I get that synthetic colors in most shampoos make them look nice but have you ever thought about the damages it does to your hair, skin, and scalp? Making a change in beauty products always feels a little daunting but switching to a non toxic shampoo is not only better for the environment, but it also benefits you the most in the long term. We've also included some options at the end of the article for non-toxic baby shampoo.
A word on plastic, we talk A LOT about zero waste living on this blog, and whilst we wish there were plastic-free options available for everything we use, that is simply not the case. We live in a world where most items we buy come in plastic, it's great to see so many brands jump on the blue beauty bandwagon, but we will have a long way to go! If you are looking for zero waste shampoo, make sure to check out our guide on the best all-natural shampoo bars.
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Why use a non-toxic shampoo?
Shampoos contain an excess amount of toxic ingredients with the long, complicated names you see on every beauty product label. They can be toxic due to their mere presence, while others may pose a risk due to continued or regular use. The toxic ingredients can lead to a number of harmful effects such as dry and damaged hair, hair loss, skin and eye irritation, itchy scalp, allergies, and respiratory problems.
It can be difficult to say goodbye to your favorite brand of hair care products but it's important to choose a shampoo made with ingredients to promote healthy hair. Some ingredients you might want to look out for:
- Synthetic fragrances - multiple ingredients are used for fragrances and can include toxic chemicals like phthalates and polysorbate 20.
- Parabens are a family of related chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic products. According to the Environmental Working Group, the most commonly used six types are methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl- and isobutylparaben. The so-called shorter-chain parabens, methyl- and ethyl-, are commonly used in combination, whereas butylparaben is often used alone. The longer-chain parabens, propyl- and butyl-, are linked to stronger estrogenic activity (Blair 2000 and Vo 2010).
- Preservatives make products last longer like parabens, quaternium-15, bronopol, and triclosan. Some preservatives (like quaternium-15) release formaldehyde, which can be carcinogenic
- Polyethylene glycol - a thickening agent that’s potentially carcinogenic.
- Ethanolamines - diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA). These are emulsifiers (foaming agents) and when combined with other chemicals they can form nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA) which is a carcinogen.
- Cocamidopropyl betaine - another common ingredient in shampoos, it can cause skin irritation, as well as allergies.
- Silicones like dimethicone or simethicone. They may make your hair look smooth and shiny but can also cause dryness or damage.
- Sodium chloride - a thickener that can become an irritant.
Is shampoo harmful to the environment?
The answer is yes! The planet does suffer as much as your hair and health. Think about all the toxic ingredients that go down the drain straight into our oceans and seas where they can harm aquatic life as well as mammals on land that may drink contaminated water. That's not just it but once you finish a shampoo bottle the environmental impact persists. Single-use containers and bottles are thrown into the trash, clogging up landfills. These shampoo bottles are rarely recyclable or reusable so it takes thousands of years to decompose, leaching chemicals into the ground in the process. They may also land in our waterways, further impacting aquatic life.
How we select non toxic shampoo
We have developed easy clean beauty criteria which serve as a guide for picking out your toxic-free shampoo. Criteria include:
- Is it local?
- Is it made of natural ingredients?
- Is it certified organic?
- Is it vegan?
- Is it cruelty-free?
- Palm oil-free?
- Are the ingredients sustainably sourced?
- Does the company use environmentally-conscious packaging?
- Is it inclusive?
Top picks for non toxic shampoo
An organic and natural shampoo brand made in Portugal that offers handcrafted natural products through culture and sustainability. They carry the best non toxic shampoo bars, conditioners, soap, and cleansing bars for everyone. All products consume less water and no use of palm oil during the production process.
One & Done shampoo bars have a rich scent that leaves your hair feeling clean, revitalized, and smooth. It is enriched with argan oil to deeply moisturize the hair and scalp. All-natural shampoo that is suitable for all hair types. Some say that argan oil promotes cell regeneration and skin elasticity. It comes from the sap extracted from a typical Moroccan tree, Argania Spinosa. They also carry some of the cutest cork soap dishes that allow your shampoo bar to stay dry, which makes it last longer and maintain its quality.
Shaeco sends out packages using 100% recycled, recyclable, plastic-free raw materials printed with vegetable-based ink. This way, they can avoid the use of disposable plastics and keep the oceans cleaner, while providing fabulous hair.
Oneka is a sustainable brand that's helping people be more mindful of the ingredients in their personal care.
They carry a number of bar soaps, non-toxic shampoos, bath salts, face creams, and much more. With convenient refillable products, bundles, zero waste bathroom accessories, and many gift ideas to choose from. Oneka’s non-toxic shampoos are made from plants grown on their organic family-owned farms in Canada. They practice responsible agriculture and their Canadian non toxic shampoos are pH balanced, color-safe, palm oil-free, vegan, gluten-free, and biodegradable. For use on all hair types.
Their Citrus Shampoo is a real standout. They have combined the shine power and delightful scent of Ylang-Ylang essential oil with Canadian Goldenseal, a boreal plant known for its toning and purifying properties, to offer you a potent blend promoting healthy vigorous hair.
