What’s the Best Shampoo for Kids in 2021? (Reviews)

Breanna | Updated August 10, 2021 |

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Not all shampoos are created equal. Just as your salon hairdresser has probably told you, there is clean hair and then there is clean and healthy hair. So, when you make the jump from baby shampoo to kid shampoo, you need to understand what you’re purchasing. 

The right shampoo can give your child’s hair a shiny, healthy look while making styling a walk in the park.The last part is essential if your kid has long, flowing locks! But how do you know what to buy? Well, we know there are a ton of products out there with a lot of great formulas, but shopping around can be a headache. So, we rounded up some of the very best formulas of kid shampoo to take the hard work out of it for you! Have a look at our top picks below!

The Best Shampoo for Kids – Our Picks

Note: Our individual reviews are below, but you can also click any of the links above to check current prices on Amazon and other retailers

Best Kids Shampoos – Our Picks in Depth

Babyganics Kids 3-in-1 Shampoo Conditioner Body Wash

If you want to tackle it all with a gentle formula made for delicate skin, consider this Babyganics 3-in-1 product which comes in a handy pump bottle! You won’t have to worry about tears or accidental spills. Plus, this formula is a natural moisturizer with aloe, cocoa butter, and avocado oil. 

You also won’t have to worry about harsh ingredients. This Babyganics pick is free of sulfates, phthalates, silicones, artificial fragrance, and dyes. Plus, this product has not been tested on animals, so you can lather up in this fruity mix for a guilt-free bath. 

What we liked:

  • Gentle formula 
  • Pump bottle for easy pouring 
  • 3-in-1 so you won’t have to buy extra products 
  • Free of harsh chemicals 
  • Cruelty-free product

What we didn’t:

  • You read the description, right? We didn’t find anything wrong with this gem of a product! 

Fairy Tales Curly-q Daily Hydrating Shampoo

Curly kids! Look no further for a versatile shampoo made for curls and waves in mind. It’s gentle enough to maintain curl patterns while moisturizing the hair cuticle for unmatched shine. 

This daily hydrating shampoo is free of sulfates, dyes, harsh chemicals, toxins, and dairy/nut. So you can rest assured that the product is safe, even for kiddos with allergies. This product also contains rice and quinoa amino acids (curly fun fact: rice protein is one of the best ways to form DEFINED curls). 

What we liked:

  • Gentle moisturizing formula 
  • Free of sulfates, toxins, harsh chemicals, and allergens 
  • Contains rice and quinoa amino acids for shiny and defined texture 
  • Fairy Tales has an entire line with shampoo, conditioner, and detangler (more on detanglers here) 

What we didn’t:

  • This isn’t a multitasking product. However, kiddos with curly hair are better off with separate products as curly hair can have a mind of its own with different needs from day-to-day

Sheamoisture Extra-Nourishing Shampoo for Kids Mango Carrot

For thicker or coarse hair, consider SheaMoisture. As a general rule,   Sheamoisture’s products are extra hydrating and tend to be a little heavier. It’s better suited for thick hair as it can weigh fine hair down a bit. 

This shampoo is fortified with coconut and olive oil for intense moisture and shine. It also contains carrot, mango, and citrus extracts while eliminating sulfates, silicones, parabens, phthalates, parabens, or mineral oil. SheaMoisture is also a cruelty-free company, so you can feel good about your hair choices. 

What we liked:

  • Perfect for dry or damaged hair 
  • Designed for moisture and defined curls 
  • Made with coconut and olive oil
  • Also contains carrot, mango, and citrus 
  • Free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, etc.

What we didn’t:

  • This wouldn’t be the best choice for extra fine or thin hair
Here’s a review and demo of the SheaMoisture line from Niema Gordon

L’Oreal Kids Extra Gentle 2-in-1 Shampoo

This is a classic kids’ shampoo. I remember seeing the commercials for it in the 90s (GASP) and wishing my mom would buy the tear-free formula. This 2-in-1 is dermatologist and ophthalmologist-tested, so you can trust that it’s tear-free. It’s also paraben-free.

What we liked:

  • Fruity scent 
  • Tear free
  • Dermatologist and ophthalmologist-tested
  • 2-in-1 product

What we didn’t:

  • Contains sulfates and dyes

Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel Lice Shampoo

Parents of school-age kids involuntarily shudder at the mention of the “L” word, but lice is a reality of school. If your kid is going to school outside of the home, they will, more-than-likely) come in contact with someone that has lice. 

So, with Farytales’ Rosemary Repellent product being available, you’d be crazy not to use it. The shampoo uses rosemary, citronella, tea tree, geranium, jojoba, and chamomile to act as a repellent for lice. Like the other FairyTale products, you can combine this shampoo with conditioner and conditioning spray. 

