[2023 updated] The 12 Best Shampoos For Soft Water

Usually, soft water is ideal. It makes for a fantastic cup of tea, leaves your skin feeling super soft, and can even help to clear up acne. But is soft water all that great for your hair, and can shampoo make a difference?

If you’ve noticed that your hair seems greasy even after washing it, or that it appears to lack volume and not hold any product, it may be that your hair is responding badly to soft water.

But never fear, these 12 shampoos are fantastic for those of you for whom that is the case. Use one of these shampoos, and you’ll soon have the locks of your life – soft water or no.

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2023 Best Shampoos For Soft Water

  1. Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo
  2. The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo
  3. OGX Charcoal Clarifying Shampoo
  4. Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo
  5. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo
  6. Maple Holistics Degrease Shampoo
  7. Faith in Nature Natural Tea Tree Shampoo
  8. Bees of Britain Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Shampoo
  9. Tree to Tub Clarifying Shampoo
  10. Shea Moisture Bamboo Charcoal Deep Cleansing Shampoo
  11. Redken Oil Detox Shampoo
  12. Fekkai Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

Soft Water Vs. Hard Water: What’s The Difference?

You’ve very likely heard about water hardness, but do you know what it actually means?

The hardness of water simply refers to the level of calcium, magnesium, sulfates, and bicarbonate minerals present in that water.

The more minerals there are, the harder the water. Usually, using soap and shampoo is better with soft water, as it lathers up really nicely and therefore cleans better.

This is why people frequently report that their skin feels better when it’s washed in soft water. 

Water Hardness Map USA

hard and soft water map for the USA
Source: Homewater101

Water Hardness Map United Kingdom

Hard water will tend to leave a residue in dishes, kettles, sinks, and bathtubs (this is one way to tell if you live in an area with hard or soft water).

It takes time to react with shampoo and soap, resulting in minimal lather, and can end up making hair seem dull.

People in areas with hard water might also experience stunted hair growth, or have very itchy, dry scalps and hair thinning. This is caused by calcium build-up due to the amount of minerals in the water.

Also Read: 2023 Ultimate Buying Guide To Cruelty-free Shampoo

The Effects Of Soft Water On Hair

Whether you need a specific shampoo for soft water or not really depends on your hair type.

For those of us with curly, dry, or frizzy hair, soft water will often be great, as it frequently produces a softness and bounciness that gives the hair life.

However, people with hair that tends to be oily are more likely to need a shampoo that interacts well with or is designed for, soft water.

This is because soft water struggles more to gain traction with the hair shaft – less mineral content means less opportunity for friction.

This can then result in soapy, slimy residue that remains on the surface of the scalp and hair, increasing their oily appearance and texture.

If you identify with any of the below, it may be that you live in an area with soft water, and might therefore benefit from using shampoo specifically for this water type:

  • Lifeless, unmanageable hair that feels very soft or slippery
  • Products make no difference to or have no purchase on your hair, making it difficult to style
  • Your hair appears greasy or oily, even after washing 
  • Some flaking of the scalp
  • Decreased hair volume, with strands feeling thin

It’s also worth knowing that soft water is considered to be significantly more gentle on colored hair.

Plus, because shampoo lathers more with soft water, you don’t need to use as much.

In fact, overusing your shampoo if you’re in a soft water area will only exacerbate the problem, as more product builds up and leaves residue on the hair strand.

What To Look Out For When Buying Shampoo For Soft Water

If you know that you’re in an area with soft water, and are looking for a shampoo to help with that, these are the ingredients to avoid. They’ll only encourage oil build-up and make the problem so much worse:

  • Parabens
  • Sulfates
  • Triclosan
  • Triclocarban

There are other things that you can do besides using shampoo for soft water, too.

Using a sea salt spray can really help maximize hair texture. If you use it in tangent with a round brush, you’ll give your locks that extra ‘oomph’, and they’ll be full of added bounce and volume in no time.

You can also use dry shampoo, but remember to avoid applying any other styling products directly to your roots. This will only increase the oily appearance of hair. 

