13 Best Lice Treatment Shampoos for Head Lice and Super Lice in 2020
Before you go out and grab just any box off the shelf, discover the best lice treatments that really work and which ones to avoid entirely.
If you're looking for a quick fix to your lice problem I have some bad news for you
Studies show that at least 98% of lice in the US today are resistant to most lice treatments and lice shampoos.
Yet, these ineffective treatments still line the shelves of our local drug stores.
If you want to get rid of the lice fast then I suggest a mindset change. A lice product will NOT cure your child of lice. Lice Professionals don't even use lice shampoos, what they use is a specific technique to cure you of lice. I teach this technique for about the price of a lice kit in my online course How to Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro!
If you're dead set on using a lice kit, then I do provide my review of these "best" products on the market, but I want to caution you that even with these treatments most parents still spend hundreds of dollars and weeks (or even months) of their time dealing with lice. People that use my technique are done with lice in a day.
You can click on any product and buy straight from Amazon (a quick disclosure: these are affiliate links, and I do earn a commission from qualifying purchases; however, all of my reviews are based on the quality of these products, and the decision to purchase through these links is completely up to you).
Quick Guide - For those in a hurry
Best Lice Treatments for Killing Lice
These products kill lice within fifteen minutes and are safe for all ages. (Does it seem too good to be true? Read more about how they work here)
Note that while these products kill "most" lice they DO NOT CURE LICE. You will still have lice after using these products because they can't kill lice eggs and don't kill ALL lice.
Includes lice killing liquid gel. The comb included, however, is not the greatest for lice egg removal. You will want to purchase a quality comb separately to adequately get rid of nits. Fortunately, you can check out my article 5 Best Lice Combs to find the right one for you and your budget. (Read my full product review for this lice treatment here)
Best Lice Treatments for Lice Eggs
These shampoos break down the glue that holds lice eggs onto the hair strand, making them easier to remove (BUT THEY DO NOT REMOVE THE EGGS YOU WILL STILL HAVE TO DO THAT). You can click here to read more about how these enzymes work.
LiceLogic Clear & Free Shampoo
This 8oz bottle is enough for sixteen applications. Includes shampoo to kill lice and break down nit glue. You will need to purchase a quality comb separately, though. You can learn more about the 5 Best Lice Combs here to pick the right one for you. (Check out my full product review for this lice shampoo here)
Best Natural Head Lice Treatment
These products use all natural ingredients to kill some head lice in about twenty minutes. (Read more about how they work here.)
Head Hunters Wipe Out Pro Lice Treatment
Regular kit includes 12oz WipeOut Head Lice Treatment to kill lice and high quality Nit-Free Terminator lice comb for lice egg removal. Also available in 24oz or 32oz family kit. (Check out my full product review here)
Head Hunters Wipe Out Lice Treatment
Family Size 32oz is recommended for those with hair that is either too thick, tight, or curly to run a lice comb through. Multiple uses over several days are required if you’re unable to use a lice comb. If the hair is able to effectively use a lice comb, you should instead purchase Head Hunters Wipe Out Pro Lice Treatment (Regular 12oz), (Family 32oz) which comes with a high quality Nit-Free Terminator lice comb for lice egg removal. (Check out my full product review here)
- Nit Free Oil Treatment- A dimethicone-based oil similar to LiceMD, but with peppermint scent.
- Lice Lifters Lice Solution Treatment- An olive oil/dimethicone-based oil treatment with rosemary.
- Happyheads Bye-Bye Lice- An enzyme-based shampoo similar to LiceLogic Clear & Free Shampoo.The kit comes with an 8 ounce bottle, 4 hair caps, and a metal comb.
- Nit Free Lice and Nit Eliminating Mousse and Nit Glue Dissolver-Similar to Mousse in the Fairy Tales Lice Good-Bye Survival Kit, except does not come with the Terminator comb or the prevention spray.
- LiceLogic Treatment Hair Spray to Kill Lice and Nits- Similar product as LiceLogic Clear & Free Shampoo enzyme, except in a spray.
Lice Treatments to Avoid Entirely
Permethrin and Pyrethrin
Studies show that lice and lice eggs are actually resistant to these products.(1,2) Unfortunately, these products are heavily advertised and recommended by folks without a lot of hands-on lice knowledge. These products were indeed effective twenty years ago, but since lice have evolved, they are no longer useful for killing lice. You can read more information about these products here.
Full Article and Review of Lice Products
For years, the go-to lice treatments were over-the-counter pesticides. Unfortunately, many people run to the drug store and grab these products without knowing that the old pesticide treatments we used twenty years ago are no longer effective at treating lice, and what’s more, lice are now almost completely resistant to these products.
