Shampoos are essential for good hygiene and keeping the hair and scalp healthy. There is a massive lineup of Japanese shampoos, like Angfa, Mash Beauty Lab, and Diane, all offering various benefits, such as hydration, cleansing ability, and damage care. Japanese shampoos are often formulated with natural ingredients, such as camellia oil, for extra moisturization. with some swearing by Japanese shampoos, claiming that it works wonders for their hair. However, with all these options and brands, it can be overwhelming to figure out which one is the right choice for your specific needs.
That's why we gathered the 28 best-selling products on e-commerce sites popular in Japan, like Amazon, Rakuten, Yahoo! Shopping, and @cosme Shopping, and tested them all.
We tested each product for the following:
We then ranked the 10 best Japanese shampoos based on our test results. We also asked hair stylist, Kazuki Okumura, for tips on how to choose the right Japanese shampoo for you, so keep on reading to learn more.
Aki is a personal beauty advisor who's helped more than 50,000 clients. She is currently based at Skin Care Salon Tina Rossa, which opened in 2008 to provide treatment for hair and skin problems. She also works as a lecturer and writer, and appears on TV. Her qualifications include certified hairdresser/hair diagnostician, Aromatherapy Instructor with the Japan Aroma Environment Association, aromatherapist and organic advisor, and Coordinator for Nihon College of Health and Medical Science.
Kazuki Okumura managed the K-two hair salons in Aoyama and Ginza, and now manages the Ikebukuro branch since its launch in 2019. He's currently a top-rated hairstylist who is often fully booked. He specializes in cutting and coloring hair and treatments to improve hair quality. In addition to appearing on Japanese TV and in magazines, he also utilizes his in-depth knowledge of haircare and haircare products, working with many major cosmetics companies as a product development consultant.
Homare Sugizaki has been developing prescriptions at a hair cosmetics manufacturer for 17 years. He now works with Cosmedicure Co., Ltd, where he is involved in the development of shampoos, treatments, styling products, perm products, hair straightening agents, and hair coloring products. In recent yers, he's further expanded his field of expertise and is now involved in the development of skincare cosmetics.
mybest US' editing team consists of experienced members who have backgrounds in writing, editing, translation, and more. We are dedicated to researching what makes a product or service the best to users in the US in order to create top-quality articles. From skincare, to kitchen appliances, and to DIY supplies, our mission is to find the best ones for you.
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The products and services listed are ranked independently by the editorial team based on the relevant research (as of 11-04-2022).
Table of Contents
After testing the products, we determined four factors that you should evaluate when looking for your perfect shampoo.
The main ingredient of shampoo is a detergent (surfactant). Shampooing your hair can strip natural oils from your hair and scalp, which in turn can damage hair health. For this reason, high cleansing ability isn't necessarily the only criterion that makes a good shampoo, as it can also mean a higher burden on the hair and skin. It's important to select a shampoo with the appropriate cleaning power for different hair and skin types and concerns.
Suitable for people with oily skin who want a refreshing feel after use. It is recommended for men, who often tend to have more sebum than women.
Suitable for people with normal skin. Recommended for people with soft or fine hair that lacks volume.
Suitable for people with sensitive or dry skin. Recommended for people concerned about hair damage as it avoids dryness caused by over-washing.
Notably, in our tests, there were many shampoos where the cleansing power was insufficient to completely remove the artificial sebum mixture, even though the washing power should have been high based on the ingredients. For this reason, in our ranking, high cleansing ability refers to the ability to remove oils from the hair.
The cleaning ingredients of shampoo are composed mainly of a blend of three types of surfactants. Their properties vary depending not only on the combination of the three types but also on the balance of the ingredient composition. Since the list of ingredients alone does not generally tell the whole story, it should be used only as a guide for selection.
Furthermore, since shampoo works by reaction between water and scalp, only actual use can tell whether it is indeed the perfect fit for you. That is why some people have difficulty in foaming, and some have relative ease with foaming, even with the same shampoo.
