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Should You Be Using An Oil Shampoo? An Expert Explains

Woman getting shampoo in hair

If you’re looking to shake up your hair care routine, look no further than oil shampoo. Hair oils have been a controversial topic of discussion in the beauty world for the last few years, but the recent rise in the popularity of oil shampoo has some people wondering if it’s time to swap out their standard formula for this decadent alternative. 

To help you decide if your shampoo is due for an upgrade, we sat down with Travis Valdez, brand ambassador and education manager for Shu Uemura Art of Hair. Valdez explained what oil shampoos are, what you can expect from them, and exactly who they’re great for. Whether you have thick dark brown hair or fine ash blonde strands, you’ll wish you’d heard of oil shampoo sooner!

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What sets an oil shampoo apart from standard cream formulations?

While oil shampoos look and feel different from their creamy counterparts, they're both formulated with the same intent: To clean your hair. Oil shampoos can help get rid of buildup and restore the look of clean hair.  

“Oil-based shampoos are known to gently but efficiently cleanse the scalp and hair,” Valdez says. 

The Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo has a paraben and silicone-free formula with onsen-inspired ferment known in Japan for its purifying virtues. The formula gently cleanses all hair types while respecting the balance of the scalp. The oil-based formula was inspired by the company’s namesake and late founder Shu Uemura, a famous makeup artist and beauty industry pioneer, who believed oil often cleans better than traditional cleansers. 

“These beauty rituals later created the foundation for his haircare line,” Valdez explains.  

Who should be using an oil shampoo? 

Valdez insists cleansing oils are great for anyone but, perhaps surprisingly, they’re especially great for people with oily hair.  

“I often suggest Shu’s Cleansing Oil Shampoo original formula or the moisturizing formula for clients who only shampoo once a week or for anyone with an oily scalp,” Valdez says. “I’ve also found the Shu Cleansing Oil Shampoo is great for clients with active lifestyles. People who regularly exercise or those who may live in cities that are exposed to pollution and environmental aggressors. The purifying properties are outstanding!”

Cleansing your hair with oil when you already have an oily scalp may sound counterproductive, but Valdez says that’s actually what can help the product be so effective. 

If you’re concerned a cleansing oil shampoo may be a little too moisturizing for your locks, the stylist suggests trying the original formula first. On the other hand, if the original formula leaves your hair craving more moisture, Valdez suggests supplementing your routine with a few ultra-nourishing products. 

“I like to suggest using the Cleansing Oil Shampoo as your first shampoo then following with a more prescriptive range like Urban Moisture to [help] combat dry hair. This works for all ages, lengths, and textures.” 

Is there anyone who shouldn’t try an oil shampoo?

Valdez maintains that oil shampoo is great for everyone, but if you have dyed locks the stylist suggests using a shampoo specially formulated to help you maintain your bright hue.  

“I really do believe the Shu Art of Oils family is great for almost anyone, but for clients who have vibrant colored hair like a bright red or a fashion shade, I’d suggest something to preserve color like Shu’s Color Lustre,” Valdez says.   

What kind of conditioner should you pair with an oil shampoo? 

With a shampoo as nourishing and moisturizing as an oil cleanser it’s easy to think you can skip conditioner, but don’t be fooled. You should always follow up your cleanser with a conditioner and oil formulas are no different. Luckily, Valdez says oil cleansing shampoos work well with most conditioners, but he suggests using products from the same system for the best results. 

“Any of our Shu Uemura conditioners would be compatible, but I do really love the Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Conditioner. It leaves the hair light and bouncy with a beautiful natural shine. The translucent, gel-like texture proves a great detangler.”

If you’re looking for a little extra pampering, Valdez recommends any of Shu Uemura’s luxurious hair masks. 

“The Shu Uemura masks are the absolute best—it’s like a spa treatment at home. Any client who treats themselves or gifts someone else is thrilled with the results and adores the product.”

Sound like oil shampoo is the perfect product for you and your hair? We’ve rounded up nine oil shampoo formulas you’re bound to love. 

