If searching for the perfect shampoo is wrong, I don't want to be right. For many women, choosing a shampoo and conditioner is kind of like dating—you'll settle for the one that's right in front of you (read: the bottle near checkout), but as more variety becomes available, the pickier you want and need to become.
As rote as it seems, haircare needs to be taken as seriously as skincare is, which is why Carte-Mere's editors decided to share our go-to shampoo and conditioner picks for every hair type—from frizz-prone to heat damaged to perfectly healthy. Stock up on our favorites, below, and feel free to use "washing my hair" as an excuse anytime you want to get out of a date.
"I’m not the type of person to spend a lot of money on my haircare routine—I used to just get whatever drugstore brand of shampoo and smelled nice. But then I tried to grow my hair out after a tryst with baby bangs (a haircut that was described, I’m sorry to say, as 'brave'). It was taking forever to get even a little bit of length and there was still a lot of damage because I tend to run my hair through the ringer—drying, straightening, curling, you name it.
My stylist recommended Pureology because it’s sulfate-free and really gentle, but also works to strengthen your hair and minimize breakage. It’s not cheap—an 8.5 oz bottle is almost $30—but because you only use a quarter-sized amount even for medium-length hair, it lasts me over two months, sometimes more. Now my hair is a lot stronger, I have fewer split ends, and it’s growing so much faster. It’s an investment that I’m happy to make, and I couldn’t recommend it more." —Cady Drell, Senior News and Culture Editor
"I've been using this Adama brand for a couple years now. The shampoo feels rich and leaves my hair smooth and relatively frizz-free. I wash my hair every single night, and the conditioner is light enough not to weigh down my very fine, straight hair. They are both sulfate- and paraben-free, so the hippie side of me is satisfied. They also smell really nice and pear-ish." —Bridget Burns, Photo Editor
"I love Moroccanoil products. Their shampoo (and ) are my shiny, silky-soft hair jam. I remember trying Moroccanoil for the first time and realizing that my naturally very fine, frizzy hair can actually look smooth and—despite my total lack of skills with a hairdryer—like I’d just left a haircut. I turned my mom on to the stuff as well, so now the smell is homey and familiar to me. Plus, whenever I get a whiff of that Moroccanoil shampoo smell, it’s a nice little reminder that I’m likely having a good hair day." —Sally Holmes, Digital Director
"I’ve been blessed with a full head of curly, kinky, natural hair that’s almost so unmanageable I have it professionally done regularly. I lack the arm strength to blow-dry my hair that often, but when I do, I wash it with my tried and true first: the Moisture Repair Shampoo from Moroccanoil (the same one mentioned above) and L'Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Ceramide Total Repair 5 Restoring Conditioner.
I went natural almost five years ago, and my hair requires a ton of moisture. I find that both of these products really help with that. I use far more conditioner than I do shampoo, and I love this conditioner so much I also use it as a pre-shampoo treatment when I get my hair professionally done. I try to make my hair as low-maintenance as possible, and these products allow for just that." —Amanda Mitchell, Editorial Fellow
"There’s a cheap British drugstore brand called Alberto Balsam that, I kid you not, has the most luxurious shampoo I’ve ever used. You can order it on Amazon, but it needs to ship all the way from England, so the shipping costs make it decidedly not-cheap. #BringABToAmerica" —Jenny Hollander, Deputy Editor
"I only condition a couple of times a week, so I like to use hydrating hair masks instead of conditioner (yes, I’m lazy). I’m hooked on Kérastase Masquintense, which is specifically developed for dry, thin hair. I went through a phase in my late teens of straightening my hair every day without heat protection—look, it was the early ‘00s—and the only thing that saved my hair was this." —J.H.
"Growing up, I never paid attention to the shampoo I used. (Literally, I'd use anything as long as it smelled good.) That changed the first time I dyed my hair a couple years ago. I never realized how harsh and terrible brand-I-shall-not-name was until it stripped all the color out of my hair. That's when my hair colorist (and my mom!) recommended something sulfate-free, and I fell in love with this L'Oréal Ever Pure shampoo.
It's super cheap, I can easily pick it up at the drugstore whenever I run out, and it comes in a variety of formulations depending on your hair type. (Same goes for .) I got my hair colored again while using the shampoo and the dye actually lasted. A concept!" —Rachel Epstein, Assistant Editor
"Growing up, I wanted 'hair like the girls in the Pantene commercials,' so I started using...no surprise here...Pantene Pro-V. I've tried countless of their formulations over the years, and ultimately landed on the Smooth & Sleek version with argan oil. I have A LOT of hair, so I definitely don't need volumizing shampoo. And I don't color or heat style it. I just need something basic that will allow me to wash my straight, kinda kinky, flyaway-filled hair and go without looking like I stuck my finger in a light socket. After using this shampoo and pair, my hair dries straight, shiny, and slo-mo-hair-toss-worthy." —Danielle McNally, Director of Features and Special Projects
"My longstanding favorite shampoo/conditioner combo has been Paul Mitchell’s lemon sage thickening shampoo and conditioner. My boyfriend’s mom actually introduced me to this line after we bonded over our similar hair types! I have fine hair and am always hunting for ways to make it look like it’s not just hanging off my scalp.
This duo makes my hair feel like each strand is actually fuller, while maintaining the soft texture that it has naturally, instead of drying it out like a lot of other volumizing products tend to do. An added bonus is that all Paul Mitchell products are cruelty-free, so I can enjoy my fuller, shinier hair without feeling guilty." —Morgan McMullen, Designer
“Growing up, my mom was strictly about Pantene. You know those huge ones with a pump they have at Costco? Yep, that was it for me and my family. Then, in middle school, I got psoriasis and had to use a medicated shampoo that burned and smelled horrible. It made me wish I could use normal shampoos.
Since being in this industry I’ve tried countless shampoos—fancy, drugstore, vegan, hotel—and I can honestly say I like John Frieda ones the most. I love the way they smell and it takes me back to my California beach days, even if it's just for five minutes. Oh, and a disclaimer: I’m not blonde, so don’t let the packaging fool you. It is for everyone.” —Krystyna Chávez, Social Media Editor
"I switch on and off between two different shampoos because I read that always using the same one can cause buildup and make it less effective over time. I have straight, fine hair so I try my best to use only the most gentle products. I love Briogeo’s gingseng shampoo because it smells amazing and it's sulfate-free. The formula also contains biotin, which helps to grow hair and that's something I currently need since my hair has been shedding like crazy.
I wash my hair every other day, but if I have back-to-back washes (i.e. I worked out on Monday and Tuesday) I use—surprise!— for day two. It cleans my hair really well and if it’s safe/gentle enough for babies, it’s definitely good for my thin hair.
The one thing I have not used since high school is conditioner. I found that no matter what brand I try, my hair feels greasy the next day even though I just washed it the night before." —Marina Liao, Fashion Editor