Everything we use on our bodies has a potential impact on our health, including our shampoo and conditioner. Have you ever considered that there may be dangerous shampoo chemicals inside your shower? And are the chemicals inside your personal hygiene products safe to use? You’ve trusted Mamavation to look into topics like 10 homemade shampoo recipes for DIYers, 10 homemade lotion recipes for DIYers, and which Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) personal care brands are safe, join us as we explore shampoo & conditioners and the ingredients they contain. Understanding you use your shampoo & conditioner regularly, you’d assume that they wouldn’t be allowed to contain harmful chemicals, right? Well sadly, this is not the case.…
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
We’re here to bring you the facts about your favorite shampoos and conditioners. Though they’re made out of really common ingredients, common doesn’t always mean safe. Most are made with strong chemical formulas which can be harsh to your skin and to the environment.
Hair care products like shampoo and conditioner are highly engineered. They’ve been designed to lather up and leave your hair “squeaky clean”, but that’s not even that good for you! Dangerous shampoo chemicals will leave your hair stripped of natural oils, which is why we need conditioner to re-moisturize it without leaving it oily. Achieving these effects, being shelf stable, and not using and harmful ingredients is a big ask for brands looking to make safer options, but it is possible.
Disclosure: This post was written by MADE SAFE. MADE SAFE is the first non-toxic certification in the country that screens products across store aisles for chemicals known to harm human health and ecosystems. They’re experts on common toxic chemicals in products and safer options. The product recommendations, however, are from an investigation by Mamavation alone. We have included MADE SAFE certified products as the highest ranking because we trust what they are doing, but have also included other brands that are not certified with Made Safe. We’ve worked with some of the brands we’ve mentioned in this post, like Beautycounter, Dr. Bronners, Now Solutions, etc., but to ensure this list is useful to you, we have also included brands we have not worked with.
Surfactants: This is what makes your shampoo lather up with suds. We usually associate soap suds with cleaner hair, but that’s not necessarily the case. Sudsing doesn’t really occur much in nature, so it’s often the result of a chemical reaction or agent. While these chemicals aren’t toxic to humans, they can cause serious irritation and can be really harmful to aquatic life. Given the quantity of shampoo going down the drain every time we wash our hair, we’d prefer to avoid irritation and create a safer environment by choosing better products.
Preservatives: Ever noticed the expiration date on your shampoo? Nope, neither have we. That’s because shampoos are full of preservatives to keep them shelf-stable. They’ll last for a really long time without separating out or going “off”. These preservatives prevent the growth of yeast, mold, bacteria etc. But because they’re literally designed to kill things, preservatives are tricky and can have a range of toxicity problems for both humans and the environment.
Fragrance: This is definitely something to look out for. The term “fragrance” can act as a backdoor for all kinds of chemicals to sneak into your products. It’s often used as an umbrella term for up to 100 ingredients. Unfortunately, many of these ingredients can be toxic to human health, like phthalates (linked to reproductive and developmental harm), and synthetic musks (linked to hormone disruption and build up in our bodies).
Conditioner suffers from many of the same pitfalls as shampoo when it comes to surfactants, preservatives, and fragrance, but it has one more problematic ingredient category.
Emulsifiers: Emulsifiers combine oil and water to stop them from separating in your conditioner. They’re also the softening agents which can leave hair feeling silky soft. But though these emulsifiers, such as siloxanes, are effective, they don’t break down in the environment. This is definitely bad news for aquatic life!
Ingredients to Avoid*:
- Formaldehyde releasing preservatives:
- DMDM hydantoin
- imidazolidinyl urea
- diazolidinyl urea
- polyoxymethylene urea
- sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
- 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol)
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
*These ingredients are listed on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Red List, which is part of the MADE SAFE screening process for personal care products.
The following list of bad, better and best products for your health are provided to you by Mamavation. We used Made Safe’s list of ingredients to avoid in order to create it. Most of the brands mentioned here are not multi-level marketing (MLM) brands. If you are looking for a list of multi-level marketing brands check out post here.
Shampoos & Conditioners That are Bad For Your Health
These are all products that contain dangerous shampoo chemicals and ingredients that are to be avoided as far as possible, like carcinogens and endocrine disrupters in “fragrance” and at least two other ingredients hazardous to your health.
Garnier Whole Blends
It’s A 10
Johnson’s Original Baby Wash
Up & Up (Copycat of Johnson’s & Johnson’s) Baby Wash
Mane ‘N Tail
Shampoos & Conditioners that are Better For Your Health
These products contain some dangerous shampoo chemicals like sodium laureth sulfate and “fragrance”, but they’re not quite as bad as those listed above.
Clairol hair food
Galvin & galvin london
Head & shoulders
Equate (head & shoulders copycat)
Ricitos de oro
White rain kids 3 in 1
Shampoos & Conditioners that are Best For Your Health
These brands do not contain phthalates or parabens. They may contain preservatives, but not ones I’m concerned about. You should feel comfortable using just about any of the products on this list, as they don’t contain dangerous shampoo chemicals.
*Brands with products certified and independently screened by MADE SAFE. This means they have independently verified that products are made with ingredients not known to harm human health and ecosystems.
MADE SAFE Certified Hair Care Products:
Hairprint: All Hairprint products are certified MADE SAFE. We particularly like their Chelating Shampoo, which is formulated to remove the buildup and dangerous shampoo chemicals left by conventional hair care products and hard water. Before you switch your routine or try and go au natural, you need to chelate your hair. Even just hard water will leave residue on your hair so it’s a good idea to remove the build up from time to time.
Alaffia: Alaffia’s Authentic African Black Soap is a shampoo option that actually does suds. It’s creamy and leaves hair with a healthy feel. African Black Soap is known as a detoxifier with healing properties—but it’s also strong, so daily use isn’t recommended for skin and scalp.
True Botanicals: Nourishing Shampoo also delivers a MADE SAFE certified luxurious lather that moisturizes, and its companion Nourishing Conditioner is designed to protect hair and restore shine.
Pleni Naturals: For your little ones! Apple + Broccoli Hair and Body Wash is made with ingredients from fruits and veggies, like broccoli oil, olive oil, and apple amino acids.
MADE SAFE certified products have been screened by scientists for known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, reproductive toxins, neurotoxins, behavioral toxins, flame retardants, heavy metals, high-risk pesticides, insecticides, toxic solvents, and harmful VOCs. Ingredients have been further examined by a chemist for bioaccumulation (builds up in human bodies), persistence (builds up in the environment), ecosystem harm, as well as for general and aquatic toxicity.
For more information on how to avoid hormone disrupting chemicals in your personal care products, pick up a copy of Green Enough: Eat Better, Live Cleaner, Be Happier (All Without Driving Your Family Crazy!).