Finding a hair care product that's actually organic is a near-impossible task. For example, a product can contain just one plant-based ingredient and call itself natural — and organic certifications vary widely. To narrow down the best organic shampoos, Bustle spoke with the creators behind Intelligent Nutrients, one of the cleanest, most eco-conscious hair care brands around.
“For shampoo, skin care, aroma, or any beauty product, the words 'truly organic' do not really mean anything right now," explains Nicole Rechelbacher, Co-Owner of Intelligent Nutrients. Additionally, "The words clean, organic and natural are not clearly defined or monitored by any government agency in the USA. Until all are defined by a government agency, brands have been left to define these terms for themselves, leading to 'green-washing' and misleading the consumer."
Rechelbacher goes on to note, "Because of this lack of standards or enforcement, just adding one drop of organic ingredients to a synthetic product allows brands to add the word organic to the label" — which is proof that to be a conscious consumer, you can never rely on marketing. So if labels can be this misleading, how can a customer tell if the product they're buying is truly clean? "Right now, the best way to know is to look for the words USDA certified-organic and check the label for ingredients. Check for third-party certifications!” Brands that are cruelty-free and use renewable energy should be prioritized, as well.
One of the most trustworthy third-party certifications to look for is the COSMOS standard, which, as Rechelbacher explains, "requires 95 percent of the product's agro-ingredients be organically produced. The remaining ingredients pose no known risk to health or environment." You can also look out for certifications from European organizations such as the Soil Assocation (the UK), ICEA (Italy), and ECOCERT (France), which regulate the amount of certified-organic ingredients a product must contain (and ensure that the rest are safe for both people and the environment).
If you're more concerned with what ingredients you should be avoiding, Janell Schroeder, Head of Regulatory Affairs at Intelligent Nutrients says, “The FTC is concerned with products marketed as 100 percent natural or all-natural that then contain synthetics such as dimethicone or phenoxyethanol, which should be avoided." Additionally, "You will not find sulfates in a USDA certified-organic product. They just are not available certified-organic," though she does note that "COSMOS does allow sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate, but the individual ingredient would not be labeled as organic."
While all of this is undoubtedly illuminating information to absorb, right now, you're probably just wondering what the best organic shampoos are. Scroll on to discover 10 great picks that you can trust.