Are you quite attached to your Shampoo and Conditioner? The loyalty rates for this product category are pretty high and they are one of the products that people are most reluctant to switch – once you have one that works you don’t want to mess with it!
But…..your scalp is the most absorbent part of your body and extremely sensitive. When I think about a baby’s scalp this makes total sense, but adults have similar issues – apart from the soft skull part of course;)
Unfortunately many mainstream brands use ingredients that, initially, give your hair a great feeling but eventually strip your hair of moisture, breakdown hair proteins and lead to severe damage. The worst culprits can even cause health problems.
We all want gorgeous looking, healthy hair – so there are some synthetic ingredients we should definitely avoid and some natural ones that we want to seek out! Let me take you through a quick guide so you can find the best organic shampoo conditioner for your hair.
Which chemicals cause your bad hair days?
Chemicals that make your hair dry
SLS & SLES are the biggest culprit for stripping your hair of their natural oils resulting in limp, dry locks. It is commonly used to clean grease – your washing up liquid and as engine cleaner….doesn’t sound ideal for you hair!
They are used in hair care as surfectants – wetting ingredients that lower water’s surface tension, thereby permitting it to spread out and penetrate easily. They behave similarly to soap.
SLS & SLES have also been known to cause other hair nightmares like dryness & itchy scalp.
Watch out on the label: Sodium laurel/lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium laurel sulfate, sodium dodecylsulfate, sulfuric acid, sodium salt sulfuric acid, A12-00356, Akyposal SDS, Aquarex ME, and Aquarex methyl, Triethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate
Chemicals that make your hair dull & frizzy
Isopropyl alcohol is used in antifreeze, wood finish and shellac nail varnish. Isopropyl alcohol is designed to dissolve oils, which strip the hair of its moisture. Many hair gels, root lifters, volumizers and hairsprays use it to help hold a hairstyle in place but it is pretty damaging to your hair. Constant use of Isoprpyl alcohol can leave your hair very dry, frizzy, and dull.
Watch out on the label: Alcohol denat, Ethanol, SD alcohol 40, Propanol, Isopropyl and Propyl.
Chemicals that irritate your scalp
Proplyene glycol is a short-chain alcohol and it will dry out your scalp and cause irritation. It is used as a humectant which is supposed to lock in the water molecules, helping to moisturise the scalp and hair follicles.
Found in conditioners, shampoos, hair dyes, and styling gels and lotions, it breaks down healthy hair proteins and cellular structure while giving the appearance of shiny, smooth hair.
It can also cause severe contact dermatitis. It’s not clear what makes some people more susceptible, but those with other skin conditions such as eczema seem to be at the highest risk.
Watch out on the label: Methyl Glycol, Propane-1,2-Diol, 1,2 Propanediol,1,2 Dihydroxypropane, 2 Hydroxypropyl, Trimethyl Glycol
Also avoid PEG or Polyethylene Glycol as can make your hair brittle
What ingredients make your hair healthier
So what will actually help your hair’s health over the long term?
Rosemary helps with hair shedding or hair loss. Honey is good for it’s hydrating – who knew!
Coconut oil penetrates hair, making it stronger. Studies have shown coconut oil decreases the protein loss that comes from brushing and blow-drying. Avocado oil is a good source of vitamins B and E, and can be a great leave-in conditioner for hair, softening it and providing great shine. Olive oil is very similar to the natural oils of the hair and scalp, and helps to replenish the oils that are missing in dry damaged hair
The 4 best organic shampoo conditioner I’ve tried
I have tried a few different natural or organic shampoos and conditioners! I have 4 here which I like best.
The salon professional’s choice
John masters was a top hair stylist who realised the perils of working constantly in a salon environment being exposed to a plethora of chemicals. So he started the first “clean air salon” in New York and then shortly after started his own luxury organic hair care brand with the very admirable philosophy – “Caring about yourself and caring about the earth don’t have to be mutually exclusive…We only get one body and we only get one planet. Why not treat them both with the utmost care?” I love this quote!
Today John Masters is one of the big success stories of the natural hair care scene which is great news for us in Hong Kong as they recently opened stores here – so you can go and smell, touch and try the products. A real luxury when looking for natural beauty products in Hong Kong.
My pick: Shampoo with lavender and rosemary. It smells divine and leaves my hair shiny and soft.
Key beneficial ingredients:
- Lavender – normalizes scalp conditions
- Rosemary – cleanses the scalp, adds volume and shine
Packaging: The shampoo bottle is made of PET (1) plastic. This is a widely recyclable plastic.
