Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The 13 Best Hard Water Shampoos for Healthy, Shiny Hair

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1

Best Overall

L’Oréal Professionnel Metal Detox Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Metal Detox Sulfate-Free Shampoo

1

Best Overall

L’Oréal Professionnel Metal Detox Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Credit: Amazon
Cons
  • Some reviewers didn’t like the smell

Using patented Glicoamine technology, “this shampoo is specifically designed to combat the effects of hard water by penetrating the hair fiber and effectively removing mineral deposits that can weigh down strands and make them appear dull,” explains Kim. “It helps restore hair’s natural radiance and shine, is sulfate free, and has an amazing refreshing scent.” What’s more, hair colorist Abby Haliti calls this a “lifeline for color-treated hair,” as it helps maintain your tint without causing any brassiness.

Hair type: All

Sulfate-free: Yes

Size: 10 oz.

Key ingredients: Glicoamine (patented technology)

2

Best for Treating Breakage

K18 PEPTIDE PREP pH Maintenance Shampoo

PEPTIDE PREP pH Maintenance Shampoo

2

Best for Treating Breakage

K18 PEPTIDE PREP pH Maintenance Shampoo

Credit: Sephora
Cons
  • Some testers found that it left their hair oily

Hair colorist Erin Moser says that this color-safe shampoo is perfect for fine to medium textures, although it can be used by all. The brand’s k18 peptide is meant to shield the hair shaft to reduce protein loss that can cause damage and breakage.

Hair type: All



Sulfate-free:
Yes



Size:
8.5 oz.



Key ingredients:
Plant-Derived Surfactants and K18Peptide

3

Best for Detangling

Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo

Hard Water Wellness Shampoo

3

Best for Detangling

Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo

Credit: Amazon
Cons
  • Some may prefer an unscented option

For glossier, easier-to-manage strands, both Haiti and Moser recommend this vegan, plant-based shampoo. With ingredients like nourishing panthenol, strengthening rice protein, and vitamin C, it gently “removes mineral buildup, restores shine, and softness,” says Haiti. And if you love a dreamy scent, this one is meant to make your strands smell like an orange creamsicle.

Hair type: All

Sulfate-free: Yes

Size: 8.96 oz.

Key ingredients: Vitamin C, panthenol, rice protein

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4

Best Exfoliating

Redken Detox Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo

Detox Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo

4

Best Exfoliating

Redken Detox Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo

Credit: Amazon
Cons
  • Some reviewers note it has a runny consistency

This exfoliating Redken shampoo removes all the bad stuff from your mane, without stripping it of moisture or natural oils. Along with clearing away mineral deposits, Haliti says the formula removes lingering product buildup to leave hair squeaky clean, balanced, and ready for styling.

Hair type: All

Sulfate-free: Yes

Size: 8.5 oz.

Key ingredients: AHA Fruit Acid, sugar cane and lemon fruit extract

5

Best for Color-Treated Hair

L’Oréal Professionnel Vitamino Color Care Shampoo

Vitamino Color Care Shampoo

5

Best for Color-Treated Hair

L’Oréal Professionnel Vitamino Color Care Shampoo

Credit: Sephora
Cons
  • Some may not prefer the fruity scent

“If you have color-treated hair, L’Oréal’s Vitamino Color Shampoo is an excellent choice,” says Kim. “It combines color protection with anti-mineral properties, ensuring your hair color remains vibrant even in hard water conditions.” According to the brand, it’s meant to prevent color fading for up to eight weeks after each application.

Hair type: All

Sulfate-free: Yes

Size: 16.9 oz.

Key ingredients: Resveratrol

6

Best for Thick Hair

Hairstory New Wash (DEEP)

 New Wash (DEEP)

6

Best for Thick Hair

Hairstory New Wash (DEEP)

Credit: Amazon
Cons
  • Pricey

This apple cider vinegar and argan oil-infused formula is Moser’s pick for coarse wavy to curly hair. Tons of reviewers rave about how soft and healthy it makes their mane feel, with one saying, “it gave my hair bounce for the first time in years and ensures it feels thicker, has dimension, and never tangles.” Since it’s technically a cleansing conditioner, the hybrid formula can replace both your regular shampoo and conditioner, but keep in mind you may need to follow up with a clarifying wash periodically to prevent buildup.

Hair type: All

Sulfate-free: Yes

Size: 8 oz.

Key ingredients: Apple Cider Vinegar, Argan Oil

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7

Best for Removing Chlorine

Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three

Shampoo Three

7

Best for Removing Chlorine

Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three

Cons
  • Contains sulfates

Haliti also recommends this hard water shampoo for boosting vibrancy and manageability. It contains a chelating agent called EDTA (or ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid), which “helps remove mineral deposits while restoring shine,” she says. Thanks to this ingredient along with sodium thiosulfate, the shampoo is also a great option for dissolving chlorine left in hair from pool days.

Hair type: All

Sulfate-free: No

Size: 10.1 oz.

Key ingredients: Disodium EDTA, tetrasodium EDTA

8

Best Detoxifying

Kevin Murphy MAXI.WASH

MAXI.WASH

8

Best Detoxifying

Kevin Murphy MAXI.WASH

Credit: Amazon
Cons
  • Doesn’t lather

Give your strands and scalp a much-needed detox with Kevin Murphy’s Maxi.Wash. Witch hazel, a natural antiseptic, helps remove unwanted chemicals and minerals while essential oils like tea tree, thyme and rosemary help ensure your mane never looks dull or dry, says Moser.

