Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Safer Bath Products in 2012: Shampoo Edition

I'm not going to make a claim that any commercially-sold shampoo is perfect for people in general or for any specific person. Even the most cleaned-up ingredient lists probably still have one or two ingredients whose merit could be debated. That said, our family went from being a reflexively-Pantene family to reading toiletry product labels a lot more carefully, especially after my youngest daughter's diagnosis of sensory processing disorder. So far we've not found a no-poo solution, so my stop-gap is shampooing my littlest's hair every 2-3 days, using less noxious options when I do shampoo, and using as little shampoo as possible to get her hair clean, often just a teeny drizzle. So, it is an ongoing process of reducing usage and product evaluation for us.

We progressed through a few "more natural" brands this year - and here I rank them by recommendation. I did also try using Dr. Bronner's liquid castille soap, which is great when used sparingly for cleaning in general, but despite its ideal ingredient list it strips hair far too harshly for me to recommend. Maybe next year we will discover other brands we like even better! - and maybe you can suggest some to try in the comments.

Aubrey Organics Green Tea Clarifying Shampoo

Out of what we've tried this year, this is my top recommendation, for both performance and ingredients. A little bit (a dime sized amount) can easily lather a whole head of hair, and it genuinely clarifies. It has no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, or petrochemicals. The green tea smell is pretty refreshing, too!

It is available through many online retailers, including Amazon and Vitacost.

The ingredient list follows: Alcohol denat. (38b lavender ) aqua hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract aloe barbadensis leaf juice glycerin camellia sinensis leaf oil panthenol simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil rosa mosqueta (rose hip) seed oil chenopodium quinoa seed extract pelargonium graveolens flower oil panax ginseng root extract ginkgo biloba leaf extract chrysanthemum sinense flower extract magnolia biondii bud flower extract angelica archangelica root extract.

Burt's Bees Very Volumizing Shampoo with Pomegranate

This is my second choice out of the three we've tried out this year. True to the label, it does have a deliciously fruity smell, but does not clean quite as thoroughly as the Aubrey green tea option - and in fact my past-shoulder length hair usually gets two rounds of sudsing with this one to feel sufficiently clean. The ingredient list is mostly good - I love that like the Aubrey one, it has no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, or petrochemicals involved. I could do without added fragrance, though. This one I've found at WalMart and other major retailers, as well, so it's been a good stand-by option for us when we've been waiting to order more of the Aubrey green tea shampoo.

The ingredient list follows: Aqua (water, eau), sodium bis-hydroxyethylglycinate coco-glucosides crosspolymer, sodium cocoyl alaninate, glycerin, disodium cocoyl glutamate, oryza sativa (rice) extract, hydrolyzed jojoba protein, sodium cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein, punica granatum seed oil, origanum vulgare leaf oil, thymus vulgaris (thyme) oil, arginine, parfum (fragrance)*, sodium lauroyl lactylate, sodium cocoyl glutamate, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, lauryl lactyl lactate, sodium chloride, lactic acid.

Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Shampoo

This shampoo is the one I'd pick if I were on the road in the middle of nowhere, needed shampoo, and still managed to find a WalMart or Target that wasn't carrying the Burt's Bees. In other words, it's commonly available and is free from a certain amount of junk, but at the same time it's far from ideal. Its ingredients are said to be 94% biodegradable, and it is free of silicone, dye, or paraben. Not my favorite: it still has sulfate, preservative, and fragrance

The ingredient list follows: Aqua/Water; Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate; Cocamidopropyl Betaine; Sodium Chloride; Hexylene Glycol; Pyrus Malus Extract/Apple Fruit Extract; Parfum/Fragrance; Sodium Benzoate; Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride; Citric Acid; Salicylic Acid; Benzoic Acid; Niacinamide; Pyridoxine HCl; Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride; Linalool; Hexyl Cinnamal; Saccharium Officinarum Extract/Sugar Cane Extract; Citrus Medica Limonum Peel Extract/Lemon Peel Extract; Camellia Sinensis Extract/Camellia Sinensi

What "more natural" shampoos have you tried this year? Do you have any with ingredient lists that you adore?



  1. I'm allergic to SLS and other ingredients found in most shampoos so I always go the more natural route. Right now I'm using a 'prairie naturals Chinook' shampoo that's Sulphate, DEA & Paraben-Free. It works pretty well! I try something new almost every time I run out though.

  2. I am trying to avoid xenoestrogens, but I really cannot afford natural shampoos. My sister and daughter turned me onto a baking soda wash with an apple cider vinegar rinse. I have only used it a couple of times but so far I love it. The baking soda is a bit weird if you feel like you need a lot of suds to get your hair clean. But it is extremely cheap and won't hurt anything, so you can always use multiple applications until you feel clean. I use a small handful and mix it with water right into the shower to make a paste. It is mainly for the scalp. I scrub multiple areas of my head with the paste and then rinse thoroughly. The vinegar is mixed about 1:16 or so with water and is mostly for the ends. I sprinkle a few drops on the scalp area and pour on my hair from the neck down. Then I comb it through and rinse thoroughly. Other people that use this say they go 3 or 4 days without washing their hair. That is really not a goal of mine (although I have yet to wash 2 days in a row with this method due to pure laziness) but I have also read that you can continue to wash every day without any problems, so I will probably keep doing that.
    One caveat - according to my sister, after about 2 or 3 weeks of using this your skin will release the "plugs" that commercial shampoo deposits in your hair follicles. (Can't remember if these are caused by silicone or not - you might already be done with that phase.) She had a terrible allergic reaction to a "natural" shampoo after using baking soda/vinegar for a few months. Probably one of the fragrances, which are usually not specified on the label. Anyway, I don't think the "plugs" are healthy, but it is probably not advisable to switch back & forth between this and shampoo if you are prone to allergies.

  3. tate's natural miracle shampoo is the best! http://www.ourtatefamily.com/product1a.html

    "Ingredients: Mountain spring water, coconuts, hazel nuts, pine needles, chamomile, nutmeg, lemons, thyme, passion flower, apples, cinnamon, eucalyptus, sea salt, geranium, raspberries, almonds, honey, love, smiles & hugs. Tate's the Natural Miracle Shampoo has no dyes, no gluten, no colors, no iodine, no glycols, no sulfates, no parabens, no fragrance, no phosphates, no pesticides, and no animal testing. We love you!!! "


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