Considering how much of an emphasis we put on skincare - who hasn’t bought a skin care product because of Instagram these days - isn't it kind of weird that a lot of us don't put the same care towards our hair and scalp?
After all, our scalps are skin, just like our faces - that’s where organic shampoo comes in. A tailored, healthy hair care regimen does way more than just nurture the skin on our scalps - it can help manage and nourish your hair right from the root for locks that are easier to manage. Sign me up - I mean, I’ve always dreamt of looking like one of those girls from the shampoo ads! *hair flip*
DermaChange Thick and Full Organic Shampoo and Conditioner
ArtNaturals Scalp 18 Shampoo
Ethique Eco-Friendly Pinkalicious Shampoo Bar
Christina Moss Organic Shampoo
Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo
Sent From: Earth Hair and Scalp Detoxifying Shampoo
How do I know if a shampoo is organic?
More and more folks are turning to organic shampoos to meet their hair care needs, but what exactly makes a shampoo organic? A product can only be considered organic if its ingredients are farmed organically. It's important to note that ‘organic' is not a universally regulated term. Rather, it's regulated by the USDA, and they can only enforce this labelling on products within the USA.
According to the USDA, there are three categories of organic products: 100% Organic, Organic, and Made with Organic Ingredients. But what's the difference between the three - and is there such thing as a truly 100% organic shampoo?
100% Organic - The product contains only organically produced ingredients.
Pretty much the only kind of beauty product that can be 100% organic are pure oils, as they literally only contain one ingredient - the oil itself. It’s hard for any commercially produced cosmetic to be 100% organic, as sometimes even organic ingredients need to be synthesized with lab-made ingredients to be properly used in the product formula.
Most cosmetics products fall into the two below categories:
Organic - The product must contain at least 95% organically produced ingredients.
Made with organic ingredients - The product contains at least 70% organic ingredients.
Products with less than 70% organic ingredients can't be labelled as organic, but the organic ingredients can be highlighted as organic on their packaging. This means that it can claim to have anything from 1% to 69% percent organic ingredients - that's a big difference! So for example, a shampoo that has 50% organic aloe vera can't be labelled as organic as a whole, but on the packaging, it could say that it specifically contains organic aloe vera. Unfortunately, as a shopper, we won't know exactly how much that actually comes to - but we can make an educated guess based on the ingredients list!
Did you know that ingredients have to be listed in order from highest quantity to smallest? So, taking our aloe vera ingredient example from before, we can make an educated guess that a product with aloe vera featuring close to the top of the list has a lot more than a product with it towards the end. While of course we still don’t know exactly how much, it’s a great way to make an educated guess about how much of a certain ingredient is actually in a product. It can make the difference in guessing whether a product has a beneficial quantity of something, or if it’s just added to the ingredients as a marketing ploy, aka ‘greenwashing’. Greenwashing is something to look out for, as a non-organic shampoo can be marketed as a shampoo without harmful chemicals when it actually isn’t!
On the hunt for the best all-natural shampoo, I'll refer to everything as ‘organic shampoo', but I'll make a note of how the product is labelled to try and make it clear just how organic the product really is.
Why is organic shampoo better for your hair?
Now that we’ve talked about what organic shampoo is made with, let’s talk about what it’s made without. Organic shampoo is usually made without ingredients that could be considered toxic or irritating to the scalp. This list includes fragrance, phthalates, parabens, sulfates, phenoxyethanol, petrochemicals, and formaldehyde, to name a few.
It's usually better for your hair because it skips all (or most) of these ingredients, leaving you with your best hair, ever. However, this doesn't mean that a product is a chemical free shampoo - even water is a chemical! Rather, the goal of an organic shampoo product is to minimize exposure to harmful chemicals, than to just sell "no-chemical shampoos".
What is the healthiest shampoo?
The healthiest shampoo is one that makes your scalp and hair feel the best that it can - that doesn’t mean stripped or dry, either. The healthiest organic, natural shampoo for you will be tailored for your specific hair type - for example, sulfate-free is perfect for both improving the longevity of color-treated hair, plus it’s gentle on easily irritated scalps.
