In-depth baby product reviews led by a Pediatrician

Best Baby Shampoo

We put baby shampoo from Johnson's, Honest, Aquaphor, Weleda, and others to the test
Credit: Abriah Wofford
By Molly Bradac ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Tuesday June 22, 2021
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Are you searching for baby shampoo? Our review ranks 2021's top 8 baby shampoos. After scouring the market, we purchased the most popular top-contenders for our hands-on testing. An excellent shampoo should be easy to use for parents and leave your baby's hair clean with unconcerning ingredients and little to no fragrance. Our extensive testing utilizes these metrics and more, ultimately influencing our ranking process, providing you with the insider details to make an informed decision.


1

Overall Best Shampoo


Honest Truly Calming Lavender Shampoo and Wash


Quantity: 10 fl. oz. | Fragrance-Free: No, but the option is available
Effectively cleans and smells nice
Pump dispenser easy to use
Label transparency
Price versus quantity

The Honest Truly Calming Lavender Shampoo and Wash may be an excellent addition to your baby's hair care routine. This shampoo and body wash duo nicely lathers and leaves hair clean and soft, even on the dirtiest days. The lavender scent is lovely, not overpowering, and we like the easy-to-use pump dispenser. According to the Honest Co. website, the formula uses naturally derived ingredients, plus they state what's not in the bottle: SLS, SLES, parabens, dyes, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, and formaldehyde donors. We applaud the manufacturer's standards and label transparency, listing all ingredients and avoiding the term "fragrance" - a word that allows companies to hide or disguise ingredients. Plus, they do not use animal testing or animal by-products.

The shampoo's price versus quantity may be a factor to consider, but we think the shampoo's quality is worth the cost. We recommend this product to families who value label transparency and appreciate a shampoo and wash combo. If you like this baby shampoo, but prefer a fragrance-free version, check out Honest Purely Sensitive Shampoo and Wash.

The Honest Co. is the only company in our review that stands behind...
The Honest Co. is the only company in our review that stands behind label transparency and does not use the term "fragrance" to disguise ingredients.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Tip: Although products often claim to be tear-free or equivalent, we believe this is a relative phrase and suggest avoiding eye contact as some babies could find the ingredients of any shampoo to be irritating.

2

Best for Eco-health


Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Shampoo & Wash


Quantity: 16 fl. oz. | Fragrance-Free: Yes
EWG verified ingredients
Effectively cleans hair
Pump dispenser easy to pump one-handed
Price

If the mention of clean ingredients perks your ears up, you may like Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Shampoo & Wash. Whether your child is chemically sensitive or you would like to decrease the potential of skin irritations, Babo may be a good fit. With this option, you don't have to worry about added fragrance and dyes, plus it is EWG verified, meaning it uses no ingredients of concern according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit corporation committed to healthier living. This shampoo is also free of gluten, soy, dairy, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and petroleum. The plant-based formula nourishes your kid's hair with beneficial ingredients, like oat protein to help protect dry skin, organic calendula to soothe and nourish your baby's scalp and skin, along with coconut, shea, and cocoa butter to moisturize skin.

The product's price point is a factor to consider. However, if you want to steer clear of fragrance and harsh chemicals, we think this product is worth the investment.

Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Shampoo & Wash is an excellent...
Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Shampoo & Wash is an excellent choice for families who seek a shampoo with baby-safe ingredients, plus one that is free of fragrance.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

3

Best Bang for the Buck


Johnson's Baby Shampoo


Quantity: 27 fl. oz. | Fragrance-Free: No
Affordable
Pump dispenser
Nice lather
Strong scent

Featuring its trademark scent and pale honey hue, the Johnson's Baby Shampoo is nostalgic and a go-to brand for decades. This shampoo is formulated without parabens, phthalates, sulfates, or dyes and gets the job done, leaving hair shiny, fresh, and clean. Plus, the suds nicely lather and are easy to rinse away.

We consider the product's scent to be more potent than other contenders. If you prefer fragrance-free products, perhaps because your little one is scent-sensitive, you should skip this option. But, if you don't mind a more potent scent, this product may work for families who seek a shampoo on a budget.

