Chemical free shampoos – Better for your health and the environment

When we buy a shampoo in the drugstore or the supermarket we usually do not put much thought in what is actually in this product. Only when we suffer from intolerances or irritations on our skin caused by chemicals in our cosmetics we start studying the ingredients list.

But in order to avoid skin problems caused by caosmetic products we schould start considering what products we are using and listen less to the Marketing messages on the TV. Although think about what chemicals you might flush in to the environment and consider buying products with biodegradable ingredients.

At the end of this article you find a list of brands that do not use the chemicals mentioned below.

When you buy a shampoo or conditioner you should pay attention to these chemicals.


Sulfates are a common ingredient in lots of shampoos and conditioners. Sulfates are an additive to shampoos and conditioners that causes the foaming; with sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) being the most common. It combines with water to emulsify the grease in the hair, dispersing it into the water so that it can be washed away. The concentration in shampoos is typically around 15%. However, The International Journal of Toxicology also provides a safety assessment of SLS and recommends concentration levels of no more than 1% in products with prolonged use.

SLS is also considered to be allergenic and irritating to the skin. There is a debate surrounding the topic of SLS and Cancer. But up to now, there is no scientific evidence that links the two. Furthermore there are some findings that link the ingredient to a hormone imbalance which can cause serious health inssues.


Silicone is used as a film former and surround each hair, so the hair can be meshed better and shine without appearing greasy. They are also used in hair spray and foam, where they form a layer around each single hair.

Silicones weigh down the hair and leave it seem powerless, especially thin hair. Lightweight silicones such as “Cyclomethicone” or “Cyclopentasiloxane”can be washed out again. “Dimethicone”, however, is the heaviest silicone. It is mainly used in conditioners or cures. It is deposited on the hair.

Ecologically silicones are questionable. They are not biodegradable, their water-soluble residues pollute the lakes, rivers and groundwater. Even water treatment facilities have a hard time dealing with the silicones in the sewage. Find out more about silicones and a list of silicone free shampoo brands.


There has been much talk in recent years of the dangers of parabens in cosmetics and toiletries. But why are they included in cosmetics, and what is the problem with them?

Parabens are preservatives and are used to extend the shelf life of a product. However, there are suggestions that parabens may be linked with serious health problems, and they are known to cause sensitivity and dermatitis in some people. Evidence of estrogenic activity- where the parabens mimic natural female hormones, has caused some concern, as has evidence that parabens cause DNA damage in skin.

Consequently, some consumers prefer to avoid products containing parabens, especially shampoos and conditioners. Fortunately, there are a number of brands producing paraben-free, see below.


Polyethylene Glycol compounds(PEGs) are used in shampoos to dissolve oil and grease which is why they are also commonly found in spray on oven cleaners. There are concerns about PEGs increasing the absorption of other chemicals, due to their action of opening the pores.

So, with a clearer view of exactly what we are washing our hair with and what the effects could be, it may be worth taking a little more time and care over what we choose to use.

In order to find chemical free shampoos you need to study the INCI list on the packaging. A safe bet is to use all-natural or organic shampoos that are ideally certified. These products use official seals like USDA Organic from the National Organic Program in the US or NATRUE, BDIH or ecocert in Europe.

Here is a list of popular all natural shampoo brands that are pretty safe and usually replace chemicals by all natural ingrediences. But keep on checking the INSI list anyway:

  • Alverde
  • Apereiron Keshawa
  • Aubrey Organics
  • Burt’s Bees
  • Fundamental Shampoo
  • Green People
  • JASON All Natural
  • Khadi Herbal Shampoos
  • Kiss My Face
  • Lavera
  • L’Occitane Aromachologie
  • Logona Shampoos
  • Lush Solid Shampoos
  • Maple Holistics
  • Nature’s Gate
  • Nubian Heritage
  • Pura d’Or
  • Sante
  • Tom’s of Maine
  • Tru Moroccan
  • Weleda
  • Yves Rocher

This listof chemical free shampoo brands is by far not complete. If you know more brands that avoid the chemicals mentioned above, please leave a comment.