The 8 Best Headache Medicines of 2019

Get pain relief when you need it

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

First Look

Best Overall: Tylenol Extra Strength Caplets at Amazon

"A non-aspirin pain reliever that’s highly regarded."

Best Budget: Equate Extra Strength Headache Relief Caplets at Amazon

"Acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine work to stop your headache."

Best for Tension Headaches: Excedrin Tension Headache at Amazon

"Quickly relieves pain in your head, neck, and shoulders."

Best for Sinus Headaches: Tylenol Sinus + Headache at Amazon

"Uses a combination of pain-relieving ingredients."

Best for Migraines: Excedrin Migraine at Amazon

"Some people notice reduced symptoms in as little as 30 minutes."

Best All Natural: Eu Natural’s My Brain! Headache Relief at Amazon

"The vegetarian capsules have no artificial ingredients."

Best Powder: Goody’s Extra Strength Headache Powders at Amazon

"The powder rapidly dissolves in water."

Best Topical: Stopain Migraine Topical Pain Relieving Gel at Walmart

"The gel works its magic by attacking pain in your neck."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Tylenol Extra Strength Caplets

Tylenol Extra Strength Caplets

 Courtesy of Amazon

This ubiquitous over-the-counter medication comes in first for headache relief. Its active ingredient is acetaminophen, a non-aspirin pain reliever that’s highly regarded as the best first-line medication for mild to moderate headaches. It has relatively few side effects, and it causes fewer stomach issues than other OTC headache medications. Tylenol is easy to find online or in brick and mortar stores (and it’s easy on your wallet, too).

Best Budget: Equate Extra Strength Headache Relief Caplets

A headache is already painful enough without adding money woes the mix. Equate’s Extra Strength Headache Relief Caplets have the power of name-brand ingredients in a wallet-friendly generic package.

Acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine come together in this formula to stop your headache in its tracks. The caffeine boosts the pain-relieving power of acetaminophen and the anti-inflammatory effects of aspirin and it also helps your body absorb medications more quickly. You might notice faster, more potent relief from your headache with this medication.

Best for Tension Headaches: Excedrin Tension Headache

Tension headaches are common, but that doesn’t make them any less painful. They tend to feel like a tight band is squeezing around your head, and they are often associated with muscle tightness in your head, scalp, or neck.

Excedrin Tension Headache combines two powerful ingredients to get rid of your headache fast. Acetaminophen and caffeine join forces, resulting in a tension headache medication that quickly works to relieve pain in your head, and also may reduce pain in your neck and shoulders.

Looking for more options to relieve pain? Check out the best pillows for neck pain available online.

Best for Sinus Headaches: Tylenol Sinus + Headache

If you start feeling pain in the front of your head and around your eyes when springtime pollen hits the air, you may be experiencing sinus headaches. These painful headaches happen when the sinus passages in your cheeks, nose, and eyes swell up. They can occur as an unfortunate side effect from allergies, or you might get one when you have a cold or the flu. Luckily, Tylenol Sinus + Headache treats inflammation and pain so you can get on with your day.

This medication uses a combination of pain-relieving acetaminophen and congestion-reducing phenylephrine HCl to tackle your headache from both ends. These caplets are also non-drowsy so you can take them during the day without worrying about nodding off at work.

Best for Migraines: Excedrin Migraine

Migraines are painful chronic headaches that affect roughly 12 percent of Americans. They often cause other symptoms besides pain, such as mood swings, visual disturbances (like flashing lights or zig-zag lines), and increased sensitivity to light and sound. Many people with migraines need to consult doctors and use prescription medications to control their symptoms, but an over-the-counter pick like Excedrin Migraine may also help keep migraine pain at bay.

Excedrin Migraine combines acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine for quick relief from painful headaches. Some people notice reduced symptoms in as little as 30 minutes from this inexpensive, widely-available medication.

Best All Natural: Eu Natural’s My Brain! Headache Relief

If you struggle with headaches but prefer to use alternative medicine, you might have trouble finding a treatment that aligns with your lifestyle choices. Eu Natural’s My Brain! Headache Relief uses a proprietary blend of herbs and minerals to reduce your headache symptoms.

This supplement combines migraine-preventing magnesium (which may reduce muscle spasms), feverfew (a plant that has historically been used to treat headaches), and vitamin D (low levels might contribute to headaches if you have a deficiency). The vegetarian capsules have no artificial ingredients, gluten, wheat, or dairy, so you’ll only ingest headache-fighting ingredients without unnecessary additives.

Best Powder: Goody’s Extra Strength Headache Powders

Tablets and capsules can’t be beat when it comes to convenience, but they’re not the best option if you have trouble swallowing pills. If you fall into this camp, Goody’s Extra Strength Headache Powders mix into a glass of water for quick relief.

A triple-threat combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine promotes a speedy solution for your headache pain. The powder rapidly dissolves in water, or you can pour it into your mouth and chase it with water or another drink. It’s available in a range of fruit flavors, too.

Best Topical: Stopain Migraine Topical Pain Relieving Gel

Stopain

Walmart 

There are more tactics you can try if taking pills for your headaches isn’t enough. Topical headache medicine can soothe the muscle tension that causes your discomfort, and Stopain’s Migraine Gel is a quick remedy that reduces pain at any stage of your headache.

Although this gel is specifically designed for migraine pain, it can be used for any type of headache. The gel works its magic by attacking pain in your neck (stiff neck muscles are a common source of headache woes). It doesn’t interact with most medications so you can use it up to four times a day while taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen for your headache.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best OTC pain relievers can help you find what you're looking for.

Our Process

Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular headache medicines on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 18 different medicines overall, screened options from 9 different brands and manufacturers, read over 27 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 4 of the medicines themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

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