Korean beauty products are no longer a secret. The world’s most fashionable nation continues to set trends, and the rest of us can only gawp at their stunning clothes, skin and—of course—hair. Blackpink’s entry into the multi-billion-view club, hot on the heels of their compatriot PSY and his genre-awakening megahit Gangnam Style, makes us all want to feel a little more Korean.
For Koreans, hair is a ritual. For us in the West, a slop of chemically turbocharged shampoo—laced with parabens, sulfates, silicone and alcohol—has traditionally been seen as enough. This has led to people all over the West suffering from dry scalp, oily hair, dandruff, split ends and even hair loss.
But no more: discerning consumers like yourself now want to treat your hair the way the Koreans do, as a precious extension of the temple of your body. You’re tired of rubbing cheap processed poison into your hair, and you want to treat yourself a little bit better—to look the way you want to look and feel the way you want to feel, free from the tyranny of bad hair.
To do that, you need the best Korean shampoos, and this guide is here to tell you the whys, the whats, and most crucially—which K-beauty products to choose.
- Top 10 Best Korean Shampoos 2020
- #1 Ryeo Korean Herbal Anti Hairloss Shampoo
- #2 LG Reen Yungo Hair Cleansing Treatment Shampoo
- #3 Nature Republic Argan Shampoo
- #4 Aekyung Kerasys Premium Shampoo
- #5 Ryeo Chung Ah Mo Shampoo for Oily Hair and Dandruff
- #6 Daeng Gi Meo Ri Gold Premium Shampoo
- #7 Daeng Gi Meo Ri Tea Tree Cool Shampoo
- #8 Ryeo Ginsengbo Shampoo for anti-aging
- #9 TS Premium Shampoo
- #10 Aromatica Tea Tree Purifying Shampoo
- Buyer’s Guide
If you’re in a hurry, there is a very simple rule when it comes to choosing the best Korean shampoo for you: buy a Ryeo (often alternatively transliterated as Ryoe) product that fits your needs. We’ve taken a sample of the best of them. They’re competitively priced, superbly formulated and are market-leading shampoos both in Korea and abroad. (Do note that Both Ryeo and Ryoe are just different Anglicizations of this product range’s name: for the rest of this article we will use Ryeo—but they are the same.)
There is a broad consensus that Ryeo products are leaders of the pack, and it’s a reputation that is well-earned. Each Ryeo product backs up the bottle-back claims with real results that have been attested to by thousands of happy customers.
If you want to go more premium or want to branch out into other fantastic Korean shampoos, our list also contains some alternatives, including our number one choice—Daeng Gi Meo Ri Gold Premium shampoo. These shampoos have been chosen what they can offer outside the formidable Ryeo range, whether that’s a greater emphasis on herbal ingredients, a more potent and immediate scent, or effectiveness at dealing with a specific hair issue.
Ultimately, it’s about your hair care needs. Korean shampoos are typically a cut above their western counterparts, but you still want the right formulation for your hair. Each of our reviews will highlight the hair issue the product best combats, so you can be confident you’re getting the right one.
Top 10 Best Korean Shampoos 2020
Ryeo is a top Korean shampoo brand, and for good reason. All their shampoos are top-notch, and if you’re looking for safe entry into the world of Korean haircare, you can’t go too wrong with a Ryeo product. You’ll find several on this list. This product is our number one pick for best Korean shampoo—certain products might work better for certain types of hair, but in general this is your safest bet.
This product contains a shampoo and conditioner set in two separate bottles. It might take a little extra work to get the full effect, but if you’re looking at great Korean shampoos, you’re probably not fussed about going that extra mile.
If you’re suffering from hair loss and want to reverse its decline, or if you have damaged hair or split ends and want to try to nurse them back to health, this shampoo will work wonders for you. It’s packed with biota and red ginseng that specifically target the scalp by lowering its temperature, while also promoting elasticity of the roots to promote hair growth and repair damaged hair.
A word of warning, though: the natural herbs used in this shampoo have been known to cause allergic reactions for some.
Its scent is also polarising: some people love it, some don’t. Most Korean shampoos have scents that are far less overpowering and more natural and neutral than their American counterparts, which isn’t to everyone’s taste. In any case, that’s something to keep in mind when looking at your purchase.
Happily, it’s packaged as two 500ml bottles, so you’re getting plenty of product for your dollar.
- Top Korean brand.
- Great for the scalp and repairing damaged hair.
- Plenty of product for your money.
- Good for preventing hair loss.
- Scent not for everyone.
- Can cause allergic reactions.
Next up, we have this excellent shampoo which is superb at combating dandruff and leaves hair feeling soft.
