Shampoo reviews

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01 .Introduction

Woman washing hair

See our latest shampoo trial 2010.

User 'blind test' of 41 shampoos from $1.50 to $60

We trialled popular shampoos in unmarked bottles for:

  • Overall performance
  • Clean-feel performance
  • Fragrance

CHOICE tests are different. We buy the products we test — no freebies from manufacturers. Companies can't buy ads on our site and our work is funded by people like you.

Please note: this information was current as of June 2006 but is still a useful guide today.


In brief:

  • The three brands most preferred by our trialists were supermarket ‘cheapies’, which stacked up better than some of the pricier, more prestigious salon brands.
  • Two brands tied for 3rd place - one costs $11 per 100mls, the other 0.84c.
  • Over 500 CHOICE Home Testers (80% women and 20% men) each tried out four different shampoos marketed as being suitable for ‘normal’ hair or everyday use.
  • In total, our trialists blind-tested 41 shampoos.
  • Find out how your shampoo rates.

Brands trialled

  • ALBERTO V05
  • ALCHEMY
  • AVEDA
  • CHARLES WORTHINGTON
  • CHEM-CARE
  • CLAIROL,
  • CRABTREE & EVELYN
  • DAVID JONES
  • DECORÉ
  • DIVA
  • DOVE
  • EGO
  • FRUITRIENCE
  • FUDGE
  • GARNIER
  • JOICO
  • JURLIQUE
  • KÉRASTASE
  • LABORATOIRES KLORANE
  • MOLTON BROWN
  • MOP
  • NATIO
  • NATURES ESSENCE
  • NO FRILLS
  • PALMOLIVE
  • PANTENE
  • PAUL MITCHELL
  • PEARS
  • REDKEN
  • SCHWARZKOPF
  • SEBAMED
  • SIMPLE
  • SO SALON ONLY
  • THE BODY SHOP
  • THURSDAY PLANTATION
  • TRESEMMÉ
  • WAKK
  • WELLA BALSAM
  • YOU'LL LOVE COLES

What else you'll get in this report

As well as the trialists' ratings of 41 shampoos you'll also get:

  • Facts and myths about shampoo.
  • An explanation of shampoo ingredients.
 
 

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What to buy

  • The trial’s three top-rating shampoos, FRUITRIENCE Raspberry and Pink Grapefruit Enriched, DOVE Revitalising and GARNIER FRUCTIS Fortifying (the last two rating equal second) got the top scores for fragrance and among the highest ratings for washing hair clean. They’re easy to find in supermarkets and discount department stores.
  • We paid around $2 per 100 mL for these top three.

Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below.


Performance
Brand / product (in rank order)* Overall score1 (%) Clean-feeling score2 (%) Fragrance score2 (%) Salon / specialist shop only Price paid
($ per 100 mL)
FRUITRIENCE Raspberry and Pink Grapefruit Enriched 72 80 65 1.97
DOVE Revitalising 66 74 63 2.11
GARNIER FRUCTIS Fortifying 66 73 70 2.06
JOICO Triage 63 72 62 6.65
KÉRASTASE Bain Satin Facteur Nutrition 1 63 75 58 11.00
TRESEMMÉ Vitamin C Deep Cleansing 63 74 62 0.84
DECORÉ Normal 62 67 63 0.80
PALMOLIVE Naturals Normal 62 71 54 1.19
ALBERTO V05 Sheer Vitality 61 73 63 1.25
CLAIROL Herbal Essences 61 76 63 0.96
PANTENE Pro-V Classic Clean 61 75 60 2.13
PEARS Balancing Care 60 70 56 0.92
YOU’LL LOVE COLES Complete Balance 60 78 54 1.50
NATURES ESSENCE Normal 59 70 53 0.4
SCHWARZKOPF Extra Care Liquid Silk 59 63 57 1.78
THE BODY SHOP Olive Glossing 59 70 50 7.00
NATIO Gentle Daily 58 71 53 3.58
REDKEN Clear Moisture 58 68 53 7.41
WELLA BALSAM Normal 58 75 53 1.00
AVEDA Shampure 57 70 40 6
DIVA Everyday 57 70 48 0.75
PPS Pure Cleanse 57 78 48 4.7
CHARLES WORTHINGTON Results Shine-On 56 66 57 4.98
EGO Hairscience Daily Care 55 68 51 (A) 3.78
FUDGE Unleaded 54 68 37 3.79
NATURES ORGANICS Fruits Apple 54 69 49 0.38
DAVID JONES Fortifying 53 70 52 2.5
MOP Mixed Greens 53 61 43 6.65
WAKK Drench 53 68 48 1.00
CRABTREE & EVELYN Jojoba Oil 52 70 48 7.98
MOLTON BROWN Healthy Hairwash 52 73 48 9.67
ALCHEMY Rosemary 51 64 49 (A) (B) 4.65
SEBAMED Everyday 50 60 51 (A) 7.08
SO SALON ONLY Gentle 50 65 53 7.45
JURLIQUE Lavender 49 71 39 7.40
THURSDAY PLANTATION Tea Tree 49 69 26 (A) (B) 3.03
PAUL MITCHELL Shampoo Two 46 65 49 6.38
SIMPLE Gentle 46 67 26 (A) 4.72
LABORATOIRES KLORANE Citron Pulp 44 65 40 5.25
NO FRILLS Family Normal 43 58 43 0.15
CHEM-CARE Fre Vital Benefits 33 54 24 4.98

