The best natural shampoo and conditioner's post is here! I have all the details on all my favorite natural shampoos and conditioners in clean beauty. I’ve tried a lot of shampoos and conditioners in my day since going green and I’m here to share the best of the best!
If you're new here I want to emphasize a couple points. There is a reason I advocate for clean products for SO many reasons but one of them is the total body burden. Many product and ingredients have an accumulative affect on the body. Basically, the more you use them, the more they add up in your body. My goal is to arm you with healthier options that you can feel good about using daily so you're not taxing your body. After all, it's the thing you do daily that adds up over time, not the product you use once in a while.
Affiliate Disclosure: I do have affiliate links in this blog post. If you purchase something from my link, I will receive a small commission from the sale. This comes at no cost to you, but is paid by the company. I do not take becoming an affiliate with any company lightly. If I am, it’s because I believe in the company and their product.
One of the newest natural shampoos and conditioners I've discovered and love!
Since we know shampoo is one of those daily products, I think it's imperative that we have a look at what shampoo we're using. Do the ingredients create a healthy environment for our bodies? What does the research say about the ingredients? We know from studies that as we reduce certain ingredients in our products, then you see them less and less in our bodies(source).
The scalp is 4 times more absorbent than other parts of our body, it's important what we use when it comes to shampoo and conditioner. A study even showed how massaging a certain oil with a medicine into the scalp was absorbed almost the same as an oral dose(Source)! Definitely showing the power of the scalp to absorb ingredients.
Before we dive into the best natural shampoo and conditioners, let's take a look at the ingredients you don't want to be lurking in your shampoo bottle.
What's In Your Shampoo?
Have you ever thought about what's in your conventional shampoo and conditioner? Let's just say there are some heavy hitters when it comes to ingredients you're going to want to avoid putting near your scalp! Allow me to explain.
Some Ingredients To Avoid In Your Shampoo and Conditioner: If you see a few of these you can know that there are probably other ingredients in it you shouldn't be using too.
- Methylchloroisothiazolinone- This is used as a preservative. It can have a harmful affect of the lungs(Source), cause allergies(Source) and is a possible neurotoxin(Source).
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate(SLS)- This is a surfactant and helps to create the suds that we come to love in shampoos. The main concern with it is that it's been shown to be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, which has been classified as a carcinogen(Source). 1,4 dioxane is left behind because of the process of ethoxylation. Some companies have started to strip the sodium laureth sulfate from the shampoos but it's hard to tell which have. You could definitely call them and ask, but make sure you have some documentation to back up their claims. The more people are asking for transparency the more change will happen. SLS can also be a skin irritant to many people as well. Especially if you suffer from eczema, rosacea, or sensitive skin in general. Instead of SLS, companies will use decyl glucoside. This is a type of sugar and doesn't contain any 1,4 dioxane. It's also a lot less harsh, so great for sensitive skin types.
- Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate- Similar to sodium laureth sulfate in that it is also a surfactant. It also can contain 1,4 dioxane and be irritating to the skin. ALS can also form nitrosamines when mixed with other ingredients. This nitrosamines has been found to cause cancer(Source). This can also occur when SLS is present too.
- Fragrance- Can cause phototoxic reactions and can be photoallergic. Skin irritants, reproductive damage and has been known as a neurotoxin(Source).
- Methylisothiazolinone- Used as a preservative. An allergen, causing skin burns, allergic reactions(Source).
- Behentrimonium Chloride- Used as an emulsifier, conditioning agent, defrizzer, and preservative. Skin and eye irritant, can cause nerve damage, cancer risk and highly flammable(Source).
- Polysorbate 20- By itself polysorbate 20 is not harmful, however when it's used in cosmetics it's treated with ethylene oxide which then ethoxylates it and can contaminate it with 1,4 dioxane- a known carcinogen(Source). There have also been studies on polysorbate 20 showing reproductive issues and developmental issues(Source).
- DMDM Hydantoin- It is used as an anti-microbial agent in products. It releases formaldehyde a known carcinogen(Source). Since most people know to avoid formaldehyde companies list their ingredients with dmdm hydantoin instead. It can cause skin reactions, from burning to skin rashes, overall sensitivity. Also cancer. It can also cause irritation to the nose, eyes and throat.
- Propylene Glycol-PEG's of any kind- Has been found to be contaminated with 1, 4 dioxane, which is cancer causing. Can cause acne, skin irritant. They have a penetrating affect to the formula. This creates even more of a problem as other harmful ingredients are able to penetrate further into the skin(Source).