Amino acid-based cleaning ingredients are characterized by their mild cleansing power. They clean by penetrating the hair and keratinous layer of the scalp and lifting dirt and other impurities away, so there's no excessive burden on the scalp or hair. Because there is little concern about over-washing, this cleansing ingredient is recommended for all hair and skin types.
Mild cleansing power does not necessarily mean that the shampoo will leave your hair unclean or not refreshed after use. In our tests, some excellent shampoos cleaned the hair and scalp gently yet effectively.
The mildness of its cleansing power and moisturizing abilities has made amino acids a popular cleaning ingredient in shampoos, so much so that there are many amino acid-based shampoos available today.
Premium alcohol-based cleansing ingredients provide a refreshing feeling with higher cleansing power. While amino acid-based ingredients gently lift dirt and impurities, higher alcohol-based ingredients dissolve fat and remove dirt. They're able to do this because their ingredients have higher degreasing power and can remove sebum entirely.
However, if the necessary and healthy sebum is also washed away, the scalp's natural balance can be disturbed, which may lead to problems such as dandruff and itching. For this reason, we do not recommend daily use of alcohol-based shampoos, but it is a suitable detergent for people with oily skin or for when you exercise and sweat a lot.
Recent shampoos have been made with blends of mild cleansing ingredients, oil and fat ingredients as buffers, and rich moisturizing ingredients to compensate for possible dryness.
It is important not to shy away from a product because it contains premium alcohol ingredients but rather to judge the balance of the ingredients' composition and the product's actual use.
Betaine is a cleansing ingredient that comes from an amino acid component derived from a plant called sugar beet. Its cleaning power is mild, similar to amino-acid-based shampoos. Although derived from the same amino acid, the type of detergent is different: amino acid-based shampoos use an anionic surfactant, while betaine-based shampoos use an amphoteric ionic surfactant.
In particular, we recommend betaine-based shampoo for those concerned about dry and itchy scalps and sensitive skin. Shampoos for babies and children also tend to have more betaine-based cleaning ingredients, as they're mild enough for them. If you're interested in Betanine-based shampoo and want to learn more, please also check the following article.
In Japan, there are no set regulations on labeling products for ingredients. In other words, the threshold for what amount or set percentage an ingredient must meet in order for the product to be labeled free of said ingredient varies. Thus different makers and brands may have different definitions of what it means to be free of any ingredient.
If there is an ingredient of particular concern, it is essential to check the actual ingredient labeling and notes and to be conscious of not relying too much on the claims.
Soap shampoos use a surfactant made mainly from natural oils and fats, called soda soap (sodium hydroxide). Unlike the cleaning ingredients introduced so far, soap washes hair with alkaline and opens up the hair cuticles to clean out impurities.
This ingredient is also recommended for people with sensitive skin and those who may have sensitivities to harsher chemicals and additives, such as preservatives and fragrances often found in other shampoos. However, some soap shampoos have a high cleansing power, making them unsuitable for dry skin, so check your scalp condition before using them or consider doing a patch test.
Note that in this article, we only feature soap-based blended shampoos.
Non-silicone shampoos are the current trend, but silicone is not necessarily a harmful ingredient. Silicone coats the hair surface, giving them a smooth, even slippery texture. This prevents hair color from fading and makes hair smooth and less prone to tangles.
While silicone makes it easier to run your fingers through your hair and makes it manageable, non-silicone shampoos are recommended if you are looking for a voluminous finish and scalp care.
Japanese shampoos have many different characteristics depending on the product. We recommend that you choose a product based on your desired finish and shaping needs.
A shampoo's main function is to clean hair. That being said, not only is it essential to remove sebum and dirt from the hair and scalp but also to replenish oils to maintain the scalp's natural balance.
If you're concerned about the dryness and smoothness of your hair, we recommend a shampoo with moisturizing emollients such as those shown in the image.
Shampoos with menthol ingredients provide a refreshing and cool sensation when washing. Many people seek this refreshing sensation especially after playing sports or on hot and humid days.
As shown in the image, in addition to menthol, the following essential oils are also expected to have the same effect.