As an all-in-one shampoo, there’s no need to use conditioner in tandem with this product in order to keep your hair silky smooth. This is a major plus for those of us who want a simple fix to their haircare woes, and not to have to stand in the shower or in front of the mirror waiting for conditioners to take effect.
If you have an oily scalp, this shampoo does an excellent job of combating those pesky sebum secretions, giving you confidence in your hair.
Unlike a fair few Korean Shampoos, its scent is much stronger, and is seen as pleasant for those of us that are used to American products.
The price tag is also impressive considering its conditioning properties. It’s cheaper than most brands’ offerings—but bear in mind you’re only getting 250ml, so may have to reorder more frequently.
However, it does produce a startling quantity of foam during use. For some that may be a plus, but for many it can be a bit frustrating to use and can lead to some slippy moments in the shower.
Unfortunately, it does contain sulfates. These chemicals can cause damage to hair over time, but many people report using this product for years with no ill effects.
- Conditioner treatment and shampoo in one.
- Pleasant scent.
- Good for oily scalps and dandruff.
- Great price for a 2-in-1.
- 250ml bottle.
- Contains sulfates.
This is a superb shampoo from the Korea-based beauty firm Nature Republic. It’s tremendous for those of us with dry, coarse hair that need to restore it to a bountiful shine and maintain a silky texture.
It contains three essential oils: the argan oil which gives it its name, rosehip oil and primrose oil. All three are targeted at rebuilding damaged hair and leaving it gloriously smooth. If you’re someone who has bleached their hair excessively over the years, this will go a long way to repairing that damage.
It has a delightful scent without being overpowering. The smell lingers for a short while, too, so you can enjoy the scent of freshly cleaned hair as you go about your day.
This product isn’t great for those of us with curly hair who wish to maintain that buoyant texture, as it will smooth curls out ever so slightly. That said, such an effect might be what you’re looking for! This isn’t necessarily a negative, but it’s something to be aware of.
Another point to note is that the bottle doesn’t wear its Korean heritage with much aplomb. In fact, it looks like any other shampoo from an American supermarket. For most this won’t matter whatsoever, but for some people who are seeking the Korean aesthetic for their shower rail, it might be a negative.
- Superb for dry hair and scalp.
- Wonderful scent.
- Fantastic smooth hair results.
- Not ideal for curly-haired people.
- Doesn’t feel as “Korean” in its outward appearance.
This shampoo breaks the standard mold for Korean shampoos as its scent is absolutely gorgeous. If you’re used to stepping out of the shower with your hair emanating the scent of a thousand flowers, then this premium shampoo from Aekyung might be the one for you. The smell lingers pleasantly in the hair so you can have confidence as you send pleasurable aromas to those you come across throughout the day.
It also comes with an easy-dispensing push-top bottle, which can make showering a little easier–especially for those of us in a rush.
It’s a very hydrating shampoo that moisturizes the roots very well, making it perfect if you’re someone with dry hair or dry roots.
This is one of the most general-purpose shampoos on this list. It provides both silk and shine, and offers a glossy finish to your hair. However, it lacks herbs or essential oils that target specific hair problems. If you’re someone with a dry scalp, this won’t help moisturize your hair particularly well, nor will it curb excessive sebum secretions.
- Lovely Scent.
- General-purpose shampoo.
- Provides a lovely gloss and shine.
- Good for dry hair.
- Doesn’t tackle any particular issue.
This is Ryeo’s newest shampoo. This formulation tackles a pesky combo that few other shampoos can all by themselves—oily hair and dandruff
It helps prevent sebum excretions from your scalp, so if you suffer from oily hair this will help your hair feel comfortable and lacking in excess moisture. It also prevents excess dandruff. Although it’s not as potent at combating dandruff as other shampoos in our list, it nevertheless aids in keeping hair smooth and lustrous. If you have a mild dandruff problem, this shampoo will remedy that.
Its low price means it isn’t as premium as other Korean shampoos, but as it’s a Ryeo brand you can be assured of its high quality. Its scent is mild but not particularly pleasant to Western noses–a common theme with Korean shampoos. Also, its chemical formulation makes it slightly more severe than other shampoos listed, which can result in an itchy scalp. If this is an issue you are worried about, this may not be the shampoo for you.
- Cheap and effective.
- Combats oily hair and dandruff effectively.
- Strong enough for occasional use.
- Not so good for itchy scalps.
