Best Baby Shampoo
The Honest Truly Calming Lavender Shampoo and Wash offers a subtle lavender scent, effortless to pump bottle, lathers nicely, and effectively cleans hair. The formula includes aloe vera juice, flower and leaf extracts, such as calendula and chamomile, along with skin conditioning ingredients, like glycerin and caprylyl glycol. It uses milder and gentler surfactants (cleansers) that are coconut and sugar-based to remove oil and dirt. The formula does not have SLS, SLES, parabens, dyes, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, and formaldehyde donors. We applaud the Honest Co.'s standards and label transparency as they list all ingredients, avoiding the term "fragrance" - a term that allows companies to hide or disguise ingredients. Also, Honest Co. does not use animal testing or animal by-products.
Although not the most expensive product in our review, this shampoo is slightly pricer than others and this may be a factor to consider. We recommend this product to families who value label transparency and appreciate the lavender scent. If you like this baby shampoo, but prefer a fragrance-free version for a newborn or a child with sensitive skin, check out Honest Purely Sensitive Shampoo and Wash.
Developed by doctors, the Puracy Citrus Grove Baby Shampoo and Body Wash is tear-free and 99.95% natural. We found the shampoo easy to lather, and effective at cleaning hair without any lingering residue or being hard on the skin. The formula uses food-grade, plant, and mineral-based ingredients, including coconut and sea salt. It is free of cocamidopropyl betaine (a cleaning chemical and potential skin allergen), sulfates, triclosan, formaldehyde, parabens, phosphates, SLS, SLES, ethanolamines like MEA, DEA, and TEA, petroleum-based ingredients, animal by-products, chlorine, dyes, perfumes or caustics. It uses mild and gentle surfactants (cleansers) that lift and remove dirt and oil, which boost foam, and some offer conditioning properties. Plus, it uses vegetable moisturizers to hydrate and soothe the skin. Also, we appreciate Puracy's promise to be cruelty-free.
We wish Puracy would expand and include the ingredients for the term "natural fragrance," and we are hopeful a fragrance-free version will be available in the future. We recommend this Puracy product to families who are seeking a shampoo with a mild fragrance and those looking for a more natural option.
The Johnson's Head to Toe Wash and Shampoo is nostalgic and a go-to brand for decades with its pale honey hue and fragrance. It contains no parabens, phthalates, sulfates, or dyes. This shampoo gets the job done as it nicely lathers and is easy to rinse, leaving hair clean and fresh.
While testing, the pump top came off with a good tug. Reconnecting the top was possible, but ongoing, it was effortless to remove, and we worry curious little hands would be able to remove the pump top. Of course, this is not a deal-breaker as the pump still functions. Also, we did find the scent to be slightly stronger than mild, and this is one factor to consider if you are scent-sensitive. We recommend this product to families who are looking for shampoo on a budget and don't mind a slightly stronger smell.
As a fragrance-free product, the Aquaphor Baby Wash and Shampoo may be a good fit for babies with sensitive or eczema-prone skin. The formula is enriched with chamomile essence and provitamin B5 to soothe skin, and it is free of preservatives, parabens, and dyes. The product has a slimy consistency, creates some suds, and produces a light lather. Also, the bottle is effortless to pump, which is helpful for parents. Information regarding animal testing is challenging to find on the manufacturer's website; however, when contacted, a customer relations member provided a statement confirming that Beiersdorf Inc. does not conduct animal testing with any of their skincare products. Considering the quantity for the price, we find this option to be reasonably affordable.
Unfortunately, we find the bottle to lack clear information regarding if it is phthalate free, and the manufacturer's website lacks this information, too. Before using a product for eczema, discuss with your pediatrician regarding the skin condition and possible triggers. We recommend this option for families with sensitive or eczema-prone babies.
The Weleda Baby 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash is tear-free and offers a soft calendula scent. The formula includes ingredients like extract of fair-trade calendula for soothing properties, and sweet almond oil to moisturize. It is free from synthetic preservatives, fragrances, colorants, or raw materials derived from mineral oils. This product has a creamy consistency, and we found it to lather adequately, rinse quickly, and left hair effectively clean. Also, Weleda does not perform animal testing.
One drawback is that this product does not offer a pump dispenser, but a flip-top. Also, we find the price for a smaller quantity not ideal, and the product may not last as long as others offering more quantity. We recommend this product to those who appreciate a calendula scent, plus don't mind the flip-top or the smaller bottle size.