- Cocamide Mea- A fatty acid made from coconut oil mixed with diethanalomine. It creates a creamy formula and foaming agent. It can cause allergic reactions in some and be a skin irritant. It can also form nitrosamines when mixed with other ingredients. This nitrosamines has been found to cause cancer(Source).
- Parabens(not as prevalent as they used to be. This includes methyl-, propyl- ethyl-,butyl)- Used as a preservative. Hormone disruptor also known as endocrine disruptor. Has been found in breast cancer tumors, may cause male infertility and early puberty(Source).
- Quaternium-15- Used in products to avoid yeast, mold and bacteria. Skin and eye irritant, can cause respiratory issues, digestive tract and nervous system(Source). It also releases formaldehyde.
Haven't found a natural shampoo and conditioner you love? Check these out!
Give Your Hair Some Time To Adjust To Natural Shampoos
I get e-mails all the time from readers telling me that natural shampoos don’t work for them. Now, I understand it definitely depends on the shampoo and conditioner you’re using, but it also could be a phase you’re hair is going through. Hair can go through a detox period where it actually gets oilier before it gets better when transitioning to a natural shampoo and conditioner. Mainstream products are full of such harsh ingredients that strip the hair every time you use them. Your hair gets used to feeling “clean” you think, and so when you switch to a gentler shampoo and conditioner your hair freaks out. It’s used to constantly being dried out everyday and used to overcompensating by producing more oil to nourish your hair again. Give your hair 6-8 weeks to detox. This means stop shampooing your hair everyday-yes this is not necessary and actually could cause more damage to your hair. Shampoo every other day at the most and in between days if you get oily, just use a dry shampoo. This is my favorite natural dry shampoo. You may notice your hair greasier than usual, but that is because your hair’s ph balance was out of balance from all the harsh chemicals you were putting on it everyday. Give it some time…it will get better!
I always think a good clarifying treatment is in order every now and then too. Sometimes when using natural shampoos the hair gets weighed down, no matter how great they are! This gives it a nice boost, getting rid of any residue that’s been hanging on to your strands. I do this whenever my hair is feeling drab. The recipe is easy just 1 part apple cider vinegar to 1 part water (I usually use 1/2 cup of each but you may need more if you have thick or long hair). Mix it together and pour over head concentrating on using your other hand to rub it in your hair. Let it sit on your hair for 10 minutes. Then rinse off and apply conditioner as usual. I've also added it to a squirt bottle and then just squirted it all over my head too.
*Also I wanted to share that I'm a former hair stylist and so this best natural shampoo and conditioners list is legit! I really took my time- over a year to create this post. I wanted it to be a comprehensive list that anyone can find something.
I wanted to offer a shampoo and conditioner for all of these categories:
- Budget Friendly
- Fragrance Free(even essential oils)
- Curly Hair
- Fine/Thin Hair
- Color Treated Hair
- Purple Shampoo
- Black Hair
I hope you can find this best natural shampoo and conditioner's post helpful in finding your new favorite shampoo and conditioner!
Best Natural Shampoo and Conditioner's
Natural shampoo and conditioner have come a long way in the last 10 years!
Natural Black Hair Routine
As I was trying out natural shampoos and conditioners I realized I had a blind spot when it came to black hair. I've had people ask me before what I would recommend as natural shampoos for black hair and I couldn't. I didn't even know what natural hair products in general to recommend for black hair. I wanted to enlist an expert. Monique from Brown Skin Green Beauty was so gracious to share her expertise with my audience on her top picks for best natural shampoo and conditioners for black hair. I learned so much from getting her expert tips on how to care for black hair.
Hi there! My name’s Monique, aka Brown Skin Green Beauty- Instagram @brownskingreenbeauty.
I’m an advocate of clean beauty and wellness. My journey into the clean space began 13 years ago when I had a horrible reaction to conventional hair care products marketed to Black women. It was then; I learned most Black hair care products were laden with chemicals that were not ready for the natural hair movement and unsafe for my health. Super excited to learn more, I dove right into understanding how ingredients worked and made the necessary changes to take better control of my health and improve the health of my hair and skin. I created Brown Skin Green Beauty
to share my experiences with safe alternative beauty products to inspire other women, especially Black women, to go beyond the bells and whistles and learn more about clean and nontoxic options for beauty.
Since losing my hair two years ago, not only has my wash day been simplified, but the products I use are lightweight, oil-based, and more plant-based instead of the heavy cream products that once served my hair needs.