What we liked:

  • Uses natural, plant-based ingredients to repel lice before they can infiltrate hair 
  • Sulfate free with gentle ingredients 
  • Contains moisturizing jojoba and chamomile 
  • Can use with FairyTales line for optimal results

What we didn’t:

  • None! This is a good option for what it is.

Everyone 3-in-1 Kids Soap

As another multitasking product, this Everyone product will save your pockets and shelf space in the shower. This natural product contains plant extracts and essential oils, earning the company a stamp of approval from dermatologists. It’s also sulfate, paraben, phthalate, and synthetic fragrance-free. This product also contains nourishing vitamins B5 and E

As an added bonus, the bottles feature that handy pump, making them easy for little hands to handle on their own. This is a vegan and cruelty-free product with a lovely lavender scent to soothe and relax into the nighttime routine 

What we liked:

  • 3-in-1 multitasking product 
  • Pump bottle 
  • Relaxing lavender scent 
  • Vegan formula 
  • Free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances 
  • Contains vitamin B5 & E

What we didn’t:

  • None! Everyone is a great brand.
Here’s a review of Everyone soap (orange squeeze scent) from Danica Revamped

SoCozy Swim 3-in-1

This could be a summertime essential if you own a pool or go swimming often. Everyone knows chlorine can wreak havoc on hair, especially blonde hair. No one likes the greenish tint chlorine can leave on baby blondes and you can spend all summer fighting it if you don’t have the right products. 

This 3-in-1 contains activated charcoal, jojoba oil, and coffee seed extract to neutralize chlorine and leave your child’s hair clean and soft. It’s also a natural formula free of sulfates, parabens, synthetic dyes, phthalates, and common allergens. 

What we liked:

  • 3-in-1 multitasker that’s great for straight out of the pool 
  • Contains activated charcoal to neutralize chlorine 
  • Contains jojoba oil and coffee seed extract for moisture 
  • Natural formula free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, common allergens, and synthetic dyes

What we didn’t:

  • If your child has curly hair, you’re probably still going to need another conditioner after swimming
Here’s a review of the SoCozy line from Sarah Rae Vargas

Suave Kids 3-in-1 Watermelon Wonder

If price and convenience are high on your list, you might appreciate this 3-in-1. Suave is a well-recognized brand if you use their adult products, you probably understand the appeal. They do great for their price. 
This 3-in-1 is a tear-free formula free of parabens. It features a large pump bottle for easy use and fresh, fruity scent. Plus, this is an easy product to find if you’re in a pinch.

What we liked:

  • Super affordable 
  • Big bottle with pump 
  • Fresh fruity scent 
  • Tear-free formula 
  • Free of parabens

What we didn’t:

  • This isn’t as nourishing or hydrating as other products

Suave Kids 3 in 1 Nickelodeon Slime

If bathtime is a nightly fight in your house, or if hair washing is especially contentious, consider this slime shampoo 3-in-1. Perhaps the appeal of playing with slime in the tub will be enough to get them in there without much of a protest. 
These 10 oz tubs come in a 2-pack. They feature a blue coconut-scented slime and a green apple. If nothing else, your kid will clean themselves without even realizing it as they play with the slime substance.

What we liked:

  • Fun slime 
  • Bright blue and green colors 
  • Coconut and apple scent 
  • Same great washing formula from Suave

What we didn’t:

  • This probably isn’t ideal for every night of the week

Do I need special shampoo for kids’ hair?

Have you ever gotten shampoo in your eyes? It burns, right? That’s one of the main reasons you, in fact, do need kid-friendly shampoo for your little one. Often, they’re made with tear-free formulas that won’t make bathtime a screaming fit if a little bit of soap runs down into their eyes. 

Also, shampoo formulas for kids are generally gentle compared to harsher shampoos for adults. Kids don’t get as greasy and they simply don’t need something as intense as adults do. It can be drying, lead to dandruff, and damage their fine hair. With that being said, there is a distinction between baby shampoo and kids’ shampoo. Kid shampoo is a happy medium between baby wash and regular adult shampoo. It will get the dirt and sweat out of their hair from playing outside while not causing frizz or an itchy scalp. 

When is it time to switch from baby to kids shampoo?

This is a little more debatable as kids have different needs, hair types, and skin sensitivities. For the most part, you’re probably safe making the switch from age 4+. But again, there are n hard and fast rules about when you’re “allowed” to switch. Most often, parents make the switch when they notice their child’s hair not feeling clean after baby wash or if the child is taking an interest in doing their hygiene routine on their own (think age 7-8)

Do kids need hair conditioners?

