Do we really need to be concerned about what's in our shampoo? It's on our heads for, like what? 2 minutes tops?
Okay. You’re thinking that it’s just hair. It’s dead. Who cares if there are some toxic ingredients in it? Hair can’t absorb it and we’re washing it out anyway.
It sounds like a logical argument. It's wrong. But it does sound logical.
This is not the area to be lax with your health awareness. Your hair isn’t the concern. It’s the wonderfully thirsty, porous, spongy layers of your scalp! They are the most sensitive and absorbent part of your body.
Products applied to the scalp go directly into the blood, without any filtering.
Actually, the same goes for any product we put anywhere on our skin. Unlike food, which gets filtered by our liver, ingredients from skincare products and cosmetics go directly into our bloodstream if the molecules are small enough. And our scalps? Like a kid with a juice box, they suck in what’s put on it.
Shampoo is the most popular of hair products. Which is great because that means we're a clean little bunch here. However. And that's a big however. Most shampoos have a big, dirty secret. They're not clean.
The chemicals in most shampoos could strip car paint. That's not good.
Most shampoos have a pretty standard formula: water, emollients, preservatives, and the most important ingredient: detergent. Many commercial shampoos contain ingredients that:
1. Are known or suspected of causing cancer
2. Negatively affect the nervous system
3. Trigger asthma or allergies
4. And have other harmful effects. Check out Environmental Working Group's reports for all the different illnesses and disorders that come from some of these chemicals.
Detergents are little scam artists. They make us think that shampoo is clean.
Detergents, like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, lather up and work very well to remove dirt and oils from our hair. It’s effective at removing dirt and oil. But so is Tide. We don't put that in our hair. It's not a safe or even the best solution. And it's doing unnecessary damage.
It gives us the sudsing action we think we love. FYI, those "cleansing" suds do not occur naturally in nature. Manufacturers add them. Why? Because somehow we got it in our heads that we need it to make our hair clean. I guess all those hair commercials just wouldn't have looked as good with no white bubbles in the beautiful girl's beautiful hair.
At the very least, these detergent ingredients strip the natural oils from your hair and scalp. That makes your scalp more absorbent to bad stuff like synthetic chemicals and leaves your hair unnaturally dry. It can also be very irritating to your scalp. It makes no sense. We strip our hair and then lather it with oil and moisture (conditioner). Often to compensate for drying the hair, other chemical ingredients are added to the shampoo to coat the hair and make it feel less dry and more conditioned.
Safer, more effective, non-toxic alternatives exist and the transition is easy!
Do not compromise your health just for temporary beauty. There's no need! You don't have to sacrifice your beauty for your health. Safer, milder detergents like decoyl glucoside may be used. This is a plant derived, gentler, biodegradable, effective, but slightly more expensive solution. It is found in some organic shampoos. And there are plenty of products that have other more natural ingredients without having to use toxic chemicals.
My opinion? Even if these products have a slightly higher price, your health is worth the extra expense. It could save you from costly disorders, illnesses, and healthcare fees down the road.
So here's our list of cleaner, more non-toxic shampoo choices that we would put into our Stylists' Shopping Bag (in no particular order)! Remember, when shopping the first thing you need to do is read the ingredients. If it reads like your high school chemistry class, run. If it reads like a recipe or a garden list, stay. And buy. Everything in my bathroom can be safely eaten (wouldn't taste great. But good to know I can!)