The 12 Best Shampoos For Soft Water

Before we recommend the best shampoos for soft water, a word of advice: don’t neglect your shampooing technique!

It might seem obvious, but you need to make sure that you’re not forgetting to get right into your scalp.

Don’t forget, too, to really scrub the back of your head, which is easy to miss, resulting in oilier hair. Use a scalp brush for maximum effect.

Otherwise, here are the shampoos that we’ve vetted as the best for soft water. Say goodbye to slimy, lifeless locks, and get ready for bouncy, textured hair.

1. Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo

1. Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo

It’s a little expensive, we grant you, but this shampoo is transformative for those of us living in soft water areas.

It’s deliberately designed to deep cleanse and detoxify without residue – which, given that soft water can sometimes cause build-up, is a must.

The shampoo lifts away excess oil and the daily pollutants that your hair comes up against and is great for any density of hair – from fine to medium.

It also works on any texture or type – that’s right, it’s perfect for curly girls and girls with straight hair, and for color-treated or natural locks.

What’s more, this shampoo for soft water is only supposed to be used once a week as a detoxifying treatment, so it actually evens out price-wise.

We love that Bumble and Bumble are cruelty-free, too, never testing on animals.

2. The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo

2. The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo

This shampoo is consistently listed as amongst the best for soft water, and it’s easy to see why.

The reason this shampoo works so well for soft water is that it maintains and restores the natural moisture in the hair of those who suffer from dry or flaky scalps.

People with dermatitis or psoriasis on their scalp often experience unbearably itchiness – they, therefore, need a shampoo that can mitigate the need to scratch by moisturizing without weighing hair down with excess residue.

That’s exactly what this shampoo does.

Honey and ginger essential oil double down with birch bark and white willow to strengthen and revitalize hair without building up.

Plus, ginger is a natural antiseptic and antifungal, helping to maintain your scalp’s natural pH balance.

Also Read: 5 Benefits Of Chelating Hair (How To Guide + Tips)

3. OGX Charcoal Clarifying Shampoo

3. OGX Charcoal Clarifying Shampoo

Charcoal is a known decongestant and clarifier: this shampoo combines charcoal’s best qualities whilst helping to remove residue and build-up.

Hair then feels soft and bouncy, as excess oil is purified.

Activated coconut charcoal and kaolin clay work together to cleanse and soothe, so that you can wave goodbye to limp, lank tresses.

What’s more, OGX pride themselves on ensuring their entire product line is sulfate-free: this shampoo is no exception.

Use it with the matching conditioner for ultimate clarification.

4. Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo

4. Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo

Hello grease-free hair.

Use this shampoo once a week to eliminate nasty toxins and impurities that lurk in your scalp. It’s great for use on any hair type, including color-treated tresses, giving hair an instant volume boost whilst working to really cleanse and clarify. 

Plus, because you’re only using it once a week as an anti-residue treatment, it’s really cost-efficient. 

5. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo

5. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo

Strengthen and restore your locks with this shampoo for soft water. The shampoo is clarifying and detoxifying, working on natural, chemically processed, heat styled, or color-treated hair.

There are no sulfates or parabens, synthetic colors, or paraffin in here.

Black castor oil bursts with reparative omega acids that support and promote healthy hair, whilst apple cider vinegar clarifies and regulates the scalp’s pH levels.

Peppermint adds a delicious smell and stimulates effects. This shampoo will work to nourish hair without causing it to become limp or lank and is great for kinky, curly, wavy, or natural styles.

There’s also a fab conditioner with the same ingredients with which you can follow up.

6. Maple Holistics Degrease Shampoo

6. Maple Holistics Degrease Shampoo

With rosemary, lemon, basil, jojoba, peach kernel, and cypress essential oils, this shampoo will really benefit those of us in soft water areas.

It’s specifically designed for oily hair, working to manage sebum and oil production in the scalp whilst nourishing and repairing hair.

Gently cleansing and clarifying, it also smells divine, and is sulfate and paraben-free.

