medicating agents like pyrithione zinc and salicylic acids that should only be used when prescribed by a pediatrician or dermatologist.
Thankfully, there are more natural approaches, like this shampoo from Nourishing Kids, which harnesses the cleansing power of tea tree oil and sage oil alongside powerful moisturizers like jojoba to keep those flakes at bay.
This 3-in-1 shampoo, body wash, and bubble bath that's made of natural ingredients and sweetly scented essential oils are just the thing to take the fight out of bath time.
Formulated with aloe, chamomile, calendula, and white tea extracts, this GMO-free shampoo is great for your growing babe.