The statistics are staggering. Recent studies show that at least 98% of lice today are unaffected by these traditional pesticide treatments. (1,2)
These drug-resistant lice are often referred to as super lice and these super lice become stronger and more resistant every time you use an ineffective treatment on your child’s head. So, before you grab just any lice shampoo off the shelf, let me help you discover the best head lice treatments and lice shampoos on the market today (and which ones to avoid) so you don’t get trapped in an endless lice cycle like this for months.
Since pesticides are no longer adequate to eliminate lice, it can be challenging for most people to navigate the lice shampoo world. There are hundreds of different lice products, and each one of them claims on the box to effectively kill lice and eggs.
The honest truth is that some of those statements on the boxes are flat-out lies. Many, if not most, of these products do not completely kill lice or lice eggs. That’s why so many people can’t seem to get rid of lice.
A crucial fact that many people overlook is that no matter what a lice product advertises, your goal should always be to remove all lice eggs from the hair. Leaving even one of these nits behind means lice can quickly make a comeback. Lice eggs have a thick waxy coating that makes them nearly impossible to kill. Removing them from the head ensures that lice will not hatch and reinfest you or your child.
Those that focus only on killing lice and not removing the eggs may find themselves stuck a very similar endless lice cycle not because of an ineffective product, but because new lice keep hatching from the eggs not removed from the head.
The best way to cure lice is with my online course How to Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro!
The Best and Fastest Lice Killers
One of the best-kept secrets of professional lice centers in North America is the active ingredient dimethicone. Dimethicone-based products are the best lice killers out there. I use dimethicone in my professional lice salon every day. I have tried several different products, but nothing compares in speed and effectiveness.
Dimethicone is a silicone-based oil that interrupts lice’s ability to breathe and excrete water. All lice die within fifteen minutes of its application. Multiple studies have shown that it is more effective than other treatments on the market. (3,4) One study shows that 98.3% of children tested were 100% free of live lice after only one treatment. (3)
Dimethicone is also safe and non-toxic. Most lotions, baby products, cosmetics, and conditioners contain dimethicone in small doses, insufficient for killing lice. When used in the right concentration, though, like the lice products I’ve shared, it is a true lice killer. Unfortunately, dimethicone does not kill all lice eggs, but no lice treatment kills all nits. This is why it’s so important to have a great lice comb on hand to follow up a lice treatment.
Advantages of Dimethicone:
-Kills lice in about fifteen minutes
-Safe for all ages
Disadvantages of Dimethicone:
-Does not loosen nit glue
-May leave hair greasy.
Best Over-All Lice Treatment Kit
LadiBugs Lice Elimination Kit
The LadiBugs Lice Elimination Kit has it all. The Mint Serum is safe and non-toxic, but certainly a potent lice killer. It also comes with an enzyme mousse, which helps loosen the glue that attaches lice eggs to hair. (You can read more about the enzymes that break down lice glue here) This Lice Elimination Kit also comes with a high-quality lice comb for meticulous lice egg removal.
The Mint Serum is in a bottle with a tapered nozzle, so you can easily administer the product directly to the scalp and hair. Simply apply the Mint Serum, wait fifteen minutes, and then all the lice on the head will be dead.
Next, using your fingers, work the enzyme-based mousse into the hair to being loosening the nits. These powerful enzymes break down the glue that holds lice eggs in place, making them much easier to remove and throw in the trash.
This kit does come with a high-quality comb. It is solid metal, and the teeth of the comb are spiraled, specifically designed grab stubborn nits.
This kit is a “one and done” treatment. Some may interpret that as done in one day, but really the process works best if the mousse in particular is applied several times over several days. The serum itself is used only once in the treatment process, but the enzyme mousse is intended to last for multiple uses. The “one and done” means that, unlike most products, you do not have to buy and apply the same product multiple times. It is recommended that you apply the mousse and comb through the hair every day until you have two or three consecutive combings without finding any lice eggs.
The kit provides 4oz of the lice killing Mint Serum, which is enough for two people with short hair or one person with long hair. For extra long hair, you may need two kits.
Best Treatment Kit for Killing Lice
Lice Clinics of America Lice Remover Kit
The Lice Clinics of America Lice Remover Kit is the easiest-to-use lice product I have seen. It comes packaged with great instructions and large pictures.
You can effortlessly apply the easy-rinse liquid gel directly to the roots of the hair because it comes with an easy dispense applicator. The liquid gel flows through small holes on the comb applicator, enabling you to cover the roots of the hair first, where most lice congregate. The other side of the applicator (the clear side) is used to distribute the liquid evenly throughout the hair.