Goldenseal is also known to help fight bacteria and treat external infections, this multi-faceted plant is your ally for clean, healthy hair from scalp to tip.
Oneka is B-Corp certified and has a huge impact as a sustainable business, for example, they partner with Plastic Bank to minimize ocean plastic, so for every 500ml of product sold, 3 plastic bottles are removed from the coastlines. They also track their carbon emissions through a life cycle analysis and have partnered with Taking Root and Arbre-Évolution.
Founded by Greg and Joan Starkman, two beauty professionals who trusted their “innersense” sourcing the highest quality and Certified Organic ingredients, in the purest, most concentrated form, to create a complete, award-winning line of safe, sustainable, and cruelty-free personal care products.
Ingredients are all-natural and grown organically and sustainably without any chemicals. Ethically harvested and sourced from trusted, transparent plantations, orchards, and farms from around the world. High concentrations of key ingredients mean less water with products being gluten-free, cruelty-free, no use of palm oil, and non-GMO.
From non toxic shampoos, conditioner creams, to hydration products and volumizers they focus on hair care for all hair textures. They even have a 14-day detox challenge that helps you care for your hair and cut all the toxic chemicals.
They are B-Corp Certified and their packaging is sustainable using post-consumer recycled PCR High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE). Innersense partnered with Plastic Bank and recently with rePurpose Global to measure their plastics footprint. They are committed to taking action to minimize plastic pollution and supporting the cleanup of oceans.
Graydon Moffat carries the best toxic free shampoos, soaps, and overall body care. With a background in holistic wellness and as a vegan chef Graydon makes sure the formula is based on plant-based, results-driven ingredients including botanical retinol, collagen, peptides, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, probiotics, niacinamide, and gemstone crystals. All of which are dermatologists and clinically tested, hypoallergenic, non-irritating, vegan as well as cruelty-free.
A very popular non-toxic shampoo is the Matcha Mint Shampoo which soothes your scalp with gluten-free oat oil, revitalizes your scalp and hair follicles with invigorating peppermint, other ingredients include jojoba easter and antioxidant-rich matcha green tea. Just to note that the aroma of this product comes from natural aromatic fruit extracts and peppermint, not essential oils.
They also improved the sustainability of the packaging. The serums are housed in glass bottles and refreshing face mist and luxurious body oil both come in a 50% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic bottle. We also offer refill options in order to reduce our carbon footprint.
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This gorgeous and sustainable brand is a commitment to producing the purest, healthiest products and educating everyone on why being “100% PURE” is so important. Apart from guaranteed pure ingredients, they source pigments from fruit, vegetables, tea, and cocoa and all their products are certified cruelty-free. They offer many zero waste makeup, all-natural skin care, non toxic shampoos, conditioners, and soaps.
The Grow More Shampoo is great if you are looking to eliminate hair shedding, stimulates more growth, and helps with enough hydration and strengthening. The main ingredients for this non-toxic shampoo are mint, coconut oil, caffeine, and biotin. They are committed to the planet and reducing petrochemical-based packaging by 75% and replacing all packaging with post-consumer recycled materials by 2024.
They overall strive to live with compassion, kindness, and empathy; to be environmentally sustainable, and to improve the lives of 6 billion people and animals while also being charitable and giving back to our global community.
Plain Products were started by two sisters, Lindsey and Alison who run all their ingredients through the Environmental Working Group’s database to make sure they are safe and non-toxic.
They have clean skincare, non-toxic hair care, some travel essentials, and eco-friendly gift ideas. These nontoxic shampoos are either unscented, rosemary mint vanilla, or citrus lavender. Other ingredients include sulfates, parabens, phthalates, silicone, and palm oil. Fun fact! May be blended with whole essential oils instead of synthetic fragrance.
Plain Products are especially for sensitive skin or those consumers that prefer no fragrance.
Plaine works by reducing their plastic thus offering natural products in aluminum bottles that are an easy alternative to plastic and working with other nonprofit partners.
They offer 100% recycled packaging and because they are both close to the headquarters, they reduce their supply shipping footprint.
BKIND is a Montreal-based sustainable brand that offers natural products that are very effective and soft on your hair and body. Various hair, body, and skincare, and they also offer cruelty-free nail polishes for different seasons.
We love all the fruity, and flowery non toxic shampoo bars for all hair textures. Their Tea Tree and Peppermint shampoo bar for colored hair is great and does not contain any sulphates, but natural ingredients that help retain color, soften the scalp, and maintain hydration.
Products are shipped internationally so they use resistant jars and 100% recyclable plastic, and when it’s possible, paper or cardboard. They have OceanBound plastic packaging where some of the tubes are made with plastic found on ocean banks, turning cleaner oceans into durable and recyclable packaging. BKIND is also 100% vegan and cruelty-free certified.
They believe in giving back therefore 2% of sales are donated to a different shelter or organization helping animals. In 2021, they gave back 2% of online and in-store sales to SOS Miss Dolittle, a shelter for wildlife located in Quebec.
