shampoo

If your current hair care routine leaves you with a red, itchy, irritated scalp or symptoms of fragrance sensitivity, it may be time to switch to a more natural hair product. Though added fragrances and perfumes make your beauty routine smell more exciting, they rarely offer true skincare and hair care benefits.

But going fragrance-free is no easy feat these days, especially when it comes to shampoo. For most shoppers, the scent is one of the most important factors in deciding which shampoo to use. That's why most shampoos on the market are packed with added perfumes and fragrances to create a more pleasurable experience while you lather up.

Searching for fragrance-free and unscented hair care products (especially ones that actually work) can be a laborious task. So to help you find the best smelling shampoo for your sensitive scalp, perfume allergy, or sensitivity, we have put together a buying guide to help you find one that suits your personality. We've tried a few shampoos ourselves and rounded up the best smelling shampoos without added fragrances or perfumes.

Why You May Want to Avoid Shampoos with Added Fragrances

Though most commercial shampoos contain scent additives, there are many reasons why you may want to avoid shampoos with added fragrances and perfumes. 

For one, the cosmetics and beauty industry has alarmingly few health and safety regulations, especially when it comes to fragrance. According to the FDA, companies are only required to label the components as "Fragrance" and do not have to disclose the exact ingredients used to create the aroma, as not to reveal "trade secrets." Many commercial shampoos use synthetic fragrances made from chemicals (the most common being diethyl phthalate or DEP) whose long-term health effects are relatively unknown. 

Even though beauty products can cause allergic reactions, the FDA does not require allergen labeling for cosmetics. Added fragrances and perfumes may cause scalp irritation and other health concerns, especially for individuals with a perfume allergy or fragrance sensitivity. In addition to a red, itchy scalp, the added fragrance may leave users with everything from classic allergic reactions like headache, runny nose, and sneezing to skin reactions like itching, hives, and rashes to respiratory issues such as wheezing or difficulty breathing. 

Unscented vs. Fragrance-Free Beauty Products

Though the words unscented and fragrance-free are often used interchangeably by consumers, they mean different things in the cosmetics world. Fragrance-free means that no fragrance materials or masking scents were used in the product, while unscented means that the product may contain chemicals or additives that mask or neutralize the smell of other ingredients. Individuals with allergies or health concerns should look for products labeled hypoallergenic. 

To help shoppers identify fragrance-free products, the EPA created the Safer-Choice Fragrance-Free label, verifying the product meets strict human health and environmental safety regulations set by the EPA and does not contain chemicals that add or mask the scent. 

Added Fragrance Oils vs. Essential Oils

Most mainstream hair care products are scented using fragrance oils, a vague term used to describe synthetic scents that contain chemical ingredients. On the other hand, natural hair products typically add scent using essential oils, potent plant extracts with a strong aroma. This means you can still find some of the best smelling shampoos for your hair.

If you're looking for the best smelling shampoos but don't have added fragrances or perfumes derived from chemicals, opt for natural ones that use essential oils instead of fragrance oils. Many individuals with fragrance sensitivities can tolerate products containing scents from natural essential oils. While essential oils are derived naturally from plants, it is a potent ingredient and can cause allergic reactions. If you are unsure if you may be allergic to essential oil or not, check with your doctor.

How To Choose Best Smelling Shampoos?

Scent

If you want your hair to smell amazing all day long, then a good-smelling shampoo will get the job done. Many brands on the market offer natural shampoos without fragrance or perfume while keeping the shampoos smelling amazing.

Moisturizing

The best shampoo not only keeps your hair smell amazing but should also hydrate, moisturize, and restore your hair. And leaving you with healthy-looking hair with a shine.

Hair Type

Most shampoo and conditioners on the market are suitable for all hair types, but knowing your hair type will help you choose the best shampoo. Some of the common hair types include color-treated hair, oily hair, dry hair, and normal hair.

Natural

The best smelling shampoo should contain natural ingredients that moisturize, nourish, and restore your hair. All, without harsh chemicals.

If you are unsure if the shampoo is natural or not, you can check EWG (Environmental Working Group) and see safety score. 

