Top 5 Best Lice Shampoos (2018 Edition)

Looking for the best lice shampoos...

Well, look no further you're in the right place!

No one likes lice, but they are a fact of life when you or your family go to public areas. Lice shampoo is similar to a lice treatment, but is designed to be used as a wash.

best lice shampoos in 2017

People can lather the product and massage it throughout the hair and scalp, let it sit, and then rinse it out. Most lice shampoos are an effective, inexpensive alternative to receiving treatment at a salon, which can cost over $100.

The Top Products Overview

Short on time?  Take a look below for the top 5 in our list. Otherwise, check out our buying guide

What does it cost?

Most lice shampoos are less expensive than lice treatments.

An average bottle costs between $10-$20 based on the brand, whether it is packaged with a comb, and how many uses there are per package. However, many shampoos need to be used more than once, so you might end up buying two or three bottles if you need to treat more than one or two people.

Remember to weigh your usage with the price of one bottle of shampoo.

What should you look for when buying lice shampoos?

Not all lice shampoos are created equal. Let's get into some of the main things to consider when buying your shampoo.

Make sure you know if a comb is already included or you'll need to buy one.

The first thing to consider is whether or not you need to use a lice comb to remove adult lice and nits, which are lice eggs after you've applied your shampoo.

Manufacturers specially make lice combs with fine teeth that can brush out any lice killed by the shampoo. Not all shampoos require you to use one, but it can be a helpful tool to clean your hair, especially if yours is thick or curly.

hair combs for lice removal

You should check to see if the shampoo will dislodge the eggs or if you need to buy a comb to finish the job. Metal combs are stronger and less likely to break than plastic variants, but can be more expensive. It’s important to include the cost of a comb in your final price if your shampoo of choice does not include one in the package.

Make sure you know what the ingredients are in your shampoo.

The next thing you should do is inspect the the ingredients. More and more people have become uncomfortable with the idea of using strong chemicals and pesticides on their scalps and their children.

Pyrethrins and pyrethroids are examples of common pesticides used to kill lice and can be toxic to humans. If you have no qualms about using old school formulas, then these products will work.

If you want to find a gentler alternative, many products are starting to become environmentally friendly and will use natural ingredients like rosemary extract to repel and kill lice. These lice shampoos are less likely to be toxic but will require more washes.

Find a shampoo that you feel safe using, and remember to weight cost vs. effectiveness. Some green "natural" shampoos will cost far more than a traditional product, coming in at a high $25-$30 for one bottle.

How To Use Your Lice Shampoo

Lice shampoo is popular to use on kids because it's a simple process. Remember to always read the instructions on the bottle before using any product.

The wash and soak method

The first method is the "wash and soak" method.

First, wet your hair if you need to without using any conditioners or hair products beforehand.  Conditioner can weaken the ingredients in lice shampoo and make the product ineffective.

Then, lather your lice shampoo and massage it throughout your hair, paying extra attention to your scalp. Most products will need to be left in for 10-15 minutes for their maximum effect.

If your scalp starts to tingle and burn, rinse the formula out immediately. Once time is up, rinse out the lice shampoo and use a towel to absorb excess moisture, but do not fully dry your hair.

Here's a quick video that should help you out!

Comb and remove method

The second method is the "comb and remove" method.

Some shampoos will require you to use a lice comb rather than just washing and rinsing. If this is the case, you'll need a little help from someone to tease apart your hair in small sections and run the teeth of your comb through the strands.

Make sure to start all the way at the roots and slowly tease the comb down each section of hair, so the adult lice and nits fall out. It’s best to do this procedure over a sink or trash can.

Once you’re finished with your entire head, you can let your hair dry or rinse the product out. Some shampoos will require you to use them over several days, so be sure to follow the instructions on each bottle to get the most benefit from your product of choice.

Lice Shampoo and Kids

When it comes to lice shampoos and your kids, just make sure to check the labels of the product your buying.

Most shampoos are fine but If the label does not say it can be used on children, then it’s better to find a friendlier alternative than risk irritating their scalps or potentially poisoning them. Most lice shampoos cannot be used on children younger than 2 years old, and a different treatment should be found instead.

Product Reviews

In the below section we break down each of our product recommendations in a little more detail.​

RID is one of the most famous lice shampoo brands. Unlike other shampoos, this product should be thoroughly applied to dry hair instead of wet, and it should be allowed to sit for several minutes.


The product comes with two combs and uses traditional ingredients to kill and repel lice and nits. 


The product also includes easy to follow instructions, which is a useful feature for first-time lice shampoo users.

RID Shampoo additionally works as a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner and leaves no chemical residue behind in the hair, which makes it easy to comb out hair once the treatment is finished. Its two active ingredients are piperonyl butoxide and pyrethrum extract, strong chemicals designed to kill lice at all stages of life. Pyrethrum is safe to use on children age 2 and older, so this product can be used by the whole family in case of a lice outbreak.

