Using the best organic shampoo and conditioner may prevent health problems that are the result of overexposure to harsh chemicals. But, even though the label may say “natural ingredients” it’s virtually impossible to find a 100% certified organic hair product.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
These pithy instructions on many shampoo bottles are followed blindly by millions of people. But what many people are not conscious of is how some of the ingredients that give shampoo and conditioner their sudsy texture may negatively impact health.
Why it’s smart to use natural and organic hair products
In fact, many shampoos and conditioners contain harmful chemicals. A handful of potentially harmful ingredients in your haircare products may include the following:
- Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate
- Polyethylene glycol (PEG)
- Propylene glycol
- Ammonium laureth sulfate
- Cocamide DEA
Rising consumer awareness of these and other harsh chemicals has led to an increase in sales of organic shampoos and conditioners.
And this rising consciousness isn’t just an American market trend. On the contrary, organic shampoo products are the most widely used organic hair care products globally.
However, before you clear your bathroom of conventional shampoos, there’s a dirty secret about organic shampoos….
Is your organic shampoo and conditioner really organic?
According to the website of Beauty Counter, a company which claims to use safer ingredients in its products, the terms “organic” and “natural” do not have legal definitions in the cosmetic industry.
What does that mean for you, the consumer, when you buy a bottle of organic shampoo and conditioner?
Before you dish out dozens of dollars for organic hair care products, realize that companies can market a product as organic when in fact there are no certified organic ingredients in it.
Or, perhaps out of 10 or 15 ingredients in a shampoo, only a couple are organic. The rest could be a toxic bubbling cauldron of petrochemicals.
To elaborate on this paradox, the organic label approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) covers only how food is grown and handled.
However, the law does not apply to personal care products, save for a couple exceptions. The first exception is when a product contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of hair care products do not contain this high a percentage of organic ingredients.
And so far, only one state—California—has its own organic standards for cosmetics. And this is where the second organic labelling exception comes into play. If a certain shampoo or conditioner contains at least 70 percent certified organic ingredients, the branding may include the California state-approved organic seal on its product.
How can you be sure your shampoo is safe to use?
In light of this, how do you know if your supposed “all-natural” hair cleanser is free of harmful ingredients?
What guarantee do you have that the ingredients do not act as hormone-disrupting xenoestrogens?
An easy way to see if your haircare products are safe is going on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep database. Products are scored on a 1-10 scale. The lower the number, the EWG’s researchers deem the product safer to use. (Beauty Counter’s Daily Shampoo’s score is 2, rendering it a low-hazard product.)
To be sure, not all chemicals are hazardous to your health. In fact, pure water is technically a chemical. If organic shampoos and conditioners were 100% organic, they would have a very short shelf life and require refrigeration.
That’s why the purest hair cleansers contain ingredients such as tocopherols (vitamin E), potassium sorbate and grapefruit seed extract. These ingredients act as antibacterial agents and help preserve the shelf life of the shampoo and conditioner.
Best organic shampoo for hair loss: Natural DHT Blockers
If you’re trying to regrow hair, use a product that has DHT blockers. What’s DHT? It’s a byproduct of testosterone, the male sex hormone. Although having DHT may sound manly, and indeed it is, contributing to muscle mass, hair and a Barry White deep voice, it acts as a hair follicle killer.
Therefore, the more DHT blockers a shampoo has, the less hair you may lose.
Look for a hair cleaning product with some of the following all-natural DHT blockers:
- Saw Palmetto
- Pumpkin Seed Oil
- Stinging Nettle
- Beta Sitosterol
- Emu Oil
- Green Tea
- Sea algae
- Reishi mushrooms
Keep in mind that some of the ingredients above you won’t likely find in many brands of shampoo. Rather, you’re better off eating them (pumpkin seeds, sea algae, for example).
Organic Hair Care With Follicle Stimulators
To regrow hair, look for a brand of hair care that contains follicle stimulators. Argan oil, which is also sometimes called Moroccan oil, strengthens and stimulates hair follicles.
One reputable product is from Pura D’Or. It’s called “Hair Loss Prevention Therapy Shampoo.” This product is rich in niacin and biotin. These two potentially beneficial ingredients encourage hair regrowth. The ingredients in Pura D’Or are free of harsh chemicals, though not all ingredients are organic. (Remember, it’s virtually impossible for a shampoo to be 100% organic.)