Yes, Ryeo brands are the kings of the castle, but this shampoo is no slouch either. Daeng Gi Meo Ri is Ryeo’s chief competitor in the Korean haircare market, and their products are equally excellent. An overall K-beauty powerhouse, Daeng Gi Meo Ri has won awards in the beauty space for many years for their products, including for this superb anti-hair-loss shampoo.
It’s packed with 10 active medicinal plants, including ginseng for blood circulation to the scalp and to ward off grey hair, green tea to combat dandruff, Siberian chrysanthemum to clean the scalp, and menthol to give you a refreshing feel.
This shampoo is marketed for the purpose of warding off hair loss. However even if that isn’t your main issue, this is an excellent all-around shampoo. It cleans the scalp, detangles the hair and combats dandruff.
That said, if hair loss and damaged hair aren’t your chief concern, perhaps you can get a cheaper shampoo to do the job, or one more targeted at your haircare concerns.
This shampoo also intensifies your natural hair color. It’s particularly good for those of us with dark hair, but the effect has been reported to work with all hair colors.
This shampoo, as its name implies, is on the more premium end of the market–and it has a price tag to match. Although not overly expensive considering its quality, you can get cheaper Korean shampoos.
All those medicinal herbs also give this shampoo an understandably medicinal smell that isn’t to everyone’s liking, but many people report loving the smell. As with most Korean shampoos, don’t expect intense fruity aromas.
- Packed with medicinal herbs.
- Award-winning beauty brand.
- Good for all hair types.
- Good for preventing hair loss.
- Pricier than most alternatives
- Medicinal smell.
Like one other shampoo on this list, this shampoo comes from the Daeng Gi Meo Ri brand. It’s a sure sign of quality. Although most of their range is less expansive than the Ryeo brands, this premium entry in their range is superb if you’re struggling with oily a dry scalp or dandruff issues.
It does do wonders for those who can’t run their hands through their hair with getting greasy sebum marks on their fingers and letting out plumes of dandruff. It’s a great confidence restoring shampoo that leaves hair looking lustrous.
This shampoo targets a tough double problem of a dry scalp and dandruff in one handy bottle, through the inclusion of tea tree oil, aloe vera, and rosemary in its recipe. It might cost more than most products by this brand, but it’s an excellent product as a result. Daeng Gi Meo Ri uses far more medicinal herbs in their formulations than their competitors, and there is a premium attached to that.
Unlike many Korean shampoos, this one has a lovely cool and fresh scent that should appeal to Western sensibilities. Bear in mind that if you’re someone who has an oily scalp, this product won’t help you. If you’re looking to add moisture to your mane, though, you’ll want to give this tea tree oil shampoo a try.
- Deals with dry scalps effectively.
- A more natural formulation than others.
- Can also handle dandruff.
- Hard to justify the price upgrade.
- Not great for oily hair.
Like many other Ryeo products, this shampoo targets the scalp with its ginseng formulation to promote blood flow and restore health to hair that has been damaged over time. Beware, though—the smell of ginseng isn’t for everyone!
This product is marketed as anti-aging. This is because of the Korean belief that blood flow to the head is the key to restore hair that has begun to fade. It also darkens and enriches color, which can add a temporary boost to struggling hair whilst the scalp restores its strength. Unfortunately, these benefits haven’t been scientifically proven, so take them with a grain of salt.
That being said, the product is scientifically formulated to restore shine without adding weight. In short, if your hair is dull, greying, or otherwise lacking life, this Ryeo product will help galvanize that color and give it back its youthful allure. Next step—K-pop stardom!
It’s also particularly useful if your hair is thick, unruly and just doesn’t behave. Reyo’s ginseng shampoo will leave you with fine hair you will want to run your fingers through.
Although you only get 400ml in a bottle, you don’t need to lather it on thick. A small amount of this potent concoction will be enough to keep your hair full of life. It’s a bit more expensive than some other products on this list, but still relatively cheap compared to its competitors.
- Excellent for greying hair.
- A little goes a long way.
- The smell of ginseng is very strong.
Moving away from the Ryeo brands, we have this offering from Trust Shampoo. This product positions itself more on the premium end of the scale, and it has a hefty price tag to match, but it’s a tempting offering nevertheless.
Its use of protein-rich biotin found in egg yolk is particularly good for those of us with thinning hair. It also contains a rich source of zinc and copper peptide, which battle dandruff and promote hair growth. These are two ingredients not usually found in shampoos and are some of the main contributors to its high price tag.
As an anti-aging product, it’s great for thickening the hair and moisturizing the scalp leaving a glossy, full finish to a mane that has lost its confidence over the years. Alongside a premium bouquet of ingredients, it also boasts no additives or other unnatural colorings. Furthermore, it’s free of the regular hair product nasties such as parabens and silicon.