The first step to my wash day is a pre-poo of coconut oil and aloe vera juice. I spritz my hair with aloe vera juice and work the coconut oil in my locks from base to end. This process helps to create a moisture barrier to keep my hair from drying out when shampooing. Next, I wash my hair with Nikki’s Naturals Black Soap Clarifying Shampoo. This liquid black soap gently clarifies without stripping my hair’s natural oil. My hair is left feeling very clean, soft, and moisturized.
To keep hair from overdrying, I wrap my wet hair in a cotton t-shirt to absorb most of the water. Once my locks feel damp, I oil my scalp with an oil mixture of Paparozier Castor Oil of Haiti, sweet almond, jojoba, peppermint, and rosemary. When styling, I spritz my hair with aloe vera juice and retwist with coconut oil to clean up my boxes and lock in moisture. At night, I wear a silky scarf to keep my hair lint-free. Every three days, I give my hair a light spritz of Al Wadi Rose Water and massage a light layer of avocado oil or coconut oil in my locs to keep them hydrated and well moisturized. On occasion, I’ll use Oyin Handmade Greg Juice for a moisture boost.
*Keep reading to see all the best natural shampoo and conditioners!
I tested out all of these as well as my sisters. I wanted to get an idea with different hair types. We tested the shampoos and conditioners together. Here are my top picks for best natural shampoo and conditioners.
Formula- I’ve been testing it out and have been super impressed with the overall formula. My hair feels so bouncy and clean. And the clean feeling lasts for days! I get so much volume from this shampoo and conditioner, plus it foams too!
Hair Type- Any hair type. I've used it and I have fine, thin hair. My sister has used it and she has thick, fine hair. I have a friend who loves it and she has coarse thick curly hair.
Scent- Smells citrusy. I really smell grapefruit to be exact.
Review- This is the shampoo I've been recommending for really any hair type. It just gets the job done! Especially great for someone who is used to mainstream shampoos and conditioners and wants one that is going to really get their hair clean. I can go multiple days between shampooing my hair with this shampoo. It was a no brainer for the best natural shampoo and conditioner's post! Get it here!
Formula- It creates a gentle lather and helps to stimulate the scalp. It's gluten free, nut free, and cruelty free.
Hair Type- I would recommend for any hair type. You might have to use a little more product if you have lots of thick hair to really get it in there but my sister with thicker hair than me loved it too.
Scent- Fragrance free! It doesn't smell like much at all. Great for even the most sensitive scalps.
Review- I was really excited about this shampoo because it really hits all the marks for someone who may have a sensitive scalp and needs something that's gentle. Although it is fragrance free, nut free and gluten free, it still cleans the hair so well! My hair always feels clean and it definitely adds some volume like the name suggests. This was a no brainer to add into the best natural shampoo and conditioners post. Highly recommend! Get it here.
Formula- It's a very creamy formula overall. Best suited for those with dry, damaged or color treated hair that needs extra moisture.
Hair Type- I would recommend for any hair type that is colored or is curly. As I stated above it is very hydrating/ Great for those with curly or drier hair types.
Scent- Smells good, but not overwhelming. A fruity mango scent.
Review- This shampoo isn't for any hair type. I will use it after I get my hair done for a couple days but after that if I continue to use it, my hair will become greasy and weighed down. I've had a lot of curly haired gals love it who have drier hair. Get it here!
Formula- It feels very refreshing on the scalp and hair.
Hair Type- This would be great for any hair type, even men's hair. One of my sister's has course thick hair and she didn't like it, but it's been hard to find anything for her hair! It's not going to be as cleansing as the Evolvh but a nice in between.
Scent- The scent is reminiscent of the outdoors. More pine and fresh smelling. I love how it smells!
Review- This is such a good all around shampoo and conditioner. It really makes my hair feel clean and bouncy. Not a heavy shampoo at all. It still lathers a little too which I love. The conditioner is light, yet my hair still feels hydrated. My husband also loves this shampoo too. Get it here!
Formula- Comes in a jar! So different than any other formula I've used. It looks like a salt scrub you would use for the body but instead it's actually for your hair.
Hair Type- This is great for any hair type. It really gives a great lather and works so well at giving my hair that clean feeling.
Scent- It has a fresh smell of mint, rosemary and orange.
Price- $42- pricey but you don't need a lot!
Review- This is the one I was most surprised how much I loved. I knew it was going to be in the best natural shampoo and conditioners post.I remember seeing this shampoo and thinking there is no way that would work. Well, I was wrong! After reading so many 5 star reviews I finally got my hands on some and wow was I so impressed! It really cleans the hair so well. I love how it produces a lather too. It feels very invigorating on the scalp too. Highly recommend! Check it out here!
