Mane ‘N Tail Is The Best Horse Shampoo For Humans


Multipurpose products have a special allure. Like white vinegar, for example: it removes odor from gym clothes, helps dye Easter eggs, and unclogs drains! Or Benetint: it stains lips AND cheeks. The allure is doubled if you live in a small apartment with limited storage space. Every item you own must work hard to deserve its portion of your 300 square-feet. Multipurpose items have an obvious advantage.

Their appeal is intensified by the onset of spring. Spring is the season of simplifying and scrubbing. Every April, like clockwork, I start thinking about how nice it would be to have a uniform. What if I wore a white shirt, leather jacket, and 501s every day? Or a navy silk dress? I could just buy copies of each item, and then I’d never have to worry about what to wear…

The conceptual pleasure of simplifying is real—but for me, it is also short-lived. I like the idea of eating the same thing for lunch every day, but not the monotonous reality of it. I like the notion of Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Peppermint Castile Liquid Soup, but it is exceptionally drying. Benetint makes me look like a clown.

There is one exception, and that is Mane ’n Tail Shampoo. I use it as a shampoo and body wash, and I could also use it to wash my horse, if I owned a horse. It has a light scent and lathers up in cloudy suds. The bottles are comically large—if you keep one in your shower caddy and it falls off in the middle of the night, you will wake up believing that an intruder has invaded the premises.

But the jumbo size is good, because a bottle lasts six months—and two bottles of shampoo a year is a pretty good burn rate. (It comes out to 8 cents per shampoo, if you wash twice a week.) The bottle weighs exactly 2 lbs, which means you can also sub it for weights in the Tracy Anderson routine of your choice. Printed on the side are two sets of instructions—one for humans and one for horses. See if you can guess which one this is:

Add a liberal amount of Mane 'n Tail Shampoo into a bucket of warm water. Pre-wet the coat with just water to remove excessive, loose dirt. Apply shampoo solution with a sponge and massage until a rich lather appears. Let lather remain on the hair for several minutes. Rinse until water runs clear. Towel dry.

Applied in the usual human fashion, Mane ’n Tail leaves my hair shiny and clean. A coat of Mane ’n Tail Conditioner on the ends keeps it moisturized, too.

Is Mane ’n Tail the best possible treatment for human hair? Probably not. But it works, and it’s cheap, and you can buy it at nearly every drugstore. It’s a simplifying mechanism that I can stick with. I will never eat the same thing for lunch every day or consolidate my closet into a row of identical black dresses, but at least my shower is sparklingly minimal: one shampoo, one conditioner, one soap, the end.

—Molly Young

Photo by Annie Kreighbaum.

For more hair stories, check out how biotin may not actually be working for your hair, how to deal with alopecia, and why the lob will probably always reign supreme.

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  • Jessica Rose

    This product made my hair really dry.......despite using the conditioner as well.....I had visions of my hair growing to Cousin It lengths....when I started with it...ended up having to give it away to a friend....who loved it!!

  • Georgina

    I like the shampoo but the conditioner does nothing for my hair, it just leaves it a knotty mess.

  • Bolly

    So funny, M&T is considered so cheap and 'meh' in the States, but over here in the UK it is sold as a 'chic style and beauty secret!' at ridiculously inflated prices.

    • magicmollys

      omg have we found an arbitrage opportunity? Do you want to go into the import/export business?

      • Bolly

        You bet your ass I do. 4 a bottle in the USA vs I think £16 here?

        • Jlp

          £9 at Liberty as of May 1st. Still, no match in terms of softness (and smell) if compared to Philosophy 3-in-1

  • Katie

    Navy Silk Dress for the uniform win. When would it not be so right???

    • magicmollys

      Yes exactly! I have one from H&M that is ideal. You can machine-wash it, crumple it into a ball the size of a plum for traveling, wear it with sandals at the beach or something nice for dinner. Once when I was wearing it I saw a woman on the subway who was wearing the same dress. We made meaningful eye contact.

  • Teresa

    I hear you on the drying properties of Dr Bronners. In an ideal world, I would have one bottle of cleanse-it-all soapy substance, an AHA/retinol/antioxidant serum, a moisturiser, the perfect sunscreen, and a perfectly edited Ellis Faas holder of 8 perfect makeup items. Something to aspire to, perhaps, but in the meantime I'm quite happy being a product hussy.

    • Alaska

      This sounds like a dream

    • Sarah

      Have you heard of Zoe Foster's skin care line go-to? It is basically just these products, and they're pretttty rad. She's Australian.

      • Teresa

        I just read about them in the latest Elle or Fashion Quarterly! (I'm from NZ.) Will need to hunt down a stockist. I'm a fan of hers from some of her beauty writing, so keen to check it out.

  • mermaidsdream

    Word to the wise-- this conditioner works best on extremely (EXTREMELY) dry, overprocessed hair, just like (you guessed it!) a horse. I've found that it just really weighs down my just normal-dry hair and makes it look greasy. It would probably work wonders on bleached hair, though!

  • magicmollys

    Oof. I'm so confused about whether sodium lauryl sulfate is evil...I feel like I read equal opinions on both sides and wind up totally confused. Is it possible to get cheap shampoo that doesn't have sodium lauryl sulfate? I just can't bring myself to buy shampoo for more than $6.

    • M Meador

      Agreed, I initially was totally 'anti' sodium lauryl sulfates and would drive myself nuts trying to find drugstore shampoos that didn't have them. But as time has gone on I've realized that what actually makes a difference for my hair is not the SLS, but my diet, how frequently I wash my hair, easing up on heat styling, and using conditioning products in general (high end or low end). And I still enjoy Pantene Pro-V moisture renewal shampoo, super basic, but totally does job for a wash a few times a week! Definitely not harming my hair or color.