Organic shampoos are also healthy because they tend to promote overall scalp and hair well-being - supporting super manageable hair and healthy growth in the long run. What’s not to love about that?Here are six amazing organic shampoos that will have you singing in the shower - no matter your hair type. Are you ready?
1. DermaChange Thick and Full Organic Shampoo and Conditioner
The Best Organic Shampoo for Fine Hair
There’s really no denying that the shampoo you use has a very direct result on your hair. Organic shampoo can help support healthy hair growth - especially when it's formulated to deliver the best in hair-nourishing ingredients. This organic shampoo and conditioner set is designed to help boost hair growth thanks to manuka honey, organic aloe vera, and organic coconut oil featuring in the ingredients list.
Another impressive feature of this hair care set is the fact that it's pH balanced. When it comes to skin, including our scalps, it's naturally slightly acidic at pH 5 to 6. The health of our scalp is influenced by the pH of the products we use on it, so it only makes sense to use something formulated to replicate that. A scalp that's suffering from a pH imbalance is usually dry, itchy, and flakey - and also isn't the ideal environment for helping hair to grow.
When it comes to fine hair that needs a growth boost instead of just volume, this could be the best natural shampoo and conditioner for you. It's enriched with biotin as well - the famous B Vitamin for boosting hair growth.
2. ArtNaturals Scalp 18 Shampoo
The Best Organic Shampoo for Dandruff
Dandruff and scalp psoriasis can be a tricky beast to vanquish - but not if you have the right shampoo. Formulated with coal tar, this shampoo works to heal the scalp, eliminating itching, dryness, and skin flakes. As far as composition goes, this shampoo is made with organic ingredients - but it’s not exactly clear what they are.
Formulated with coal tar to attack the source of the issue, this (mostly) harmful chemical free shampoo is perfect for treating the scalp and keeping hair gorgeous. All too often do medicated shampoos dry hair and make it feel like straw, but this shampoo is formulated with argan and jojoba oil to heal and repair hair from root to tip.
However, there's no dancing around the fact that it does contain coal tar, which has a very distinctive scent on its own and might not be the most pleasant aroma for your everyday shampoo - so it's worth alternating with a ‘regular' organic, natural shampoo for fresh looking and fresh smelling hair! While coal tar is a petrochemical, it’s a proven treatment for scalp psoriasis - so we will make an exception for this shampoo, this time.
3. Ethique Eco-Friendly Pinkalicious Shampoo Bar
The Best Plastic-Free Organic Shampoo
Not only is this shampoo freaking adorable - I mean, it’s basically a tiny soap bar - it’s amazing for the environment, too. Ethique claims that just one of their shampoo bars is equivalent to three plastic bottles of traditional shampoo. Plus, it's super travel-friendly since it's no bigger than the palm of your hand, and you can bring it in your cabin baggage.
The Pinkalicious Shampoo Bar is Ethique’s basic offering - it’s designed for normal hair, but the brand has bars designed to target every hair type in mind. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also naturally fragranced with an amazing blend of grapefruit and vanilla! All of the shampoo bars are made with organic and fair trade coconut and shea butter, to provide moisture.
It does contain a type of sulfate known as Sodium Coco-Sulfate. Derived from coconut oil, Ethique claims to use this as a gentle alternative to more stripping sulfates like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate. However, there doesn’t yet seem to be a consensus on whether SCS is truly a better alternative to SLS - however, for folks that know they have a sulfate-sensitivity, this is definitely an ingredient to be aware of. Sulfates are also ingredients that tend to strip hair color - so this also might not be safe for brightly colored hair.
4. Christina Moss Organic Shampoo
The Best Organic Shampoo for Sensitive Scalps
If your scalp is sensitive and wants to be babied with only the best in organic ingredients, this is the shampoo for you. It works to soothe almost every single scalp issue, plus lathers with the gentlest foam ever. It literally feels like foam made by the hands of angels themselves - without feeling super lathery or stripping. It’s safe for everyone in the family too - including babies. There’s probably nothing better than buying something and knowing that it’s safe for everyone in the family!
