The Best Natural, Eco-Friendly Shampoos and Conditioners for Dry Scalp
How to keep your shampoo and conditioner from stripping away your hair’s natural oils.
Most people have become more conscious of whether the food we’re putting in our bodies is healthy and natural, or if it was processed in a factory with tons of synthetic ingredients. But what we put on our bodies is just as important as what we put in them.
We’re literally bathing in the shampoos and conditioners we choose. And there’s a growing concern about the potential negative effects of the many chemicals major cosmetics companies have been soaking us in.
What’s in Traditional Shampoos and Conditioners
Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: The science is still coming in over just how harmful many common hair product chemicals are. Enough worry has been raised that many people are now choosing to avoid products that contain sulfates, parabens, and triclosans over concerns they can disrupt hormone function and carry carcinogens.
Some have expressed concern (although this isn’t proven yet) that various chemicals could even lead to increased risk of cancer, immune system degradation, and other health risks. Another thing to note: any time you see “fragrance” on the ingredients list, know that word is exempt from FDA ingredient-listing rules, so it can be used for any thousands of various chemicals.
Ironically, these chemical cocktails were designed to strip away dirt and oil—but they do such a good job they also strip away our hair and scalp’s natural oils, leaving our hair less shiny, less moisturized, and less soft, and giving us dry, itchy scalps. Yikes.
So, how can we make sure the stuff we’re lathering on top of our heads is as healthy and natural as the food we’re putting into the hole in the front of our heads? Well, one way is to make our own shampoo. From concoctions like baking soda and vinegar to coconut milk, there is no shortage of resource for creating DIY all-natural shampoo.
And for the rest of us?
For those who’d rather pick up (expertly-made) toxin-free, eco-friendly shampoos and conditioners, here are three brands that will leave your hair not only looking better, but feeling a lot better, too.
Vegan Shampoo and Conditioner From the Brazilian Amazon
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Teadora shampoos and conditioners are made from extracts from three Amazon Rainforest fruits: Buriti, Açaí, and Cupuaçu. They’re intensely moisturizing and are chock full of vitamins, nutrients, fatty acids and anti-oxidants (your mom said to eat your fruit to get your vitamins… it’s good to rub it on yourself too). Prevention Magazine awarded it as the "Best Natural Conditioner" on the market.
Teadora ingredients are grown utilizing sustainable agriculture practices and purchases help fund anti-deforestation initiatives, including a partnership with The Rainforest Foundation U.S. and indigenous groups in Guyana and Brazil to protect biodiverse indigenous lands. Teadora is also Leaping Bunny cruelty-free certified.
Organic Aloe-Based Shampoo and Conditioner
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The base ingredient for Plaine shampoo and conditioner is organic aloe juice. From there they’re working with extracts from various vegetables and flowers, oils from coconut and safflower seeds, even a little green tea and shea butter in there (you can take a look at the full list of ingredients; Plaine publishes them proudly and prominently on their site). All of it is all-natural, non-GMO, hypoallergenic and baby safe.
Plaine is also a leader in the fight to reduce single-use plastics, using aluminum instead of plastic bottles which it pays for you to ship back to them for free for sterilization and re-use. Their shipping packages are 100% post-consumer or post-industrial waste so that no new packaging material is created during their shipping process. Plaine is Leaping Bunny cruelty-free certified.
‘Kickass’ 4-in-1 Plastic-Free Shower Bars
But Red Bud Suds is 100% women-owned, mostly women-operated, and they’re making bars that are shampoo + conditioner + body + shave soap all in one—and with scents from natural essential oils like “citrus sunshine,” “gun flint peppermint,” and “kickass lemongrass.” The theory behind the all-in-one bar: 1. Simplicity is good. 2. Zero plastic bottles get used instead of four.
Red Bud bars are made in Ohio with locally-sourced lard (just like in Fight Club! Although Red Bud gets their lard from local farmers, not by stealing it from the local liposuction clinic). Other ingredients include fair trade shea butter, lavender oil, citrus oil, and sea clay.
Red Bud’s founder Aubrey says, “I didn't set out to start a business. I set out to do environmental advocacy in a creative, delightful way. I never imagined it would lead me here, but here we are!” Red Bud is a 1% for the Planet member.