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- Evaluate ingredients and composition: Do they have the potential to cause harm?
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- Best all-around natural shampoos: Stream2Sea Conditioning Shampoo and Body Wash, By Humankind Shampoo Bars
- Best natural shampoo for Black hair: SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo
- Best natural shampoo for oily hair and scalp: 100% Pure Yuzu and Pomelo Glossing Shampoo, WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo
- Best natural shampoo and conditioner for color-treated hair: Herbal Essences Honey & Vitamin B Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner
- Best natural shampoo for curly hair: Alaffia Curl Enhancing Shampoo
- Best clarifying natural shampoo: Acure Curiously Clarifying Shampoo
- Best splurge natural shampoo: Reverie Shampoo
- Best budget natural shampoo: Native Almond & Shea Butter Strengthening Shampoo
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 may end up costing you more if used frequently.
- $ = $10 and under
- $$ = $11–$24
- $$$ = over $24
Best all-around natural shampoos
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: green tea, tulsi, wakame, olive leaf
- Scents available: citrus
- Sizes available: 1-ounce (oz.) bottle, 6-oz. bottle, 32-oz. bottle
Stream2Sea is a biodegradable shampoo and body wash combination product. It was invented with ocean and coral reef safety in mind by people passionate about ecological issues. It’s completely natural, with no added sulfates or parabens. Even the packaging is biodegradable.
The beneficial, active ingredients in Stream2Sea are green tea, olive oil, wakame, and tulsi. This product is ultraviolet absorbent, making it a good choice for people with dyed hair. It provides deep cleaning, with little suds, and has a pleasant citrus scent.
There’s also a biodegradable leave-in conditioner you can use in conjunction with the shampoo to eliminate tangles and leave your hair manageable and soft.
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: sunflower seed oils, coconut, palm
- Scents available: citrus-lavender, lemongrass, peppermint
- Sizes available: 4-oz. bar
By Humankind Shampoo Bars come packaged in recycled paper, as the company is committed to reducing the amount of single-use plastic in the world.
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.
Best natural shampoo for Black hair
- Price: $
- Key ingredients: Jamaican black castor oil, shea butter
- Scents available: peppermint
- Sizes available: 13-oz. bottle
This sulfate-free, clarifying shampoo deep cleans natural hair.
Some users skip the matching conditioner and pair this shampoo with a SheaMoisture treatment masque instead.
Best natural shampoo for oily hair and scalp
- Price: $$$
- Key ingredients: yuzu and pomelo fruits, plus pink grapefruit essential oil, aloe juice, rose water, coconut oil, sea salt
- Scents available: citrus
- Sizes available: 8-oz. bottle, 13-oz. bottle
100% Pure Yuzu and Pomelo Glossing Shampoo provides a hydrating, deep-clean experience for oily or greasy hair.
Beneficial ingredients include rose water for hydration, coconut oil for shine, and sea salt for added body, bounce, and texture.
Besides leaving out stripping sulfates, this pick also leaves out:
- polyethylene glycols (PEGs)
- artificial fragrances
This shampoo will give your hair a glossy finish. If you have fine hair, skip the conditioner, which some users say weighs down their hair.
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: raw Himalayan apple cider vinegar, saw palmetto extract
- Scents available: sweet apple
- Sizes available: 16.9-oz. bottle
This vegan shampoo uses apple cider vinegar, is highly rated, and is kind of a multitasker.
Apple cider vinegar is a popular natural ingredient with many uses, including hair care. Although there’s no research on apple cider vinegar and hair, the vinegar is thought to help remove oil and clarify.
This formula also contains saw palmetto extract, which is another natural ingredient thought to promote hair growth. If you buy the shampoo from the company’s website, there’s a 60-day money-back guarantee. Even if you buy it through Amazon, it’s a pretty decent value for the bottle size and price.
Best natural shampoo and conditioner for color-treated hair
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: glycerin, aloe vera, verified botanicals
- Scents available: honey, jasmine, and creamy vanilla scent
- Sizes available: 12.2-oz. shampoo bottle, 13.5-oz. conditioner bottle
This color-safe, botanical blend shampoo is designed to protect and add softness to color-treated hair. It contains 87 percent natural-origin ingredients, including glycerin, aloe vera, and botanicals verified by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
It’s also free from silicones, parabens, mineral oil, and dyes.
Users adore the honey, jasmine, and vanilla scent it leaves on hair.
Best natural shampoo for curly hair
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: shea butter, chamomile, aqueous extract, yarrow
- Scents available: not listed
- Sizes available: 12-oz. bottle
One reviewer points out how well it works for their dry scalp and hair; one older review notes that it lathers nicely. One less-than-glowing review says it left their scalp oily (natural shampoos are not stripping because they’re free from sulfates, so this is a common complaint).