While a really good chunk of the ingredients list is labelled as organic, we can guess that this has 70% organic ingredients, max - as it’s still labelled as made with organic ingredients. Like I said before though - most of the time, the only kind of cosmetic product that can be labelled 100% are pure oils. However, it’s still really impressive that most of the list is organic and GMO-free - ensuring that you’re really getting the most out of these plant-based ingredients.
I think that if you’ve struggled with finding a shampoo that cleanses thoroughly without irritating your scalp, this might be the one for you. I know how hard it is to find a gentle shampoo that doesn’t leave hair your hair still feeling greasy and like it still needs a wash after - I think that this shampoo from Christina Moss is a total gem!
5. Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo
The Best Organic Clarifying Shampoo
A decent clarifying shampoo can be hard to find in the first place - so an organic clarifying shampoo could be even more difficult. Or is it?
This all natural shampoo from Avalon Organics is actually pretty impressive! Not gonna lie, I was super skeptical that any shampoo formulated without sulfates would be able to clarify as well as a traditional one, but I was proved very, very wrong. Instead of sulfates, the Avalon team has formulated the shampoo with a super gentle surfactant called Coco-Glucoside to gently remove build up and clarify hair for volume and shine.
What I like best about this shampoo is that it’s EWG Verified - while not necessarily a government body, the Environmental Working Group provides a lot of information on natural ingredients and products so that you know that you’re only using the best on your body.
However - there is one tiny, tiny red flag in the ingredients lists. To get that amazing fresh citrus smell, the formula includes several citrus essential oils and citral. While essential oils are natural, citrus essential oils and citral, in particular, can be linked to sensitization. While the amount in the shampoo will be fine for most adults, it's not as kid-friendly as some of the other options.
6. Sent From: Earth Hair and Scalp Detoxifying Shampoo
The Best Organic Detoxifying Shampoo
If you're looking for a gateway organic shampoo, this might be the one for you. It's rich in a whole bunch of organic plant-based oils for a healthy scalp and healthy hair. Sent From: Earth says that a few indicators that your scalp is in dire need of detox are if you have a lot of itching, clogged hair follicles, excessive hair fall, and slow hair growth.
It's designed to restore your hair and scalp to its former glory - is it the best non-toxic shampoo? Let's take a closer look. The ingredients list is super impressive and boasts rich, nourishing oils like hemp, mustard seed, shea butter, and coconut - all organic, of course. It’s perfect for thoroughly cleansing away any buildup. You’ll know if you have buildup if your hair is sticky - sounds gross, right? This kind of build up usually results from ‘normal’ hair care products not being able to be rinsed away properly, and it’s important to detox from the buildup ASAP!
The company recommends following up their chemical free shampoo with a slightly acidic rinse for optimum scalp health and help close the cuticle. They have a dedicated product for this, or you could make your own with diluted organic apple cider vinegar if you're feeling like some DIY beauty.
But which one is the BEST organic shampoo?
So, at the end of the day - all of them turned out to be made with organic ingredients - that means they’re only 70% organic, total. But, that doesn’t mean that they’re not amazing products - it’s just an important thing to be aware of when looking for an organic shampoo!
If I had to pick one to bring with me to a deserted island… That’s a hard choice, but I’m a big fan of the Christina Moss Shampoo. I love that it’s perfect for all hair types and even for the most sensitive scalps. And, it can be used on kids - so it’s one less thing to clutter up the shower. I mean, it just does everything, and does it really well - I don’t think anyone will be disappointed with it, least of all me on my deserted island with my coconuts… A close second is the Sent From: Earth shampoo. I love that it has some really unique plant oils (it’s the only one with hemp!) to really nurture my hair - completely organically, of course!
Here’s to good hair days ahead!
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About the author Stephanie Morin
NYC-based beauty and skin care blogger, Stephanie delivers a healthy dose of practical beauty tips for some serious skin care inspiration!