Desert Essence Organics
PROS: Has a very effective line of hair products for all different hair types. Love all the flavors: grape, raspberry, apple ginger, coconut, lemon, etc. They all smell delicious and leave my hair smelling clean, fresh, and edible. Unfortunately, I can’t use all of them because they’re not all for my hair type. Some really tangle my hair. So make sure you buy what’s right for your hair type. A small amount goes a long way making it very economical. It has a gel-like consistency but it’s smoother and not as thick as sulfate shampoos. CONS: Some find the fragrance too strong and not authentic. Depending on your hair type, it can be drying if you choose the wrong formula. EWG SCORE:3-4
Kiss My Face
PROS: Gentle. Good for sensitive scalps. The Whenever Shampoo seems to be the most popular of the formulas. Bursting with flower waters, wheat protein, and plant extracts and infusions. No added toxic fragrance. Uses natural preservatives like Vitamin E and citric acid. Has a light, clean scent and leaves hair soft and shiny. It’s also been known to help people eliminate their dandruff and itchy scalp dilemmas. You can go 2-3 days (if you’re not sweating or exercising profusely) without washing and hair still feels silky and clean. It does lather up pretty well, but there’s a “not good” reason for that. See CONS: Has mild petroleum derived surfactants, so beware if you’re sensitive to those ingredients, and beware even if you’re not sensitive. Also, you have to use a little more product than with traditional shampoos. EWG SCORE: 3-5
Nature's Paradise Organics
PROS: The first shampoo ever to bear the USDA Organic seal. Few chemicals. Absolutely 100% Sulfate free, Paraben Free. No harsh ingredients. Yes it is VEGAN and all are Gluten Free. Provides 3 formulas for thickening, moisturizing, or relaxing. Read the ingredient list, it’ll feel like you’re reading a recipe, which I love. THAT’S how products should be. These are great, organic hair care products that clean and condition your hair at reasonable prices. Sometimes I use the baby shampoo. Love the smell. CONS: Not much I don’t like about this shampoo. It is hard to find sometimes. EWG SCORE: 0-1
Skinny Skinny Organic Dry Shampoo
Dry shampoo has been around for awhile but Skinny Skinny has made it pretty amazing. PROS: The company claims you can go up to 3 days without washing your hair with this formula and still have it look healthy and not oily. They say we shouldn’t wash our hair as often as we do because it’s damaging, wasteful of our resources, and time consuming. The powder soaks up any oil and hair looks as good, if not better, than when freshly washed and blown, even people with oily hair. The scents are lovely, mild, and fresh and you smell like you just showered. It’s like perfume for your hair. They are pretty easy to use and a little goes a long way. These shampoos also give your hair an awesome texture that doesn’t require as much styling products to have volume. All of the packaging is made from recycled or biodegradable materials and the shampoos contain certified organic ingredients and are 100 percent vegan. CONS: The powder is a little messy to use at first, so be careful when opening the product and watch out for fallen powder on clothes. Be careful how much you use, too, and make sure to comb your hair thoroughly, otherwise you’ll be walking around with a Founding Fathers’ white wig do. You may want to use it in an area that is easy to sweep up too, as some powder could fly about. If you want to take a break between shampoos, though, this is a great product to check out. EWG SCORE: not available but my guess is that it’s probably somewhere under a 3.
John Masters Organics
PROS: John Masters is a pioneer and leader in organic hair care and has a pretty great reputation for most of his products. He says that daily shampooing is not essential and that we have to be gentle with our hair. His Zinc & Sage Shampoo with Conditioner is great for people with sensitive scalps. It uses a mild, naturally derived surfactant. Very cleansing for hair and scalp without being drying. Plenty of ingredients that enhance your hair with essential oils that smell divine. CONS: Not totally organic but made with safer ingredients. They even have organic shampoo for your sweet pets so they'll smell good! EWG SCORE: 3
PROS: A totally clean shampoo that is great for any type of hair. Aubrey never has added fragrances or synthetic preservatives. Because of the natural ingredients, remember to shake it before you use it because it can settle sometimes. Free of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Parabens, and Petrochemicals. The Island Naturals Shampoo and Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Shampoo are great with a coconut and corn soap base and tons of plant extracts that add to the health of your hair. It also has a lovely, soft scent. Be aware that there is only a little lather but it does not contain sulfates, which is good. Cleanses very effectively and leaves hair silky soft. Pantene converters have said this leaves their hair shiny, bouncy and healthy looking like Pantene used to. CONS: Island Naturals and Honeysuckle Rose have good fragrances but some of the others don’t smell as good to me. They all work just as well. There are some who think the Rose fragrance is too floral and strong, but love the results from the product enough to not care about the scent. Again, buy according to your hair type. Some of these leave my hair really tangled. EWG SCORE: 2-3
