Community Curated • Updated 03, 2019
Shampoo is one of those must-have body care items for your little one, no matter the amount of hair on their tiny heads. Whether it’s being graciously visited by the hair-fairy, or has almost no hair at all, maintaining proper head hygiene is not a thing to be taken lightly.
Sure, babies don’t really sweat that much, nor do they care about volume, or use hair-styling products (yet!), which means they also don’t need to have adult-level hair hygiene. Which is not to say that they don’t need one at all - it’s very important for the baby to have a clean scalp and hair. Nevertheless, there’s really no need to do it every day (unless, of course, there’s an abundance of food leftovers strewn about it). But, for the times that you do wash it, it’s highly recommended that you do it with baby shampoo. The reason is quite simple - they’re much gentler on the baby’s skin and hair; their formulas are milder and they’re designed not to be drying and harsh on super sensitive skin.
Baby shampoos come in a lot of varieties, though, and it certainly isn’t easy to make out what’s the best shampoo choice for your little one. Some shampoos are more oriented towards babies with skin conditions, some are for general use, and some are for the whole body. You can find out more details, as well as some commonly asked questions about baby shampoo in our FAQ section below - and of course, you can take a look at our list of best baby shampoos on the market.
The Honest Company’s 2 in 1 shampoo and body wash is probably one of the best when it comes to baby washes and shampoos. It's definitely among the top-notch products out there, largely due to the consistency in quality of the Honest Company - owned and founded by actress and devoted mom Jessica Alba. It’s one of the most ethically based and family-friendly companies out there, committed to making natural and organic-based high-quality products with affordable prices. As this Sweet Orange Vanilla shampoo and wash perfectly demonstrates, the Honest Co. has stayed true to its standards – the product is guaranteed to be free from SLS, sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde-releasing chemicals, as well as MEA, DEA, or TEA. It’s a plant-based hypoallergenic hygienic product that blends coconut oil, jojoba protein, and quinoa extract, all of which are great for moisturizing skin, as they leave it fresh and healthy. It’s also got a tear-free formula, so it’s also safe for the baby’s face, with extracts such as aloe, chamomile, and calendula that help soothe the skin and reduce or prevent further inflammation and irritation. Moms have hailed it as the perfect shampoo that’s free from artificial fragrances, but that still leaves your baby with a mild smell of fresh orange and a touch of the sweet note of vanilla. And, it’s also extra friendly to the skin if your baby happens to have eczema or other annoying skin conditions that affect their delicate skin, so you can be sure to use it freely and safely with each bath.
The Bella B Bee cradle cap shampoo is listed as an Amazon Choice product, which means it’s definitely worth your attention, especially if your little one is having the annoying temporary skin condition. The Bella B Bee is made from natural and organic ingredients: gentle aloe vera, organic shea butter, and oatmeal make up the base. Tea tree oil, as well as organic flower extracts from lavender, marigold, and chamomile add to its effectiveness and soothing qualities - - they help moisturize the skin properly and naturally as well as soothe an itching scalp, reduce inflammation and promote new building blocks of skin. This product is marketed especially for sensitive baby skin and cradle cap and it’s labeled as hypoallergenic and paraben free, which means you won’t find any unwanted artificial preservatives inside your baby’s shampoo - it’s as mild as it gets. Possible downsides to this otherwise good-quality product are its rather tiny size (a regular package is only 8oz, which means it’ll go pretty quickly, plus a lot of other shampoos out there come in bigger sizes), and also it’s not fragrance-free (the product description says it has a ‘very light, fresh scent’), which can be a no-no for some mothers who don’t want any added fragrances in their baby’s shampoo.
Another one on Amazon’s Choice List, Dr. Eddie’s shampoo, along with the Bella B, is one of the best shampoos for ultra-sensitive scalps that you can find on the market. Created by a pediatrician, this shampoo is especially effective in fighting dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis (aka cradle cap) in babies. It’s free from a lot of the usual boogymen of synthetic chemicals that we commonly find in baby hygiene products. It’s also fragrance-free, which will be a great relief to a lot of parents out there, especially because fragranced shampoos can sometimes be counter-productive when it comes to maintaining a healthy scalp. Besides on the scalp, the Happy Cappy can be used on other body parts as well, such as behind your baby’s ears, the armpit area and also the neck folds, all of which are likely places of irritation, scaly skin, and redness. One of the best things about this shampoo is the pyrithione zinc, an FDA approved active ingredient, which is considered a safe and effective means for persistent skin conditions such as dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. A lot of Amazon reviewers have actually used it on their own hair and scalp to fight scaly skin, praising its effectiveness for treating adult skin conditions as well.
