The Best Shampoos for Damaged Hair
Unfortunately, most of us aren’t naturally blessed with a mop of luxurious, shiny hair. The truth is, achieving that hair commercial look usually requires a little effort on your part. Hair, like everything else, is prone to breakage, damage, and wear and tear. Maybe you spend a lot of time outside, or are someone who uses lots of heat-styling tools. Perhaps you have been dyeing your hair for years or you’ve just never really considered the importance of a nourishing shampoo.
Fortunately for us, hair damage is preventable. One of the best places to start when trying to restore damaged hair to its former glory is by assessing your hair care routine and investing in high quality hair care products.
Read on to discover the 10 best shampoos for damaged hair on the market, so you can take that first step toward healthy, beautiful hair.
What are the causes of damaged hair?
Hair is made up of a protein called keratin. The shaft of hair is made up of three layers: the medulla, the cortex, and the cuticle. The medulla is the innermost layer, and it’s mostly found in thicker hair. The cortex is the middle layer, and it’s responsible for the strength, color, and texture of the hair. The cuticle is the outermost layer, and it’s made up of scales that overlap each other like shingles on a roof. The cuticle is responsible for protecting the inner layers of the hair and when the cuticle is damaged, it can no longer properly protect the hair, which can lead to a variety of issues.
Hair damage can be caused by a number of factors, some which are more preventable than others. Some of the main causes of hair damage are:
- Physical stress: This can occur due to excessive styling, such as heat styling tools, chemical treatments, and excessive brushing or combing.
- Environmental damage: Exposure to harsh elements such as sun, wind, and pollution can cause damage to the hair.
- Chemical stress: Dyes, bleaches, perm solutions and other chemical treatments can weaken and damage the hair.
- Nutritional deficiencies: A poor diet or certain medical conditions can lead to hair damage.
- Lack of maintenance: Not properly taking care of hair, such as not getting regular trims, not using the right type of shampoo and conditioner, or not using heat protectants when styling can lead to damage.
How to determine if you have damaged hair
Damage can manifest in a variety of ways. Take a moment to thoroughly assess your hair, and look for some of the following issues:
- Dryness: This occurs when the hair’s natural oils are stripped away, leaving the hair dry and brittle.
- Breakage: This occurs when the hair shaft becomes weak and snaps. This is mostly due to chemical treatments, heat styling, and excessive brushing.
- Split ends: This occurs when the cuticle is damaged, and the hair shaft splits. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including chemical treatments, heat styling, and lack of moisture. Look for little fishtails and splits at the very end of each hair.
- Frizz: This occurs when the cuticle is damaged and the hair shaft becomes rough. Sometimes frizz is your hair’s blameless response to humidity, but it can also be caused by chemical treatments and heat styling.
- Dullness: This occurs when the hair lacks shine and luster. Again, look to overuse of chemical treatments and heat styling for the culprit. Diet and hydration levels can also be to blame.
- Color fading: This can be caused by time spent outside exposing the hair to UV rays as well as from certain chemical treatments. If you use hair dye, you might also experience a decline in color vibrancy over time.
Most of us experience some of these issues from time to time, and they are nothing to be alarmed about. Regular hair cuts, a healthy diet, and good hair care products are usually enough to solve issues related to dryness, dullness, and splitting. However, it’s important to remember that at the forefront of your fight against hair damage should be a high-quality shampoo and conditioner. Below, we’ve selected the 10 best shampoos for damaged hair.
What to look for in a shampoo for damaged hair?
If your assessment of your hair has revealed some issues, it’s time to start thinking about solutions. Luckily, there are hundreds of hair care products for damaged hair on the market, but not all of them are created equal. Some ingredients are more nourishing than others and some formulas are more gentle on already damaged or brittle hair. When choosing your shampoo, look for the following words and phrases:
- Moisturizing ingredients: Damaged hair is often dry and brittle, so look for shampoos that contain moisturizing ingredients such as glycerin, coconut oil, and shea butter. These ingredients can help to add moisture to the hair and make it feel softer and more manageable.
- Protein: Damaged hair is often weak and prone to breakage, so look for shampoos that contain protein such as keratin, collagen, or hydrolyzed protein. These ingredients can help to strengthen the hair and reduce breakage.
- Gentle formula: Damaged hair is often sensitive, so consider shampoos that are free of harsh chemicals such as sulfates, parabens, and artificial colors. A gentle formula that is free of these ingredients is less likely to cause irritation or further damage to the hair.