As a result of this, it doesn’t have a particularly strong scent, which some might find unsatisfactory. It is targeted at the male side of the market, though nothing about it excludes women from using it! Many women report excellent results with this shampoo.
- Free from additives.
- Expensive, intriguing ingredients.
- Helps fight hair loss.
- Very expensive.
- Doesn’t smell amazing.
Our final entry on this list is from a company that has already had some brand penetration in the West despite their Korean origins. This brand is Korean with a western edge, and that’s reflected not only in the shampoo itself, but in the design of its bottle as well.
The appealing thing about this brand is their 100% commitment to vegan principles and making sure their products are not only paraben- and silicone-free, but also free from animal testing and animal-derived ingredients. For those of us who are concerned first and foremost with these matters, Aromatica is always a brand to look into.
We’ve chosen their tea tree shampoo for this list. This shampoo is great for those of us with an itchy scalp, but also works well as a general-purpose shampoo that leaves your scalp feeling fresh, minty and clean. It’s a very refreshing shampoo that gives you a burst of wakefulness after use.
This brand, however, is the least obviously Korean of the shampoos on this list. Despite their heritage, they are outwardly Western-styled, and you may not get the same excitement of dipping into K-beauty with this shampoo that you would choosing a shampoo with a more exotic appearance. Moreover, Koreans themselves aren’t particularly fond of these shampoos compared to other brands, although they do have some popularity over there.
The general quality and effect of this shampoo is also noted as being slightly lower than the more powerhouse entries on this list, but their commitment to vegan principles and ethical formulations makes this shampoo worthy of consideration.
- Ethically made.
- Committed to vegan principles.
- Paraben/silicon free.
- Not as effective as other shampoos on this list.
Why switch to Korean Shampoo?
That K-beauty feeling
In short, Korean beauty products are in a fiercely competitive arms race in a fashion- and style-obsessed nation. This competition means their products tend to be of a higher quality than American supermarket brands. Therefore, by ordering Korean shampoo you can reap the benefits of top-notch hair care at an affordable price. A $90 American shampoo is often less effective at tackling hair loss than its $15 Ryeo counterpart. This means a savvy consumer like yourself can take advantage and get great hair at a cheap price, and feel like a K-pop idol to boot.
Less damaging chemicals
Western Shampoos are crammed with the bad stuff that damages the health of your hair. They’re jam-packed with the same sulfates that are used for cleaning car engines which cause dry and damaged hair, alcohol that makes your hair go frizzy and damages the scalp, or petroleum that blocks the pores leading to itchy scalp and spots. Western shampoo-makers often cut corners to produce the “feeling” of clean hair, but actually does a slew of silent damage that builds up over time.
Korean shampoo products are far less dependent on these chemicals, and some products don’t use them at all. Unlike the heavy formulas found in American products, Korean shampoos have an emphasis on lightness, leaving only enough oily essence to protect the hair. Korean shampoo also often uses distilled water to avoid unwanted minerals dirtying the hair.
Korean shampoos are different. In Korea, the knowledge and appreciation of herbal remedies goes back to ancient times. Korean manufacturers have perfected the art of integrating time-tested ingredients into their formulations in effective ways.
Unlike Western shampoo brands that simply toss in a token amount of red ginseng to justify a higher price tag, Korean shampoos are often targeted towards specific needs, with adequate quantities multiple herbal ingredients combined to give you the best possible effect.
Korean shampoos don’t hit you with heavyweight synthetic fragrances either. Oftentimes, Korean shampoos can smell a little odd or even like nothing at all, but that’s because you are only using the essential essences of the herb and not lathering your hair with an augmented synthetic peach scent. This might take some getting used to, but the culture shock is worth it for the impeccable results that Korean shampoos bring.
Scalp first, Hair later
Korean shampoos also focus more on the scalp rather than the hair itself when compared to American shampoos. Many Korean Shampoos use biota and ginseng to target the scalp naturally, but the scalp is something that isn’t looked after that well by American formulations. There’s a reason that all Seoul hairdressers start with a scalp massage. In America, such a regimen would be a pricey luxury, but using Korean shampoos that target the scalp will help solve your bad hair problem at its root.
Which Korean Shampoo?
Your Hair Needs
Ultimately, everyone has their own haircare regimen and their own haircare problems. We’ve tried to accommodate for a variety of hair needs in this list, so look closely to see which Korean shampoo matches your needs.
If you have issues with a dry scalp, look for a shampoo that moisturizes, hydrates or soothes the hair. The Nature Republic Argan Shampoo is a great choice for this.
