We brought you the goods on great green hair conditioners. Naturally, now we’re following up with the best eco-friendly, natural, organic shampoos! (Or should it be the other way around?)
But first, why do we want to go organic and nontoxic with our shampoos? One reason: it’s called sodium lauryl sulfate.
This chemical is what makes regular shampoos suds up. Among other things, it can lead to skin damage, permanent eye damage in children and even liver toxicity.
The news is not much better for sodium laureth sulfate (SLS). On the up side, SLS cannot be metabolized by the liver. But that just mean the other bad things about it hang out that much longer in your body. And don’t forget, it is also used to degrease engines.
There are alternatives. Some natural shampoos use disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, which can be considered the lesser of two evils. (Skin Deep rates it only a moderate health hazard.)
Better than that, there is decyl glucoside. This is a mild sudsing agent certified for its eco-clean production. And some natural shampoos don’t use any sudsing ingredients at all – though this means they don’t foam up very well and if you’re accustomed to the foaming action of most shampoos, it can take some getting used to.
Confused? Not to worry. We went through quite a few natural and organic shampoos to sort out the best picks for your different hair types. And we point out the good and the bad. So get ready to get lathered up!
And Our Top Pick Is”¦
Out of all the shampoos I sampled, this combined the best of everything. It had a fantastic scent that can best be described as “spicy lavender.” It really foamed up in the shower and didn’t leave any build up. Best of all, if left my hair feeling silky and light.
Its ingredients read like a breakfast menu: seaweed extract, nettles, marshmallow root, comfrey root, calendula blossoms, oat straw, kombucha tea and more. It does not contain any solvents or sodium lauryl or sodium laureth sulfates. Bravo on the organic suds! And finally, it is great for all hair types.
Best for Normal Hair…
This is another great product from John Masters Organics. It was a bit thick and heavy going on, so it is probably not best for every day use.
It is free of sodium lauryl sulfate, using decyl glucoside to get sudsy. It contains 13 other certified-organic ingredients and is cruelty-free.
This fun product has a fresh, light floral smell. It lathered well, rinsed well and left my hair feeling light.
This paraben-free shampoo is blended with organic carrot, sweet potato and pumpkin, which act as potent antioxidants to cleanse and moisturize the hair. It also contains Dead Sea Mud (seriously), melon, orange and honey. However, it does contain some sodium laureth sulfate, so be warned.
Best for Dry Hair…
Out of all the samples I tried, this is the best bang for your buck. It retails for about $6 and has a delicious mint smell that lingers. It left my hair feeling soft and clean, and there’s a good suds factor.
It has organic Australian tea tree oils, moisturizing milk proteins and micro-infused peppermint oils for hydration and balance. It is sulfate free, but does contain disodium laureth sulfosuccinate.
This smells exactly as you would imagine – sugary and grapefruity. It is pH-balanced, and sodium laury/laureth sulfate-, paraben- and phthalate-free. And it contains decyl glucoisde.
I found it rather hard to work through my hair and had to follow with conditioner. But it did leave my hair feeling clean and refreshed.
Best Clarifying Shampoos…
Why do we want an occasional rinse with a clarifying shampoo? Well, to remove chlorine and mineral buildup. Use them once a week and you will notice a difference in your hair. Just be sure to follow with a great conditioner, as overuse can strip your hair of all the good oils.
By far, this is the best product for the task at hand. It has a clean, camphor smell that perks you up. It is almost magical how clean and silky your hair will feel after use. (And trust me, it has to be magical to get me to use the term magical.)
It contains certified organic aloe and no synthetic reducing agents. And it suds with disodium laureth sulfosuccinate. Like all Aveda products, it is cruelty-free and contains 80% post-consumer packaging.
This has a pleasant fruity scent that didn’t disappoint. My only complaint is that it is a bit thick, so leave some time to lather it out of your hair.
Alba Botanica’s shampoo is made with eucalyptus, which has antiseptic and cooling qualities. It is free of sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, artificial colors and of course there is no animal testing. It also contains 100% vegetarian ingredients.
Best Volumizing Shampoos…
This product lathers sufficiently and left my hair feeling full and clean. It contains oat extract and honey to help strengthen the hair.
Nuture My Body’s product does not contain sodium laurel sulfate or any harsh detergents. It is supposed to be fragrance-free, but it smells more like light vitamins. Not bad, just not exactly fragrance-free. (Though it is free of the “fragrance” that is often used in non-organic brands which is nothing more than parabens.)
This product has a complex, fruity scent. Another great value, it is made with certified organic ingredients like floral water of rosemary, chamomile, lemon balm and more.
It contains no animal ingredients, sodium lauryl sulfate, artificial colors, or unnecessary chemicals.
Image: Meg Yarsh