Shampoo and conditioner have come a long way in the past couple decades, but that's not necessarily a good thing…in fact, there seems to be more and more new, untested ingredients added to our hair care products every day. For this project alone, we investigated over 400 ingredients and 80 brands, filtering them through assorted criteria to create three tiers of recommendations.
Our research involved the accumulation of many different sources that weigh in on the safety of various ingredients including Chemical of the Day, PubMed, International Fragrance Association (IFRA), Science Lab, and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) among others. It's really a matter of examining labeled ingredients for potential hazards, and then choosing products with well-known ingredients that have been studied and certified whenever possible.
Why You Need Safe Shampoo and Conditioner
The vast majority of hair care products contain highly toxic chemicals including synthetic fragrance, sodium lauryl sulfate, retinyl palmitate, methylisothiazolinone, parabens and phthalates along with a host of moderately hazardous ingredients, so it's a true task to find safer options. But we love a challenge!
For this project we chose ready-made products for non-DIYers, or those of us who just don't have the time (like me!) to make our own shampoo and conditioner. But for you super crafters, we found this great recipe to make your own homemade shampoo with castile soap. Someday we'll get to it 🙂
Also super interesting is the poo-free option. This is when you don't use any shampoo at all, letting your hair go through the natural process of recovery and on to the stage where you don't actually need shampoo. We've heard it really works! Let us know if you try it.
NOTE: We researched a selection of products from each of the manufacturers listed below to provide our recommendations. This means we did not conduct a thorough study of every product made by those brands, so be sure to do your homework and read the label before purchasing.
These are our absolute favorites. Our research shows these shampoo and conditioner brands contain no hazardous ingredients.
The following list consists of our second place choices. These brands may contain up to two ingredients of mild concern including potassium sorbate, dimethicone and behentrimonium chloride.
Third place, but still great. These brands of shampoo and conditioner may contain up to three ingredients of concern, although they appear at the bottom of the ingredients list which usually means there's a pretty small amount present in the product. The ingredients we found include behentrimonium chloride, potassium sorbate and tocopheryl acetate. None of them are especially harmful, but are worth noting.