With all the attention being paid to the skin care ingredients we put on our faces, isn't it time we become just as conscious about what we put on our heads? If you're interested in committing to a cleaner, greener beauty routine, investing in one of the best natural shampoos is a good place to start.
One shampoo ingredient to be on the lookout for is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a foaming agent found in many household products like soaps, industrial cleansers, and toothpaste. While many reports linking SLS to various types of cancer are relatively unsubstantiated, it's been proven that SLS, even in low concentrations (anything under 2 percent is considered "safe" for human use) can be irritating to skin and eyes. SLS is also known to be drying, and, when found in shampoos, can strip hair of color, which is why shampoos that are formulated for dyed or chemically-treated hair are always (or at least, should be) sulfate-free.
How to tell if a shampoo is truly "natural?"
When looking for natural beauty products, it's important to remember that "natural" doesn't actually mean anything in terms of marketing. Cosmetics, skin care, and hair care companies are under no obligation to fulfill any specific criteria in order to list a product as "natural." For example, a product can contain mostly chemical ingredients and only one plant-based ingredient, yet still list itself as "natural." That's why why it's so important to make sure you're an ingredients-savvy shopper who knows which companies are implementing their own specific regulatory standards that ensure the quality of their particular products. Across the board, however, if a beauty product is certified as organic by organizations like ECOCERT, The Soil Association, COSMOS, and the USDA — or, if it's been certified by the EWG or NATRUE — you can probably trust that it's safe (or "natural", if you will).
Below, you'll find a list of natural shampoos from reputable brands that are honest in their ingredient lists and create safe products for your hair. Read on to find out which natural shampoo is best for your specific hair type.
1. The Overall Best Natural Shampoo On The Market
Though on the pricy side, when it comes to natural hair care products, you can't do any better than Intelligent Nutrients. You get what you pay for: not only is everything IN makes cruelty-free, vegan, and plant-based, but the brand is also certified by the USDA, The Soil Association, and COSMOS for using between 65 and 95 percent organic ingredients. Even the packaging is sustainable! This is one of the only hair care brands in the world that fulfills all this criteria. But about the shampoo itself:
The PureLuxe Replenishing Shampoo is a lightweight yet deeply nourishing shampoo that works to soften and repair dry, damaged hair. Sulfate-free and featuring a low pH, the formula is safe for use on hair of all types: dyed, thinning, curly, chemically-treated, and everything in between. Expect less frizz and tangling; softer ends; more shine; and overall healthier, stronger hair.
2. Best Natural Clarifying Shampoo
Acure Organics makes some of the most impressive natural skin care products on the market, combining luxury-level ingredients at budget-friendly prices. This clarifying shampoo is vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free, and also free of parabens, sulfates, silicones, and synthetic fragrances. This is nearly as natural as it gets and is made for folks who have may have product buildup that's causing hair damage, itchiness, and/or scalp discomfort. It's also gentle enough that, even though it's a clarifying shampoo, it's safe for everyday use on all types of hair. And not only does it rid your hair of excess oil and product buildup, but it also infuses moisture and shine with the inclusion of ultra-nourishing argan oil in the formula.
3. Best Natural Shampoo For Thick And/Or Curly Hair
Shea Moisture is a brand built on a sustainable, community-based ethos that employs women in Ghana to source their hero ingredient, shea butter, which they include in all their products. Combine shea butter with hibiscus, coconut oil, and aloe, and you have a product that's perfect for thick, coarse, or curly hair in need of a little extra oomph. This shampoo is both cleansing and moisturizing, ridding your scalp of product buildup while simultaneously injecting moisture back into dry or damaged strands. And even though this shampoo is marketed towards curly hair types, it's also great for smoothing out and repairing hair of all textures without stimulating oil production or grease.
4. Best Natural Shampoo For Color-Treated Hair
This shampoo from Andalou Naturals is specifically formulated for folks with color-treated hair, meaning daily use won't dull your color before its time for a touchup. The literal first ingredient in this product is aloe leaf juice, which is highly moisturizing, while the formula also contains rose stem cells to condition hair, repair split ends, and minimize frizz. Additionally, it's completely free of all kinds of sulfates and is also made with one of the most effective, nourishing oils on the planet: rosehip oil. And as if that wasn't enough, Andalou is also a cruelty-free and Non-GMO Project-verified brand that uses-sustainably sourced ingredients, to boot.
5. Best Natural Shampoo For Dry, Brittle Hair
This German beauty brand may run under-the-radar, but they're one of the most natural on the international market. Not only is this nourishing formula made with solely plant-based ingredients and natural essential oils, but Sante is a cruelty-free, vegan, and NATRUE-certified brand. What's more, Sante is certified as natural by the BDIH, a German organization that regulates natural cosmetics and health care products, and many of the ingredients they use are sourced from organic farms in Germany.
The Jojoba and Marigold Repair Shampoo works to restore shine and softness in dry, brittle hair using an anti-breakage formula that also helps strengthen hair, thus lessening the chance of future damage. Made with gentle ingredients and suitable for use on sensitive scalps, the shampoo is free of paraffins, parabens, sulfates, and silicones.
6. Best Natural Shampoo For Dull Or Thinning Hair
For "natural" hair care products, going the French pharmacy route is typically a safe bet. Because animal testing is banned in the EU, you can rest easy knowing anything you buy from Klorane is cruelty-free, and this formula also leaves out SLS, parabens, and silicones of all kinds (plus, it's biodegradable). This shampoo — while marketed for folks with "aging" hair — is a catch-all for any and all hair maladies. The formula works to strengthen and smooth hair, while also increasing thickness and shine. The result? Hair that looks more voluminous, vibrant, and healthy.
While this shampoo does contain the ingredient sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), which is easily confused with its irritating counterpart (SLS), the process by which SLES is made results in a far gentler finished product that's safe for use in beauty products — though you still might want to avoid this shampoo if you dye or chemically-treat your hair.
7. Best Natural Shampoo For Sensitive Scalps
While Baebody may not be a well-known drugstore or health food store brand like some of the other options on this list, this sensitive scalp shampoo's 4.9-star average rating speaks for itself. This formula is one hundred percent sulfate-free and contains natural ingredients like jojoba oil, avocado oil, keratin, and coconut oil, all of which are proven to strengthen damaged hair. Additionally, tea tree helps clarify the scalp gently, reducing dandruff and relieving itchiness in the process. As a bonus, the formula is cruelty-free, paraben-free, and phthalate-free.
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This post was originally published on 8/4/2018. It was updated and republished on 6/18/2019. Additional reporting by Adeline Duff.