The Johnson's Baby Shampoo will effectively clean hair and offers...
The Johnson's Baby Shampoo will effectively clean hair and offers quantity on a budget.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

4

Good for Dry Skin


Aquaphor Baby Wash and Shampoo


Quantity: 25.4 fl. oz. | Fragrance-Free: Yes
Pump dispenser
Large quantity
No animal testing
Lacks phthalate-free info

The Aquaphor Baby Wash and Shampoo may be a good fit for babies with dry, sensitive, or eczema-prone skin. This fragrance-free option uses a formula enriched with chamomile essence and provitamin B5 to soothe skin, plus it is free of preservatives, parabens, and dyes. The product has a slimy consistency that produces some suds and a light lather. Also, the bottle is effortless to pump, which we consider easier to use during bathtime. 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 believe this option is reasonably affordable.

We are unsure if this shampoo is phthalate-free because the product's packaging lacks clarity of this detail. After searching on the manufacturer's website, we still did not locate the answer, and we think this factor alone may deter some folks, especially those who appreciate label transparency. Before using this product, we suggest discussing skin conditions and possible triggers with your pediatrician. Once you get the green light, we think it could be an option for families with sensitive or eczema-prone babies.

The Aquaphor Baby Wash and Shampoo is a runner-up to being one of...
The Aquaphor Baby Wash and Shampoo is a runner-up to being one of the largest in our review, and we appreciate the pump dispenser, making it easier for parents to use.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

5

Best Natural Option


Puracy Citrus Grove Baby Shampoo and Body Wash


Quantity: 16 fl. oz. | Fragrance-Free: No
Pump dispenser
Easy lather
No animal testing
No fragrance-free option

Sweetly scented and ready to clean your baby from head to toe is the Puracy Citrus Grove Baby Shampoo and Body Wash. This bottle sports a pump top, which we consider more convenient while managing bathtime, and its formula leaves hair fresh and clean. Puracy is a small brand that prides itself on crafting products developed by doctors, and its website states this product uses a clinical-grade blend of cleansers, humectants, and essential oils. It also provides a long list of ingredients that this product avoids: Cocamidopropyl betaine, sulfates, triclosan, formaldehyde, parabens, phosphates, SLS, SLES, ethanolamines like MEA, DEA, and TEA, petroleum-based ingredients, animal by-products, chlorine, dyes, perfumes, and caustics - uffda, that's a long list! Puracy promises to be cruelty-free, and, as always, this is a statement we value.

Although we loved many things about this product, we were disappointed that the label lists "natural fragrance," and we wish Puracy would include the ingredients behind this term. Also, we think a fragrance-free version would be an excellent addition to the baby shampoo market. But, if you don't mind a mild citrus-scented option, this could be one to consider.

The Puracy Citrus Grove Baby Shampoo and Body Wash has a light scent...
The Puracy Citrus Grove Baby Shampoo and Body Wash has a light scent and the shampoo is easy to lather and rinse.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

6

Shampoo with Calendula


Weleda Baby 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash


Quantity: 6.8 fl. oz. | Fragrance-Free: No
Subtle scent
Nice lather
No animal testing
No pump dispenser
Smaller bottle

The Weleda Baby 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash will clean your little one's hair and leave it fluffy. It has 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 believe it lathers adequately, rinses quickly, and leaves 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, the price for a smaller quantity is not ideal, and the product may not last as long as others with more quantity. We suggest this product to those who appreciate a calendula scent, plus don't mind the flip-top or the smaller bottle size.

The Weleda 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash has a soft and not...
The Weleda 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash has a soft and not overpowering calendula scent.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

7

Option for Eczema Skin


CeraVe Baby Wash and Shampoo


Quantity: 8 fl. oz. | Fragrance-Free: Yes
Pump dispenser
Left hair oily
Minimum lather
Small quantity

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.

In our opinion, this product leaves hair oily, regardless of thoroughly washing and rinsing. Also, the product does 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. People are often 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.