The CeraVe Baby Wash and Shampoo is tear-free and comes in a slim, easy to pump bottle with a locking feature. It is free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and dyes. This product may be best for those with sensitive and eczema-prone skin as it is accepted by the National Eczema Association.
We found this product to leave hair oily the following day, regardless of thoroughly washing and rinsing. Also, we found the product to not lather like others in our review, which can result in adding more shampoo in hopes of reaching extra lather and wasting product. Of course, this doesn't help the oily residue issue, either. Often, people are conditioned to expect a certain level of lathering from shampoo, and depending on the formula and chemicals, a product may not lather. Also, another factor to consider is its size, which is on the smaller end, versus price. We recommend discussing eczema with your pediatrician and the use of this option, but it may not be the best everyday shampoo.
A common skin condition among babies is cradle cap. Although it may clear up on its own, a product like Mustela Shampooing Mousse for Cradle Cap may help the process. The formula is tear-free, biodegradable, and free of parabens, phthalates, and Phenoxyethanol. It uses avocado polyphenols, which offer skin conditioning properties to help soften the scalp to maintain hair health. The bottle does not say "fragrance-free," but it appears to be unscented, we found the foamy mousse to be airy, as well as easy to lather and rinse. According to Mustela's website, the company has developed a unique testing model to test the tolerance and effectiveness of products without testing on animals.
The bottle is on the small size, and this is a factor worth considering for the price. Before using this product, discuss with your pediatrician regarding your baby's cradle cap and the use and frequency of this product as treatment.
Why You Should Trust Us
BabyGearLab has been testing hundreds of baby products over the years. Leading this review is Molly Bradac, Research Analyst, and professional nanny with over 14 years of experience. Each product in our review was used side-by-side for comparison and evaluated for ease of use, eco-health, and fragrance to reveal which products were better than others.
Analysis and Test Results
Tons of lathering and washing went into this review as each baby shampoo was used with little testers to gain a sense of which products leave hair clean and fresh with no skin irritation, and which ones did not.
Easy to Use
Monitoring your little one in the bath while reaching for baby shampoo can be a juggling act, so this metric is all about ease of use for parents and caregivers. We appreciate products with pump dispensers, like the Honest Truly Calming Lavender Shampoo and Wash and Aquaphor Baby Wash and Shampoo because dispensing shampoo can be achievable with one hand while keeping the other hand on the baby. However, the Weleda Baby 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash has a flip-top rather than a pump dispenser and may require two hands to dispense and isn't ideal as your little one will be on their own while you get a handful of soap.
While we can't say what may or may not irritate your baby's skin, as every baby is different, we can make an educated guess by researching ingredients, along with hands-on testing. There is plenty of evidence regarding toxins lurking in baby shampoo, and we encourage parents to learn about ingredients and avoid harsh chemicals whenever possible. Children are exposed to chemicals every day through products, and continuous exposure can easily overwork their system.
Resources like the Environmental Working Group break down what is in a product, plus rate ingredients and products on a 1-10 scale (10 being the worst) based on potential hazards and health concerns. This resource can be helpful as a guide but is not comprehensive or the "end all be all" as some ingredients lack sufficient data.Phthalates are a group of chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin and some evidence shows that these chemicals can cause developmental and reproductive system abnormalities among children. Therefore, we appreciate a manufacturer that goes the extra mile to provide transparency for consumers regarding standards and values, ingredients, as well as if it is cruelty-free. The Honest Co., which makes the Honest Truly Calming Lavender Shampoo and Wash provides a "Honest Standard," which outlines guiding principles and values regarding how it approaches and creates safe, yet effective products for families. Also, we found this information easy to access and read. On the contrary, we found the Aquaphor Baby Wash and Shampoo bottle to lack information regarding if it is free of phthalates, and the Aquaphor website does not provide much detail, either. If you prefer to minimize your baby's exposure, we highly suggest choosing a company that discloses ingredients and values.
Some may argue that babies do not need any scent, and we agree. Fragrance, regardless if "natural" or "essential oils," increases the chance of skin irritations. Also, they do not carry any skincare benefits. Products that do not have a fragrance like the Aquaphor Baby Wash and Shampoo are a good fit for those who are scent-sensitive. However, if you appreciate a soft scent, then there are options in this review for you, including the Weleda Baby 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash.
Navigating the world of baby shampoos can be tricky with so many options on the market. Fortunately, we've done the research and washed the hair ourselves to provide you with the information you need to help in your shampoo decision-making. We are confident there is a baby shampoo here that will meet your needs, and you'll be bathing your little one in no time.
— Molly Bradac