Formula- Comes in a tube and a little goes a long way. Suds up a little and gets my hair feeling clean.
Hair Type- This is great for any hair type. I used it and my fine, thin hair loved it and so did my sister with thick hair.
Scent- It doesn't have a scent! It is made for the most sensitive scalps.
Price- $19.99- one of the more budget friendly picks.
Review- Love this shampoo and conditioner, knew it was going to go into the best natural shampoo and conditioner post! It gets my hair clean and doesn't weigh it down. My sister loved it as well. Super impressed with the ingredients, no scent and lower price point compared to others too. Especially great if you don't do scents or have a sensitive scalp. Get it here!
Formula- Comes in a pump bottle which I love. It's a creamy formula, but does suds up.
Hair Type- This is great for any hair type. It adds a little moisture but doesn't feel heavy.
Scent- Love the scent! I'm a huge mint fan and this one hits the mint note hard. Leaves your hair smelling fresh and your scalp feeling invigorated.
Review- This shampoo smells amazing! I love anything mint, so this is right up my alley. It really cleans my scalp and keeps it from feeling oily. My hair doesn’t feel weighed down either. It also comes in a pump which I love! Get it here!
Formula- It gives you a slight suds but you have to use a good amount of product to get it sudsy.
Hair Type- This is great for fine to thin hair types. I've had people with thick coarse hair try it and they weren't a fan unless they had shorter hair.
Scent- It doesn't have much of a smell. Just smells clean overall.
Review- This was the first natural shampoo I used that I actually liked and worked. It performs considerably well, and it’s filled with ingredients that will make you swoon! Things like Ungurahua oil, green tea, jojoba and lavender just to name a few. This is also safe for color treated hair. You do have to use a considerable amount of product sometimes to get a decent lather- that would be the one drawback and the price is a little steep. Get it here!
Formula- Love this shampoo! It really suds up, gets your hair feeling so clean and bouncy- say goodbye to grease.
Hair Type- This is great for any hair type. I love it for my fine/thin hair, my friend who has thick hair loves it- it's a crowd pleaser.
Scent- The scent is subtle and good. It has a mix of ylang ylang, orange and lemon.
Review- This is one of my faves when it comes to natural shampoos! It works so well at giving hair that deep clean and giving it body and lift. I wish they hadn't changed the conditioner. The formula was so good, but now it doesn't hydrate the hair and feels like it's a lotion you can't get out. Just buy the shampoo and grab a different conditioner! Get it here!
Formula- This comes in a tube and does give a suds, but I do feel like you have to use a decent amount of product to get it sudsy.
Hair Type- I would only recommend this for fine, thin hair, or hair that is a little dry. It does tend to weigh it down after several washes. I wouldn't use any of the other Acure shampoos because they really don't give my hair the clean feeling. My sister didn't like it at all and she has thick, fine hair.
Scent- Smells good, has a lemongrass scent.
Price- $9.99- the cheapest natural shampoo.
Review- I wanted to include a more budget friendly option, especially if you have kids that use shampoo and they're not as picky. This is a decent option that gets the job done. You might want to do an apple cider vinegar rinse every couple weeks just to get rid of any build up. Get it here!
Formula- This really suds up and performs well at getting your feeling very clean- almost too clean? Kind of.
Hair Type- I would for anyone who has color treated hair- specifically highlights and wants to keep them bright and not brassy. It brightened my highlighted ends and offered them a refresh overall.
Scent- Smells very sweet- like grape candy.
Price- $15.90- that's for the smallest size which is 3.3 oz. Not very much. Then you have to pay at least $20 for shipping to the U.S. since it's only available in Australia. So it definitely can get pricey.
Review- I love the ingredients for the Berry Blonde Shampoo but I wish it was available in the U.S. You could stock up when you purchase it to make it a little more feasible. It does tend to get the hair really clean as I mentioned above, which I love but it can almost feel stripping if you used it all the time. I think it works though because you usually don't want to be using a purple shampoo every shampoo- more like every two weeks to a month. Get it here.
Formula- This is a creamy texture overall. It does suds up a bit.
Hair Type- I would for anyone who has color treated hair. It helps to protect color treated hair while also nourishing it.
Scent- It has more of a gardenia flower scent to it.
Price- $38- this is definitely a pricey shampoo.
Review- This natural shampoo feels like a rich velvet lather on your head. It does clean the hair well, but doesn't feel stripping at all. I like to use this post getting my hair colored to really give it some extra nourishment. It will help to keep your hair balanced if you're a consistent hair color gal. Get it here!
