Which 3-in-1 shampoos are best?
The daily showering routine can turn into an impromptu juggling lesson, as shampoo bottles get swapped with conditioner bottles, followed by another bottle of body wash. In reality, the formulation of all three of these products is remarkably similar, which makes a 3-in-1 cleansing product possible. A 2-in-1 shampoo usually combines hair shampoo and conditioner, but a 3-in-1 also adds emollients and fragrance suited for use on the rest of the body.
Shampoos labeled as 3-in-1 are often criticized for not being particularly effective in any one capacity: The shampoo is not strong enough to treat extremely dry or oily hair, the conditioner doesn’t stay effective long enough, and the body wash provides minimal fragrance. In reality, better-quality 3-in-1 shampoo brands do a fine job on both hair and skin. The leave-in conditioner is designed to keep working even after rinsing.
If you are interested in replacing your current shampoo, conditioner, and body wash with a convenient combination product, this consumer guide will help you out. Our favorite is the American Crew 3-in-1 Shampoo Conditioner and Body Wash, a salon-quality product at a drugstore retail price, with a light masculine scent and a good detangling conditioner.
What to know before you buy a 3-in-1 shampoo
Hair and skin type
3-in-1 shampoos are still designed to perform as shampoos, conditioners and body washes, even if they are the same form of liquid soap in the bottle. The same considerations still apply, especially when it comes to hair types. Some brands do not specify specific hair types, but others are formulated for dry, normal, or oily scalp hair. The packaging should indicate if a particular brand addresses issues such as excess oil, dry scalp, or thin/thick hair follicles.
The same holds true for the body-wash component. Certain brands contain special moisturizers for dry skin, while others use more astringent ingredients or alcohol to remove excess oil. While body wash is considered safe to use on facial skin, it may be better to use another product for that purpose. A loofah or foaming sponge can be helpful when using the product as a stand-alone body wash.
One of the main appeals of a body wash is a long-lasting fragrance after the product has been rinsed away. However, some users may not want this same fragrance as part of their hair-washing regimen. With many 3-in-1 shampoos, the compromise is a lighter but still noticeable scent. Citrus notes are popular, as is a musk or clean soap fragrance. If the product is part of a larger personal-hygiene line, the fragrance may match a cologne, deodorant or after-shave lotion. There are some products available that have little to no additional scent or dyes, but they may be more expensive and harder to find on store shelves.
In addition to customizable hair- and skin-type formulas, some 3-in-1 shampoos also contain additional ingredients for specific conditions. Dandruff is a common issue that some brands address better than others. There are also blends designed specifically for color-treated hair, which can be stripped of dyes by traditional shampoos and conditioners. For children, or those with sensitive skin and scalps, brands with gentle no-tears formulas can be good to have on hand.
How much you can expect to spend on a 3-in-1 shampoo
Because package sizes vary widely from brand to brand, it may be easier to put pricing in terms of cost per ounce. The most basic store-brand 3-in-1 shampoos can cost as little as 20 cents an ounce, while a popular drugstore brand with special formulations will cost closer to 50 cents an ounce. Salon-quality brands offered at beauty-supply stores and professional salons can easily cost a dollar an ounce or more.
3-in-1 shampoo FAQ
I have very dry skin. Can I use a 3-in-1 shampoo without causing irritation?
A. While two out of the three ingredients in a 3-in-1 shampoo formula deal strictly with hair, the third is a body wash designed for use on various skin types. You may want to look at the list of ingredients to discover any known skin-drying agents, such as alcohol or sulfates.
Are 3-in-1 shampoos gentle enough to use every day on my hair?
A. Many experts do not recommend daily shampooing and conditioning because it can strip away essential oils and dull the shine. However, you can use most 3-in-1 shampoos as a daily body wash without a problem. Be sure it matches your skin type, however.
What are the best 3-in-1 shampoos to buy?
Top 3-in-1 shampoo
Our take: This is a salon-quality product at a drugstore price point, and we like the amount of scalp stimulation it generates, as well as the long-lasting conditioning.
What we like: Generates significant foam. Conditioner helps detangle hair. Generous container size. Works well on dry and other challenging hair types.
What we dislike: Fragrance is not strong or long-lasting.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top 3-in-1 shampoo for the money
Our take: This 3-in-1 shampoo is marketed for children because of its gentle, no-tears formula, but adults with sensitive skin may benefit from it as well.
What we like: Pump dispenser easy for children to use. Tear-free formula for younger users. Leaves skin moisturized. Appealing price point.
What we dislike: Conditioning component not as strong as a stand-alone product.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Our take: This boldly scented 3-in-1 is marketed primarily towards the young male demographic, but others will appreciate the strength of each component.
What we like: Strong formula, works well in all three capacities. AXE fragrance profile can be used with other AXE products. Package contains three large 12-ounce bottles.
What we dislike: Fragrance can be overpowering.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Michael Pollick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.