Another reputable brand of organic shampoo for hair loss is Phytoworx Organic Hair Recovery Shampoo. This shampoo contains plant stem cells and essential oils. Plant stem cells may revive dead hair follicles.
Other ingredients in this ‘poo include tea tree oil, peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary. In small studies, some of these oils show the ability to promote hair growth. (Here’s a study on peppermint oil for hair regrowth on mice.)
Best natural shampoo for fine hair
Fine hair has a tendency to become oily and limp. Therefore, not all hair care products may benefit your hair type. Instead, consider some natural shampoo alternatives. Also, try natural, food-grade ingredients such as coconut oil, blackstrap molasses, babassu oil, and vitamin E.
You can even try dry shampoo, which is a powder you spray into your hair and later brush out. This water-free method of hair care has been used for countless generations.
To make sure the ingredients in a dry shampoo are safe, make your own.
You can try combining baking soda with vinegar. Other ingredients for a dry shampoo include ground oatmeal, cornstarch and essential oils.
Lavender provides a pleasant scent for your homemade dry shampoo. Try the dry shampooing method once or twice a month in place of your normal shampoo routine.
In fact, you may want to also try the no ‘poo trend. This involves shampooing your hair much less regularly, as little as once per week. The idea behind the no ‘poo movement is that daily washing of hair with shampoo may strip your scalp of its natural oils, among other reasons.
Which Organic Shampoo is Good for Color-Treated Hair?
Rahua Color Full Shampoo contains natural plant oils from the Amazonian rainforest. These plant oils protect your hair pigment. Speaking of pigments, the ‘poo also contains enriching mineral pigments, which maintains shine and vibrancy for all shades of color-treated or highlighted hair.
In general, gentle plant-based ‘poos will help protect your hair color more safely than synthetic, petroleum-based products.
Is Jojoba Shampoo Organic?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Just like with any other ingredient, it should say “certified organic” or “organic jojoba”. Jojoba oil is popular as a carrier oil in essential oil recipes and blends. And in shampoo, it can help treat dry hair and scalp.
The (natural) chemicals in jojoba can help stimulate the sebaceous glands. These skin and scalp glands secrete oil. To have a nice shiny (but not too oily) head of hair, your sebaceous glands need to be in the Goldilocks zone: not too over-productive and not too sluggish. If you have dry hair, your sebaceous glands are under active. Jojoba oil can help light a fire under your sebaceous glands’ butts.
Courtesy of bloggers at DIYNatural.com, here’s a recipe for homemade jojoba shampoo:
- ¼ cup liquid castille soap (AllNaturalideas.com loves Dr. Bronner’s)
- ½ cup filtered water
- 2 Tbsp peppermint leaf
- 2 Tbsp glycerine
- ½ tsp jojoba oil
- ½ tsp honey
To make the ‘poo, you actually make this concoction into an herbal tea first with the peppermint and water. Steep for 20 minutes, recommends DIYNatural. Then, strain and pour the tea into a plastic bottle that can withstand heat, or other safe bottle. Next, add the glycerine, jojoba oil, and honey. Top off with castille soap. Mix by shaking well.
How to make organic shampoo
If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, don’t trust another company’s organic claims. Instead, make an organic shampoo at home. You’ll need some Dr. Bronner’s soap, water and some olive oil and your favorite essential oils.
Combine about a half cup of soap with a similar amount of water. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and about 10 drops of essential oil. Tea tree is great if you have dandruff or flaky scalp. Stir the ingredients. Pour the mixture into a container and use it like a shampoo.
Reduce Your Toxic Load: Buy Only Certified Organic
Due to the Wild West nature of labelling standards, finding 100% organic shampoo is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. However, there are more and more brands using safer ingredients in their products. Whether or not certain chemicals are indeed harmful is up for debate.
However, with 80,000 chemicals in everyday consumer products (source), it’s better to be safer than sorry. That’s because there’s insufficient safety data on many of these synthetic chemicals.
And some of these toxic ingredients are likely lurking in your bathroom, in conventional shampoo and conditioner bottles. The less exposure you have to these chemicals, the safer you may be.