Formula- This is a great leave in conditioner and the only one I use! You spray it all over, super convenient!
Hair Type- I would recommend for anyone wanting a little extra hydration, for those who get tangles easily in their hair, or for those who prefer a leave in conditioner opposed to a wash out conditioner.
Scent- It has a light scent of jasmine, and rosemary. Not too heavy.
Review- I always have a bottle of this on hand. Great for my girl's hair when it gets tangles in it. Easy to brush out, doesn't feel too heavy for a leave in conditioner but lightweight. Also great for spritzing on hair before going into chlorine water to help protect your hair. Get it here!
That sums up the best natural shampoo and conditioners! Did you find one you want to try? What do you love?
If you liked the best natural shampoo and conditioners post, check out past posts below:
Sharing my favorite natural shampoos and conditioners on the blog.
Answering the burning question, does organic hair dye exist? As a hair stylist hair color was the first thing that changed when I moved towards a greener lifestyle years ago. Not that organic dyes are perfect(not even close), because they aren't but a better option, especially if you're breathing in toxic fumes all day as a stylist. I actually stopped doing hair for a bit until I found a safer option. I didn't want to be around conventional color, and I definitely didn't want to be exposing others to chemicals.
This is a topic we need to discuss because according to research 66 to 77 percent of women dye their hair(Source here)! Pretty crazy statistics. Some women might not know what they're putting on their heads, either way I hope this helps you make an educated decision when it comes to whether you choose to dye your hair or not.
Did you know they pretty much can put whatever they want in hair dyes… the FDA doesn't regulate them. So why are mainstream dyes so horrible? Let me break it down:
Does organic hair dye exist?
–Arylamines(PPD) One of the most dangerous chemicals found in hair dyes. This chemical has been know to cause bladder cancer, and to cause cancer in experimental animals. One of the most common names for it is p-phenylenediamine (PPD). It is even present in natural hair dyes(although the percentage is a lot lower). It helps the color to last through shampoos. It gets even more toxic when paired with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is what's used in formulations with the PPD to get it to activate. It's interesting to me that the FDA has not approved for this chemical to be tested on the skin, yet it's nearly impossible to not get it on your skin if you're coloring your hair…crazy! Many stylists can end up with dermatitis because of constant exposure to PPD and those getting their hair dyed report eczema and dermatitis. Other studies link it as a possible carcinogen. (Source here).
-Ammonia This is the most popular chemical people tend to hear about when faced with mainstream hair dyes. Ammonia is used in hair color to blast the cuticle and deposit the color. Besides it being toxic, it's also really damaging to your hair. Why do you think stylists are always pushing those conditioners like crazy?! Ammonia is just bad all around. It's horrible for the respiratory system, but it also can get into lymph nodes. Once on a client's scalp it seeps into the pores, which is then carried into the bloodstream. Bottom line-avoid it!
-Toluene-2,5-diamine- These are used in permanent hair dyes. Besides getting headaches, getting dizzy and having allergic reactions. It also can be so damaging as to cause birth defects and retardation in unborn babies. (Source here)
-Parabens, Resorcinol, lead acetate are a few other offenders.
*There's a slew more chemicals, actually there can be up to over 400 chemicals in hair dyes!
The EWG (Environmental Working Group) found that 69% of hair dyes when tested on their Skin Deep data bases may cause cancer.
Here is a link where you can search for common hair dyes to determine their toxicity based on the Skin Deep Data Base by the EWG.
Getting a balayage or foil is a great way to minimize exposure from hair dye.
Yeah, let's just all take that in for a moment. Since the FDA doesn't regulate hair dye, we must!
I want to share what options you have when coloring your hair. There are options that are less toxic and options that are more toxic.
Temporary dyes- These only last for a couple washes typically and sit on top of your hair.
Semi-permanent- These are stronger then temporary dyes and are used a lot for toning, especially after getting highlights and refreshing the hair. They do penetrate the hair shaft but aren't going to last as long as permanent dye.
Permanent- This is going to go into the cortex of your hair and change the actual color. It will cover gray. This type of color is a lot more toxic because it contains more chemicals. In a study, it showed that there was a 50% increase risk for developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when using permanent dyes and an 80% higher risk of multiple myeloma. (Source here).
Also, the darker the dye the worst the toxic load. So if you're consistently getting your hair dyed black, dark brown, the toxic burden is greater. (Source here)
Organic Color Systems has a variety of colors to choose from.