Botanical shampoos are often made with minimal ingredients, following the principle that less is more. They're often labeled as free of many components for your convenience as well.
However, since various factors can cause scalp problems, simple ingredients are not always enough. Some components may be harmful to people with sensitive skin or allergies, so we always recommend you check the ingredient list even with botanical shampoos.
Although there is no clear definition for what makes a product organic in Japan, many products contain ingredients certified as organic outside of Japan and are rich in plant-derived ingredients.
If you want your shampoo to be all-natural and are particular about organic ingredients, pay attention to the logos and product labeling like those shown in the image above when making your selection.
Scalp shampoo cleanses the scalp and keeps it healthy through plant extracts with skin-conditioning properties. They're recommended to those who value a refreshing scalp wash and for those who have short hair.
There are many causes of dandruff and itching, including dryness, excessive sebum, and allergic reactions. If you suffer from dandruff or itchiness and want to prevent it, please check for the following ingredients to help treat those problems.
Medicated shampoos are quasi-drugs that often contain active ingredients as shown in the image. (Reference: Japan Cosmetic Industry Association)
Salon shampoos are sold exclusively at specific beauty salons. The significant difference between commercial shampoos sold in drugstores and salon shampoos is the purpose for which they are used.
Salon shampoos are products designed for specific purposes, such as damage care after coloring or permanent styling. For this reason, salon-exclusive shampoos tend to be specialized products that cannot be purchased anywhere else.
Also, the cleaning ingredients are often milder and of high quality, and are more luxurious than commercial shampoos. Please check the following article if you are interested in these products.
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Scalp D Beauté Natuluster Organic Scalp Shampoo
Certified-Organic Shampoo With Anti-Aging and Scalp Care Benefits
Allna Organic Moisture Shampoo
Refreshing Skin-Conditioning Shampoo With Scalp Care Benefits
Moist Glow Shampoo
Botanical Shampoo With Refreshing Feel and Fragrance
Flowdia Shampoo Deep Moist
Salon-Exclusive Intensive Damage Repair Shampoo
Mash Beauty Lab
O by F Moist Shampoo
Amino Acid Based Shampoo to Help Hair Elasticity and Firmness
Diane DX Extra Damage Repair
Shampoo With High Cleansing Power and Moisturizing Properties
Quo Hair Bath es
Best Anti-aging Shampoo for Hair Damaged From Coloring and Styling
Proaction for C Shampoo
Simple Shampoo With High Cleansing and Moisturizing Abilities
N Shea Shampoo
Shampoo With Plant-Derived Ingredients Great for Detangling and Smoothing the Hair
Ex Repair Shampoo
Organic Shampoo With Olive Derived Cleansing Ingredients
Angfa is a popular manufacturer of men's shampoos. The Scalp-D Beauté Naturastar Scalp Shampoo we tested is a botanical shampoo composed of 90% natural ingredients, mainly ingredients that have acquired organic certification (ECOCERT).
Rich in botanical extracts, the product is suitable for scalp care, as the name suggests. Many of our testers praised both the refreshing feeling on the scalp and the manageability of their hair. They said that their hair felt lush and hydrated from the moment they rinsed it. The fresh fruity fragrance was also well received, and the product earned the highest rating among the products tested in terms of usability.
The results of the cleaning power test were also perfect. The ingredient list also included many that were beneficial for aging skin and hair, such as fulvic acid (moisturizing ingredient), as well as soy milk fermented liquid containing isoflavone.
ALLNA ORGANIC Moisture Shampoo from Elumild Pharmaceuticals is a product that aims for salon-exclusive quality. Rich in plant-derived moisturizing and skin-conditioning ingredients, the product's ingredient composition is recommended for scalp and hair care.
The testers especially appreciated its excellent feel while washing, saying, "It foamed well and made me want to wash longer than usual," and that "It has a lovely citrus scent." As for the finish, testers commented that it left their hair feeling silky smooth.
In terms of cleansing power, the product received high marks for its well-balanced composition of ingredients, blending betaine and higher alcohols. This product is recommended for those who like a light, silky finish and for those who value scalp care.