Table notes

* All shampoos tested are for normal hair or everyday use.

(A) Available from pharmacies.

(B) Available from healthfood stores.

1 Overall score
Our trialists used each of the four brands sent to them for two consecutive washes, without changing their usual hair washing habits or other hair products. They received the shampoos in unmarked bottles so they weren’t influenced by brand names or marketing. They gave the shampoos an overall score out of 10, which we converted to a percentage.

2 Clean-feeling and fragrance scores
As well as giving an overall score, the Home Testers rated the shampoos for fragrance, consistency, lather, and how clean their hair felt after use. Their clean-feeling and fragrance ratings generally had the most impact on the overall scores so we’ve included these in the table. Again, we converted the scores (out of five) to a percentage.

FRUITRIENCE Raspberry and Pink Grapefruit Enriched

Price per 100 mL: $1.97 Fruitrience Shampoo Bottle

Trialist comments:

  • “Worked well and I would definitely use it again. Made my hair feel nice.”
  • “My hair felt softer and healthier than usual. It seemed to leave [it] in better condition — my hair wasn’t so fuzzy or brittle.”
  • “My hair was squeaky clean after rinsing and felt good.”

DOVE Revitalising

Price per 100 mL: $2.11 Dove Shampoo Bottle

Trialist comments:

  • “Cleans, not drying, good wash and lather …”
  • “Made my hair feel soft [and] look shiny as if I’d been to the hairdresser.”
  • “Nice to use, no strong perfume. Hair styled well after use.”

 

GARNIER Fructis Fortifying

Price per 100 mL: $2.06 Garnier Shampoo Bottle

Trialist comments:

  • “Loved the way my hair felt — clean, not dry.”
  • “Felt good on my scalp, nice smell and my hair felt quite clean.”
  • “Very good consistency and lathering effects.”

 

What about the rest?

  • The most expensive shampoo in the trial, KÉRASTASE Bain Satin 1, cost $11 per 100 mL and rated equal fourth (alongside JOICO Triage, another salon brand, at $6.65/100 mL, and TRESEMMÉ, which cost only 84 cents per 100 mL). That’s not a bad result, but still an awful lot more money for something not rated quite as high.
  • Shampoos that did best overall were the ones that were thought to clean well, have an appealing smell (generally floral or fruity) and a satisfactory consistency and lather.
  • Though there was a slight drop between the first three performers and the rest, you’d probably be fairly happy with the performance of the first dozen or so shampoos in the table.
  • Price and fragrance would probably be the two clinchers as to whether you’d want to buy one of them or not.
  • At 84 and 80 cents per 100 mL respectively, TRESEMMÉ Vitamin C Deep Cleansing and DECORÉ Normal were two of the cheaper brands that rated well.
  • The cheapest shampoo of all, NO FRILLS Family Normal, bombed at second from the bottom.
  • We asked our Home Testers to tell us if they found any of the shampoos irritating to their skin or eyes. Surprisingly, shampoos listed by a few trialists as irritating included some that claim to be particularly gentle, but almost all the irritation reported was only mild.

