The average shampoo contains anywhere from 10 to 30 ingredients, sometimes even more. It’s not uncommon for a shampoo to contain both natural ingredients and synthetically made ones.

Since “natural” can be defined differently from product to product, we relied on ingredient guidelines from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and clean beauty company Credo to help narrow down great natural options available for specific hair types and conditions.

To help you shop, we also included information on ingredients you should avoid when choosing a natural shampoo.

Here are some natural shampoos you may wish to try based on your needs and hair type.

Best all-around natural shampoos

Prose Custom Shampoo

Prose uses 100 percent all-natural ingredients for its bespoke line of hair care products and shampoos.

To decide which kind of shampoo is best for you, answer a few questions about your hair type and needs on the Prose website. The company then provides an all-natural, sulfate-free formula designed just for you.

Some of the beneficial ingredients they use include honey, biotin, green tea water, and peppermint extract.

Best natural shampoo for dandruff

Best natural shampoo for African American hair

SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo

This sulfate-free, clarifying shampoo deep cleans natural hair.

It relies on fair trade, organic shea butter for softness and apple cider vinegar for added shine.

It’s also excellent for overly processed or damaged hair, and it helps reduce the appearance of breakage and shedding.

Some users skip the matching conditioner and pair this shampoo with a SheaMoisture treatment masque instead.

Shop for SheaMoisture treatment masques online.

Best natural shampoo for oily hair and scalp

100% Pure Yuzu and Pomelo Glossing Shampoo

100% Pure Yuzu and Pomelo Glossing Shampoo provides a hydrating, deep-clean experience for oily or greasy hair.

Beneficial ingredients include rose water for hydration, coconut oil for shine, and sea salt for added body, bounce, and texture.

This shampoo will give your hair a glossy finish. If you have fine hair, skip the conditioner, which some users say weighs down their hair.

Best natural shampoo for thinning hair

Andalou Naturals Argan Stem Cell Age Defying Shampoo

This botanical-blend shampoo is designed to make thin hair look fuller and more vibrant. It contains a trademarked argan stem cell formula, plus ingredients such as aloe vera, vitamin B, grapefruit peel oil, grape stem cells, and white tea leaf.

Best natural shampoo and conditioner for color-treated hair  

Cross these ingredients off the list

It’s important to read the complete ingredient list on any shampoo before you buy.

Some shampoo ingredients you may wish to avoid include:

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde may also be referred to as formalin, the substance it turns into when mixed with water. It’s sometimes included in products that have keratin in them, and is a known carcinogen.

Phthalates

Phthalates are endocrine disruptors that may have adverse effects on the reproductive system of males and females, including infants and fetuses.

Fragrance

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations don’t require personal care products to list individual fragrance ingredients. If a shampoo label includes the word “fragrance” without specifying which type, it may contain items, such as phthalates, that you wish to avoid.

Parabens

Parabens are used as preservatives in a wide range of products, including shampoos. They have estrogenic properties.

Since they’ve been detected in the breast tissue of women with breast cancer, there’s some concern about their safety, although their role in this or any disease hasn’t been definitively proven.   

Sulfates

Sulfates are surfactants and used to make shampoos sudsy. They’re a byproduct of petroleum, an industry which generates greenhouse gasses and pollution.

Sulfates can be irritating to the scalp, skin, and eyes in some people. For that reason, products containing sulfates are usually tested on animals, such as rabbits. Sulfates may negatively affect aquatic life and ecosystems.

Natural alternatives to sulfates include sarsaparilla, soap bark, soapwort, agave, and ivy. 

Triclosan

Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that was banned for use in antibacterial soap by the FDA. It’s been found in groundwater, soil, oceans, and lakes around the world.

Triclosan is a known endocrine disruptor that’s been linked to adverse cardiovascular affects, cancer, and developmental defects in infants.

PFAS

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been linked to cancer, a weakened immune system, and thyroid disease.

Choosing a shampoo with no toxins can be better for your health and the environment. Harmful ingredients in the products we use each day wind up in our oceans, where they cause damage to wildlife and underwater environments, such as coral reefs.

Improving your ’poo

A few words about how to shampoo hair, as even the best shampoo will fall flat if you use it incorrectly:

  • Many people tend to overshampoo their hair. In general, washing your hair every other day or every third day is usually sufficient, no matter what hair type you have, including oily hair.
  • The shampoo you choose should be geared toward your hair type and any scalp conditions you have. Keep in mind that your hair changes as you age. Your go-to choice 20 years ago may no longer be the best shampoo for your current hair needs.
  • When washing your hair, gently massage shampoo into your hair and scalp, then rinse thoroughly.
  • If you use a conditioner after shampooing, leave it in for at least 5 minutes, then rinse out with cool water.
  • Don’t pull or tug at hair when it’s wet. This can break the ends. If you comb conditioner through your hair after washing, use a wide-comb brush or your fingers.
  • The water temperature you use also has an effect on your hair. Warm or cool water is best for washing hair. Water that’s too hot can strip color from dyed hair, and it may make hair dry and cause flyaways. Anecdotally, some people find that giving their hair a final rinse in cold water makes it shinier.

The takeaway

There’s a large and ever-increasing demand for all-natural products that aren’t harmful to health or the planet. Natural shampoos that can clean and soften all types of hair, without adding to our carbon footprint or toxic load, are available.