Argelan is an original brand created in collaboration with Matsumotokiyoshi, a drug store chain, and Colours, a company that specializes in natural plant-based cosmetics. The Moist Glow Shampoo is a botanical shampoo with 98% natural ingredients, including broccoli oil as a moisturizing ingredient and geranium essential oil as a scent-perfecting ingredient.
Since it is readily available at Matsumotokiyoshi stores, this product is recommended for those who want to casually try a botanical shampoo rich in plant-based ingredients. This product received a perfect score in the cleansing power department despite its weaker degreasing power. It's composed of a blend of betaine and amino acid-based ingredients and aims to provide a gentle and refreshing wash.
In the usability test, the product received a perfect score for its firmer foam with decent lathering. Our testers reported that it felt refreshing to use and was easy to handle without any dryness. The blooming floral fragrance made of essential oils was also highly praised, with testers explaining it as a "faint scent of sweetness" and "colorful, but calming aroma".
Demi Cosmetics is a salon-exclusive manufacturer. Flowdia Shampoo Deep Moist is a product that aims to care for damaged hair with its intensive repair system, the Balneid system.
The shampoo is composed of high-quality ingredients and ingredients such as malic acid, which keeps the scalp healthy. It's also made with a blend of betaine-based and amino acid-based ingredients. However, the additive t-butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, which prevents discoloration of the shampoo, may irritate those with sensitive skin.
In our test for cleaning power, the product scored high despite its mild degreasing abilities. Testers also commented that they wanted to use the shampoo again after noting that, "Even damaged ends of my hair ran smoothly through my fingers" and "became silky smooth." Testers' reports were also favorable in terms of usability.
O by F Moist Shampoo is a shampoo developed by F Organics, a skincare brand born out of Cosme Kitchen, a cosmetics store creating organic products.
Though its blend of amino acid and betaine-based ingredients offered mild degreasing power, it was still able to remove dirt and grime thoroughly. The testers were highly satisfied with both the finish and washability of this product, noting that it was "moist and manageable" and that "the lather and fragrance were pleasant." The product received the highest score in terms of usability.
In addition to being rich in moisturizing ingredients, this product also provides firmness and elasticity through ingredients like such as astaxanthin and hematococcus pluvialis extract. This shampoo is recommended not only for the care of aging skin and hair but also for everyone.
Perfect Beauty Moist Diane Extra Damage Repair Shampoo is a popular Diane brand product specializing in hair damage care, treating both split ends and dryness.
In our test for cleansing power, it earned a perfect score. The high-grade alcohols removed the artificial sebum mixture extremely effectively. The testers also gave an excellent overall review of the product, saying, "The lather felt good and the scalp was left in great condition." Other comments included, "Hair feels clean and uniform, and runs smoothly through the fingers," and "Hair feels much better than usual."
Another appeal of this product is its additional moisturizing ingredients, such as hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed honey protein, apple fruit cultured cell extract, and argania spinosa bud cell extract. On top of that, even with high-quality ingredients, the price of the product is still very reasonable.
Amatra's Quo Hair Bath es is an amino acid-based shampoo that claims to be designed for aging hair care. In addition to amino acid-based cleansing ingredients, it contains cocoyl hydrolyzed keratin K and sodium cocoyl malate amino acid, featuring a balance of cleansing ingredients that have a strong moisturizing effect.
While its degreasing power is mild, it received a total perfect score in our cleaning power test. The testers not only liked the finish of their hair, commenting on how it was left with "no dryness or stiffness" and "smooth manageability," but also how comfortable it was to use the product, saying "it foams well and has a relaxing fragrance."
The product is rich in beneficial ingredients and is recommended not only for anti-aging care but also for those concerned about hair damage caused by coloring and perms.
Number Three is a manufacturer specializing in salon products. Proaction for C Shampoo is a product specialized for delicate hair after coloring.
The product received a perfect score on the cleaning power test. It is composed of a blend of betaine and amino acid-based cleansing ingredients which are gentle on skin. The testers praised the product, especially the finish, saying that their hair was moist and manageable and that their scalp was soothed without feeling sticky.
