My Quest for the Perfect Shampoo

Have you ever looked at the ingredients list on your shampoo bottle? It just doesn’t sit well with me. So many chemicals! WHY? IS THIS NECESSARY? It just seems like a bad idea to be putting these ingredients on our body and down the drain. So I did some searching. Here is what I discovered!


Here are some shampoos that I have used or read about and loved what I learned:

Shikai Natural Everyday Shampoo

Shikai Natural Everyday Shampoo

This is the shampoo I currently use. I am able to buy it in bulk at my local CO-OP. I bring my own containers so I create no trash or recycling! That is a win for me. Plus, it is a natural shampoo - great!

Then I looked into the ingredient list. I found things that were natural and safe - water, aloe vera, shikakai extract (natural cleanser), vegetable glycerin, salt, panthenol (a provitamin of B5), and cucumber extract.

I also found olefin sulfonate, though derived from coconut, can be harsh on your skin. I found multiple synthetic chemicals, one of which is a known carcinogenic! And at the bottom of the list - natural fragrance. I honestly don’t know what to make of that last one.

Also, while I am intrigued by the shikakai extract, I read that it is a marine toxin. If that is the case, is it safe for our waterways?

Lush’s Lullaby Shampoo Bar

Lush’s Lullaby Shampoo Bar

I love that Lush makes shampoo bars. They are package free, so no trash or recycling! While they carry a variety of shampoo bars, I decided to look at this one’s ingredients since they all vary slightly.

Most of the ingredients used are natural oils - jojoba, lavender, chamomile, and neroli. It also uses sodium bicarbonate - baking soda.

Unfortunately, the main ingredient is SLS. This is a surfactant known to cause irritation and may cause non-reproductive organ system toxicity. This soap also uses synthetic dyes to get it’s pretty pink color - red 4 and red 27. I wish Lush would use a natural coloring or go completely natural altogether by using no coloring agents!

This soap also uses Linalool (natural fragrance in essential oil). Though natural, it may be an immune system toxicant or allergen and is banned by the European Union.

Aveda’s Rosemary Mint Shampoo

Aveda’s Rosemary Mint Shampoo

Aveda is a great company in many ways. They strive to use green ingredients whenever possible. They also have a Soil to Bottle program where they are able to trace back their ingredients to co-ops that ensure fair compensation and provide community development projects - SO COOL!

Aveda also offers Full Cycle Recycling. Any product container/packaging that cannot be recycled in your municipal program can be returned to your local Aveda Salon. Aveda will recycle these items into new Aveda packaging and accessories! AWESOME!

Aveda is also concerned about their carbon footprint. They purchase wind-generated electricity for their Primary Manufacturing Facility in Minnesota. LOVE THIS!

While I am so excited about the positive efforts Aveda makes. I decided to look into the ingredient list for one of their shampoos - Rosemary Mint. While Aveda doesn’t share their ingredient lists on their website, Walgreens shared the list on theirs. Here is what I found:

Many natural ingredients: water, vinegar, glycerin, salt, citric acid, rosemary, camphor, menthol, and their Pure-Fume Aroma with a many flower and plant essence.

I also found a lot of synthetic surfactants, anti-static agents, and a lot of preservatives. I found it ironic to see “fragrance” listed since you would think that was covered well with their Pure-Fume Aroma. Two chemicals in this shampoo are banned in the European Union due to immune system toxicants.

There was also a paraben preservative with a high concern for being an endocrine disrupter. According to Aveda’s website they no longer use parabens, so I am hoping this ingredient list a little old.

Another preservative present in this shampoo is a formaldehyde releaser. GROSS!

While I am enthusiastic for what Aveda stands for and the good they are doing, I feel their ingredient list is lacking in true organic mindfulness.

The Honest Company’s Perfectly Gentle Shampoo

The Honest Company’s Perfectly Gentle Shampoo

I LOVE The Honest Company. Their passion and commitment to providing safe personal care items for us busy moms is truly wonderful!

I have used and loved their shampoo in the past. The only reason I stopped was because I wanted to try the bulk shampoo at our local co-op. Maybe someday Honest will join in the bulk movement. I would love to see that!

Honest also continually gives back to the community. Whether they are providing their products to people in need, providing helping hands at a local school, or writing a check to help a non-profit, The Honest Company stays committed to social goodness.

Since I love this company, I decided to look into their ingredient list as well. Here is what I found:

There were a lot of natural ingredients including various extracts (orange peel, tangerine peel, vanilla, pot marigold, chamomile, and quinoa seed). Also, in this shampoo was jojoba protein and coconut oil.

There were also a lot of chemicals - surfactants, anti-static agents, conditioning, preservative and acids to adjust ph. Almost all of them seemed to be safe according to EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

There wasn’t a lot of information on many of these chemicals, so I do feel more knowledge on these would be beneficial. Only one item in the ingredient list was noted to have a moderate non-reproductive organ system toxicity concern.

Now What?

After doing all this research, I find myself disappointed. No single product or company seemed to have it perfect. Can I expect perfection…

An all natural (ideally organic) shampoo and no synthetic ingredients. A company that recycles all their packaging for reuse - better yet participates in bulk purchasing or creates package free options. A company that uses solar or wind energy for their company’s electric needs, and gives back to communities.

All these shampoos had parts of my ideal. I love that my co-op carries a bulk shampoo so I create no trash/recycling. I love that Lush makes a package-free shampoo bar. I love that Aveda is interested in cradle to cradle design. I love that The Honest Company has an ever growing honestly free guarantee list and focuses on social goodness.

Even with all these good attributes, I ask myself, are all these ingredients necessary? All these different soaping agents? Can it be so much more simple?

Back to Basics

I don’t want chemicals - safe or not - in my shampoo. So I am going to experiment with a no-poo method of washing my hair.

Baking soda is an option, but there is concern that baking soda is too harsh on hair. The ph is too high, causing your hair to eventually dry out. This is not ideal, but I would be willing to try it. But then I came across another option.

Enter Rye Flour No Poo - Rye flour has tons of vitamins, proteins, and minerals; is low in gluten (easy to rinse out); and has a naturally balanced ph. This sounds even better to me! On my next co-op shopping trip, I will look for organic rye flour in the bulk section!

If this works, I will be using

  1. an all organic shampoo that’s healthy for my hair
  2. is package free
  3. safe to go down the drain since it is chemical free
  4. inexpensive
  5. and a locally sourced ingredient

And if this local mill - Lonesome Stone Milling - uses wind power and gives back to their community, I may just have my perfect shampoo!

I’ll update you on my experience with rye flour in a month or so!