- pH balance: The pH balance of the shampoo is important for the health of your hair. Try shampoos that have a pH of around 4.5-5.5, which is close to the natural pH of the hair.
- Repairing: Ingredients that specifically target repairing damaged hair include biotin, vitamins like B5, ceramides, and amino acids.
- Sulfate-free: Shampoo without sulfates are used because they are gentler on the hair and scalp. Sulfates, which are commonly found in traditional shampoos, can strip the hair of its natural oils and cause dryness, irritation, and damage.
1. Blu Atlas Shampoo
The perfect product for damaged hair, Blu Atlas tops our lists of nourishing shampoos. We like Blu Atlas because of the particular combination of natural ingredients it contains: saw palmetto, jojoba, aloe, and biotin. Saw palmetto is an incredible plant known for its ability to counteract DHT, the hormone that causes hair loss in men. As well as helping to halt hair loss, it also has hydrating and volumizing properties.
Working alongside saw palmetto are the moisturizing and smoothing ingredients jojoba protein, vegan biotin, and aloe. Jojoba is particularly useful when trying to restore damaged hair as it possesses many of the qualities of our skin’s sebum.
Blu Atlas shampoo not only makes your hair feel good, it smells great as well. Containing no artificial fragrances, the scent of the “classic” option is subtle but herbal and refreshing. For a slightly sweeter smelling scent, we recommend opting for the apricot coconut version, which has a sweet, nutty smell that nevertheless avoids being overpowering.
If you’ve been curious about sulfate-free shampoos, Blu Atlas delivers on this front. Instead of the harsh sulfates that used to be a standard shampoo ingredient, Blu Atlas employs coconut-derived surfactants, which gently but thoroughly cleanse the hair and scalp without stripping your hair of its natural oils.
Overall, Blu Atlas delivers a wash that feels cleansing but also nourishing—you won’t experience that squeaky, stripped, and stringy feeling after using it, but nor will your hair feel like it has gained an unnaturally silky or slippery coating. If you’re trying to repair your hair after the rigors of the summer, heat styling, or too many dye jobs, then this is the shampoo for you.
2. Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo
This shampoo is ideal for those of us who might be prone to hitting the heat styling tools a little too hard or who have experimented with a few too many new hair colors. No-one likes it when their hair develops that brittle, frayed appearance indicative of trying out a few too many new looks. However, we do like Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo because it helps to repair and strengthen damaged hair at the actual site of the damage.
Formulated with Olaplex’s patented bond building technology, this shampoo works to rebuild the bonds within the hair that are broken by chemical, thermal, and mechanical damage—making hair stronger, healthier, and less prone to breakage down the line.
One of the key ingredients in the shampoo is bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, a molecule that helps to repair and protect the hair from further damage. It also contains coconut oil, which is well known for its nourishing and moisturizing properties. Together, these ingredients work to hydrate and repair the hair, leaving it looking and feeling softer and shinier. The ingredients list also contains hydrolyzed vegetable protein, a natural protein that assists to nourish and repair the hair.
Olaplex offers a handy hair diagnostic tool on their website, allowing you to figure out exactly where you might be going wrong and what products are designed to solve your particular issues.
3. Pureology Strength Cure Shampoo
We absolutely love Pureology Strength Cure Shampoo. This shampoo is specifically formulated to target and repair damaged hair. Packed with a powerful blend of ingredients that work together to nourish and strengthen the hair, this shampoo contains Astaxanthin, an antioxidant that helps to protect the hair from environmental damage and color fading.
It also contains Keravis, a vegetable protein that assists to strengthen and repair the hair, making it less prone to breakage. Safflower Oleosomes is another natural ingredient featured in this creamy shampoo. It works to hydrate and nourish the hair, leaving it looking and feeling softer and shinier.
Pureology’s formula is aimed at repairing bonds within the hair shaft and contains ingredients that mimic the natural structure of the hair. Though these bonds can’t ever be replaced by shampoos or conditions, they can be repaired and strengthened.
Another thing we love about this shampoo is that it is sulfate-free and color-safe, making it gentle on the hair and scalp and suitable for all hair types, including color-treated hair. Scented with Pureology’s signature aromatherapy blend, after shampooing with this product your hair will smell like lavender, honey, peaches, and vanilla.
One thing to be aware of is that Pureology does come with a hefty price tag, so look out for sales online and purchase in bulk if you do encounter any discounts.
