Paul Mitchel Awapuhi Shampoo Review and Guide

Out of Paul Mitchell’s most prestigious products, their Awapuhi Shampoo is arguably their most famous one. The secret lies in Hawaiian Awapuhi, which is a species of plant in the ginger family. The plant produces a ginger-scented liquid that conditions the hair and skin.

But is this shampoo all it’s hyped up to be? I was curious about this, so I decided to try it and see if it really is a miracle product.


  • Made with Hawaiian Awapuhi to prevent moisture loss
  • Removes buildup
  • Can also be used as a body wash
  • Ideal for all hair types, including fine and color-treated hair
  • Gluten and paraben-free


  • It pretty much does it all — removes oils but is also very nourishing
  • Ideal for literally all hair types. Doesn’t matter if you have thick curls or your hair is fine and straight
  • Great if you have dry hair, especially
  • Hair looks extremely shiny


  • It may not be the best option if you have a very oily scalp
  • Some users have reported allergies associated with this product
  • I hate the smell
  • Contains sulfates

Facts About the Awapuhi Shampoo

This is one of Paul Mitchell’s best-selling products. Paul Mitchell not only states this shampoo is extremely nourishing but also retains moisture. The secret comes from Awapuhi, which leaves hair feeling smooth and looking shiny. However, it balances the moisture by thoroughly cleaning hair.

First Impressions

So first and foremost, the smell is gross. I was expecting a spicy ginger scent. Instead, it smells like bamboo. I typically like the scent of bamboo, but this shampoo straight-up smells like grass.

Otherwise, I’m familiar with Paul Mitchell products, so I knew what to expect. The packaging is very sleek, in a tall and slim tube. It’s a decent size, about 10 fl oz. I paid $12.50 for it. Considering most of the hair products I use are around $10, I only paid a little more for a professional and world-renowned brand.

Using the Shampoo

After I got over the smell, I began to appreciate the shampoo. First and foremost, it lathers amazingly. I only need a small amount of product and it covers the entire scalp. I do notice my hair has that “squeaky” feeling when I’m done washing it, which usually only happens when I use clarifying or volumizing shampoos. Those shampoos typically make my hair frizzy, but the Paul Mitchell shampoo still does a good job of retaining moisture.

Final Result

After shampooing, I finished with my typical Avalon Organics Lavender Conditioner and sprayed my Hask Leave-In Conditioner. I let my hair air dry.

I was shocked by how clean yet shiny my hair felt. My hair hasn’t lost any moisture, yet it still looks voluminous. Looking at other reviewers, they recommend using the shampoo two or three days a week. I’ve been using it daily and I haven’t lost any moisture or volume. However, I will say I don’t need to use this shampoo daily. I may need a quick spritz of dry shampoo if I don’t shower. Otherwise, my hair isn’t greasy at all.

Is It Really Color Safe?

So Paul Mitchell promotes this shampoo as color-safe, yet Sodium Laureth Sulfate is one of the first few ingredients in the shampoo. So, is this shampoo really color-safe? We’re always told time and time again to avoid using shampoos with sulfates, especially if you have color-treated hair.

I just so happened to have an appointment with my hairstylist, so I decided to ask her when I was getting my hair done. She explained sulfates aren’t uncommon in hair products. Actually, she showed me one of the shampoos they sold at the salon and the same thing — one of the first ingredients is Sodium Laureth Sulfate. She said that sulfate especially isn’t something to worry about, that it really only gives the shampoo a good lather.

But does that mean we should still avoid sulfates in shampoo? Turns out, it really depends. I only re-dye my gray roots my natural hair color (dark brown/black) so my hairstylist said I don’t have to worry about sulfates as much as someone who has neon-bright hair.

She also said sulfates aren’t the only ingredient in shampoo that destroys color. She said to be wary of dandruff shampoo, such as Head & Shoulders, when you shampoo because those are the most aggressive shampoos. And she said even though Paul Mitchell isn’t the number one brand she would recommend, she would rather me use Paul Mitchell than Suave or another super-cheap drugstore brand.

Overall, she said sulfates are more so a preference. Some people prefer sulfate-free shampoo and that’s fine. Otherwise, she said if a shampoo promotes itself as color-safe, it probably is. She said the best way to ensure color lasts is by washing your hair as little as possible, regardless of the shampoo you use. Ideally, wash your hair once a week. However, washing two or three times a week is still better than washing daily.

Other Paul Mitchell Products in This Line

Paul Mitchell Awapuhi is one of the first successful products the brand released. Since then, they emerged with many products in the same or similar line. You can use these products instead of the Awapuhi Shampoo or alongside it.

Shampoo Two

If a deep clean is what you really need, then try Paul Mitchell’s Shampoo Two. While this shampoo says it’s gentle enough to use daily, it’s definitely stronger than the Awapuhi Shampoo.