Certification: Not all the ingredients are organic, about 70% in this shampoo but the ones that are, are certified organic by EcoCert, Quality Assurance International, California Certified Organic Farmers, or Organic Crop Improvement Association. This shampoo does contain sodium benzoate which is a synthetic preservative rated 3 on EWG.
Where to buy it: John Masters products are available online and in Hong Kong at their stores in IFC, Harbour city and a pop up in Sun street.
The green blogger’s choice
True botanicals‘ founder Hillary Peterson was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and subsequently revalued what she was putting on her skin. She decided to create her own brand with the goal to create “transformative skincare products that wouldn’t compromise peoples’ health or the environment”. True botanicals really focused on the toxins in mainstream cosmetics.
My pick: Nourishing Shampoo & Conditioner. I got to try these through my beauty heroes subscription box. This is a natural shampoo that lathers well – unusual! After you rinse it off and your hair is still wet it doesn’t feel silky but as soon as it is dry it feels great – this seems to be something I found across many non-toxic shampoos.
Key beneficial ingredients:
- Green tea oil cleanses the dead skin cells to reduce flakiness and dry scalp,
- Meadowfoam oil moisturizes hair and scalp
- Coconut derived cleanser offers a luxurious lather that isn’t drying like synthetic surfactants.
Certification: They are Made Safe verified, it is an independent non-profit certification that ensure products are safe for human consumption. They go further than just the ingredients and look at how items are made, where they are sourced, and review the manufacturing process for possible contamination points in order to determine if the ingredients or materials in a product are safe.
Packaging: Beautiful aluminum bottles. They are non-BPA lined aluminum, which is safe, durable and the second most easily recycled material after glass.
Where to buy it: Beauty Heroes have worldwide shipping
The budget friendly choice
Acure Organics was founded by a husband and wife team. Kristy was driven to natural products through her grandmother’s 10 year battle with cancer; during this time she researched and read a lot of about the questionable chemicals we were all putting on our bodies every day. Her husband Jon was a formulator with a long history in the industry so together they launched Acure. Apparently Kristy had real trouble switching her mainstream shampoo to a natural alternative so Jon made it his mission to create something she would love hence their hair care is super effective.
Key beneficial ingredients:
- Argon Oil – super food for hair care – intensely hydrating
- Pro-Vitamin B5 – nourishing which leaves hair smooth and shiny
- Chamomile is a natural hair lightener, good for those of us who are trying to restore our blonde locks…
This shampoo does contain potassium sorbate, it is a preservative which is rated 3 on EWG.
Packaging: The shampoo bottle is made of PET (2) plastic. This is a widely recyclable plastic.
The truly eco friendly choice
Ethique is a New Zealand based company founded by Brianne West who started making formulas in her science degree lab out of a desire to make an impact on the 80 billion plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles thrown out globally each year.
It is a truly sustainable brand from the biodegradable ingredients, certified climate neutral, cruelty-free and a living wage employer.
My pick: Sweet & spicy volumising shampoo bar. The Sweet and Spicy shampoo smells lovely and worked really surprisingly well.
We also tried the oaty delicious gentle shampoo bar for little ones which worked well but a little juggling was required in the application with the baby – but I can see this being fun when she can use it herself without trying to eat it!
Key tip: Don’t use too much – this one bar is supposed to be the equivalent of 3 bottles of shampoo! You don’t need to use much and if you do use too much it will leave your hair feeling greasy – just take the bar from the scalp to the tip of your hair 3/4 times. My hair didn’t feel moisturised when it was wet but I find this with a lot of natural shampoos – however when it was dry it felt silky smooth.
Key beneficial ingredients:
- Coconut oil – to strengthen the hair
- Cinnamon – for the yummy smell
- Epsom Salt – Salt adds volume to hair – soft and bouncy!
Packaging: There basically is none – which is the wonderful thing – just the paper outer.
Where to buy it: In Hong Kong you can go and see their full range at isgo
Natural hair care products do work! You do not need products that make your hair feel good straight away but actually damage your hair in the long term. Look for products with ingredients that are actually beneficial for your hair like Lavender, coconut oil or it’s derivatives, argan oil and rosemary.
Depending on your key concern, budget and hair type there are different options here. For me I will definitely go with Ethique when I am traveling and at home it is a tough decision but with the poor recycling situation in Hong Kong it does seem more sensible to use bar shampoo & it takes up a lot less space in our overcrowded, tiny bathrooms.
However I am not ready to move 100% to bar shampoo just yet and am torn between the other three. Acure is the easiest on the wallet but sometimes it is nice to feel pampered and both John Masters and True botanicals give me that feel good factor. So for me there is no one, best organic shampoo conditioner but several very good options!
What do you think? Have you tried bar shampoo or do you have any successes stories with natural shampoo?