Finding a truly natural shampoo and conditioner set (that work!) isn’t always easy. Some of the most popular brands contain chemicals toxic to the body and environment (even those claiming to be natural). If you don’t want to use toxic chemicals in your hair products, where do you turn? Here you’ll find the best natural brands and products, ingredients to avoid, and how to select safe hair products.
I had dabbled with non-toxic shampoo for years, buying products in the store and online, but after just a few washes I would resort to my favorite salon brand. I just couldn’t take the greasy hair. I even tried a homemade shampoo recipe on Pinterest, with baking soda, which was a total failure (greasy hair for days!). I knew there must be a way to use the safest shampoo and conditioner, avoid harsh chemicals, and have hair that looks amazing.
A natural shampoo has to clean my hair, leaving it clean and hydrated. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. And if I can get a day or two (or three, because #momlife) out of a wash, even better.
This story does have a happy ending. There’s hope! After years of experimenting, I’ve found the best natural shampoo and conditioners that really work. And not just one brand, but multiple brands!
Why Switch to Natural Shampoo and Conditioner
Conventional hair products contain some concerning ingredients. To find the best non toxic shampoo and conditioner without harmful chemicals, you need to know what to look out for …
- Surfactants: Like Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). These ingredients are what produce the lather in shampoo. These ingredients aren’t toxic to humans but can be irritating.
- Fragrance: This trade secret ingredient can contain up to 3,000 different chemicals, including possible carcinogens like phthalates (used to make the scent last longer), which companies are not required to disclose. Learn about the hidden secrets of fragrance here. You can still enjoy fragranced hair products. Look for companies that fully disclose their fragrance ingredients and use natural fragrance, like essential oils. Avoid hair products that list “fragrance” on the ingredient list and nothing more.
- Preservatives: Ingredients like parabens, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol), quaternium-15, etc. Preservatives are used to extend the shelf life of a product and kill bacteria. Preservatives are needed in any product that contains water (most hair products), so you can’t avoid preservatives, but you can avoid preservatives of concern (like parabens which have been linked to breast cancer).
- Emulsifiers: Ethanolamines (DEA, TEA and MEA) and ingredients ending in -siloxane.
Hair products that contain harsh detergents and toxic ingredients can strip your hair of natural oils that keep your scalp, roots, and hair healthy, resulting in dry hair and even damaged hair. These products can also leave product build-up. Using products without toxic ingredients and with proven-be-safe, non-toxic, and natural ingredients will allow your hair to stay clean, without the harsh stripping of essential hair oils. The same goes for washing your face (the best natural face cleansers).
How to Find Non Toxic and Natural Hair Products
It can be difficult to navigate shampoo brands and hair products, as advertisement labels and marketing can make all sorts of claims that lead you to believe a product is safe and natural when it isn’t.
Companies love to share the ingredients their product doesn’t contain: sulfate-free shampoo, no gluten, etc. Or proclaim that their product is vegan or made with shea butter or olive oil or coconut oil–all the things that will lure in naturally-minded consumers.
The the most important thing to look for when buying a product is the ingredients!
A great resource for looking up products and ingredients is the SkinDeep database from the Environmental Working Group. Search for natural hair products and see how your products rate on their toxicity scale. Another resource is to look for products with the “Made Safe” label, a third party non-profit organization with strict standards.
The Best Non-Toxic and Natural Shampoos and Conditioners
- True Botanicals (best of the best winner)
- Innersense Beauty
- BeautyCounter (second best winner)
- Acure Organics
- Josh Rosebrook
- Dessert Essence (best budget-friendly winner)
- Evolvh (color treated or curly hair)
- Dry Shampoo (when you don’t have time to wash): homemade dry shampoo, Briogeo (made with biotin to encourage healthy hair growth), Rahua, Acure, Hair Dance
1. True Botanicals
True Botanicals is known for making non-toxic products that really work and rival conventional products. This is the shampoo and conditioner that I’ve been using for years now. And yes, I use this on my color-treated hair without issue. I wash my hair every 2-3 days, which helps bring down the overall cost, stretching the product even longer. You can sign up for Subscribe and Save which brings the price of each bottle. I have my subscription set to every 4 months.