Unlike most dimethicone products that leave hair greasy, Lice Clinic's Easy Rinse Liquid Gel washes away and leaves the hair soft.
As with all lice treatments, the essential part of eliminating lice long term is removing lice eggs. This kit comes with a high quality lice comb. The comb is spiraled and the teeth are close together, perfect for grabbing and removing stubborn nits.
Lice Clinics of America recommends retreating in ten days so you can kill any new lice that may have hatched from nits. It's not uncommon for people to miss a few eggs in the initial treatment and combing, so the additional retreatment is important. A refill bottle of Lice Clinics of America Liquid Gel (7oz) is $15.
The liquid gel that comes with the kit is 5.25oz, whereas most other products only come with 4oz. That is enough for two or three people with short hair or one person with considerably long hair.
LiceMD is inexpensive and you can most likely find it at a drugstore or supermarket. It was one of the first dimethicone lice treatments on the market.
Like most products, LiceMD does not kill lice eggs. The major disadvantage with LiceMD is that all you are getting is the dimethicone gel and a very flimsy plastic comb. This comb is not heavy duty enough to effectively remove lice eggs, so you will want to purchase your own high quality lice comb if you want to be sure the lice does not make a comeback (but remember, I’ve already done the research on these combs so you don’t have to!). LiceMD is excellent at killing already hatched lice and it is a great place to start when it comes to getting rid of lice on a budget.
Lice MD comes in a 4oz bottle, which is enough for two people with short hair or one person with long hair. For extra long hair, you will want to use two bottles.
Best Lice Treatments for Lice Eggs (Nits)
Enzyme-based products work by breaking down the exoskeleton of lice, killing them over time. Enzymes also break down the glue that holds lice eggs on the hair strand. These lice treatments work best if used multiple times, either over many days or multiple times on the same day.
The longer and more frequently enzymes interact with lice eggs, the easier and smoother the eggs are to remove. Enzymes break down the glue that holds the nits on the hair, but this takes more time than some of the other treatments we’ve talked about.
One benefit of using the mousse repeatedly is that you will comb through the hair multiple times throughout the week. In my experience, many people believe that they remove all lice eggs in their first combing, but no matter how meticulous you are, most folks usually miss several nits in their initial comb-through. Using the mousse and repeating the combing process increases your chances of getting all of the lice eggs out.
The disadvantage of all enzyme treatments is that they take more time to work. I find that after an enzyme lice treatment, some lice are still moving. I don’t know about you, but I prefer dead bugs. I’m talking super dead, lifeless and motionless. Definitely not moving. Because enzymes break down the exoskeleton of lice, they need more time to work, and lice often twitch for awhile even after the treatment time. Even if the lice are still shuddering a bit you can safely remove them with a lice comb and dispose of them down the drain or in the garbage and they will die after a little time.
Advantages of Enzymes:
- Enzymes break down the exoskeleton of the lice, killing them over time.
- Enzymes break down the glue that holds lice eggs in place, making them easier to remove.
- Safe to use multiple times in the same day or over multiple days.
Disadvantages of Enzymes:
- Work best over multiple uses, not “one time.”
- Take longer to kill lice; lice are often still twitching when removed.
Best Overall Lice Kit for Loosening Lice Egg Glue
Fairy Tales Lice Good-Bye Survival Kit
This kit is one of my favorites. It comes with an enzyme-based nit loosening mousse, an outstanding comb, and a preventative detangling spray. I even included this kit’s lice comb in my 5 Best Lice Combs article. As even more of a bonus, when used regularly, the Rosemary Repel Conditioning Spray can even prevent your child from getting lice in the future.
The Lice Good-Bye No Drip Mousse contains the enzymes that break down the exoskeleton of lice bugs. Even more importantly, however, the enzymes also break down the glue that holds lice eggs tightly in place on the hair strand.
If you still find nits in the hair after the first treatment and comb-through, you don’t need to worry because there is enough in the bottle that you can use this Lice Good-Bye No-Drip Mousse multiple times and it’s safe to use even in the same day. Simply apply the mousse again and let it sit. The more times you use the mousse, the more the enzymes can work to loosen the glue that holds nits in place, making them much easier to remove. After the enzymes have had time to work their magic, the Nit-Free Terminator comb included in the kit will do the rest. It is absolutely a fantastic lice comb, no question about it.
After you are completely lice free, you will definitely want to stay that way. This kit comes with a small bottle of Preventative Rosemary Repel Conditioning Spray to keep lice away for good.
The 4oz bottle of Lice Good-bye No-Drip Mousse is enough to treat one person with very long hair or two people with short hair.