      • Nina R.

        I believe the Pantene shampoos contain laureth sulfates, not lauryl sulfates.

        • M Meador

          gotcha just meant SLS in general.

    • Nina R.

      Most inexpensive/drugstore shampoos do not have lauryl sulfates. They usually have laureth sulfates, but as I said, that is just a soap and not potentially harmful.

  • AnalisaM

    I don't use it on myself...but I do use it on my horse. And it does wonders for her mane & tail...they are always so soft & shiny afterwards. WalMart, usually $4ish per bottle.

  • Lauren

    I'm African American and my mom used to use this to wash and condition my hair growing up. She changed at one point. I usually get my hair washed and flat ironed at salons now (jcpenney usually) and haven't looked back...chi, kericare, mizani.

  • Samantha

    Sometimes I feel like shampoo and conditioner or sulfates matter. Its all about the water quality in your city.

    • holydances

      This is such a girl-y thread. :)

    • Angelina C

      Sulfates are not damaging for your hair but it's horrendous for the environment as it does not break down when washed down the drain and remains in the environment.

  • Merrill

    I used this for around six months, and it made me smell like maple syrup. I don't know why or how, but thats the (odd and not-as-delicious-as-you'd-think) reaction I had with it. I also wasn't a huge fan of the sulfates, but I've heard about a lot of women who love it!

    • holydances

      my horse riding friend used this all throughout high school and her hair smelt like rotten eggs. no joke.

      • Samantha


      • Merrill

        It really was the strangest thing. I'm glad mine didn't smell like rotten eggs!

  • adoption revolution

    I use this on my dog...he smells amazing and his coat is soft and shiny...

  • Abby

    I melted when we got to the horse shampooing instructions. I frankly couldn't care less about sulfates (I draw my personal line just before things that wash off) so rock on.

  • Jo

    Tried this product a few months ago and it totally delivered but I noticed my hair got really greasy after several uses. Then I tried Lee Stafford's argan/moroccan oil conditioner along with my standard, organic sulfate-free shampoo and that combination was MAGIC. My hair is normally weird; frizzy, thin, big, long, dry ends, oily scalp, the whole shebang. But this combination made it feel/look thick, glossy, supersoft, and healthy with nice, untangled soft curls. And it doesn't go flat/oily as fast because the natural shampoo doesn't strip my scalp of all its natural oils and I only use the conditioner on the ends/bottom half. Try it.


    "if you keep one in your shower caddy and it falls off in the middle of the night, you will wake up believing that an intruder has invaded the premises." YESS so spot on.

    & the number of times I've dropped those bottles on my feet..ouchhh.

  • me

    I decided to start using Mane n Tail last year after getting sick of spending so much money on hair products. The shampoo is okay but I the conditioner is everything! I use it to conditon of course, but also as a leave in moisturizer when my hair is dry. It leaves my hair feeling amazing!

  • Alisia

    I have been using Mane n Tail for years and I love it. My friend's mom first introduced me to it in 9th grade. "It's for horses," I sneered. Then, I spent the night, had no choice but to use it in my morning shower, and promptly apologized and have been hooked since then. Alisia

  • holydances

    this shampoo made my bff's hair smell so bad for an entire summer. i don't know why. she was also a horseback rider.

  • Samantha

    Why is no one talking about what appears to be a gold glitter bathtub?

  • carlala

    This product has great packaging and story but really didn't do much for my hair... it's just a marketing stunt, i prefer bumble and bumble any day!

  • Cristy Moreno

    I have thick, curly hair and it's been a mess since birth. Mane 'n Tail is the only thing that has helped my hair; it's less frizzy, shinier and the conditioner helps detangle my hair easily.

  • Dulcie

    I was so excited to try these products but found that I just couldn't get the shampoo to rinse cleanly and my roots felt so greasy. The conditioner didn't make my hair feel soft at all but I do believe that it has strengthening properties. So, a little disappointed overall!

  • Kate

    Thanks for the review.

    Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is harsh. There's debate as to whether it's carcinogenic. Sodium Laureth Sulfate is a very mild surfactant that produces suds. I avoid the former and use the latter. There are many drugstore shampoos that have the latter and not the former.

    I actually love Dr. Bronner's Lavender Pure Castile Liquid Soap. I think many people are disappointed in it because it's misused. I'd never offer someone who asked for orange juice pure concentrate. It would be too concentrated. Dr. Bronner's is concentrated too and should be diluted before use. I have skin that tends to be dry. It likes Dr. Bronner's.

  • Nat

    Sorry I have to disagree as a hairdresser all sulphate is, is a cleansing agent it's what make the shampoo froth up that is all not damaging to the hair at all.
    People believe so many stupid things.

    • Charlie

      funny because i was told by an asshole hairdresser that it was desperately important that i find a sulphate-free shampoo as it was really damaging my hair. and oh look, heres the line we conveniently stock in the salon which is £40 a bottle, but it will be sooo worth it!

      no offence, but 99% of hairdressers are crooks. doesnt matter that im a student with little to no money to my name, theyll still try and squeeze an extra treatment or purchase in there.

      • Angelina C

        It's not damaging for your hair but it's horrendous for the environment as it does not break down when washed down the drain and remains in the environment.

  • Angelina C

    The sulfate is not bad for your hair, it's bad for the environment.

  • Marc Tomassi

    I outta try this im a male with long hair no colors added
    very full thick hair to my shoulders. It's a lot of hair though! This shud be perfect my hair is too groovy lol.n so non damaged haha will see wat this shall do

  • Marc Tomassi

    Sounds perfect for me right? ?Idk im new to this


Mane 'n Tail and Body
Mane ‘n Tail The Original Shampoo
Mane 'n Tail and Body
Mane 'n Tail The Original Conditioner