Our Best Oil Shampoos To Try Now

Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo

Shu Uemura Gentle Radiance Cleansing Oil Shampoo

If you’re new to oil shampoos, this formula is perfect for you. This cleansing oil shampoo is formulated with delicate ingredients that leave the hair balanced with both moisture and volume—without stripping the scalp of its natural oils. The paraben and silicone-free shampoo transforms into a rich foam that effectively draws out impurities and buildup on the scalp, leaving soft, shiny hair with a lightweight finish.

Shu Uemura Gentle Radiance Cleansing Oil Shampoo, $57.00 MSRP

shu uemura cleansing oil shampoo

Shu Uemura Moisture Balancing Cleansing Oil Shampoo

Dehydrated strands and dry scalp are no match for this paraben and silicone-free shampoo for dry hair.  It calms and regenerates itchy scalp with soothing hair oils, leaving supple and soft hair. It deeply cleanses by removing impurities and buildup while rejuvenating dry hair and scalp with a precise dose of moisture.

Shu Uemura Moisture Balancing Cleansing Oil Shampoo, $57.00 MSRP

Kerastase elixir ultime shampoo

Kérastase Elixir Ultime Le Bain Shampoo 

If you love the cult-favorite Elixir Ultime L'Huile Originale Hair Oil, you won’t be able to get enough of this rich shampoo. Formulated with camellia oil and sacred marula oil, this shampoo for dull hair takes shine to the next level. 

Kérastase Elixir Ultime Le Bain Shampoo, $33.00 MSRP

Lp Mythic Oil Thick Shampoo

L’Oréal Professionnel Mythic Oil Shampoo For Thick Hair

Are your thick strands impossible to get under control? Infused with fairly traded argan oil and myrrh extract, this shampoo formula gently cleanses and helps tame unruly and thick hair. It provides nourishment and shine, leaving hair with a soft touch.

L’Oréal Professionnel Mythic Oil Shampoo For Thick Hair, $32.00 MSRP

L’Oréal Professionnel Mythic Oil Shampoo For Fine Hair

If you thought your fine strands couldn’t handle oil, think again. Infused with ginger essential oil and osmanthus extract, Mythic Oil Shampoo’s luscious foam cleanses and revitalizes for healthy, smooth looking hair. It provides a lightweight nourishing feel and keeps bounce in your hair.

L’Oréal Professionnel Mythic Oil Shampoo For Fine Hair, $32.00 MSRP

Biolage Oil Renew Shampoo

Biolage Oil Renew Shampoo

Make your parched strands a thing of the past with Biolage Advanced Oil Renew Shampoo. Biolage's concentrated daily care powered by lightweight micro-oil particles helps transform porous, moisture-deprived strands into quenched, protected healthy-looking hair. When combined with the Oil Renew Conditioner and Multi-Tasking Oil-In-Cream, lock in moisture, condition, and renew dry hair. 

Biolage Oil Renew Shampoo, $21.00 MSRP

Matrix Oil Wonders Volume Rose Shampoo

Need a formula that can moisturize and volumize? Look no further than Matrix Oil Wonders Volume Rose Shampoo. The silicone-free shampoo for volume is infused with delicate rosehip oil and primes hair by removing buildup and delicately cleansing each strand to help provide softness and shine.

Matrix Oil Wonders Volume Rose Shampoo, $18.00 MSRP

Biolage Exquisite Oil Micro-Oil Shampoo

Biolage Exquisite Oil Micro-Oil Shampoo

Moringa, macadamia, coconut, and almond oils come together to create this exquisite oil shampoo formula that’s suitable for all hair types. 

Biolage Exquisite Oil Micro-Oil Shampoo, $18.00 MSRP

Matrix Oil Wonders Micro-Oil Shampoo

Infused with Moroccan argan, Matrix Oil Wonders Micro-Oil Shampoo features a unique technology in which micro-sized particles of Moroccan argan oil are evenly dispersed in the silicone-based shampoo for gentle cleansing and nourishment while providing softness and shine. 

Matrix Oil Wonders Micro-Oil Shampoo, $18.00 MSRP

Now that we know oil shampoo is for everyone, go on and treat yourself! We’re sure your hair will love the luxurious addition to your routine. 

Looking for more professional product recommendations? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon by you. 


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