I’ll let you in on a secret: you can use any shampoo in salt water. Really, the best shampoo for salt water is anything with a strong enough scent to keep your hair fresh, paired with a detangling conditioner to soften your hair.
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Dr. Squatch Shampoo (Our Top Pick)
What better than a true all-natural shampoo to go with salt water? Dr. Squatch’s cypress coast bottle will pair perfectly with the scent of salt water, turning those mud and seaweed vibes into a fresh ocean breeze smell.
You’ll have to get used to the texture and consistency at first. It’s almost gel-like, and it doesn’t lather. Run it through your hair, let it sit, then rinse it carefully. Within a few washes, you’ll notice how much healthier and thick your hair feels.
Guys who are really committed to natural shampoos rave about Dr. Squatch. They’re a popular option if you want to minimize your environmental impact while sporting great hair.
• Cypress scent pairs perfectly with the scent of salt water.
• One of the most popular and well-established all-natural men’s skin and hair brands.
• OK to use in a natural body of water. Environmentally friendly.
• Bottle isn’t long-lasting.
Paul Mitchell is a luxury brand, but their shampoo three is incredibly functional. It’s made to be used in chlorinated or mineral-rich water that leaves deposits on your hair and scalp, so it’s perfect for protecting your hair from drying salt water.
If you use thick gels or other hair products, you’ll notice how well it rinses them out at the end of the day. Better yet, the lather has an awesome texture against your skin. You’ll feel it rinsing out gunk and grime.
It has more of a reputation as a women’s product, but I definitely wouldn’t count Paul Mitchell out for that reason. The scent is incredibly mild, slightly citrus-y, and the benefits are well worth the investment.
• Functional luxury shampoo. Best of both worlds.
• Cleanses hair product build-up. Softens hair, and prevents damage from chlorine, minerals, and salt.
• Mild citrus-y scent. Very pleasant. Pairs well with other scents.
• Made more so for pool water, not necessarily salt water. Great for swimmers though!
Brickell Men’s has a key ingredient in their shampoo that makes it a cure-all for saltwater damage: tea tree oil. Its hydrating, gentle, softening, and wrapped up in a manly, minty scent. It’s the kind of shampoo that’s versatile enough to work for most hair styles, but nice enough to feel relaxing and luxurious.
• Gentle, hydrating and softening. Perfect to combat salt water.
• Tea tree oil tingles and scent. Minty fresh, pairs perfectly with cool colognes.
• Tried, tested and trusted brand.
• Versatile to the point of feeling like a generic men’s product.
Kenra sells their products directly to hair stylists, promising high-end quality and reliable results. To say that their clarifying shampoo is strong would be an understatement. It’ll clean the bejeezus out of your scalp, giving your hair more volume and a softer texture.
The scent is soapy and clean, and it won’t linger in your hair (but it will take down any bad scents with it). Users with dyed hair swear by its ability to protect color treatments.
One thing you need to tread lightly through: because it’s so cleansing, Kenra is also drying. And saltwater is drying. You’ll have to use a top-notch conditioner to protect your hair from tangles and matting.
• STRONG shampoo. Cleanses your scalp like no other.
• No scent besides that classic clean soapy smell. Perfect for fighting salt water scents without getting crazy.
• Great for guys with color-treated hair.
• It’s a drying shampoo. You HAVE to use conditioner.
If you’ve ever seen What Not To Wear, you’re probably familiar with the magical, 180-degree transformations that hair stylist Nick Arrojo created for his poorly-dressed clients. Arrojo is his cruelty-free hair care line, and it’s made for people who want to turn their hare care game around.
He describes his shine luxe shampoo as manageable. It’s meant to restore a good base for your hair so that you can work it into the style you’ve been daydreaming about. Some hairdressers describe it as their “rehab shampoo.” You’re more likely to run into it when you visit the barber shop, but if you like to DIY your hair care, it’s a good option for you.
• Restores damaged hair to a workable base.
• Softens hair and gives it that glossy shine.
• Brand founded by celebrity hairstylist Nick Arrojo.
• Better for stylists than everyday users. I only recommend it for guys who style their own hair.
How Does Salt Water Affect Hair?
Fun fact – salt water is a natural shampoo! The downside is that it doesn’t always smell good, it’s terribly drying, and it’ll tangle your hair ruthlessly. That’s why you’ll still want to use your normal hair care products when you’re washing with salt water.
But no matter the shampoo you’re using, it’s not a good idea to use salt water for a long-term period of time. It strips your scalp of its natural moisture, which acts as a protective barrier. In turn, that will make you vulnerable to itchy scalp conditions, hair breakage, and hair loss.
Does Shampoo Work In Salt Water?
Shampoo works just fine in salt water. It’s a misconception that salt water will make your shampoo less effective.
But be warned. If you’re the kind of guy who only uses shampoo, you won’t get away with that when you’re washing with salt water. You need a good conditioner to soften your hair so that you can still run a comb through it. (If you have Black hair, or extremely curly hair, I really don’t recommend washing in salt water. You’ll have to take deep conditioning to the next level to protect your hair from damage.)
While you’re browsing options, if you’re washing your hair outdoors in a natural body of water, consider a biodegradable men’s shampoo alongside the options on this list.