Done With Diligence

7 Non Toxic Shampoos & Conditioners that Actually Work

shampoo and conditioner bottles

Top Picks: (1) Giovanni (2) Babo Botanicals (3) Avalon Organics (4) Attitude (5) Honest (6) Carina Organics (7) Alaffia

Looking for a safe, non-toxic shampoo and conditioner that isn’t full of harsh chemicals?  Don’t want to compromise and live with dry hair?  Got fine hair, long hair, frizzy hair, or curly hair that needs a little extra attention? Thankfully, there are some products out there that check all of the boxes for all different hair types.  You just have to know what you’re looking for.  Keep reading to find out more about the best natural shampoo on the market!

t of ingredients to avoid

Print this handy ingredients graphic as a reminder the next time you’re shopping. It’s waiting for you in my Freebies Library!

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Problems with Most Shampoos and Conditioners

The Environmental Working Group reports that women, on average use 12 beauty products each day.  These 12 products contain, on average, 168 different chemicals (source). Many of these chemicals are known carcinogens, meaning research has identified their link to cancer. And we are applying these 168 chemicals day, after day, after day!  

The American Cancer Society reports that 1 in 3 women in the United States will develop cancer in their lifetime (source).  Could these 168 daily chemicals possibly play a role in our cancer rates?  Many experts think so.  Other chemicals carry with them some serious allergy concerns, while others present fertility and reproductive concerns. So, taking the time to consider what you are repeatedly putting on your body, day after day for years and years, just makes sense. And avoiding harmful chemicals can go a long way in promoting your overall health.

The problem with many shampoos and conditioners on the market is that they are only concerned with how you FEEL about their product.  Does it make my hair smell good?  Does it seem like a good bargain?  Does it make my hair soft?  Does it make my hair look shiny? None of these selling points take into consideration long-term exposure to the product. As diligent consumers, we’ve got to understand which of these chemical must be avoided, then find clean beauty products that still meet our expectations.

Some Toxic Ingredients We Need to Avoid in Shampoos and Conditioners

While there are other concerning ingredients that we would want to watch out for, here is a list of the 5 ingredients I’d recommend watching out for.  And, good news…many times you’ll find that companies that have eliminated these 5 ingredients already have the big picture in mind.  They are on the same diligent page you are, so they have made safer ingredient choices at every turn!

  • Phthalates– These are group of toxic chemicals used in the manufacturing of plastics. Phthalates coat your hair to make it more elastic-like and more stretchy.  Research connects phthalates to concerns with reproductive organs. Even if you aren’t trying to conceive, it’s still important that your reproductive organs remain healthy! (source)
  • Parabens– These are a man-made chemical often added to increase shelf-life. Research suggests that parabens contain endocrine disruptors, which may contribute to many cancers, specifically breast cancer. In fact, when researchers examined breast tumors after removing them from patients, they found alarming numbers of intact parabens in the tissue.  While some will argue that parabens are quickly excreted, this research suggests otherwise. Hormone disruption should be taken seriously.
  • DEA (Diethanolamine)/ MEA/ TEA– These are chemicals added to make your shampoo foamy. In addition to reproductive concerns, there are concerns about accumulation of DEA/ MEA/ TEA in the body.  These accumulations can lead to several types of cancer, including liver cancer and skin cancer.  It’s important to note that this group of chemicals in banned in Europe due to safety concerns, however the U.S. regulators still allow it in our everyday products. (source) So, check the ingredient list and avoid DEA/ MEA/and TEA when purchasing hair products.
  • Formaldehyde (DMDM/Urea)– These chemicals are often added as a form of preservatives.  Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde releasers (DMDM/Urea) are known carcinogens which have been shown to contribute to tumor development and growth.  They are also associated with numerous allergy concerns. (source)  Highly questionable ingredients like these have no place in our personal care products.
  • 1, 4 Dioxane– (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Xynol, Oleth)- This one is tricky.  1, 4 Dioxane won’t be listed on the label.  It is a by-product of a process called ethoxylation.  This process includes taking ethylene oxide (chemical A), which a known contributor to breast cancer, and adding to other harsh chemical (chemical B) to make them less harsh.  So, instead of looking for chemical A on the label, we must look for all of the chemical B possibilities.  Keep and eye out for Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG compounds, xynol compounds, ceteareth compounds, and oleth compounds. (source).  Most sulfate-free shampoo will advertise that quality on the front of the packaging too.

Wondering If Your Current Shampoo and Conditioner are Non-Toxic?

Curious if your current shampoo is safe?  Hop over to my Freebies Library and print out my Shampoo & Conditioner Ingredients to Avoid checklist to help you quickly evaluate your products.  You can also use the Environmental Working Group’s free Skin Deep database.  They have an easy-to-use app that makes check products in the store quick and easy. Using a scale from 1 to 10 they rate products to show you how safe they are.  The app also highlights any ingredient concerns in the product that you may want to consider more carefully.  Be sure to download it to your phone today so you’ll have it the next time you’re shopping. I also like the Think Dirty app below.  It has similar helpful features, and it sometimes includes products not found on the EWG’s app.  Both are available for free in the App Store.

Recommendations for Non-Toxic, Clean Shampoos and Conditioners

The first time I switched to natural hair products, it wasn’t good! My once healthy hair became dry, brittle, and hard to manage.  So, while some natural products have avoided harmful ingredients, they seem to forget that we want a beautiful head of hair too!  I tried many brands, and I almost reached the point of thinking I’d have to choose between healthy, happy hair or natural ingredients.

But then I discovered hair care products from Giovanni.  Now it’s the only brand I use! My top picks all come from the Ultra Moist LineThese are salon-quality products that just work!  My hair is healthier than ever! And the best part is I don’t feel like I am compromising one bit when I use these products.  Be sure to check out the Leave-In Conditioner, too.  That stuff is just amazing!  I can apply it very generously, and it doesn’t weigh down my hair or make it even slightly oily.  It just leaves it much softer and more manageable.  It might just be my favorite hair product of all time!! Every so often I also enjoy using their Hair Mask for a deep conditioning treatment.  

And the best part of switching to these products?  My hair has changed for the better.  With a little help from the Giovanni dry shampoo, I only need to wash my hair once per week.  That not only saves this busy mama lots of time, but it also off-sets the cost of buying higher quality hair products since I’m using much less of them.  And my color-treated hair appreciates my less-frequent washings too.

Giovanni Ultra Moist Shampoo
Giovanni Ultra Moist Conditioner
Giovanni Ultra Moist Leave-In Conditioner
Giovanni Hair Mask

A few other options that get BOTH great reviews AND great EWG scores based on their ingredients list are shown below.  Each brand offers several varieties, so if you are dealing with specific issues like dry scalp, you should be able to find an option that works for your hair.

  1. Babo Botanicals
  2. Avalon Organics
  3. Attitude
  4. Honest
  5. Carina Organics
  6. Alaffia
Babo Botanicals Shampoo
Avalon Organics Shampoo
Attitude Shampoo
Carina Organics Shampoo
Alaffia Shampoo

As a side note, please don’t assume that just because you buy salon-grade products that they must be safe.  I’ve spotted many very expensive products packed with synthetic fragrances and harmful ingredients that wouldn’t meet the expectations explained above. Also, don’t let your hair health be your only guide.  Toxic shampoos may not show their damage on your hair, but they could be impacting your overall health.

Be diligent and check the list.  Every time you wash your hair, you’ll be glad you did!

For more on non-toxic products ideas, and shopping guides, visit my Shop with Diligence page or my Master List of Product Recommendations!

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