Hair type: All

Sulfate-free: Yes

Size: 8.4 oz.

Key ingredients: AHAs and Essential Oils

9

Best Gentle

Ion Hard Water Shampoo

Hard Water Shampoo

9

Best Gentle

Ion Hard Water Shampoo

Credit: Amazon
Cons
  • Some reviewers felt it left their hair dry

When choosing a good clarifying shampoo, Haliti also suggests looking for options with citric acid, like this sulfate-free version from Ion. She says it’s formulated to leave hair mineral-free and refreshed, and is gentle enough to be used daily if needed.

Hair type: All

Sulfate-free: Yes

Size: 10.5

Key ingredients: Citric acid

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10

Best for Oily Scalps

dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Soothing Shampoo

Apple Cider Vinegar Soothing Shampoo

10

Best for Oily Scalps

dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Soothing Shampoo

Credit: Ulta
Cons
  • Scent may be strong for some

Starring apple cider vinegar, this color-safe shampoo by celebrity hair colorist Justin Anderson works to remove mineral buildup and balance the scalp’s pH levels. Since it helps clarify and remove excess oils, it’s a solid choice for those who suffer from greasiness and dandruff as well. As an added bonus, it contains ginseng and ginger extract to help stimulate the scalp and encourage healthy hair growth.

Hair type: All

Sulfate-free: Yes

Size: 8.5 oz.

Key ingredients: Apple cider vinegar, amino acids, and ginseng extract

11

Best for Curly Hair

Pattern Cleansing Shampoo

Cleansing Shampoo

11

Best for Curly Hair

Pattern Cleansing Shampoo

Credit: Ulta
Cons
  • May not be ideal for color-treated hair

Many clarifying shampoos can be overly drying for curly and coily hair types, which tend to be dehydrated in the first place. Thankfully, Pattern’s cleansing shampoo is here to save them. Created specifically for textured hair, it offers a deep cleanse, then hydrates and strengthens with ingredients like nourishing panthenol, antioxidant-rich green tea, and fortifying rosemary oil. As one reviewer writes, “I’ve been trying to find a good shampoo for my 3b/c curls to cleanse without leaving my hair feeling brittle. I can now honestly say I have found it. This shampoo makes my scalp feel clean and hair soft after I rinse.”

Hair type: Curly, coily, and tight textures

Sulfate-free: No

Size: 7.8 oz.

Key ingredients: Matcha, green tea, aloe, panthenol

12

Best for Beach Days

Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo

Clarifying Shampoo

12

Best for Beach Days

Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo

Now 20% Off

Credit: Amazon
Cons
  • Not sulfate free

Beach bums, this one’s for you. Kenra Professional’s clarifying shampoo uses citric acid to rid strands of minerals and salt water plus honey extract to reverse dryness. Light-reflecting mica helps minimize dullness and boost clarity, too. “My hair stylist told me I needed this to get all the minerals off my hair because I spend time near the ocean and in a salt water pool,” writes one reviewer. “I also have curly hair that need lots of conditioner to control. Wow this really works! My hair is now really soft.”

Hair type: All

Sulfate-free: No

Size: 10.1 oz.

Key ingredients: Citric acid, honey extract, mica

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What to look for in the best hard-water shampoos

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Look for products labeled with words like “hard water” and “clarifying,” says Haliti, as these should indicate that the formula removes dirt, impurities, and mineral buildup. She also recommends opting for “shampoos with moisturizing ingredients such as natural oils, shea butter, or glycerin to combat dryness caused by hard water.”

Additionally, Moser suggests looking for chelating shampoos, which contain ingredients that bind to and remove heavy metals from the hair, as well as “copper removing” formulas. “When I see ‘copper removing’ on a label, I know that it claims to remove the green cast from aging hair color,” he says.

How often should I use a hard-water shampoo?

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All of our experts agree that hard-water shampoos should be used sparingly. “Use a hard water shampoo once a week or as needed, based on the severity of mineral buildup,” says Kim. “Overusing it might lead to dryness, so find a balance that suits your hair’s condition.” Haliti adds, “experiment and listen to your hair to find the optimal frequency.”

Are there any other ways I can protect my hair from hard water?

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Moser recommends investing in a filtered shower head, like Eco Heads’ or Jolie’s versions, to filter out some of the minerals in your water. Haliti also suggests rinsing your hair with filtered water before shampooing in order to minimize mineral buildup. And “if you are an avid swimmer, try dampening your hair before putting a swim cap on to prevent chemically-treated water from penetrating your strands,” she says.

Finally use a heat protectant before styling to “shield hair from mineral-induced damage,” advises Kim.

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Meet the Experts

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Min Kim is a celebrity colorist and L’Oréal Professionnel Global Ambassador.

Erin Moser is a hair colorist at Fruits Hair Lab in Nashville, TN.

Abby Haliti is a celebrity colorist and a master of the French Balayage technique. She is also the founder of Abby Haliti Color Studio in New York City.

Why trust ELLE beauty

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Lisa DeSantis is a freelance writer who has been in the beauty industry for nearly ten years. She began her career in beauty and fashion at QVC and has since written for and contributed to top women’s magazines and digital brands such as Health, Real Simple, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, Byrdie, Well & Good and more. She has tested thousands of products and considers herself a professional guinea pig who’s always on the search for the next big trends in beauty, wellness, and beyond.

For this story, she interviewed three celebrity colorists and poured over hundreds of customer reviews to find the best hard water shampoos worth shopping. Each was evaluated on factors like reported results and ingredients offered.

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