If I were to use this, I would use it once or twice a week at the most. It lathers well and removes all oil, so your hair is free of any buildup. Your hair feels clean but is still moisturized since this shampoo doesn’t strip your hair too much. Therefore, your hair is still shiny and voluminous! If you don’t shampoo every day, I suggest using this shampoo a couple of times a week instead of a traditional shampoo.

What makes this shampoo nice is the scent. I hate the grassy scent of the Awapuhi Shampoo. Shampoo Two has a citrus smell; even though citrus doesn’t work with my pheromones, I prefer smelling citrus over grass.

The Detangler

If you’re looking for a lightweight conditioner, choose this one. It’s called The Detangler for a reason — it’s best at detangling unruly hair. After it’s dry, the hair feels nourished and looks shiny. It works on anyone but is recommended for those with chemically damaged hair, coarse hair, and anyone whose hair is medium-to-thick. I’m also reading this conditioner is great for anyone with long hair.


Not sure if the Awapuhi Shampoo is right for you? Here are a few alternatives I recommend.

Oribe Shampoo

Oribe is the best hair brand I’ve ever used. Hands down. I hate saying that because they’re SO EXPENSIVE! Their shampoo is $50, on average, and the bottle is pretty small. But you really get what you pay for. This shampoo is made with mild yet effective ingredients so you have a healthy head of hair. Your hair will also be stronger and moisturized since this brand focuses on balancing your natural oil production.

I use their Beautiful Color shampoo, but all of their products are amazing. Oh, and they smell INCREDIBLE!

Matrix Biolage Scalpsync Cooling Mint Shampoo

I honestly don’t care for Biolage too much, but this is one of the closest alternatives I’ve found to the Awapuhi shampoo that wasn’t a total rip-off. This shampoo effectively cleanses oil from the scalp. It also balances your natural oil production, leaving hair stronger and cleaner. Plus, the shampoo is very minty and refreshing.

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Triple Detox Shampoo

I love Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Day line. I will admit, I never tried this shampoo. But everything else I’ve ever used from this brand is amazing so I’m sure this is, too. As you can see, this is a detox shampoo. It removes excess products and oil in addition to pollution and hard water buildup. However, it does that without stripping your hair of natural oils. This shampoo is also color-safe.

Pacifica Rosemary Purify Shampoo

This is probably the cheapest alternative to Paul Mitchell’s Awapuhi Shampoo I can find. This shampoo purifies your hair from environmental toxins, product buildup, and excess oily. However, this shampoo doesn’t leave your scalp dry. It’s a gentle shampoo that still leaves your scalp feeling invigorated. Plus, it has a minty-rosemary scent — WAY better than grass!

Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo

Kenra is a brand I always liked but haven’t used enough of. This shampoo will deeply cleanse your hair to remove product buildup and more. This shampoo is so effective, it removes 99% of deposits. At the same time, it’s color-safe and gentle. Rather than feeling dry and over-cleaned, your hair feels restored and maintains its shine.


Question: What Conditioner Should I Use With This Shampoo?

Answer: If you want to stick with Paul Mitchell products, I suggest using The Detangler. However, I recently purchased the Olaplex Bond Maintenance Conditioner. I’ve wanted to try Olaplex products, so I’m really excited to try this one!

Question: I Have Frizzy Hair. Is This a Good Shampoo for Me?

Answer: This shampoo is moisturizing enough for frizzy hair. But it may not be the best option since it’s a deeper cleaning shampoo. Paul Mitchell does have an Anti-Frizz line that you can try instead. And any other anti-frizz and moisturizing shampoos will also work well for you.

Question: I Need Hair Regrowth. Will This Shampoo Help With That?

Answer: I wouldn’t recommend this one. If you still want to stay within the Paul Mitchell line, try their Tea Tree Scalp Care Shampoo. Tea tree helps stimulate hair growth. Keep in mind, don’t use this shampoo on color-treated hair.

Question: What Sizes Does This Shampoo Come In?

Answer: Here are the shampoo size options and their corresponding prices:
 • 10 oz: $12
 • 17 oz: $14.50
 • 33.8 oz: $25

Question: I’m a Man and Want to Use This Shampoo. Does It Smell Girly?

Answer: It doesn’t smell girly at all. It smells very grassy to me. Some describe the scent as “bamboo.” Trust me, I’ve smelled bamboo, and this isn’t it. But if you just want a deep cleansing shampoo that doesn’t have a feminine coconut or vanilla scent, then this one will be fine.


Back in the day, Paul Mitchell broke barriers with the Awapuhi Shampoo. Hawaiian Awapuhi is an ingredient that prevents moisture loss. This shampoo cleanses deeply while balancing your natural oils, so your hair still remains soft and shiny.

I can see why this shampoo is so popular. It’s very nourishing and cleans deeply, but it wouldn’t be a good option for those with oily hair. Also, the smell is absolutely disgusting. However, I appreciate how the shampoo works so well. My hair feels soft and looks shiny. I was concerned about the sulfates in the shampoo, but it does seem like the shampoo is color-safe.

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