It’s worth a mention that this brand is Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified and cruelty-free.
The shampoo is free from:
- mineral oil
- artificial color
- synthetic fragrance
Best clarifying natural shampoo
- Price: $
- Key ingredients: aloe vera, lemongrass, argan
- Scents available: lemongrass
- Sizes available: 8-oz. bottle
This vegan shampoo is gentle but said to be effective in removing buildup.
The brand says it’s safe for everyday use since it’s free from parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, petrolatum, and formaldehyde. It’s also safe for all hair types, cruelty-free, and affordable.
Google reviewers are overall impressed that it cleanses without overdrying their hair. They also point out it doesn’t seem to strip color-treated hair.
Best splurge natural shampoo
- Price: $$$
- Key ingredients: amino acids, oat protein, panthenol, sweet almond oil
- Scents available: one scent with notes of neroli, pink grapefruit, jasmine, sandalwood, and bourbon vanilla
- Sizes available: 8.45-oz. bottle
The brand says this shampoo is safe for daily use, including for people with color-treated hair. It’s also cruelty-free and gluten-free.
The brand suggests a specific shampoo method for best results, saying to apply it to wet hair in sections. Next, add more water, lather, rinse and then repeat if you want to or if it’s necessary.
Best budget natural shampoo
- Price: $
- Key ingredients: water, food-grade salt
- Scents available: one scent of almond and shea butter
- Sizes available: 16.5-oz. bottle
Vegan and cruelty-free, this shampoo is affordable, and you can pick it up at Target.
It’s formulated using 10 ingredients, some of which include water, food-grade salt (sodium citrate), and a cleansing ingredient called lauramidopropyl betaine. The company says this ingredient is derived from coconut oil.
It’s free from phthalates, sulfates, parabens, chlorine, dyes, and more.
One thing to note is the use of fragrance with this shampoo. The brand says it uses “safe, synthetic, sustainable fragrances (free of phthalates) and natural fragrances.” This may not be suitable for those with skin sensitivities or those who don’t want fragrances at all. Most of the other shampoos on our list use essential oils for fragrances.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some reviewers mention it can leave behind a residue.
Aside from budget, there are a few key things to consider when shopping for natural shampoo.
Check the ingredients
First, always scan the labels carefully to see if you may be allergic to any ingredients. Natural ingredients can cause allergic reactions for some. If you’re unsure, perform a patch test before using the shampoo.
To do a patch test, you can apply the product to a small patch of skin in an area where you’re unlikely to wash or rub the shampoo away, such as the inside of the arm or bend of the elbow. Watch for any sign of irritation or rash over a period of 24 hours.
It’s also a good idea to decide if you’re open to natural scents. Most natural shampoos skip added fragrance and usually go with essential oils to give the shampoo a pleasing scent.
Although it’s a bit tougher to find, there are some natural shampoos that claim they’re fragrance-free. Reading customer reviews can give you a good indication of scents.
Think about lather
Customer reviews (not paid posts or sponsorships) are also a good place to check out other details like lather.
Natural shampoos usually skip sulfates, and those are mainly responsible for giving a nice lather. If reviewers mention a greasy feeling after use, this usually means the shampoo simply can’t rinse well enough.
Pay attention to hair types
Shop for natural shampoos for your hair type. Many natural shampoos will list which hair types its shampoos are best for. This can help you address your specific hair goals.
Research the brand
You can do some overall research on the brand you’re interested in.
Some brands have a deeper commitment to keeping out harsh chemicals and use a higher percentage of naturally derived ingredients. Others may rely on marketing to appear more natural compared to other shampoos.
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 effects, cancer, and developmental issues 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 over-shampoo 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 your hair when it’s wet. This can break the ends. If you comb the 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.
What are the best natural shampoo ingredients?
This depends on your hair type. For example, for dry hair types, coconut oil and shea butter work to boost moisture. Those with oily hair may see results from apple cider vinegar and witch hazel. Natural ingredients that can lather without sulfates include sarsaparilla, soap bark, soapwort, agave, and ivy.
Is it possible to find a shampoo without chemicals?
There are brands out there that use almost entirely naturally derived ingredients. The goal is to find a natural shampoo that works for your hair, skips the harsh stuff, and uses ingredients mostly from nature.
Are natural shampoos actually better for your hair?
Skipping ingredients like sulfates, parabens, and formaldehyde (to name a few) is a gentler, safer experience for hair.
It may take some trial and error to find the best natural shampoo for your hair type. But when you do, you may see less irritation and healthier-looking hair. Just make sure you aren’t allergic to the ingredients before using.
There’s a large and ever-increasing demand for all-natural products that aren’t harmful to our health and the planet. Natural shampoos that can clean and soften all types of hair, without adding to our carbon footprint or toxic load, are available.