2. Innersense Beauty
Innersense makes different types of shampoo based on hair type: color-treated hair (this shampoo), dry or thick/coarse hair (this shampoo), fine to normal hair (this shampoo). The Pure Inspiration Daily Conditioner is made for all hair types, and the Color Radiance Daily Conditioner is formulated for color-treated hair. Innersense also makes natural hair care products for detangling and styling. The leave-in conditioner is a reader favorite.
BeautyCounter makes a wide array of beauty and skincare products. I’m not a fan of everything BeautyCounter makes (and they do use some ingredients of concern, like phenoxyethanol), but I can vouch for their shampoo and conditioner. They are my second favorite option on this list, aside from True Botanicals.
4. Acure Organics
I’ve used Acure on and off over the years with mixed results. That said, it’s definitely one of the best budget-friendly options (not many exist). I can only use this brand for a short time before my hair needs a break and starts to have some build-up issues. I do love the Acure dry shampoo with natural rosemary and peppermint scents.
This brand doesn’t amaze me like other options on this list. It doesn’t do anything that seriously impresses me (allows me to go multiple days without washing my hair, volume, etc.) for the price. I have very thick hair, so maybe I just don’t have the right type of hair for this brand. This brand has a cult-like following in the natural beauty world. Their Classic Shampoo and Conditioner are safe for all hair types, including color-treated hair. Rahua also makes styling products that I do love (like dry shampoo).
6. Dessert Essence
The best store-bought, budget-friendly natural shampoo on this list. You’ll find this brand in most health food stores, online, and even some conventional stores. This brand makes various hair products and they all get rave reviews and are budget-friendly.
7. Josh Rosebrook
Josh is known for beautifully-formulated natural skincare and hair products. Josh’s hair line includes shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, a hair mask for dry and brittle hair, and style cream for texture and definition. His products are probably the most expensive on this list, but worth mentioning since Josh Rosebrook does make fantastic products with squeaky clean ingredients.
8. Evolvh (Color Treated or Curly Hair)
It may seem odd for a natural hair company to make a shampoo for color-treated hair. I personally color my hair (balayage). The goal isn’t perfection, but; rather, to be informed consumers and reduce your overall exposure to toxic ingredients. So if you choose to color your hair, no judgement here. You may want a product that’s specifically formulated for color-treated hair. Evovlh is one of the first to do this in the natural world. Shop the color-protecting shampoo and ultra-shine conditioner. Evolvh also makes a shampoo and conditioner specifically for curly hair. This brand also makes a great leave-in conditioner to detangle and protect the hair.
Tips for Natural Shampoo Success
- Double Wash: Start with a small amount of shampoo, work it through your hair, roots, and scalp. Wash, then repeat. This will help take care of any build-up from products and let you go longer between washes.
- Section Your Hair: If you have long thick hair, shampoo in sections. This will help you get every section clean, which can be hard to do with long and thick hair.
- Don’t Wash Your Hair Everyday: Washing your hair everyday encourages an overproduction of oil, so skip a day or two if you can. If you need to, use a dry shampoo in between wash days.
Natural Hair Care Products for Kids
If you’d like to use natural products for kids, I’ve had good success with Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (baby mild is my favorite since it’s unscented), Pleni Naturals, Honest Company, Dessert Essence, and Acure. I also love the detangler from Innersense (or this homemade detangler made with aloe vera and lavender essential oil) for my daughter. She has thick, curly hair and needs some extra help with combing after an evening shower. Kids don’t usually have special hair considerations, like color or heat styling, which might call for buying a more expensive product. All of these options are affordable, safe, and easy to find.