PROS: 100% natural, chemical-free hair cleansing. One of the first companies to offer USDA skin and hair care products created this organic shampoo that uses clay to clean. Yep, you read that right. Clay. Believe me, you will need a little bit of faith to rub mud into your hair thinking it will do it good. But it does. They use pure, simple ingredients that gently work without coating your hair. Very safe to use even for those with sensitive scalps. Leaves your hair incredibly soft. CONS: They warn that hair that has been shampooed with conventional shampoo or color treated will go through a detox period where all the chemicals that the hair has absorbed will be removed. You may go through a period of time where your hair is not at it’s best. Make sure to read the instructions before buying this product so you know what to expect. EWG SCORE: 0-2
PROS: Raw, Vegan, Eco-friendly, and Paleo-friendly. A very healthy line of products comes out of this company. Their shampoo helps with any sensitive or dry scalp problems. Leaves hair soft, shiny, pretty, and silky. Very healthy for hair and body. CONS: Main complaints are minimal lather, it’s not the cheapest shampoo on the block, and some people don’t like the earthy smell of some of the products. EWG SCORE: 0-1
PROS: The More Moisture Raspberry & Brazil Nut formula smells heavenly and is probably the most moisturizing formula in this brand of shampoos. The other formulas smell great, too, but are definitely for people with oily hair. Cleanses well with a soapy foam that comes from a natural surfactant and not a sulfate. Rich in natural omega-3 essential fatty acids, honey, soy protein, and a bunch of plant oils. Improves hair health and is gentle. Cleans well and is good if you have oily hair. Preservative free. CONS: Not good for people with dry hair because it’s not very moisturizing and can leave hair tangled and limp. Doesn’t have much lather, which is fine, since most non-toxic shampoos don’t lather. EWG SCORE: 0-5
PROS: A beautiful line of hair products. This Brazilian company’s line of shampoos is imbibed with Brazilian Rain Forest plants, essential oils and vegetal oils rich in nutrients that help in the regeneration of hair and in the restoration of natural fat required to keep hair healthy and full of luster. It has minimal lather, cleans effectively, and leaves hair soft and natural looking, without frizz. Has five different formulas, each pretty gentle, that contains essential oil from the bark of the Preciosa tree that provides a unique experience that doesn’t occur with other plants in nature: its natural fragrance is incapable of being reproduced even in the most sophisticated laboratories. The five choices are: Ucuuba & Vegetal Protein for curly and fragile hair, Brazil Nut & Vegetal Protein for dry and damaged hair, Cupuaçu & Vegetal Protein for normal and straight hair. Buriti & Vegetal Protein for dyed and damaged hair, and Murumuru & Vegetal Protein for oily hair. I love that the company is in a special cooperative venture that supports the mandatory sustainable harvesting of all Brazilian raw materials. This relationship with the Amazon residents preserves not only the forests but also the survival of its inhabitants who make their living collecting in a sustainable manner.CONS: The only downside is it doesn’t leave hair as shiny as some other brands. EWG SCORE: 2-3
Colorflage Daily Color Defense Shampoos by Giovanni
I did feel the need to include a line of shampoos specifically for people who struggle with giving up their toxic hair color treatments and want a shampoo that won’t ruin their costly addiction. PROS: This line is better than other paraben, phthalate, sulfate filled shampoos and it protects from color fading along with boasting effective cleansing power and keeping hair soft. This line is great for making grays much less noticeable and is better than dyes or henna if you just have a few grays to cover. It lathers well, and leaves hair clean and manageable. There’s a pretty general consensus that it leaves hair shiny and smooth, and dyed hair color lasts longer. Smells great, not overly scented but subtly sensual, perfect consistency, and a little goes a long way. CONS: Ok so this stuff doesn’t have the most heavenly of ingredients, it contains polysorbate-60, fragrance, acrylates copolymer, and a number of other questionable elements. EWG SCORE: not available for this line, but other shampoos from Giovanni range from 2-5