Be aware that it doesn’t produce a lot of lather, which is unusual for shampoo in a soft water area, but that’s totally normal with this product.

7. Faith in Nature Natural Tea Tree Shampoo

7. Faith in Nature Natural Tea Tree Shampoo

We cannot stress enough how great tea tree is. It smells divine – really fresh and earthy – and has antiseptic and antifungal properties. It’s also known for its clarifying qualities.

This shampoo is great for normal to oily hair. All Faith in Nature products are totally vegan and cruelty-free.

They contain no nasties like sulfates or parabens, and the fragrance is totally natural too.

All plastic containers are recycled and recyclable – they believe in harnessing the power of nature without causing harm or damage, so you can have peace of mind whilst using your new shampoo for soft water.

8. Bees of Britain Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Shampoo

8. Bees of Britain Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Shampoo

This is another clarifying shampoo that benefits from the addition of apple cider vinegar.

The brand is totally natural – you won’t find any sulfates, silicones, palm oil, or parabens in here.

Aloe vera rejuvenates and conditions hair, whilst wheat protein improves hair’s tensile properties and elasticity, so you get that natural bounce.

Rub into your roots to remove product build-up and soothe irritated scalps caused by sensitivity or perhaps hair extensions or braids. The lavender scent is delicious.

Never tested on animals, this shampoo is entirely cruelty-free, all containers are reusable and recyclable, and 5% of company profits go to international bee and pollinator conservation charities.

Also Read: [Answered] Is Coconut Oil Good For Low Porosity Hair?

9. Tree to Tub Clarifying Shampoo

9. Tree to Tub Clarifying Shampoo

This shampoo is great to use in the morning thanks to its peppermint scent, which will really awaken your senses.

The saponin-rich soapberry works to maintain the pH balance of your hair. Combined with coconut, argan oil, aloe vera, chamomile, and olive, this shampoo harnesses the power of nature to help restore oily hair to natural moisture levels.

The shampoo is also free of parabens, silicone, SLS, and is hypoallergenic – so it’s gentle even on the most sensitive skin.

All products are fair trade, harvested in sustainable farms in Taiwan, and have extra anti-inflammatory and anti-dandruff qualities.

10. Shea Moisture Bamboo Charcoal Deep Cleansing Shampoo

10. Shea Moisture Bamboo Charcoal Deep Cleansing Shampoo

This shampoo combines three top-rated ingredients – bamboo, shea butter, and charcoal – to detoxify and clarify hair that’s suffering in soft water.

The shea butter is fair trade, and added tea tree oil boosts the shampoo full of extra antioxidants and antiseptic qualities.

It’s gentle but still deep cleansing: lather up and massage into your locks. There’s also no silicone or sulfate, and it’ll help if you’re vulnerable to a dry or flaky scalp.

11. Redken Oil Detox Shampoo

11. Redken Oil Detox Shampoo

It’s hard to go wrong with a Redken product, and this one doesn’t disappoint.

It works to control and clarify excess oils in both the hair and scalp, thereby minimizing product build-up and any flaking or itching.

This shampoo for soft water hydrates without weighing, equalizing your scalp’s pH levels and leaving your hair beautifully shiny, bouncy, and airy.

12. Fekkai Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

12. Fekkai Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

Many of you will undoubtedly be familiar with the benefits of apple cider vinegar, which is revered for its clarifying, cleansing properties.

This combines the benefit of apple cider vinegar with shampoo for soft water. Containing extracts of apple, sage, rosemary, verbena, and kukai, it’s rich but won’t weigh your hair down.

Oat, silk, and wheat proteins combine to give your hair extra nourishment, leaving your locks soft and silky smooth.

What’s more, it’s silicone-free and the company is vegan. We also absolutely love the smell.

shampoos for soft water

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Alice Carlill

Alice is an experienced writer and researcher with a background in the Creative Arts. She is a published poet and is currently completing her Ph.D., having worked in a variety of industries, including as a theatre dramaturg. Alice is passionate about the environment, so is always on the lookout for the best zero-waste products that are vegan and cruelty-free.