Where to Buy Non-Toxic Shampoo
Most stores, like grocery stores and Target, don’t carry truly natural options, aside from Acure, Dessert Essence, and Honest Company. For the most part, you’ll need to branch out to either health food stores, Amazon, or stores like Detox Market or Follain to find safe hair products that are free from harmful chemicals. Both Detox Market and Follain curate only the best brands and products, so they’re both a great place to browse natural skincare or hair products.
Hi Kristin, thank you for this list! I’ve tried the Beauty Counter shampoo and conditioner and really loved it. I’m in Canada and another brand that I LOVE is Rocky Mountain Soap Company. They are a Canadian non-toxic company that ships to the US as well, and their shampoos and conditioners (and all products) are amazing. Just thought I’d mention that as another option for products, as my sister and I love anything from there. Take care!
Awesome, thank you for sharing, Erin!
Thank you for sharing this Erin! Placed my first Rocky Mountain order this morning – helps that their shipping to USA is very reasonable! (Free shipping with orders of $26 USD)
Oh I’m so glad and hope you enjoyed their products! I’ve ordered some items for Christmas gifts this year and couldn’t resist a couple items for myself!
Recently switched over to bar shampoo and am in love! Using the company Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve. My favorite shampoo bar is the rosemary mint charcoal bar (works great for my oily hair) and ocassionally an apple cider vinegar rinse. Another favorite about this company is they sell sample bars! As I find with many products, there isn’t one prodcut that suits all (my personal opinion) so this company suggests a variety of products for different hair types. I find experimentation is key to success. I also use this company’s deodorant as well (cannot say enough good things aobut this company)!
That’s awesome, Sadie. Thank you for sharing. I’ve heard good things about shampoo bars.
I second Chagrin Valley! I buy all my bar soaps and deodorants from them!!
Hi All, How about Hair Story products? I hear about them these days a lot.
Hey Isha, I’ve just recently learned about Hair Story. I’m not sure, will have to look at their ingredients.
Living Libations is a Canadian based boutique that makes wonderful shampoos. You can also purchase them from detox market. I also like Josh Rosebrook’s products, again can be purchased from detox market.
Thanks for the recommendation, Katherine!
Have you tried using rye flour for washing hair. I have the same experience with all the diy shampoos leaving my hair greasy. I tried rye flour recommended by someone else and it left my hair feeling soft and fluffy and not greasy at all.
Hey Elisa, I haven’t. How does that work? Do you use the flour to wash your hair instead of shampoo?
Have you tried and would you recommend Andalou hair products? Thank you!
Hey Mary, I haven’t personally tried the products, but Lisa from This Organic Girl highly recommend their shampoo as a budget-friendly option when she came on the podcast. That and Desert Essence brand. I haven’t tried either one, so I can’t speak to how well they work. Lisa does know her stuff ;). Here’s the podcast, too: https://livesimply.me/live-simply-the-podcast-036-navigating-non-toxic-skincare-products-labels/ In the show notes there are a few recommendations from her.
Hi Kristin. I was wondering if there are some products available in Europe. Germany or Switzerland??? There is always a huge shipping for delivery to Switzerland. But thanks for a great tipps. Veronika
Hey Veronika, I’m not sure about products in Europe. I do know that the EU has much stricter laws and rules regarding ingredients and has banned a ton of potentially harmful ingredients. While the US hasn’t banned any ingredients in a long long time. I think we’ve only banned somewhere around 30 and the EU has banned over 1000. That said, I feel like there might be more choices that are non-toxic in your average store in the EU. I could be wrong. Since I’m in the States, I’m not very familiar with companies found in the EU, although I believe some companies like Leahlani Skincare and others are coming over to Europe now. I just Googled, “Green beauty stores Europe” and found this online shop: https://levertbeauty.com/. So this may be a starting point. Also, we were recently in Zurich and I noticed two new green beauty stores in the city center. They sold a ton of the products I love in the States, including brands like Innersense hair products. One is called Green Lane and the other is Pretty and Pure. Both are in Zurich.