The product was highly satisfactory in terms of both cleansing power and high moisturizing power, which is a difficult combination to achieve. The ingredient list is actually quite simple, so we recommend it for those who want to choose a shampoo with fewer added elements.
Napia is a salon exclusive cosmetics manufacturer. N Shea Shampoo is one of Napia's products featuring cleaning ingredients derived from shea butter. Rich in plant-derived ingredients and moisturizing ingredients, the composition of the ingredients is expected to provide both scalp care and damaged hair care.
In our testing for cleaning power, we found that it was able to easily clean grease and dirt, which was a surprise since its unusual ingredients such as shea butter suggested milder degreasing abilities. It provided a gentle, yet effective wash. In our tests for the usability of the product, the product was highly evaluated for its ability to provide a clean and nice finish.
Some users commented, "My hair tends to be messy but after drying it, I was impressed by the moist and manageable texture of my hair," and "My fingers felt smooth and silky running through my hair." This product is recommended for people who are concerned about their messy and/or damaged hair.
Mixim Potion's Ex Repair Shampoo is a product that naturally and effectively treats your hair and scalp. In our test for cleansing power, it was able to clean the artificial sebum mixture effectively. In addition to its unique composition of olive-derived cleaning ingredients, the product is rich in plant-derived ingredients. We recommend this product for those who prefer natural, organic ingredients.
In addition to the gentle degreasing power that leaves hair feeling refreshed, testers also commented that their hair became softer during the wash and that it foamed up nicely and had a pleasant citrus scent.
Next, we will outline how we took the 28 best-selling Japanese shampoos from major Japanese e-commerce giants (Amazon, Rakuten, Yahoo! Shopping, @cosme SHOPPING) and ranked the 10 best, accordingly.
We tested each product for the following:
First, we tested the cleansing ability of each shampoo, specifically looking at how effectively they were able to clean the hair and scalp.
We did this by creating a mixture of oleic and stearic acid, the main components of sebum (the oil excretions produced by pores in the skin), and dyed the mixture red. We then applied a set amount of the mixture onto a glass plate and then shook the plate in a diluted amount of each shampoo.
Then, we gave each shampoo a score based on how effectively the artificial sebum mixture was cleaned off.
Next, we tested the feel of each shampoo. For each product, we had multiple Japanese testers try out each product and had them evaluate how the shampoo felt.
Specifically, we asked them to assess four categories: foaming, washing feel, finish, and aroma. Then, we scored each product based on its total performance.
Most people never learn how to actually wash their hair properly. It's possible that you could be washing your hair incorrectly, reducing your shampoo's effectiveness.
If you have time, rinse your hair in warm water for 10 minutes. If you pre-wash thoroughly, 70% of dirt will be removed at this stage. By thoroughly soaking your hair and scalp in water, dirt will float away before the shampoo is blended in, making it easier to remove.
3. LatherOnce the shampoo is somewhat foamy, it should be rinsed off immediately. The scalp is the most important area to wash. Try to actively blend the shampoo into your scalp in an even fashion, focusing on evenness. You may notice that you haven't been washing your entire scalp!
Most of us probably apply shampoo as soon as we wet our hair.
Brushing and pre-washing are the only two things you need to do to make your shampoo lather better, feel fresh, and even improve your hair finish. It takes some time and effort, but do give it a try!
Now that you know which shampoo is best for you, and you know how to use it correctly, here are some more products you might want to consider to keep your hair healthy and beautiful.
Original by Mai Okutomi; Translation by Jasmine Li, Mitsuki Nagasawa, Kazuma Fujiwara, Mai T.,
No. 1：Angfa｜Scalp D Beauté Natuluster Organic Scalp Shampoo
No. 2：elumild｜Allna Organic Moisture Shampoo
No. 3：Argelan｜Moist Glow Shampoo
No. 4：Demicosmetics｜Flowdia Shampoo Deep Moist
No. 5：Mash Beauty Lab｜O by F Moist Shampoo
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