If you have an oily scalp, look for the opposite: look for one of our listed shampoos that balances or strengthens the hair, such as the LG Reen Yungo shampoo.
Suffering from poor hair growth or hair beginning to fall out? Many shampoos on our list do the job very well, but you can also spring for Ryeo’s Ginsengbo shampoo to boost hair color, or try Trust Shampoo’s premium anti-hair-loss formulation.
Overall, most Korean shampoos promote hair growth and help to nourish the root and scalp, as Korean manufacturers are catering to a consumer base for whom a healthy scalp is of primary concern.
We’ve noted in each review which one is suitable for each hair type, so you can be confident you’re getting the right one. If you’re just looking for healthy hair in general, and you don’t have any specific problem areas, any shampoo on this list should meet your needs.
In terms of brands, there are two that dominate. Ryeo shampoos have a rightful place as the go-to brand of Korean Shampoos. They make a shampoo to fit practically any haircare need. If you’re looking for a simple choice, you can’t go far wrong with a Ryeo brand that suits your type of hair.
Daeng Gi Meo Ri is the other top-selling brand in Korea. Their Gold shampoo and its mix of ten essential essences is a great catch-all shampoo if you want Korean style without delving too much into the precise calculations of perfect hair.
The other brands included on this list all provide great shampoos in their niche. Yet the top two brands have their place for a good reason, so they’re a good starting point for your initial foray in the Korean shampoo market.
Do you need conditioner?
If you’re serious about your hair, several products on our list come as shampoo and conditioner packages, while those that don’t often offer compatible conditioners. Is it worth it?
We all know conditioning the hair can help long term hair health, and the same is true for Korean shampoos. However, Korean shampoos are formulated to leave a light sheen of oil and essence on the hair to keep hair healthy. For this reason, conditioning is less essential than it is with harsh Western shampoos. So, if you have no time or patience to condition your hair, fear not: your chosen Korean shampoo will protect the hair and keep it glossy and lustrous even without conditioning.
More expensive = better?
Not necessarily. Despite their excellent formulations, Korean Shampoos often come in at an affordable price compared to other high-quality shampoos. Why? It’s because competition is fierce amongst shampoo makers due to the aforementioned state of hair-care culture in Korea. That means getting great hair doesn’t need to break the bank. That said, we have listed some of the more expensive shampoos on this list, usually because they contain special ingredients that solves a particular issue. But you don’t always need to trade up to get an authentic Korean shampoo experience—even the cheapest items on this list are excellent products.
How to get the most out of your Korean shampoo!
A shampoo brush is well worth adding to your Amazon order to get the most out of your Korean shampoo.
First and foremost, a shampoo brush makes showering a pleasure. Rather than running your clumsy fingers through your hair, shampoo brushes are ergonomically designed to massage hair gently and allow the product to cleanse the hair thoroughly. This leaves an overall better finish to your hair. By lifting dead skin cells, it also targets and controls dandruff and helps combat itching.
When properly used, a shampoo brush helps massage the scalp. As we stated earlier, a healthy scalp leads to healthy hair, as a healthy scalp promotes high-quality hair growth. By using a shampoo brush in conjunction with your Korean shampoos that are targeted to protect and enrich the scalp, even hair that is struggling to survive can be restored to life.
Use cold water and dry your hair slowly
Not everyone enjoys cold morning showers, but if you’re seeking the perfect hair, it can be a price worth paying. Cold water on your hair in the morning helps trap moisture inside the roots, leading to hair with more life and vivacity. You don’t have to have an entirely cold shower if the thought of one makes you cringe—you can try rinsing your hair post-shower using cold water from the sink. On top of protecting your hair, it’s a good way to rinse off any excess conditioner.
If you have time, try letting your hair dry out naturally rather than tearing through it with a rough towel. It’s not something everyone has time or energy for, but it will protect your hair if you can make a habit of doing it on occasional lazy Sunday mornings.
There really is no reason not to switch to Korean shampoos. You’re getting a higher quality product at a cheaper price than its American equivalent. Like their American counterparts, Korean shampoos are often targeted at specific needs. So, look through our reviews to help choose which shampoo fits your own unique hair. Unlike their American alternatives, Korean shampoos are more concerned with promoting long term hair growth by nourishing the scalp and roots than quick-fix solutions, so be sure to test out each product for a while before you give up on it.
Each of the shampoos on our list will help a particular need, so no matter your hair woes, Korean shampoos have the answer. Not only will they give an immediate boost to your hair, but you can be comfortable in the knowledge that your roots and scalp are getting the long-term treatment and care required to make your hair stand out and feel great for years to come.