I am nearing 70, have waist length coarse straight hair. I have literally tired hundreds of shampoos, creme rinses, and body soaps. I now use only African black soap from Ghana I use this one https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0084I3XGI/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc. It really is a great soap. It is mildly abrasive cause it is raw, not refined. I use it on my hair, we have extra hard water and it lathers great. I use ACV for my rinse. It returnss my hair to its natural ph and leaves its soft and silky. For body and face I just use a piece I have cut into a bar. As the bar gets too small too work with I add it to a jar with filtered water, making liquid soap, which I also use on my hair. It took a month to get it right. Our hair has so much crap in it from years of using commercial shampoos, what takes years to go in…does not come out over night.
Thank you for sharing, mhspear! Side note, I lived in Ghana as a teenager :).
Yes, the products are toxin free and smell great! I sell the products if you are interested.
Thanks, Lorrie. I’ll take a look at the products.
Have you tried PureHaven shampoo and conditioner?
I haven’t, Lorrie. Do you like their products?
Dear Kristin, love your blog and i admire your effort!
i am addicted to Ausganica (an australian brand) lemon myrtle shampoo&conditioner!! i’ve tried avalon organics, faith in nature, sukin, yes to and john master organics (love their hair spray by the way) before. i also tried diy shampoo severel times but like yours every time i felt greasy 🙂 thanks for sharing your experiences!
kisses from turkey!
Thank you for sharing, ayca!
Hi! I was wondering if you had checked out Monat products? They boast being more natural with green ingredients.
Hey Linzie, I did recently after a reader asked my opinion. After looking into their shampoo, I personally wouldn’t recommend the brand or consider them to be a non-toxic option. I would definitely research the ingredients used and ask the company directly about their products.
Here’s a more thorough review: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/monat-revive-shampoo-review/
Can you tell us more about which dry shampoos you’ve tried and love? This momma needs a clean dry shampoo! Thank you!
Hey Stephanie, My favorite is Acure. It’s really a powder dry shampoo. I sprinkle it on my roots at the crown of my head, let it rest, and then blow dry my hair.
Have any of you ladies tried Monat? I too have tried so many natural/ toxic free products and carried many many different brands in my organic grocery and health food store, but I always had to wash my hair the very next day due to grease overload… so I ended up going back to my salon line that worked. Then I was introduced to Monat and my gosh, I’ve never had better hair, I don’t have to wash it daily. Their dry shampoo is my absolute fave, with no chemicals and no talc! In fact I wash it every 3-4 days and absolutely swear by it. Plus it’s not tested on animals and it’s leaping bunny certified. Anyways if interested in trying it , I can send samples your way or other info! Great post by the way! Us Mommas got to stick together!
Hey Chelsey, Yes, I have. I personally stay away from Monat. They aren’t a natural or non-toxic brand. Here’s a post I wrote after looking into this company: https://livesimply.me/fragrance-non-toxic-products/
I just started using innersense for volume and I love it. I decided to do their 14 day challenge (which is 14 days of just their shampoo conditioner and leave in). Theres a 15% code when you do the challenge. I’m only on day five and I love it. My hair feels so light soft and fluffy. My hair is very thick but the strands are very fine so my hair gets very heavy and oily. I have also used beautycounter volume and their daily. They are both great. But I like innersense better. I’ve tried acure and didn’t care for it.
This is the shop I’ve used and loved! It has quite the slew of good reviews too! I had already been using low-chem shampoos for years, and it still took a good 3 weeks. It wasn’t pretty. I used bentonite clay as a mask a couple of times and that seemed to help the process along as well as a lot of brushing with a boar-bristle brush. Now, I love the results, it is what I wanted in terms of being soft, manageable, and healthy looking.
