Lots of shampoos on the shelf, from generic to salon brands, typically have tiny amounts of beneficial botanicals and 1/3 harsh detergent(s).
- Here’s what to look out: The quality of the detergent & amount of emollients
- Both should be of plant origin (hopefully derived without the use of toxic chemical processes)
1) Quality of detergent
Detergents to avoid: Sulfates!
Say no to the sulfate family. These dry out your hair and scalp and irritate those with sensitive skin. They also make the lather in your soaps but lather does not make you clean. Typical sulfates in a shampoo:
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
- Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
- Ammonium laureth sulfate
- Sodium myreth sulfate
While there are not that many green cleansing products available you should choose the lesser evil when sorting though the ingredients…
Some natural brands use:
- cocamidopropyl betaine (coconut derived indicating petrochemicals)
- olefin sulfonate (petroleum-derived)
The greenest is lauryl glucoside (a soapy blend of coconut oil, cornstarch and sugar) it’s a high priced cleanser so most companies avoid it.
2) Humectants and emollients
These are nice additions, however they make little difference since they are washed off quickly. Still these make the shampoo more “nourishing” as they fill pores of the hair shaft and keep the hair surface smooth.
- Soothe and moisturize the scalp: Vegetable glycerin, aloe extract, jojoba oil or any other natural oils, honey, lecithin
- Mild astringents that can sooth scalp irritation: Calendula, yarrow, burdock
- Seal cuticles and help create shine: citrus oils, ACV (apple cider vinegar), rosemary
- Protein: milk, soy
Any alternatives to conventional shampoo?
- Some brands offer concentrated shampoos with little added water. This is more economical since only a few drops of shampoo are needed to lather which eliminates the need for strong preservatives. Try shampoo bars
- Some natural preservatives: grapefruit seed oil, Vitamins A, C and E, benzoin extract, wheat germ
Shampoo recommendations (I am not paid to endorse them):
- Shea Moisture Shampoos (especially the pink line) @ Target, CVS, Walgreens
- Giovanni Shampoos @ TJ Maxx, Target
- Aubrey organics honeysuckle rosemary moisturizing shampoo
- L’Oreal Vive Pro Nutri Gloss Shampoo
- Garnier Fructis Fortifying Shampoo,
- Back To Basics Citrus Clarifying Sage Shampoo
Some things to consider when purchasing:
- Ingredients change. Most companies want to make money and usually change ingredients once their products have launched so recheck your bottle every so often even your “natural” brands.
- Don’t be fooled by product claims. The only part of the shampoo label that’s regulated by the Food and Drug Administration is the list of ingredients. That means manufacturers can claim their shampoos “add volume” or “moisturize,” even if they really don’t do either of those things. So read those ingredients.
- Pricy salon-brand shampoos don’t necessarily outperform inexpensive store brands. The same ingredients are often used for products in different price ranges. What’s more, there are good and bad products in every price point. The only things that separate pricey salon-brand shampoos from drugstore formulas are fancy packaging and endorsements by celebrity hairstylists, who may or may not have any expertise when it comes to a product’s ingredients.
- Be wary of shampoos that claim to repair, restructure or nourish damaged hair. Hair is not alive in the way that skin is and thus cannot be repaired. Shampoo products can only temporarily improve hair’s look and feel. Experts say the only thing that can get rid of split ends is a haircut. Hair care products are not capable of reversing such damage.