OUAI Haircare CLEAN Shampoo

OUAI — CLEAN Shampoo Review

I love my Ipsy subscription nowadays, even though most things I receive are just a “like” for me. Mostly I just enjoy trying a variety of products and brands, which is why I feel that the subscription is worth it for me.

But occasionally, I do come across an item in my Glam Bag that prompts me to get spendy. Trust Fund Beauty is one recent example (I now have quite a lot of these nail polishes!). Another is OUAI, whose Treatment Masque for hair was a product I really enjoyed, even though I preferred using it as a conditioner rather than as a mask.

I was tempted to pick up the full-sized Treatment Masque, but it comes in single-use foil packs rather than in a nice squeeze tube like my sample came in. Ugh. So, I thought I’d venture into the rest of their product line.

Normally, I’d have picked up one of their conditioners, since that’s how I was using the masque, but I had recently finished up a couple of shampoos.

I decided I’d go for the CLEAN Shampoo when Ebates Canada was offering 8% cashback at Sephora (and, ahem, there was a clearance on some Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadows). In hindsight, the VOLUME Shampoo would have made more sense due to my current postpartum hair loss, but summer is upon us and I like to use a clarifying shampoo more often when it’s hot out.

For reference, my hair and scalp tend to be dry, and my scalp also has a tendency to get oily in the summer. My hair is thick and straight, and at the moment about two-thirds as dense as it normally is. It isn’t color-treated and I don’t typically use styling products, either.

I usually avoid sulfates in shampoo because they make my scalp and hair even drier. My favorite sulfate-free clarifying shampoo right now is Hask Charcoal with Citrus Oil Purifying Shampoo, and if my scalp gets too oily, I shampoo first with the Hask, and finish up with a more moisturizing shampoo.

My hope was that the OUAI CLEAN Shampoo would allow me to skip the “lather, rinse, repeat” process.

From OUAI:

A gentle, detoxifying cleanser infused with our unique Smart Technology complex that hits refresh on overworked hair–leaving strands super-soft and clean.

  • Free of parabens and sulfates.
  • No animal testing.
  • Protects color.

The two-piece cap consists of a regular, round press down cap and a hexagonal ring on the outside that can be rotated to “lock” the opening mechanism (you can still press down on the cap to open it, but it’s more difficult to do if the pieces aren’t aligned correctly).


The shampoo is a translucent gel the color of sheer, creamed honey.


A little goes a long way, which is great since this isn’t the cheapest shampoo out there. I keep having the tendency to squirt out more than I need, because I’m used to needing more with other shampoos. For my medium-length, slightly thick hair, I need about a pea-and-a-half sized drop.

For a sulfate-free shampoo, this actually lathers up nicely, even in my city’s hard water! The foam feels rich and creamy, so already I enjoy this more than most of the sulfate-free shampoos I normally use (often from brands like Alba Botanica and Avalon Organics).

The fragrance is floral and somewhat perfume-y, but I don’t mind it at all. Some people have complained that the scent is too strong; I don’t know whether it’s because I am comparing it with the fragrance of the Treatment Masque, which is kind of like pouring perfume on your head, but I find the CLEAN Shampoo to be scented like your average shampoo. It seems like a different scent from the Masque, as well, which disappoints me as I am in love with that fragrance, but in the end it’s a shampoo and whatever scent it has is likely to be masked by the conditioner, anyway.

When I test out shampoos, I like to try them with no conditioner a few times, just so I get a good sense of how my hair responds. I’ve also tried the CLEAN Shampoo alone, and used in conjunction with a “first cleanser”, the aforementioned Hask shampoo, for days when my hair just got a bit too greasy (no additional product—just sunny day grease, sigh).

I found that the CLEAN Shampoo, ironically, isn’t the best at cleaning greasy hair. I need about double the amount I normally use, and even then I don’t feel that it’s clean enough. On days that my hair is just a normal level of dirty, the pea-and-a-half works fantastically well.

I can’t speak to how moisturizing the shampoo is, because it’s now summer and in humid weather, my hair doesn’t have dryness issues. However, I can tell you that this shampoo works really well for me as a volumizer.

Weird, right? My hair does not usually have a ton of volume—which is fine as it’s normally very thick. But right now, I’ve lost quite a lot of hair, to the point where I have to give my ponytail holder an entire extra loop or two, so I kind of need volume! This shampoo totally does the trick, and without any conditioner.

Granted, it does feel like there’s a very light residue on my hair—nothing gross, but I can sense it—but the volume it gives my hair is incredible. It lasts for two days, as well (I usually shampoo every other day). I will definitely take a slight residue in exchange for feeling like my thick hair is back again.

So, in all, I really enjoy using this shampoo, even though I don’t really use it for the clarifying properties it claims to have. I’m curious to see how well it works when the weather is colder and drier, and when (fingers crossed) my hair gets back to its original thickness. But for now, I’m gonna enjoy it!