Another thing to consider is when you're applying dye to your scalp. The scalp is a rich blood supply and carries chemicals to other parts of the body. So if you're constantly getting your hair dyed you may be submitting your whole body to toxins. (Source here)
So you might still be asking yourself…”Does Organic Hair Dye Exist?”
Ok, let's breakdown that question. There's no such thing as “organic” hair dye. It's a marketing term used to appeal to the consumer. When I hear people say that they're color line is safe and organic I just chuckle to myself. What they really mean is it probably doesn't contain ammonia, uses less toxic ingredients and a few more plant based ingredients. That's it.
When you look up the word organic in the dictionary you get this:
(of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.
Have you looked on the back of your “organic” hair color at the ingredients? Because there's definitely some serious artificial ingredients going on. People like to use the words organic but organic doesn't pertain to everything like it does to food or clothes.
I'm going to give some options below, but I want to be clear that these are in no way completely natural, well except henna and Hairprint. But even some henna dyes have other toxic ingredients added to them. It's always important to read your labels.
Hairprint- This is the only completely safe color line available at the moment. But I wouldn't really call it a hair color line. It's a boxed dye you can use at home but it doesn't work like you might think a conventional color would. It uses 8 food grade ingredients to dye the hair. I've personally used it on my mom's hair several years ago. Although it's completely safe it's also a lot of work. It took us about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish. I fully recommend it if you're just wanting to cover your roots and you have brown to darker hair naturally, but it doesn't work well with someone who wants to cover their dark roots and have highlights, which was my mom. It turns your hair to it's original color. So if you're a natural level 5 brown, that's what the color will look like when done. In my experience it was even darker though. It looks very opaque and not see through. It faded on my mom but still was too harsh for her. As you get older the rule of thumb with color is add warmth and go lighter. Darker can make you look older and the skin more sallow. Hairprint doesn't work for blondes, redheads or reddish hair. You can buy it online here!
Henna- Henna is a plant, completely natural. There are still henna dyes that contain small amounts of PPD(as I mentioned above), so make sure if you are using henna it's pure. Typically henna will reveal a reddish brownish color but some companies have added in other plants with henna now to change the color.
Henna is really hard to work with, if your a stylist and have worked with hair then you know what I mean. Once you put it on your hair, you really can't get it out. It's permanent. But a different permanent than conventional permanent dye. I've tried stripping henna out before with bleach and what happens is it turns brassy and red. The problem is once you put it on, you really can't do much else with your hair. Nowadays you can achieve different colors using a variety of henna powders. Check out Morocco Method for more info.
Organic color systems and O&M are a few of the more natural professional color lines available.
Does Organic Hair Dye Exist?
Let's finish answering the question, does organic hair dye exist? If you're using a permanent dye, it's going to have chemicals. Unless, you're doing straight Hairprint or using Henna and even then be careful of the source. There have been reports that small amounts of PPD(as I mentioned above) have been found in some henna sources. Color lines that are ammonia-free use Monoethanolamine, or MEA. It is in the family of Ethanolamines and is used to change the PH of the hair. This is essential because in order to change the color of the hair, the PH has to be raised for the color to penetrate the cuticle and get to the cortex. In several of the color lines I mention below, ethanolamines are present in them, since they are ammonia free. They use the MEA coupled with oils to get the color in the hair shaft. I really wouldn't use ammonia nowadays. It's horrible for stylists especially as you're the one breathing it in everyday.
One last thought before I dive into my recommendations. If you're wanting to get your hair colored, but are wanting the least possible contact with your skin, here are a few tips.
- If you have no grey to cover, have the stylist do a balayage technique or foil. By using foils the product doesn't touch your scalp, so less exposure overall.
- Also, always go lighter versus darker since the darker you go the more chemicals you're exposed too.
- If you're wanting highlights, I would ask if the salon has ammonia free lighteners. Getting highlights is a great option, because you're not touching the scalp and going lighter has less chemicals than going darker.
As you can see, organic hair dye doesn't exist in the way you would think. Are there better options, sure. But are they perfect? Not even close. You're still going to be exposing yourself to toxins.
Below are options I've used or had experience with. In no way am I saying that these are natural! They may not have one thing, but then they may have another. However, when doing hair I did notice severally chemically sensitive people were able to get their hair colored using many of these color lines because they do contain some of the lesser evil toxins. Most conventional color lines are filled with anything and everything- no joke. I also noticed in my research that professional color lines that use the term “organic or natural” are better as far as ingredients then boxed “natural” options. They just may not contain as many toxins, not that they are toxin free. As always, I recommend your stylist do a patch test to see if you're allergic to the color line before using.