4. L’Oreal Paris EverPure Repair and Defend Sulfate Free Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair
L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair and Defend Shampoo is unique in that it is specifically formulated to target and repair hair damaged by repeated colorings. Whether you want a shampoo that will restore a natural luster to your bottle-blonde locks, or one that will prevent the color fade that seems inevitable with dyed hair, this shampoo is the product for the job.
Packed with a powerful blend of ingredients that work together to nourish and strengthen colored hair, this shampoo will leave your hair looking rejuvenated and feeling healthier and more manageable. Anyone who has experimented with dying their hair has encountered the negative after-effects that can undermine the experience of enjoying your new ‘do. Many people aren’t aware of this, but dye does not merely stain your hair; rather, it actually penetrates the shaft to alter the natural hair pigment. Indulging in frequent hair dyeing means the cuticle (the hair’s protective layer) is slowly worn away.
One of the key ingredients in this shampoo is rosemary extract, which is known for its ability to strengthen and nourish the hair. It also contains healing castor oil and arginine, an amino acid that helps to strengthen and repair the hair, making it less prone to breakage. We also appreciate that the shampoo is sulfate-free, which makes it gentle on the hair and scalp and especially suitable for color-treated hair.
L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair and Defend Shampoo also has an affordable price point, making it a great choice if you aren’t able to invest in some of the more high end products.
5. Bumble and bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Shampoo
Bumble and bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Shampoo delivers truly impressive results. Especially formulated for very dry and damaged hair, it contains hyaluronic acid, kalahari melon seed oil, and Bumble and bumble’s signature blend of six different oils—coconut, argan, macadamia, sweet almond, safflower, and grapeseed.
Perhaps you haven’t heard of the Kalahari melon, but this is one of the key ingredients in Bumble & bumble’s powerful formula. Kalahari melons are native to the Kalahari Desert in Africa, where they have adapted to thrive in harsh, dry conditions. As a result, the melon has developed a high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids, which are beneficial for hair and skin care.
All of these oils work together to deeply moisturize and nourish the hair, leaving it feeling soft, smooth, and healthy. Though some consumers might be alarmed by the sheer amount of oils this product contains, we subjected the shampoo’s “invisible oil” claims to scrutiny and it truly does deliver a non-greasy result. Though incredibly rich and nourishing, it doesn’t weigh down the hair or leave it feeling gunky or oily, which is a common problem with many other oil-rich products. Instead, your hair is left feeling lightweight and bouncy.
Another great feature of this shampoo is that it is sulfate-free, which means it is gentle on the hair and scalp. Sulfates strip the hair of its natural oils, but this shampoo is able to cleanse the hair without doing that. It’s also free of parabens, phthalates, and mineral oil, which can further damage troubled hair.
6. Lush Rehab Shampoo
As the name implies, Lush Rehab shampoo aims to provide your hair with some much-needed help. Maybe you’ve been spending all summer at the beach and your hair has bleached out into a dry, brittle mess, or perhaps your hair is finally revealing the toll that frequent heat stylings are taking. Either way, Lush Rehab is here to host an intervention and get your hair back on track.
One of the key ingredients in the shampoo is rosemary oil, which is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that work to nourish the hair and scalp. The shampoo also contains other natural ingredients such as peppermint oil, olive oil, and almond oil, which all help to heal the hair shaft and stimulate the scalp. The peppermint oil also dominates this shampoo’s scent profile, making it a refreshing, zingy product to use, especially if you’re showering in the morning before work.
Lush products are all cruelty-free, vegan and made with 100% biodegradable ingredients, which makes it a sustainable option for those who are conscious about their environmental impact.
However, this shampoo does contain alcohol, which those with extremely damaged hair might be wise to avoid. Alcohol is a common ingredient in many hair care products, including shampoos, but it can be harsh and drying for hair and scalp. Alcohol can strip the hair of its natural oils, causing dryness and breakage. It can also make the hair more prone to frizziness and static. When used regularly, shampoos with alcohol can cause the hair to become brittle, dull, and lifeless.
7. MooGoo Milk Shampoo
Don’t be put off by the cow-heavy packaging or the strange name, MooGoo Milk Shampoo is a great option for those with damaged hair—especially if this is paired with scalp issues or itchiness, as dryness so often is.