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Sudsatorium is a Toronto-based, indie beauty brand bringing 'Plant Power To The People' with a range of ethically sourced organic plant-based skincare. They focus on hair and skincare from lip balms and scrubs to shampoo bars and much more.
These vegan toxic-free shampoos have catchy names like Scratch That Itch or Knot No More. Scratch That Itch is mainly for itchy and flaky scalps (dandruff) with the prime ingredients being smoky cade oil and calendula. Knot No More has a summery color with ingredients like sweet violet leaf and cleansing pink grapefruit and is suitable for all hair types; especially curly hair.
They are PETA Certified Vegan and Cruelty-Free Certified. All of their bottled products and containers are made from post-consumer recycled materials, are 100% BPA-free, and are 100% recyclable. Not to mention they proudly donate 5% of all proceeds to grassroots charities.
This is one of our favorite eco-beauty brands because of their story. Brianne started mixing formulas up in her kitchen in New Zealand when plastic-free wasn't much of a huge concern that it is for many today. Non toxic shampoo bars and soaps were not a ‘thing’ and they definitely weren’t available from your local supermarket - or even Amazon.
All Ethique vegan bars are cruelty-free and made using biodegradable ingredients. Most importantly all products are 100% palm oil-free. Their non toxic shampoo bars are equivalent to 3 bottles of liquid shampoo and perfect for oily hair, sensitive skin, dry or damaged hair, and even for little ones. All-natural shampoos contain ingredients such as coconut oil, oatmeal, cacao butter, peppermint oil, and more.
Ethique is fully plastic-free and is empowering consumers to #giveupthebottle, but we’re just as passionate about what they’re replacing it with and what goes into each beauty bar. We must say the packaging is probably what makes them very unique.
They are B-Corp certified and strong believers in the honest, fair trade of ingredients and in particular, direct trade partnerships with producers, wherever possible.
Best non toxic shampoo for curly hair
One of the best all-natural hair care for curly hair is based in London. Founder, Badria wanted to embrace her natural curls instead of wearing a hijab for most of the time so created Holy Curls using all vegan, sulphate free, and cruelty-free ingredients.
There is non-toxic hair care for any curly type. You decide what hair products are suitable for your texture and they offer creams, gels, styling duo, and much more. Holy Curls non toxic shampoos are made with natural ingredients like baobab oil, coconut oil, cupuaçu butter, and yucca plant extract.
Up North Naturals is a Canadian toxic free shampoo brand founded by Lisa Keizer. Lisa started in her kitchen, researching and experimenting to create chemical-free hair care products to repair hair and scalp damage that occurred after years of using relaxers.
Offers a range of styling products, cleansers, conditioners, and bundles including skincare. Their 8-Oil Blend Pre-Shampoo Treatment and Styling Oil are designed specifically for dry hair to add an extra boost of moisture, made from all-natural ingredients such as safflower oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, neem oil, jojoba oil, lavender oil, and more.
The founder spent many years raising funds for charitable and non-profit organizations thus continuing her community work by providing gentle, natural, and effective hair products people can trust.
Non-toxic shampoo bars
Founder, Stacia Thompson-Wrench has a background in Environmental Biology and made Corvus Botanicals sustainably and ethically. Corvus Botanical is Canadian-based and offers all-natural skincare, non-toxic shampoo bars and soaps, lip tints, candles, and more.
Using local, and sustainable beeswax in most products. All products are vegan including their non-toxic shampoo bars, soaps except oatmeal and honey, bath salts, face and body/hair oils, and deodorant creams. Shampoo and conditioner bar bundles which are made with mostly shea butter and coconut butter seem to be quite popular. They don’t include palm oil in their products and ingredients are also evaluated for their fair-trade practices local community focus and any relevant certifications. They prioritize fair trade and look at their carbon footprint and the overall life cycle.
Corvus Botanical’s packaging is 100% compostable, both at home and commercially. All glass containers with metal lids can be reused, re-purposed, or recycled. Including their paper packaging which is FSC certified and can be either composted or recycled.
Best organic baby shampoo
The most gentle and non toxic shampoo & body wash as it lathers less rinses easily and leaves no irritating residue, especially for a newborn’s delicate scalp.
Apart from non toxic baby shampoo & body wash, they also carry zero waste deodorants, baby lotion (extra gentle) and certainly anything botanical and unscented for the entire family.
Carina Organics is formulated with certified organic plant, vegetable, flower, and tree extract including alfalfa, chamomile, echinacea, nettle, red clover, and a variety of Botanical Tree Essences. It’s good to know that their palm oil is 100% organic and sourced from Brazil and suppliers are all members of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the leading global organization developing and implementing global standards for sustainable palm oil production.
Final Thoughts on non toxic shampoo
Have you made the switch to a toxic free shampoo yet? Have you found what local or online stores carry them? Not to worry, this list of non-toxic shampoos will make it easier for you to switch to a safer, healthier, and more eco-friendly hair care product. Please remember to do your research and ask questions until you find the perfect brand that works for you. What shampoo are you currently using?
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