I just found your blog this past weekend, and I’ve enjoyed browsing around. I made your solid perfume yesterday, and I plan to ,make a lip balm soon. I’ve been sampling True Botanicals, but I saw you also liked Luminance, so I’m goingh to give it a try since it isn’t as pricey. Thanks for the inspiration and resources 🙂
Thank you so much, Kristen! I’ll definitely order some. That’s really helpful.
PS: I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog :).
I’m curious if you tried any shampoo bars? I have had a long journey with natural hair care, and I stuck with Acure Organics because of price even though my experience was similar to yours. I recently switched over to some shampoo bars I found on etsy. My hair detoxed for a bit, but now it is incredibly soft and manageable. I follow with a very diluted ACV rinse. I love that it is cost effective, working great, and has less plastic waste!
Hey Kristen, I’ve tried a couple of shampoo bars, but haven’t had a great experience. Can you share a link the Etsy shop? I would love to try a brand that’s been successful and recommended. How long did it take your hair to detox before it felt really clean and manageable?
I have used the Honest Company shampoo/body wash combo for my kids and love it! It works very well and does not dry out their sensitive skin. We have the orange vanilla scent and it smells sooo good… like a creamsicle!
Hey Hannah, Thank you for sharing! That’s really good to hear.
I have had success with the John masters scalp formula but just saw your comment about the reformulation. Curious to see how that works. I currently use Desert Essence conditioner and it works pretty well but it isn’t the greenest option. Rahua classic shampoo and conditioner wowed me in samples I got from Aillea but the price is holding me back from ordering. Tried Acure and didn’t love it. Shampoo and conditioner are so hard. I’ve also tried True Botanicals which also didn’t wow me. Innersense I used for a bit before realizing the lavender in it (which I’m allergic to) was destroying my scalp.
Hey Sarah, Thank you for sharing! I think John Masters is still a great shampoo and conditioner from what I can tell. Even with the reformulation it seems to be cleaner that most options on the market, and it still works really well (just bought new bottles). That’s interesting about Innersense. Do they make an option without lavender?
Not for the shampoo and conditioner unfortunately. I have curly hair too so I wish i could use it. Some of their styling products are lavender free. It’s tough in the green beauty world because adding lavender seems to be a given for many companies in their products.
While I haven’t tried the shampoo specifically, I have recently been purchasing lemongrass spa cosmetics. They are a direct market (in home parties) set up, but offer all natural and organic makeup and other products. My friend is a rep and she was able to visit one of their facilities in Largo. (Near you kristin!) She was able to actually watch the products being made and see the ingredients. I have used several products and plan on slowly switching over from my drugstore brands. Shampoo goes so quickly that I can’t justify spending so much, especially with 6 people in our house. So for now I’ve been using castile soap but I’m not impressed…..
Hey Sarah, Thank you for sharing. I’ll definitely look into Lemongrass Spay Cosmetics. I haven’t heard of them before. Have you tried Acure? That might be a cheaper than other options but more effective shampoo than castile?
What did you think of the John Masters? I’m using that now and like it. I have a super dry scalp, so finding a cleaner option for itchy scalp has been quite the challenge. John Masters seems to work well for my scalp however I’m not in love with what it does to my hair. And yeah, I’m only washing twice a week mostly due to busy mom syndrome. 😮 LOVE the Acure dry shampoo.
Hey Tamara, John Masters is actually in the basket in the photo because it was going to be on my list. I really like John Masters and it’s worked well for my hair in the past. I didn’t include it on the list only because it appears that they just went through a reformulation of their shampoos (?). I just learned about this after reading some reviews and chats online, and purchasing new bottles (pictured) so I’m going to look into this change a bit more and see if this is really true. There was talk that they added some questionable ingredients, but I don’t know if that’s true (you can’t believe everything you read in reviews ;)). I decided to leave it off my list at the moment, just until I get more answers about this. They’ve been a great company for shampoo and conditioner.
Ha, I’m the same way. Twice a week washing mostly due to busy mom syndrome, lol. I agree–the Acure dry shampoo is so good!! It saves my hair on a weekly basis.