The CeraVe Baby Wash and Shampoo comes in a slim and small bottle...
The CeraVe Baby Wash and Shampoo comes in a slim and small bottle and works for eczema-prone skin, but, in our opinion, leaves hair oily.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

8

Limited Use for Cradle Cap


Mustela Baby Foam Shampoo for Cradle Cap


Quantity: 5.07 fl. oz. | Fragrance-Free: Yes
Pump dispenser
Foam
No animal testing
Smaller bottle

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 does have little to no scent. Also, the foamy mousse is airy, easy to lather, as well as rinse. According to Mustela's website, the company has developed a unique testing model to test products' tolerance and effectiveness without testing on animals.

The bottle is small, but a little goes a long way, yet it is a factor worth considering, given its 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.

The Mustela Shampooing Mousse for Cradle Cap comes in a smaller size...
The Mustela Shampooing Mousse for Cradle Cap comes in a smaller size bottle, which may not last as long. However, we don't see this product being a primary shampoo.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Tip: The FDA doesn't require the disclosure of fragrance ingredients. Therefore, the term "fragrance" can hide hundreds or more chemicals, natural or not. Each company varies in label transparency, so we suggest reading labels and selecting a fragrance-free product to avoid this issue.

Each product in our review experienced hands-on testing and...
Each product in our review experienced hands-on testing and side-by-side comparison.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Why You Should Trust Us


BabyGearLab has been testing hundreds of baby products over the years. Leading this review is Molly Bradac, Senior Review Editor, and professional nanny with over 14 years of experience. We purchased each product in our review, completed hands-on testing and side-by-side comparisons to evaluate performance.

The Mustela Shampooing Mousse for Cradle Cap has an easy to use pump...
A flip-top product will most likely require two-hands.

Analysis and Test Results


Our testing involved tons of washing, lathering, and rinsing with multiple 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.

Although not a deal-breaker, we suggest selecting a top that is easy...
Although not a deal-breaker, we suggest selecting a top that is easy to pump with one hand for added convenience.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Eco-Health


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. The Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Shampoo & Wash is EWG verified, meaning it avoids ingredients of concern. Although this resource can be helpful as a guide, it is not comprehensive, or the "end all be all" as some ingredients lack sufficient data.

Phthalates are a group of chemicals that can absorb 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 have an "Honest Standard," which outlines guiding principles and values regarding how it approaches and creates safe yet effective products for families. Also, we think this information is easy to access and read. On the contrary, the Aquaphor Baby Wash and Shampoo bottle lack information regarding whether it is free of phthalates, and the Aquaphor website does not provide much detail. If you prefer to minimize your baby's exposure, we highly suggest choosing a company that discloses ingredients and values.

Shampoos that are fragrance-free do not contain artificial perfumes...
Shampoos that are fragrance-free do not contain artificial perfumes or chemicals.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Fragrance


Some may argue that babies do not need any scent, and we agree. Fragrance, regardless if "natural" or "essential oils" can increase the chance of skin irritations. Also, there's not enough evidence to show that they hold any skincare benefits. In our lineup, fragrance-free products include Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Shampoo & Wash and Aquaphor Baby Wash and Shampoo, which are a good fit for those who are scent-sensitive. If you appreciate a soft scent, then there are options in this review for you, too, including the Weleda Baby 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash and Honest Truly Calming Lavender Shampoo and Wash. However, we believe the Johnson's Baby Shampoo has a stronger smell, and we suggest selecting a different product if you are sensitive to scent.

Be mindful of marketing terms that may not hold weight and merit.
Be mindful of marketing terms that may not hold weight and merit.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Tip: Marketing terms like "Dermatologist Tested" and "Hypoallergenic" can be misleading to consumers as any ingredient, especially those like "fragrance" and "essential oils," can cause irritations. Also, these terms have no agreed-upon definition in the industry, which means the claim could mean one thing to one company and something far different to another, and they don't need to tell you how they define them. Plus, skin intolerances can develop over time. So, marketing terms don't always have merit and should be taken with a grain of salt.

The market is overflowing with options. We are confident our review...
The market is overflowing with options. We are confident our review will help guide you to a product that meets your needs.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Conclusion


Navigating the world of baby shampoos can be tricky with so many options on the market. Fortunately, we've done the research and washed multiple testers' hair ourselves to experience and 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