Best Lice Product for Treating the Whole Family (Budget Friendly, Too!)
LiceLogic Clear & Free Shampoo
LiceLogic Clear & Free Shampoo contains the enzymes that break down the exoskeleton of lice and the glue that holds lice eggs in place. The 8oz bottle is enough for sixteen full treatments. That’s enough for two people with long hair or up to four people with shorter hair. This shampoo is even safe for children over two years old.
This shampoo unfortunately does not come with a lice comb. A lice comb is critical to eliminating lice for good, so you will want to purchase a high-quality metal lice comb in addition to buying this product. I recommend one of the lice combs here.
Like other enzyme products, this works best if used multiple times. The directions are to use the shampoo daily for seven to ten days after the infestation is believed to be gone in order to prevent potential reinfestation.
Best Natural Head Lice Treatments
Many try using natural ingredients and essential oils to kill lice without success. But these lice treatments use two natural ingredients to kill head lice: staphysagria and ledum palustre. Delphinuim staphisagria, nicknamed “lice bane,” is a flowering plant that grows in the mediterranean and it has been used to treat lice in Greece and Rome throughout centuries. Ledum palustre is a wild rhododendron that has been used as a general bug deterrent throughout the years.
Best Natural Lice Treatment Kit
Head Hunters Wipe Out Pro Lice Treatment (Regular 12oz), (Family 32oz)
This kit comes in a couple different sizes. The regular kit includes a 12oz bottle of WipeOut Head Lice Treatment that uses all natural ingredients to kill lice and comes with a high quality Nit-Free Terminator lice comb for lice egg removal.
WipeOut Head Lice Treatment uses two natural ingredients to kill head lice: staphysagria and ledum palustre. Delphinuim staphisagria, nicknamed “lice bane,” is a flowering plant that grows in the mediterranean and it has been used to treat lice in Greece and Rome throughout centuries. Ledum palustre is a wild rhododendron that has been used as a general bug deterrent throughout the years.
The consistency of WipeOut Head Lice Treatment is close to a thick conditioner. It is applied directly to the scalp in sections and then worked into the rest of the hair. The bottle comes with a pump nozzle for easy and clean application.
When I tested WipeOut in my lice treatment center, it successfully killed all lice bugs on every one of the clients I tested it. The key to this product is to make sure you apply it to every inch of the scalp in sections.
Everyone I tested it on loved it because it smells amazing (like citrus and flowers) and it leaves the hair incredibly soft. One downside to the product is that some people are allergic to the all natural ingredients in the treatment. If you are someone that is very allergic to flowers or floral scents, be aware that this product is made with ingredients from flowering plants.
Like many other lice treatments, WipeOut does not kill lice eggs. However, the WipeOut Pro Lice Treatment kit comes with the best comb on the market, the Nit-Free Terminator Comb. Even better, the conditioner-like consistency of the product makes combing out lice eggs significantly easier than other products on the market.
Best Lice Treatment for Black/Afro-Textured Hair
Head Hunters Wipe Out Lice Treatment - (32oz bottle)
Most lice treatments on the market today are designed for fine, even thin hair. There is an appalling lack of lice treatments designed for those with denser, afro-textured hair. It is a surprising misconception that Black people can’t get lice. This is unequivocally FALSE. People of all races and nationalities can and do get head lice. The barrier for those with afro-textured hair is that it may be completely impossible to slide a fine-toothed lice comb through such dense, spiraled tresses.
Additionally, most lice treatments come in the form of a shampoo, oil, or spray, typically geared toward fine, caucasian hair. Shampoos and sprays usually leave afro-textured hair extremely dry and cannot penetrate to the scalp because the hair is too thick. Oil products, like dimethicone, usually aren’t absorbed well in this kind of hair and usually end up dripping off the head instead of staying in the hair and on the scalp.
WipeOut Lice Treatment has a think conditioner-like consistency that is significantly better at saturating dense hair. It is applied directly to the scalp in sections, so as long as the hair can be sectioned, this treatment can be applied. The directions recommend leaving it for twenty minutes on the head, but many people prefer to leave it on longer. After it is rinsed from the hair, it leaves the hair soft instead of dry, just like a deep conditioner would.
For those with thick hair who are unable to use a fine-toothed lice comb to remove lice eggs, more than one treatment will be necessary, so I recommend buying the 32oz bottle.I recommend saturating the scalp every other day for two full weeks. Let the product sit in the hair for as long as you are reasonably able.