Best Smelling Shampoos Without Added Fragrances or Perfumes 

Seaweed Bath Co. Hydrating Balancing Shampoo with Eucalyptus & Peppermint

Best Nutritious Shampoo For Hair

Seaweed Bath Co. Hydrating Balancing Shampoo with Eucalyptus & Peppermint

Is your hair in need of serious hydration? Give it the nourishment it needs with Seaweed Bath Co.'s all-natural Hydrating Balancing Shampoo. 

The Leaping Bunny Certified cruelty-free vegan cleanser is made with sustainably-harvested bladderwrack seaweed that infuses hair with over 65 vitamins and minerals. It also contains argan, coconut, and avocado oils that add even more moisture to your strands and help maintain a healthy scalp. 

Features

  • Sulfate, paraben, and gluten-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Made with Maine Seaweed infuses strands with 65+ vitamins and minerals
  • Scented with Essential Oil
  • Best for normal to oily hair
  • It can be used daily or as needed.
  • Leave your hair with a great balance of minty and refreshing smell without being too strong.
  • EWG Shampoo
ACURE Curiously Clarifying Shampoo with Lemongrass & Argan

Styling your hair with gel, curl cream, hairspray, and other leave-in products can leave your scalp itchy and hair weighed down with greasy build-up. ACURE's Curiously Clarifying Shampoo gently washes away build-up while rehydrating and nourishing your strands with argan oil and lemongrass. 

Unlike other clarifying shampoos that leave your hair feeling dry and lifeless, ACURE's Curiously Clarifying Shampoo is gentle enough to be used as your everyday shampoo.

Features

  • Paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, petrolatum free, formaldehyde-free, and cruelty-free
  • Scented with a combination of essential oil and infused with lemongrass
  • It leaves your hair with a lemongrass scent without being overwhelming. It is tart, and it got a hint of herbal-grassy "dry" smell.
  • Gentle enough for everyday use and all hair types
  • EWG Shampoo
Everyone 3-in-1 Kids Soap: Orange Squeeze Shampoo, Body Wash, and Bubble Bath

Looking for a kid's shampoo without added fragrances or perfumes that you can feel good about putting in your kid's shower? Both you and your little ones will love Everyone's 3-in-1 Kid's Soap! Not only is it shampoo, but it's also body wash and bubble bath so your kiddo can feel clean and moisturized from head-to-toe. 

The kid's soap gets its refreshing orange scent from pure orange essential oil. To gently cleanse and moisturize both hair and skin, it contains a soothing blend of organic herbs and botanicals like calendula, aloe vera, chamomile, and white tea. 

In addition to their invigorating Orange Squeeze scent, Everyone offers their 3-in-1 Kids soap in other sensitive skin-approved scents like relaxing Lavender Lullaby, fruity Tropical Twist, and Sweet Berry Blast. 

Features

  • Contain soothing organic herbs like calendula, aloe vera, and chamomile
  • Contain antioxidants like white tea extracts and vitamin E and B5
  • Packaged in 100% recycled bottle
  • Scented with essential oil
  • Smells yummy without overpowering
  • EWG Shampoo
SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo

SheaMoisture's Intensive Hydration Shampoo was designed for Black hair and type 4 hair with a very tight curl pattern. Unlike some shampoos, which strip curly hair of much-needed moisture, this hydrating cleanser keeps your hair soft, shiny, and manageable. 

Thanks to restorative shea butter, baobab, and mafura oil, the sulfate-free shampoo provides the hydration curly hair needs, leaving you with the same softness as a deep conditioning mask. Manuka honey and African rock fig offer powerful antioxidants that lock in moisture and fight frizz in humid conditions. 

Features

  • Made with organic, cruelty-free, sustainably sourced, and ethically traded ingredients
  • Free of parabens, phthalates, petroleum, mineral oil, or formaldehyde. 
  • It is infused with organic mafura and baobab oil to give your hair a long-lasting shine.
  • With ingredients like raw shea butter, it can provide intense hydration to your hair and keep your hair soft.
  • It is infused with Manuka honey that will nourish and protect your hair.
  • It smells amazing, like a wildflower with a touch of honey.
  • EWG Shampoo
AG Hair Natural Balance Apple Cider Vinegar Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Need a sulfate-free shampoo that deeps clean without irritating your sensitive scalp? Try AG Hair's Natural Balance Apple Cider Vinegar Sulfate-Free Shampoo, made with 98% plant-based, naturally-derived ingredients. Design to detangles and controls frizzy hair while providing thermal protection.