Created by a small Australian company, this shampoo is formulated with a unique blend of natural ingredients that work to nourish and repair damaged hair and soothe the scalp. One of the key ingredients in the shampoo is milk protein, which is rich in amino acids that work to strengthen and repair the hair. The shampoo also contains other natural ingredients such as coconut oil, which helps to moisturize the hair, and chamomile extract, which calms the skin.
This shampoo is gentle enough to use daily and is free from harsh chemicals such as parabens, SLS, and artificial fragrances, making it a good choice for those with sensitive scalps (the company claim to have formulated this product to assist a family member with their itchy scalp!).
One thing to be aware of is that due to MooGoo’s insistence on using natural ingredients, it might not lather up into as much foam as you might be used to if you’ve been using more synthetic shampoos. This means that just a little bit more agitation is required when washing your hair to get the same results.
8. The Body Shop Shea Intense Repair Shampoo
We think that The Body Shop Shea Intense Repair Shampoo is a great option for those with damaged hair. The shampoo is formulated with shea butter, a derivative from the African shea tree, an ingredient known for its ability to nourish and repair damaged hair. Shea butter is a rich source of fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that provide deep hydration and repair to hair fibers.
The Body Shop is also known for its commitment to ethical and sustainable practices, which is a plus when selecting your hair products. For this particular shampoo, The Body Shop have sourced Community Trade shea butter direct from Ghana, harvested by women who have been using shea butter to nourish hair and skin for generations.
This shampoo has a pleasant, nutty smell that adds to the rich, replenishing feeling it has on the scalp. However, this smell may be a little overpowering for those who prefer a subtle or more herbal scent for their hair products.
9. Ethique Frizz Wrangler Solid Shampoo
Ethique produces eco-friendly, zero-waste personal care products, made from natural, plant-based ingredients and are packaged in fully compostable or recyclable materials, making them a great choice for the ethical consumer.
The Frizz Wrangler is designed for dry damaged hair and is especially good for those whose hair damage manifests as frizziness (a common side-effect of heat styling and chemical treatments). It’s made with natural ingredients such as coconut oil, cocoa butter, and candelilla wax, which all work together to smooth and control dry, brittle or frizzy hair.
It’s worth noting that Ethique products are not widely available in all countries and are mostly sold online, so it may be harder to find it in a physical store.
Also, if you’ve never used a shampoo bar before, it is important to be prepared for a different shampooing experience. Usually it takes a little more time to achieve a lather than with a traditional shampoo formula, and it may take a few goes to establish just how much you need to use compared with a pump or squeeze bottle to end up with clean hair. However, these are relatively minor differences, and many people who move to the more sustainable bar options end up finding them just as effective as their liquid counterparts.
One of Ethique’s bars will last approximately 80 shampoos and, once it’s gone, there is no bottle to recycle or throw in the bin. If you do go the shampoo bar route, we recommend investing in a soap dish or holder for your bar so that it doesn’t melt away to nothing in your shower caddy.
10. Fudge Damage Rewind Reconstructing Shampoo
Fudge Damage Rewind shampoo is a hair care product designed to help repair and nourish damaged hair. Accordingly, it is formulated with a unique blend of ingredients that work together to strengthen and repair the hair, while also moisturizing and protecting it from further damage.
Fudge has developed what they call their “Opti-PLEX technology” a formula designed to target the hair’s cuticle, cortex, and medulla, providing a comprehensive repair and protection for the hair fibers. Containing ceramides, amino acids, and keratin, it reduces breakage, repairs split ends, and improves the overall health and appearance of the hair.
The key ingredient in Opti-PLEX is hydrolyzed keratin, which is similar to the natural protein found in our hair. Keratin works to repair and strengthen damaged hair, making it less prone to damage. The shampoo also contains other natural moisturizing ingredients such as argan oil, which assists to enrich the hair and protect it from further damage.
If you’ve subjected your hair to regular bleachings or heat stylings, Fudge Damage Rewind can help get you back on track by both repairing damaged hair shafts and strengthening others, preventing them from suffering further injury.
Whether you’ve been skipping regular trims, hitting the beach hard, overusing the straightening wand, or experimenting with some wild colors, there are numerous ways you can mistreat your hair. We’ve all experienced looking in the mirror and realizing our locks aren’t quite looking their best.
But bad hair days aren’t something to just put up with—there are some very easy steps to take to put an end to frazzled-looking hair. It’s definitely worth assessing your diet, styling habits, and environmental factors, but one of the simplest places to start is upgrading your shampoo to one of these 10 products that are specifically designed to prevent hair damage.