At the end of the day, we all have to make choices when it comes to what toxins we allow into our bodies and which ones we don't. Hair dye may be something you love to do. This post is meant to arm you with the right information when making the decision to continue dying your hair, not to tell you to stop dying your hair. Maybe instead of doing it every six weeks you wait 12 weeks. Or maybe you get your hair foiled instead of an all over color. There may not be a perfect “organic hair dye” alternative to conventional hair dye but there are better options and tips to help lower your overall exposure.
Does organic hair dye exist?
This is the professional line I used at my salon. They are made in the UK, which is great because they have higher standards than the U.S. When I say professional, I mean it's only sold to those licensed as a cosmetologist. It is ammonia and resorcinol free. This was one of the main reasons I went with the line at the time. It was back in 2013 and this really was the only option when it came to natural hair dye from what I knew. It still does have PPD in it but has the lowest amount needed in order for it to still be effective. Instead of Ammonia in the product they use Ethanolamine and Triethanolamine. Full ingredient list here. They don't smell as bad but as far as toxicity go, are still up there with ammonia. Not really that much better in my mind. They use Ethanolamine and Triethanolamine in combination with heat for the color to penetrate the hair shaft. It covers grey and gives beautiful results. Your hair feels healthy and shiny. The fading was no different than mainstream color. I dare say it was actually better than traditional color.
The smell is more of an earthy smell, nothing unpleasant about it at all. If you've smelled ammonia color then you know what I'm talking about. They offer 64 colors, that can be made permanent or semi-permanent depending on the developer and they offer two lightening powders. The lightening powders are ammonia, bleach and dust free. The line is vegan and some of their products do contain a wheat protein, however they claim that they are gluten free. I would still ask them if you're sensitive to gluten in any way before applying this color just to be sure. Some of their colors, as well as the lightening powders have wheat protein in them. They have a truly semi-permanent line that's called No Limits. These dyes will wash out in 6-12 washes but don't contain PPD, or PTD and you can do them in the convenience of your home. They are sold as a retail product from the salon. As I mentioned above, just because this line is “natural”, and has the word “organic” in it does not mean it doesn't contain toxins. When I used it, I still wore gloves. Although it is better in some ways than standard hair dyes, it still is hair dye at the end of the day. To find a stylist using OCS, please e-mail them at email@example.com.
This is another professional line, meaning it's only sold to professional stylists. O&M stands for Original Mineral. I used it and here and there in my salon. It is newer and made in Australia. It is also a professional line. O&M is ammonia, resorcinol and PPD free. But still contains a host of other toxic chemicals instead of PPD like p-aminophenol, 4-Chlororesorcinol, Toluene-2,5-Diamine Sulfate and 2, 4 Diaminophenoxyethanol hcl. Here is a full ingredient list here.
The smell of O&M is more of cleaning agent smell. I'm not a fan to be honest. It's not overly strong or burning like ammonia at all but it isn't as pleasant as OCS. It does not require heat to penetrate the hair shaft like Organic Color Systems does, which I loved. They also have a very creamy consistency. The hair felt great after using the product. They are a lot larger than OCS in terms of colors, they offer 99. They come in a cream form for permanent and liquid for semi-permanent. The results I got from using O&M were great. It covered grey well. The hair shined and lasted through shampoos also. If you're a stylist and you're wanting to try out O&M, check out the website simplyorganicbeauty.com. You will have to get accepted as a stylist in order to purchase products. Also, if you're not a stylist but want to find a stylist that uses O&M, call their number (888)213-4744 and then push the number 4 to find a salon near you that uses it. You can also email them here.
This is another professional line that only a stylist can carry. I have to say this line I've been the most impressed with. I've only used them a handful of times. First they're made in Italy. At the time when I had my salon it wasn't available otherwise I would have definitely used it. They're ammonia free and offer 89 colors which is a decent selection. They actually have 6 legit natural ingredients in their hair color, which is rare to find. They really push the words biodynamic, natural and organic. Obviously, if you've been reading through this post you know that it's probably a marketing term, which it is. But I am shocked how they do really have a high standard when it comes to being more eco-friendly all around. You don't have to sit under heat to process the color, do a ton of steps to cover grays which is nice too. Organic Color Systems you always have to use so many steps in order to cover the grays, plus use heat. If you're a stylist and reading this definitely use a scale, it's essential for good results with this color line. I was impressed with how I didn't have to pack on the color with this line too. With Organic Color Systems I always felt like I needed more, especially when covering gray hair. Obviously, it's still not completely natural but I would say as far as being a stylist and having ease of use, consistent results and doesn't smell horrible, it's definitely a better option.
