Published on April 18th, 2018 | by Sara Cobble
Why I Switched to Organic Shampoo and Conditioner
I started using organic shampoo and conditioner recently after years of trying to find the right products for my hair. I have naturally curly hair, and I dye it, so it’s an ongoing struggle to find products that keep my color bright and my curls healthy. I have to admit that I was always skeptical about buying hair products from health food stores. I am a vegetarian electric car driver who works in sustainability, but I was a victim of marketing messages and believed my choices were either expensive salon products I couldn’t always afford, or the cheaper, chemical-filled versions specially made for curly and color-treated hair that left my locks feeling greasy, limp and lifeless.
But I found that all I had to do was go natural! My colleague sent me a sample of organic shampoo and conditioner to try before our company started selling them. I was surprised that even after one wash my hair looked and felt better. Now, a month after beginning to use the products, my hair is shiny, soft, and my curls are back, and the buildup is gone. Going organic doesn’t only have to mean the food you eat. Organic personal care products can make the outside of your body look and feel better too!
Benefits of using organic hair products
- Gentle on your hair and skin. Natural products tend to have a milder, more natural scent, which might be a welcome change if you’re sensitive to chemical fragrances. Infusing your hair follicles with essential oils, minerals, and herbal extracts can also help moisturize your hair. Natural ingredients can also be gentler on sensitive and allergy-prone skin.
- Better for the environment. It’s easy to think your shampoo is “away” once you’ve tossed the bottle in the recycling bin, but the chemicals in it can stick around in the environment long after you’ve washed them down the drain. Many shampoos contain sulfates, phthalates, parabens, and silicone, which can linger in the environment. Phthalates (artificial fragrances) and parabens have also been identified as potential hormone disruptors. You can avoid these ingredients by purchasing organic shampoos and conditioners, which contain essential oils and natural ingredients that are biodegradable. Look for sulfate-, phthalate-, paraben- and silicone-free on the label.
- Fewer trips to the salon. Using a sulfate-free shampoo might also help you prolong your hair color. Sulfates are part of a group called surfactants, or harsh detergents which cleanse the dirt from your hair, but also strip your hair of its natural oils that help smooth the cuticle in the process. Anything that can lift the hair shaft’s cuticle, allowing pigment particles to escape, can fade color, and a damaged cuticle can lead to split ends. Sulfates are also too harsh for most curly hair, and can leave it feeling dry and frizzy. They can also irritate eyes (and give you that stinging sensation) and potentially skin. Note: A common complaint about sulfate-free shampoos is that they don’t lather as well. Because the products don’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate, a foaming agent, the shampoo won’t get as bubbly in your hands. But the lack of bubbles doesn’t mean your hair isn’t clean. It takes a little getting used to, but your hair will thank you.
- Less buildup. Shampoo and conditioner may also contain silicones, which give your hair a silky, shiny and smooth coat at first, but ends up drying out and damaging your hair over the long term. Silicones may give that temporary synthetic illusion of shine, but as they build up in your hair, they can also prevent moisture and essential oils from getting to the hair shaft, making your hair feel greasy and weighed down.
- Price. Organic products can be more expensive than the $3-$4 bottles of shampoo and conditioner that you buy at a drugstore, but you can also save money by switching from salon products to organic ones. I was spending $25-$30 per bottle on salon sulfate-free shampoos, and some products marketed to people with curly and colored hair like myself can cost more than $60 per bottle! I’m spending $12 on each bottle now and my hair feels healthier than it ever has. That $4 you spend might feel good temporarily, but as with most cheap purchases, you end up paying for it in the long run. I noticed the negative effects of cheaper products especially as I used them for a longer period of time, as I grew my hair out longer, and as I got older.
Pono Home Essentials organic shampoos and conditioners can be ordered online, and the products will be shipped to you in reusable bottles, for even less impact on the environment. Full disclosure: I work for the company, but I highly recommend the products and use them myself every day!
Shopping for Organic Hair Products
Ingredients to look for:
- Coconut oil (for conditioning and encouraging hair growth)
- Aloe vera (to keep the scalp moisturized and stimulate hair growth)
- Organic shea butter (can help soften and moisturize hair)
- Organic tea tree oil (contains antiseptic properties and can help with dandruff)
- 100% pure nut and seed oils
Ingredients to avoid:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfates
- Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
- Mureth Sulfate
How do I know how much of an ingredient is in my shampoo and conditioner?
Cosmetic ingredients are usually listed on the label in descending order of predominance, so the highest percentage of ingredients are at the top of the list. If the desirable ingredients are at the end, there might not be that much of them in your product. With drugstore shampoos, you might notice that water is one of the top ingredients. You’re paying less for the bottle, but you also might be getting a more diluted product that makes you use more of it so you have to buy it more often, and then you might not be saving that much money over the long term anyway.
Questions on ingredients in your hair products? Learn more at Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.