Finally, here’s a price comparison chart for some of the sulfate-free shampoos I’ve used. Note that for all of these other shampoos, I have needed 50% to 100% more product per use than I do with the OUAI, so its value is not really quite so poor as it seems, particularly since I like its overall performance the best out of all the shampoos listed. (The Hask remains the best clarifier, the Andalou Naturals is the gentlest that still cleans well, and the L’Oréal is the most moisturizing.)

Product Size MSRP Value
Charcoal with Citrus Oil Purifying Shampoo
CA$8.99 355 mL $25.32/L
Alba Botanica
Natural Hawaiian Shampoo in Body Builder Mango
CA$9.99 355 mL $28.14/L
Andalou Naturals
Argan Stem Cells Shampoo Age Defying Thinning Hair Treatment
CA$9.99 340 mL $29.38/L
EverCrème Nourishing Shampoo
CA$8.49 250 mL $33.96/L
Desert Essence
Coconut Nourishing Shampoo for Dry Hair
CA$9.99 236 mL $42.33/L
Rejuvenating Shampoo
CA$15.99 355 mL $45.04/L
Tea Tree Triple Threat Invigorating Shampoo
CA$12.49 250 mL $49.96/L
CLEAN Shampoo
CA$32 300 mL $106.67/L

Ingredients (it’s interesting that there’s ferment filtrate in this, though it’s quite far down on the list; I’m only used to seeing this in skincare):

  • OUAI Smart Technology Complex
  • Tamarind Seed Extract
  • Smart Keratin
  • Amino Acid Blend

Aqua (Water, Eau), Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Cocamide MEA, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Acrylates Copolymer, Glycerin, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Water, Panthenol, Phyllostachis Bambusoides Juice, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Hydrolyzed Hibiscus Esculentus Extract, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower Extract, Nasturtium Officinale Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Moringa Oleifera Seed Extract, Hydrolyzed Linseed Extract, Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract, Cynara Scolymus (Artichoke) Leaf Extract, Amaranthus Caudatus Seed Extract, Alanine, Arginine, Glycine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Phenylalanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Valine, Aspartic Acid, Laurdimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Keratin, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Hydrolyzed Yeast Protein, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Rice Oil Glycereth-8 Esters, Jojoba Oil Glycereth-8 Esters, Coconut Oil Glycereth-8 Esters, Ethylhexylglycerin, Propanediol, Dimethicone, Amodimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol, Divinyldimethicone/Dimethicone Copolymer, Decyl Glucoside, Lauryl Glucoside, Polyglyceryl-3 Laurate, Glycol Disterate, Parfum (Fragrance), Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Cystine Bis-PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Sodium PCA, PCA, Polyquaternium-7, Diisostearyl Malate, Laureth-23, Laureth-4, Trideceth-12, C12-13 Pareth-23, C12-13 Pareth-3, Cetrimonium Chloride, Polysilicone-15, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Lactate, Pentylene Glycol, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Disteareth-75 IPDI, BHT, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Hexyl Cinnamal

OUAI CLEAN Shampoo, label


OUAI Haircare CLEAN Shampoo comes in 300 mL bottle and retails for US$28 / CA$32. The company’s products are free of parabens, phthalates, or sulfates. OUAI is cruelty-free. This product is made in the USA.

OUAI Haircare (their web address makes me think of The OA) indicates, with puns, that their name is pronounced way (“Let’s do things our OUAI.”). Inspiration for the name actually came from a casual yes in French (ouais rather than oui, but drop the “s”). The company was founded in 2016 by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, and is based in Beverly Hills, CA, USA.

🇺🇸Made in USA
🇺🇸Company based in USA

3 thoughts on “OUAI — CLEAN Shampoo Review

  1. I see this brand at Winners / Marshalls from time to time…
    I love that opening mechanism! It’s the little things!
    I know lather isn’t necessarily an indicator of effectiveness but I love a good lather and often get disappointed by the nature options that don’t lather.
    So odd it doesn’t clean hair but creates volume – what sorcery is this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gah, might have to just give up and go to Winners. LOL. Haven’t been in so long.

      Yes I also love a good lather! The ones that don’t lather just feel like they’re not getting through all the hair. We’re so conditioned by SLS! 😉

      And to be fair, this shampoo cleans as well as all the other sulfate-free shampoos I’ve tried. I’ve just found that on extra greasy days, I just gotta double-cleanse my hair & scalp. SO GROSS. 😆 It is just very weird that this doesn’t clean extra well like it purports to – and does the volume thing instead. I just ordered the VOLUME Conditioner yesterday. I wonder if I’ll end up looking like Sideshow Bob.


  2. Great post. I’m still looking for a decent shampoo that cleans my hair properly!! I try sulphate free ones which I’d prefer to use but they leave my hair looking horrible 😳 this sounds really nice though! Xx


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