The Cetaphil Baby Wash and Shampoo is another baby shampoo on the Amazon Choice list. It’s a two-in-one product, which means it’s both applicable for the baby’s body and the head/hair/face region, one of the most sensitive areas on a baby’s body. This makes the Cetaphil Baby Wash and Shampoo a great deal and good value for your money. Its formula contains organic calendula, which acts as a calming agent on your baby’s skin - everywhere on the body. It’s hypoallergenic, mineral oil and colorant free, and it can cleanse the infant’s skin without drying it or causing any itchiness; what’s more, it won’t even cause teary eyes in your little one, because baths should be times of fun - not tears! The Cetaphil Baby Wash & Shampo is also marketed as great for adults because of its soothing calendula properties; its perfect for any age and person that wants to use it. One of the good things about the Cetaphil shampoo is its very affordable price, which also translates into affordable use because it lathers so well - you won’t actually have to use much shampoo during each bath. While the reviews considering the use of this shampoo and body wash are positive overall, there is however a significant amount of complaints on the strong fragrance that comes after the wash. Some parents refrain from using it because some strongly perfumed baby hygiene products can exacerbate certain skin conditions, such as eczema for example.
The Johnson’s shampoos have been on the market for baby hygiene products for ages, and that, of course, is not something to be taken lightly. Johnson’s children shampoos are usually specialized in being ‘tear-free’, and this particular one is no exception. It’s all you need in a baby shampoo basically – it lathers well, saving you from using too much shampoo, and it makes the baby’s hair shiny, leaving a pleasant, fresh smell behind. It doesn’t contain the usual suspects - parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and dyes. On the contrary, it has a hypoallergenic formula and comes in a variety of sizes, so you can choose which one suits you best – whether you want to just try it out first with the 50ml or maybe just take the 600ml one and save yourself additional trips to the pharmacy or store. Some people have been complaining about a recently changed formula, although customers who reviewed the new batch claim that the shampoo has nevertheless still maintained the same level of quality and effectiveness. A lot of older and senior citizens also swear by Johnson’s baby shampoo as the perfect hair-care product not only for young developing skin but also for an old and gentle scalp.
The TotLogic is also one of those brands that aren’t that well known on the market but are sort of like hidden gems, which they’ve proved by getting on the list of Amazon’s Choice products (although a downside might be its slightly higher price tag than other shampoos of its kind). As you’d expect, this is also a shampoo based on natural ingredients and is free from all the scary, harsh chemicals that you simply don’t want on your baby’s skin - sulfates, formaldehyde, phthalates, parabens, dioxane 1-4, SLS/SLES and petroleum-derived ingredients. The shampoo is suitable for sensitive skin and it’s hypoallergenic. A big, big plus is that the TotLogic shampoo doesn’t contain any artificial fragrances, making it a great product for babies who have problems with skin conditions like eczema, which can actually be made worse by the added fragrances or perfumes. The great thing about it is that it actually gives off a light scent of its natural ingredients such as lavender and chamomile, so you’ll still get a fresh smelling hair for your little one without the fear of artificial chemicals! The company is proud to stand behind products that are vegan and cruelty-free, so this might be a perfect option for the mommies which are concerned about animal rights, and are vegans or vegetarians, knowing they don’t have to choose between what’s good for their baby and what’s good for the animal world out there as well.
The Himalaya Herbal Healthcare baby shampoo is a lesser known brand on the market with a very affordable price. It’s labeled as a mild-formula, ‘no tears’ shampoo, and uses hibiscus and chickpea as its main organic ingredients which are supposed to make the baby’s hair stronger and healthier. The hibiscus acts as a natural conditioner and emollient, and the chickpea acts as a natural source of protein that helps nourish the hair, strengthen it and give it a special glow. Additional natural ingredients are the rice extract and the vetiver root which have soothing properties and help cool the baby’s scalp and let the skin breathe. The Himalayan shampoo is hypoallergenic and is also free from SLS and SLES, parabens, phthalates and silicone, petroleums and artificial colors. For the mothers who are especially careful when it comes to animals’ wellbeing, the company stresses its care for animals and says that there was no animal testing done of this product. All in all, it’s a very solid product, with generally positive customer reviews on Amazon.