I wanted to also mention how much I loved Oway's Hbleach lightener! It's the best lightener I've ever used. It actually makes the hair feel better after using…I know crazy. It's ammonia free and contains lavender essential oil and kukui butter. It's so creamy. If you're a stylist and you're wanting to try out Oway, check out the website simplyorganicbeauty.com. You will have to get accepted as a stylist in order to purchase products. Also, if you're not a stylist but want to find a stylist that uses Oway, call their number (888)213-4744 and then push the number 4 to find a salon near you that uses it. You can also email them here.
Below are a list of ingredients found in “natural” boxed hair dye. They aren't pretty. It would be different using it if it only had a couple toxic ingredients but when the list is this long, it makes you think twice before using it. They may remove some of the heavy offenders when it comes to conventional dye but they are far from safe. If there is a score next to the ingredient list it's the score from EWG's Skin Deep Data Base.
- PEG's(polyethylene glycols)- Petroleum based enhancers. Usually contaminated with, heavy metals, Ethylene oxide(used in World War 1 nerve gas) and 1,4 dioxane-(a carcinogen) and make it easier for ingredients to absorb into your skin/scalp. Not something you want in your products if there are a list of other toxic ingredients. The EWG Skin Deep Data Base rates this as a 1 but that's not accurate. They aren't looking at the whole makeup of the ingredient. Some brands can try and remove these impurities but it would be hard to find that out.
- Mineral Oil- Made from petroleum. Can be contaminated. It can even be a possible carcinogen. (Source here)
- Propylene Glycol- Very similar to (PEG's- polyethylene glycols), it also makes it easier for ingredients to penetrate the skin and can be a skin irritant.
- Parfum/Fragrance- Can cause phototoxic reactions and can be photoallergic. Skin irritant, and has been known as a neuro-toxin, hormone disruptor and an allergen.
- p-Phenylenediamine- Score of 7- allergies and immunotoxicity as well as cancer.
- Ethanolamine- Score of 5-6, Allergies and Immunotoxicity
- 4-Chlororesorcinol- Score of 6- allergies and Immunotoxicity, and cancer.
- 2-Methylresorcinol- Allergies and immunotoxicity.
- 2-Amino-4-Hydroxyethylaminoanisole Sulfate- Score of 3 but it did have a reference for cancer.
- m-Aminophenol- Score of 5, for allergies and immunotoxicity and cancer.
- N-Phenyl-p-Phenylenediamine Sulfate- Score of 7, allergies and immunotoxicity, cancer.
As you can see, these aren't ingredients you want going on your head every 6 weeks! If you want to continue dying your hair, then here are some of the natural boxed hair dye options, however just remember they are not completely natural. I will say that I was impressed with Madison Reed's ingredient list. Still totally not squeaky clean at all, but compared to the other boxed dyes it wasn't as crazy. Madison Reed's are also PPD free, for those that are allergic or sensitive to PPD. But know that doesn't mean the ingredient they use instead, para-toulenediamene sulfate isn't nontoxic. It has it's own set of side effects too.
It's clear that organic hair dye does not exist except in the form of Hairprint that I mentioned earlier, however, Hairprint doesn't work for everyone and some people just don't want to spend that much time doing their hair every 6 weeks, or they have red hair, want highlights, etc.
Does organic hair dye exist? Well, since we know it doesn't I've found the next best thing- a root concealer! This isn't actually an all over color for your hair but for just your roots. You use it when you are trying to hide those grey hairs. It really does blend well and covers the grey! It just washes out after shampooing. You use it like you would mascara. Now this isn't by any means completely natural. It rates a 5 on the Think Dirty app. However, this is definitely a better alternative to dying hair in my opinion. You are giving yourself a lot less of a toxic load. It is a lot better than mainstream root concealers too. Plus, if it can help you stretch getting your hair dyed then it's worth it.
I'm still waiting for the day when organic hair dye does exist but until then, I've rounded out some of my top tips and what I do when getting my hair dyed in my free download.
This will outline:
- Where to find a natural stylist/salon
- What to ask a salon to see if they are really who they say they are
- What to tell your stylists for least exposure
- What I do when visiting the salon.
- I even walk you through what to do when you don't have access to an organic salon.
Ok, that's my huge spill on does organic hair dye exist! If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment, or e-mail me. Also, if you've come across other brands that you like please let me know. I'm always trying out new ones and will be updating this periodically as I do.
Answering the question, does organic hair dye exist and sharing my top picks.
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