Where's Sunsilk?

You’re probably wondering why there’s no SUNSILK in the trial.
As is often the case, some products didn’t make it into our trial because their manufacturers changed the formulation around the time of the trial or the products were discontinued during it.

In our last shampoo user trial (November 2001) SUNSILK Maximum Shine was rated equal third.

Additives in your shampoo make your hair healthier

  • As hair is dead, we find any claim of a product making it ‘healthy’ to be stretching a point. However, hair can reflect a person’s state of health. Woman blow-drying her hair
  • An additive may make the hair look and feel better and become more manageable. For instance, vitamin B can act as a binder in a shampoo, which will protect the hair. However, while hair is derived from living cells that are within the skin, it’s unlikely that vitamins added to shampoo would be able to get into these cells. A healthy diet would probably be more beneficial.
  • Other additives such as protein may coat the hair shaft and make it look shinier.
  • Herbs can also add fragrance and condition the hair, but experts say the effect is cosmetic and temporary. One expert said shampoos that don’t contain sodium laurel sulphate or its equivalent, and contain herbs such as peppermint or chamomile, may benefit the scalp. Other experts said they thought tiny amounts of herbs found in some shampoos probably have little function other than for marketing hype.
  • Some companies use plant-derived ingredients not as additives, but in order to avoid synthetic chemicals.

Shampoo can build up on your hair

  • There was some contention about this point among the experts we consulted. Some said that while they hadn’t seen any scientific publications on the subject, they’d observed it. Others agreed, saying conditioning oils and silicon that bind to the hair to make it shinier and smoother can build up over time, making the hair look flat and heavy.
  • Another expert said there was no supporting scientific evidence that build up exists. He said he’d studied hair that had been washed with shampoo containing silica, (a substance sometimes accused of causing build up). He compared it to hair washed with shampoo that didn’t contain it, and hadn’t observed any difference.

You should change your brand of shampoo regularly as the scalp and hair become ‘immune’ to the same shampoo eventually

  • Again, some experts said that while they couldn’t give a scientific reason to support this, many people claimed to benefit from doing so. Another expert said build-up of substances found in shampoos on the hair may cause them to become less effective over time.

Sodium Lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) cause cancer

  • Commonly used as surfactants these chemicals are sometimes accused of being carcinogenic.
  • There seems to be some evidence that SLS and SLES can cause irritation to the skin and eyes, but this depends on a number of factors such as concentration, pH and contact time. And some people may also be allergic to SLS/SLES.
  • We couldn’t find any conclusive evidence that they are carcinogenic.

05.What's in shampoo?

 

Ever wondered what all those impossibly long words on the back of your shampoo bottle mean? Here are some of the major ones you’ll find in most shampoos.

  • Solvents:
    Shampoo and flowers on bathroom shelfUsually water (often listed as the more sexy-sounding ‘aqua’ or ‘purified water’).
  • Detergent or surfactant:
    Increases the product’s wetting ability, and allows the sebum and dirt to be washed away. The most common one used in shampoos is ammonium lauryl sulphate or sodium laureth sulphate.
  • Lather boosters:
    These include cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA. While lather doesn’t make shampoo work any better, people seem to like those that lather easily. Our trial results show that shampoos with thick or ‘just right’ lather were preferred.
  • Conditioning agent:
    Adds different electrical charges to hair so it doesn’t become ‘flyaway’, and puts water-resistant substances onto the hairs to make them smoother and easier to comb. Conditioning agents are made of fatty or oily substances, for example, glycol stearate and panthenol.
  • Thickeners:
    Salt is a common one, also hydroxypropyl methylcellulose or ammonium chloride.
  • Fragrances, colours and preservatives: Fragrances and colours are intended to make the product more appealing — and our trial shows fragrance certainly plays a big part in people’s preferences. Preservatives such as ethanol stop the shampoo from going off.
  • Shampoos may also contain antioxidants, opacifiers (to give your shampoo that pearly appearance) and clarifying agents.