Parents of girls are probably nodding their heads emphatically. Conditioner is the best and easiest way to loosen knots in long tresses. Now, boys and girls with short cuts might be able to get away with skipping conditioner, especially if they have fine hair that can get weighed down with too much product. 

For kids with curly hair, do not, I repeat, do not shy away from conditioner. This is the most important product for tamed and glossy curls. Try working the comb through the hair while the product is still on there and then rinse. You’ll notice an immediate difference.

What does a moisturising shampoo do?

Moisturizing shampoo not only adds moisture to tired, frizzy hair. It also restores and saves the natural moisture and oils that a healthy scalp produces and needs for hair to look its best.

How often should you wash your child’s hair anyway?

Like toddlers, kids generally only need a hair wash day 2-3 times a week. This can obviously vary depending on activity, weather, and individual hair needs. If they’re outside in the middle of summer and sweat is dripping from their hair, they probably need a wash, or at the very least will smell better if they get one. However, if it’s winter and they only got to play outside a few times that week, they probably don’t need as many wash days. One thing is certain, they don’t need a wash every day! It’s not healthy for hair. 

Before we go into the thick of it, here’s a video from Mike DeCanter Hair & Beauty explaining common ingredients in hair care so you can better understand what to look for:

Things to look for in kids shampoo

2-in-1 Shampoo & Wash

If you’re not keen on buying a ton of products, or don’t need to spring for a conditioner on its own, consider a 2-in-1 product that washes and moisturizes. This is good for shorter, straight hair

3 in 1

If you really want product efficiency, you can always consider a product that takes care of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in one bottle. Most often, a 3-in-1 is pretty similar to a 2-in-1 but might be gentler for use on skin all over

Gentle shampoo

For tear-free and fun bathtime, look for something with a gentle formula. Kid and baby shampoos use fewer chemicals and additives. Therefore, they aren’t as likely to burn your child’s eyes or delicate face if soap runs down during a wash. 

Harmful ingredients

There’s been a lot of attention on the types of ingredients allowed in our bath and body products lately, and rightly so. Many harmful chemicals have been deemed carcinogenic. Often, companies find ways to sneak these chemicals in under the guise of another name or by plastering “all natural” somewhere on the bottle. Be mindful of which chemicals you need to stay clear of and always check the ingredients on the back. 

Natural, organic and safe ingredients

With attention on the bad stuff, there’s a growing focus on including natural ingredients that haven’t been overprocessed or cut with other chemicals. Look for simple ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, or essential oils. 

Sensitive skin types

Many kids are afflicted with sensitive skin. It might be a rash after playing in pretend makeup, or full-on hives after taking a bubble bath. For kids affected by soaps, dyes, and perfumes, look for products deemed safe for sensitive skin. Often, those shampoos will have as few chemicals as possible (think bare essentials). 

Young girl having hair washed in the bath
Look out for tear free formulas

Tear free formula

This is an essential feature! You don’t want your kiddo to be traumatized by accidental suds in their eyes. For kids learning to wash their own hair this is even more vital. It’s important to complete tasks like that themselves to encourage independence and confidence. If you’re having to check on them to make sure they aren’t soaping up their eyes, it won’t be a good time for either of you. 

Curly hair formula

Say it with me, “Straight hair and curly hair have different needs!” While you may have clean hair from using regular shampoo, curls will not look their best if they’re taken care of the same way. Curly hair formulas can be lighter or heavier depending on the type of curl pattern, with oils to tame frizz. If your child has curly hair, invest in curly products. (Trust me, fellow curly girl right here). 

Itchy scalp

This goes along with the sensitive skin we spoke of above. If your kiddo has an itchy scalp, first make sure there isn’t irritation from something in the environment, then consider a special shampoo for their itchy scalp. Some formulas use essential oils to tame itch and nourish skin. 

Flaky scalp

There are now kid formulas in most major dandruff shampoo brands. You’ll get the best results if you purchase shampoos with ingredients that target dandruff such as tea tree oil, zinc pyrithione, or selenium sulfide.

Breanna

Breanna is a former therapist turned writer. She earned a master’s in psychology in 2015 but ultimately decided she would like to be more present for her family. Currently flexing her writing skills as a stay-at-home mother of two toddlers (with another baby on the way), she enjoys writing in the parenting and home/DIY niches. She also writes fiction and has been published in a handful of literary magazines and a fiction anthology. In her spare time, Breanna enjoys blogging, painting, running, and drinking an absurd amount of coffee.

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