Everyone I tested this product on in my salon loved it because it smells amazing (like citrus and flowers) and it leaves the hair incredibly soft. The only downside is that some folks are allergic to the flowers used to make the product. If you have this kind of allergy, just remember that this shampoo is made with ingredients from flowering plants.
Again, for those unable to use a lice comb, purchase the 32oz family size bottle and use it every other day for two weeks.
Lice Products to Avoid Entirely
Now that you have a list of the best lice treatments and lice shampoos, I also want to warn you against some of the worst. Although I don’t want to call out any specific brands, I will tell you to not purchase any lice products with permethrin or pyrethrin as active ingredients.
Permethrin and pyrethrin are pesticides that are neurotoxins, meaning they are in fact toxic to the nervous system. In small doses, these pesticides were used to kill lice for many years. In the 1980s, they did work extremely well. However, over the last twenty or so years, lice have evolved and have become resistant to these neurotoxins. They are effective at killing neither lice nor lice eggs.
The most recent studies show that between 98-99% of lice in the US are resistant to permethrin and pyrethrin. (1,2) Additionally, of the 48 states tested in the study, every state had these resistant strains of lice. (1) Unfortunately, drug stores and pharmacies continue to stock their shelves with these products.
You may be wondering: Why are companies still making these products?
Well, from a strictly business perspective, big companies stand to make a lot more money on treatments that don’t work the first time than on treatments that do. Because these permethrin and pyrethrin treatments don't work well, people usually end up buying them three or four times before they realize they’ve been taken advantage of and try something new.
There are hundreds of lice products on the market. Some are OK and some are completely useless. Dimethicone products such as LadiBugs Lice Elimination Kit, Lice Clinics of America Lice Remover Kit, and LiceMD contain the best straight-up lice killing ingredient, but they will NOT cure your child of lice.
An all-natural product like the Head Hunters Lice Treatment is also a good option for those looking for a natural way to kill lice. It is also ideal for folks with super thick hair, too dense to effectively use a lice comb in, such as people with black/afro-textured hair.
Enzyme treatments like Fairy Tales Lice Good-Bye Survival Kit and LiceLogics Free & Clear Shampoo are the best at loosening and ultimately removing lice eggs. The enzymes in these products break down the exoskeleton of lice as well as the glue that holds lice eggs in place on the hair strand.
These can work if you use them multiple times. That is the key, you generally have to treat OVER and OVER again. So plan on spending significant money buying several lice kits, I've had students that have spent literally over a hundred dollars on lice products before finally taking my course. Once they took the course they were done with lice in one day...don't waste your TIME or MONEY check out the course and get lice free!
Avoid permethrin and pyrethrin lice treatments and shampoos; they are inferior against killing both lice and lice eggs. (1,2,3,4)
After any lice treatment, be sure to clean your house correctly to prevent re-infestation. There is a lot of misinformation about how to best clean your house after lice have been present, so be sure to follow up your treatment with tips from my article, Ultimate Lice Cleaning Checklist .
Best Lice Treatment Shampoos for 2020
- Best Over-All Lice Treatment Kit- LadiBugs Lice Elimination Kit
- Best Treatment Kit for Killing Lice- Lice Clinics of America Lice Remover Kit
- Best Lice Treatment on a Tight Budget- LiceMD
- Best Natural Lice Treatment Kit- Head Hunters Wipe Out Pro Lice Treatment
- Best Natural Lice Treatment Kit for Family- Head Hunters Wipe Out Pro Lice Treatment Family Size (32 oz)
- Best Kit for Lice Eggs- Fairy Tales Lice Good-Bye Survival Kit
- Best Lice Product for Treating The Whole Family (Budget Friendly, Too!)- LiceLogic Clear & Free Shampoo
- Best Lice Treatment for Black/Afro-Textured Hair- Head Hunters Wipe Out Lice Treatment (32 oz bottle)
- Honorable Mention Lice Killer: Nit Free Oil Treatment
- Honorable Mention Lice Killer: Lice Lifters Lice Solution Treatment
- Honorable Mention Lice Treatment Kit for Family: Happyheads Bye-Bye Lice Family Treatment Box Kit
- Honorable Mention Mousse to Remove Lice Eggs: Nit Free Lice and Nit Eliminating Mousse and Nit Glue Dissolver
- Honorable Mention Nit Removal Spray: LiceLogic Treatment Hair Spray to Kill Lice and Nits
Theresa is a Registered Nurse and lice expert. She owns a top lice treatment salon where she helps families battling lice every day. Disappointed by the false information about lice and lice treatment on the web, Theresa created MyLiceAdvice.com to empower families to get rid of lice on their own--and fast. Read more about Theresa and her lice journey at “From Cardiac Nurse to Lice Expert”.