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The average shampoo contains anywhere from
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.
A note on price
The shampoos that made our list range in price from $6 to $30. Our price indicator reflects how these products compare to each other.
Be sure to read labels for ounces as well as ingredients so you know how much product you’re getting. A smaller product with a lower price point may end up costing you more if used frequently.
Stream2Sea is a biodegradable shampoo and body wash combination product. It was invented with ocean and coral reef safety in mind by people passionate about ecological issues. It’s completely natural, with no added sulfates or parabens. Even the packaging is biodegradable.
The beneficial, active ingredients in Stream2Sea are green tea, olive oil, wakame, and tulsi. This product is ultraviolet absorbent, making it a good choice for people with dyed hair. It provides deep cleaning, with little suds, and has a pleasant citrus scent.
There’s also a biodegradable leave-in conditioner you can use in conjunction with the shampoo to eliminate tangles and leave your hair manageable and soft.
By Humankind Shampoo Bars come packaged in recycled paper, as the company is committed to reducing the amount of single-use plastic utilized globally.
Each bar is vegan and natural, containing sustainable oils, oat amino acids, and organic essential oils. You can choose unscented, peppermint, lemongrass, or citrus lavender varieties.
The bars can be purchased one at a time or via automatic refill. Each one seems to last forever, and a little bit goes a long way in producing incredibly soft, shiny hair that’s manageable and easy to tame.
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.
Natural medicated shampoos for dry scalp conditions, including seborrheic dermatitis, are hard to come by.
Jason Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo is nearly natural, and designed to eliminate seborrheic dermatitis and dry scalp conditions, when used three times a week.
Its active ingredients are salicylic acid and sulfur. It also contains olive oil, rosemary leaf oil, and other botanical, skin-soothing ingredients.
Some people may find that its alcohol content irritates the skin. It also contains cocamidopropyl betaine, which can cause allergic reactions.
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.
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.
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.
This color-safe, botanical blend shampoo is designed to protect and add softness to color-treated hair. It contains 87 percent natural-origin ingredients, including glycerin, aloe vera, and botanicals verified by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Users adore the honey, jasmine, and vanilla scent it leaves on hair.
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 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 are endocrine disruptors that may have adverse effects on the reproductive system of males and females, including infants and fetuses.
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 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 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 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.
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.
What counts as natural?
“Organic,” “botanical,” and “plant-based” are some terms used to identify natural shampoos. Keep in mind that there’s no legal requirement that a shampoo needs to meet in order to be considered natural. That’s why we took a closer look at the ingredients.
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.
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.