As we mentioned earlier, baby shampoos come in different varieties and there can be as many options of them as there are for adult shampoos. So, readily having in mind the different types of baby shampoo will be very helpful when you’re trying to figure out what’s the best shampoo for your baby’s needs.
Body wash and shampoo in one: these are very practical all over baby washes - you can freely wash your little one from head to toe with them. Very convenient for the practical moms and dads.
Organic shampoo: using a certified organic shampoo is not an absolute necessity, although there are some parents that would like to be certain the products they use on their little ones are natural and all organic. This is a particularly valuable option if your baby is prone to allergies and irritations from regular baby shampoos. One possible downside is that they’re usually more expensive than non-organic or uncertified organic baby shampoos.
Shampoos for extra-sensitive skin and eczema: important option on the market for babies who have skin conditions such as eczema, cradle cap or the like, or are simply very prone to on and off skin irritations. These extra-gentle formulas have proven very helpful for sensitive-skin babies everywhere. Like the organic ones though, these are also usually more expensive than regular baby shampoos.
Have in mind that sometimes all of these baby shampoo types can be combined with each other in a single package.
Chances are you’ll encounter a lot of brands that market their products as ones made with all-natural ingredients, formulas that are safe for babies and specially made to soothe their sensitive skin. What you should do in these instances is pay attention of the ingredients list and be mindful that the fewer they are, the better it is for your little one.
When going through the ingredients list, look for ones that are:
Naturally moisturizing, such as coconut oil and calendula
Essential oils - lavender oil, bergamot oil, rose oil and others
Plant-based cleansers - chamomile, calendula, aloe and others
Ceramide moisturizers - great for skin with eczema and other irritating conditions
There’s some debate whether shampoos with the tear-free formulas are really effective and even if they are, they’re not foolproof. Tear-free formulas usually use eye-numbing agents so they can protect your little one from teary eyes, but it’s not a 100% guarantee against tears and it can still cause discomfort and irritation, even if they’re not harmful.
This is a very important question, especially when it comes to baby shampoos. Look out for the following harsh chemicals which can potentially irritate or even harm your baby’s skin:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) - this one is usually used as a foaming agent in shampoos and body washes. If you prefer products that lather, search for natural foaming agents.
Parabens - these little buggers are just everywhere. Often found in soaps, shampoos, body washes, and moisturizers, without excluding the ones marketed toward babies. Parabens are considered as neurotoxins. Stay away from anything with ‘paraben’ in its name, as well as benzoic acid and propyl ester.
Phthalates - similar to parabens, they’re used as preservative in cosmetics and body care products. Make sure to avoid when you can.
(Excessive) fragrance - this is often used as an umbrella term that allows manufacturers to use whatever shady or grey-zone chemicals they want to use in their products - the catch with it is that legally, manufacturers aren’t obliged to reveal what’s behind the term ‘fragrance’. A lot of the time this term actually hides coal petroleum-derived synthetic chemicals.
Triclosan - this can usually be found if there’s a label ‘antibacterial’ on the product. It’s been proven to be carcinogenic and very unfriendly towards the environment.
1,4-dioxane and ethylated surfactants - this is what’s called contaminant or a by-product that emerges when ethylene oxide, also harmful in itself, is added to other chemicals in order to lessen their harshness. It’s best to avoid products that have the letters ‘eth’ as parts of their ingredients, which is an indicator of 1,4-dioxane. Just keep away from polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, sodium laureth sulfate, ceteareth, oleth, oxynol, -xynol, and PEG as much as you can.
Mineral oil - this one is also a by-product from petroleum processing; its characteristic is that it inhibits the skin’s ability to get rid of toxins, because it wraps it up like a plastic bag.
We’ve actually got this ardent issue covered in a whole article, and we highly recommend that you go and check it out here.
Baby shampoos can seem like a tricky business when it comes to actually choosing one, but it’s easier than it looks. If you go through the FAQs and check out the products we recommend - as we’ve taken great care not to include shampoos that contain harsh chemicals, you should be on the right track to ensure your baby gets the best for their gentle and sensitive skin.