The gentle shampoo's star ingredient is apple cider vinegar, which balances your scalp's pH level and closes your dry hair cuticle to boost shine. Organic argan oil and aloe vera help to smooth, moisturize, and fight frizz. 

AG Hair's exclusive scent features a blend of rosemary, lavender, lemongrass, and clary sage essential oils for an aromatherapeutic shower experience. Round out your shower routine with AG Hair's Natural Boost Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner.

Features

  • Vegan, silicone-free, and 98% plant-based and naturally-derived
  • Scented with essential oil
  • Made for all hair types and safe on color-treated hair
  • It smells fresh and citrusy with a hint of vinegar but not strong.
  • EWG Shampoo

Drunk Elephant Cocomino™ Glossing Shampoo

Best For Dry And Damaged Hair

Drunk Elephant Cocomino™ Glossing Shampoo

Though Drunk Elephant is best known for its award-winning skincare products, their haircare line deserves equal praise. It applies a skincare philosophy to the scalp, focusing on products that deep clean and remove build-up while nourishing your scalp and hair. 

Drunk Elephant's Coconino Glossing Shampoo is the perfect choice for colored hair with damage from heat styling. Potent ingredients like sacha inchi seed oil and coconut amino acids provide vital antioxidants and omega-three fatty acids that add shine and repair heat damage and dry hair. 

Features

  • Free from: silicones, essential oils, SLS, chemical screens, drying alcohols, and fragrance/ dyes.
  • Cruelty-free
  • Made with a blend of amino acids and fatty acid-rich oils to add shine and moisture to your dry hair without weighing your hair down.
  • It is formulated with a blend of moisturizing sweet almond oil and almond extract, giving the shampoo a natural nutty scent.
  • Safe on color-treated hair
Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo with Peppermint, Tea Tree, and Eucalyptus Botanicals

If you're looking for a strong-smelling shampoo with essential oils, you can't get any better than Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo. Despite its salon-caliber ingredients, the cruelty-free, sulfate-free, organic shampoo is only 3.99 for a 16-oz bottle! 

Its invigorating scent and refreshing tingling sensation are thanks to organic botanicals like peppermint, tea tree, rosemary, thyme, and eucalyptus. The unique blend also helps to gently remove build-up and repair damage to leave you with soft, shiny hair and a healthy scalp. 

If you love the rejuvenating scent, add Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner and Tea Tree Tingle Body Wash to your routine too. The entire line is made using the same blend of essential oils for a refreshing scent and tingling feel. 

Features

  • Cruelty-free and contain certified organic botanical ingredients
  • Scented with essential oil
  • Leaving your hair smell fresh and refreshing. Somewhere between eucalyptus, mint, rosemary, and thyme
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • EWG Shampoo
Juice Organics Rose Fig Color Protect Shampoo

Unlike traditional color-protecting shampoos— which often contain harsh chemicals, scalp-irritating synthetic ingredients, and overwhelming fragrances— Juice Organic's Rose Fig Color Protect Shampoo is formulated with natural and nourishing ingredients 

It's specially designed to protect against color fade while boosting shine to your hair and repairing damaged hair from environmental stressors. The shampoo's key ingredients include antioxidant-rich fig, aloe leaf juice, sunflower seed oil, blueberry, and linseed oil— all of which are organic. 

Features

  • It is formulated without parabens, petroleum, propylene, or butylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfates, phthalates, PEGs, TEA, DEA, GMO, silicones, artificial dyes, or synthetic fragrance.
  • Perfect for color-treated, highlighted, or damaged hair
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • The scent is amazing! Leaving your hair smells fruity and floral.
  • EWG Shampoo

Money Saving Tip: Some of these shampoos are available through Thrive Market.

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. This means I make a few dollars if you purchase/sign up after clicking my link. This costs you nothing, but it helps keep this blog running!

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