Mane Attraction: The Best Organic Shampoos
When you care about what you put on your body as much as what you put in your body, there's no question that organic shampoo should be part of your regular routine. Whether it's natural, cruelty-free skincare and hair products or pesticide-free food, minimizing your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals is key to enjoying a healthier lifestyle.
While near countless products proclaim to be natural, the old Latin saying "caveat emptor" ("let the buyer beware") certainly applies when it comes to buying shampoo. In other words, do your own research and don't allow pretty packaging and clever advertising to distract you from carefully reading the list of ingredients.
Even if a shampoo is made with organic ingredients, there could also be potentially toxic synthetic fillers added, which hardly makes for an all-natural hair cleanser. Look for the USDA certified organic seal on the bottle, which ensures the product contains 95 percent or more organic content. Reading every ingredient on the list is the only way you will know for sure whether or not it's a truly natural shampoo.
To help you cut through the clutter, take a look through our handy guide so you can shop with confidence and select the best organic shampoo for your hair type.
Is Organic Shampoo Worth It?
In a word, yes. There are many benefits to using an organic shampoo, including healthier hair. Naturally derived, biodegradable ingredients offer a gentle alternative to harsh chemicals that can be damaging not only to your hair, but also to your body and the environment.
What's more, when you use a shampoo with only natural ingredients, there is a reduced likelihood of an allergic reaction. This is especially important for those with sensitive scalps, brittle hair, or hair loss.
The good news is that many natural shampoos, including some organic shampoos, don't necessarily cost more than those that are loaded with questionable chemicals. Affordable brands such as Avalon Organics and EO (Essential Oils) can be found at most natural food stores, drug stores, and supermarkets for prices that are comparable with commercial mainstream brands.
That said, if you're willing to splurge, consider Rahua, which goes for about $34 a bottle. Yes, it's pricey, but this high-end line of herbaceous-smelling organic shampoo and hair care products is made with sustainable, natural ingredients from the Amazon rainforest.
What to Look for in Shampoo
Just as it's essential to know your skin type when deciding on a moisturizer or shopping for makeup, it's equally important to know what sort of shampoo will work best for your hair type. Below are some of the star ingredients that promote healthy hair. Regardless of your hair type, always choose a sulfate-free shampoo and paraben-free shampoo. (More on that later.)
A delicious hair treat that's good enough to eat, coconut oil deeply moisturizes and can help with dry scalp. It can also potentially stimulate hair growth, which is ideal for fine hair types. Of course, coconut oil is also great for creating silky, shiny strands for all hair types.
Loaded with vitamin E, minerals, and antioxidants, argan oil is a go-to ingredient for creating softer and more manageable hair. Because of its conditioning abilities, it's ideal for smoothing and taming frizzy hair and curly hair.
If you have thin hair or an irritated scalp, aloe vera is a must. Enzymes found in aloe help to repair dead skin cells on the scalp while the plant's rich nutrients hydrate hair, add bounce, and increase elasticity to thirsty, limp tresses without weighing them down.
As its name suggests, shea butter is a buttery-textured fat that comes from the nut of the African shea tree. Especially beneficial for damaged or dry hair, curly hair, and coarse hair types, this popular ingredient helps retain moisture in every strand. Plus, its emollient qualities add shine to natural hair color.
Tea Tree Oil
With its balancing antibacterial properties, tea tree oil is known for boosting scalp health, fighting dandruff, and helping to unclog oil that might be blocking hair follicles. It also adds a little tingle to "wake up" your head. This essential oil is often found in clarifying shampoos to remove build-up on oily hair types and irritated scalps.
As you detox your locks from chemical-laden hair products, don't forget to reset your skin with natural products such as Feel's warming clay mask that draws out impurities for a replenished, healthy look.
What to Avoid in Shampoo
No matter what hair type you have, there's no reason you should use a shampoo with the ingredients listed below. Keep in mind that these are just a few of the most common chemicals found in shampoos. This is by no means a fully comprehensive list, so research any ingredients that you're not sure about.
Made of sulfur-containing mineral salts, sulfates are detergents that work as foaming agents to give shampoo the lathering quality that most of us associate with cleaning our hair. However, sulfates can be very drying and irritating to skin, scalp, and eyes.
Ironically, many so-called moisturizing shampoos use sulfates despite their tendency to strip hair of its natural oils. The most common sulfates used in shampoos are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).
These preservatives are used to prevent bacteria growth and increase the shelf life of products ranging from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals to food. While the FDA offers no conclusive evidence, there are many health concerns that parabens — including butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben — are linked to hormone disruption and even breast cancer.
Often called plasticizers, these chemicals are used to make plastics more flexible and are used as gelling agents in shampoo. Dimethyl phthalate (DMP) is a common one, but most phthalates are undisclosed under the term "fragrance" to make scent last longer.
Fragrance or Parfum
An umbrella (not to mention vague) term for any synthetic scent, fragrance is among the most questionable ingredients typically derived from petroleum-based chemicals. In fact, fragrance isn't just one ingredient — it could actually be thousands.
Because the term is not regulated by the USDA, companies can use an array of undisclosed chemicals (such as phthalates) to create the perfume in shampoo, body wash, or any number of products.
Note: Fragrance oils are not the same as essential oils, which are distilled from pure plant extracts. If a shampoo's scent is formulated from natural essential oils, the label will say so. If the label simply says "parfum" or "fragrance" — even if it claims to be a "natural product" — you can bet it's far from natural.
Finding an organic shampoo that cleans, moisturizes, and provides the results you want is an important part of your overall plan to enjoy a healthier beauty routine. When you choose an organic shampoo and conditioner, along with natural skincare, you'll be head and shoulders above the rest.