Pros

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    The shampoo works for children age 2 and older
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    The product uses powerful ingredients
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    The package comes with a comb
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    The shampoo kills adult lice and nits

Cons

  • The comb is plastic rather than metal and more likely to break
  • People might need to use more than one treatment
  • The product uses strong chemicals which might be toxic

LICE NO MORE features a lice shampoo which comes with a packaged conditioner to make hair easier to brush out during treatment. Unlike some products, the package includes a plastic comb which is used to brush out dead adult lice and nits from the hair around the scalp.


The shampoo uses traditional chemicals and pesticides designed to kill lice quickly and efficiently, a feature which is useful for people seeking a strong treatment that can eliminate fleas in one use.

LICE NO MORE is a maximum strength product designed to be easy to use while requiring only one or two treatments. I would recommend this product to people who have thick hair because the ingredients can loosen the hold nits have on the strands of hair. This makes the process of combing them out easier. The conditioner can also prevent tangles, which eases the process of combing.

Pros

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    The product comes with a shampoo and conditioner to clean and moisturize hair
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    The package comes with a comb
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    The shampoo uses powerful ingredients
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    The shampoo works for thick hair

Cons

  • The shampoo is made with traditionally, potentially toxic chemicals
  • There are not many uses per bottle
  • ​The comb is plastic rather than metal and more likely to break​​​​

People seeking a pesticide free product which is safe to use on children might like this shampoo. Its creators designed it using ingredients which are gentle on children and skin while being tough on adult lice and nits.


The product is additionally hypoallergenic, which is a useful feature for families who have allergic reactions to typical shampoos. It is fragrance free, color free, and does not use any additional animal ingredients.

Schooltime sells shampoo bottles which are larger than many other brands. This means consumers average roughly 6-8 uses from a single bottle. This is cost effective for some families because the product is designed to be used once or twice, meaning there is enough for several people. Schooltime Shampoo for Lice & Nit Removal also uses conditioners and oils to help restore a healthy shine to hair after use, and the product can ease the scalp irritation caused by lice bites. Unlike some shampoos, this product should be applied to dry hair.

Pros

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    The product is hypoallergenic
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    There are several uses per bottle
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    The shampoo can be used on adults and children 2 years of age and older
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    The product is pesticide free

Cons

  • The package does not include a comb.
  • The product is thin and not as effective for thick hair
  • The shampoo needs to be left in the hair for 15 minutes

ZAP lice shampoo does not contain any pesticides by design, so lice can’t become immune to its effects. Instead, the product uses star anise oil, which kills lice through suffocation by blocking their orifices. The shampoo does not require a person to wet their hair before use and should be left in for at least 15 minutes to achieve the maximum effect. 

Unlike some products, ZAP comes with an easy to use comb to brush out dead adult lice and to dislodge and remove nits from the scalp. People suffering from body lice can use the formula as well, although it should not be used on eyebrows or around the eyes.

The shampoo uses ingredients which are safe for children 2 years of age and older and can be used on all hair types. Each bottle comes with multiple uses, which is a feature that is useful for someone like me who has really long hair or multiple family members suffering from an infestation.

Pros

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    The shampoo treats head and body lice and nits
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    The product is inexpensive at $6-$12 a bottle
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    The shampoo can be used on children 2 years of age and older
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    The package includes a comb
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    ZAP can be used on all hair types, including thick or bushy styles

Cons

  • People might need to use the shampoo more than once
  • People with long hair might need to buy more than one bottle for full treatment
  • The shampoo must be left in hair for 15 minutes

People seeking a natural alternative to traditional pesticides can check out the Nit Free brand of lice shampoo.


The product is non-toxic, sulfate-free, and designed to be gentle on people’s skin. Its ingredients include natural oils and products like rosemary extract, which works as a natural repellent for lice. 

The shampoo is effective against adult lice and eggs and was created to additionally soothe irritation on the scalp caused by lice bites. Nit Free is gentle enough to use daily and features a formula which helps dislodge nits from the roots of hair, so people don’t have to worry about the eggs hatching and another lice infestation.

Nit Free has a natural, pleasant scent rather than the chemical odor common in other lice shampoos. I would recommend this product to families or individuals who are looking for a pesticide-free, non-toxic product that works on most hair types.

Pros

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    The shampoo is non-toxic and pesticide free
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    It uses oils to soothe scalp irritation
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    The product is strong and eliminates adult lice and nits
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    The shampoo smells of natural ingredients like rosemary

Cons

  • The shampoo can leave a greasy residue on hair
  • The package does not include a comb
  • The smell can be overpowering for people with sensitive noses
  • The conditioner is sold separately

The Bottom Line

These five products are some of the most effective lice shampoos currently on the market.

Although all of these shampoos can help people eliminate fleas and nits, my personal favorite is the ZAP Liquid Lice Killing Shampoo because:

  • The shampoo does not contain pesticides and is effective on "super lice"
  • It can be used on older children
  • The package includes a strong comb to brush away nits
  • The product can work on all hair types, even my fine and thick mane
  • The shampoo is half the price of other products while still being effective

Other Lice Product Reviews

Curious about other lice related products? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.

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