It’s time to consider a beauty routine detox. When we purge out chemicals found in many traditional beauty products, everybody wins: the planet, animals not being used for testing, and us. But like any diet, the struggle to put it into practice—and stick with it—is real.
If you’ve never thought about switching over to a more green routine, consider that the United States has only banned 13 toxic chemicals from beauty products, compared to close to 1,400(!) prohibited ingredients in Europe. That means we are applying potentially-harmful substances onto our bodies daily without even realizing it.
Fortunately, an abundance of both up-and-coming and established brands are taking responsibility into their own hands by offering safer alternatives with responsibly-sourced ingredients. Even drugstores now offer a plethora of options, while new specialty e-tailers, such as The Detox Market, Safe and Chic, and subscription box Love Goodly are helping consumers by only stocking ethical brands.
With all of these new possibilities come the daunting task of navigating haircare aisles, translating product labels and not falling for green-washing techniques. Companies can get away with using buzzy words like “natural,” “organic,” “eco-friendly,” and “vegan” to market their products, without an agency holding them accountable. Here’s a quick cheat-sheet on what these terms should mean:
This is an umbrella term that describes using naturally-derived ingredients. It’s kind of like using Wikipedia for research—you might be purchasing an honest product, but everyone has the liberty to use this term so it’s hard to be sure.
For instance, GMOs, or genetically-modified organisms, can fall under the category of “natural.” Keep an eye out for the non-GMO label to ensure genetically-engineered crops are not in your hair essentials.
When used correctly, this term refers to responsibly-harvested ingredients—crops that were grown without the use of toxic chemicals or pesticides. To be sure, look for the USDA-certified organic label, which shows that a product has met these standards.
Vegan (or Cruelty-Free)
Products that contain plant-based ingredients, and/or did not test on animals.
Ideally, this refers to recyclable product packaging and/or ingredients that are not harmful to the environment after disposal.
In addition to a vocabulary lesson, we’ve done our research and rounded up the most responsible haircare products that actually work to offer you a comprehensive shopping guide.
Natural Clarifying Shampoos
ACURE Curiously Clarifying Lemongrass Shampoo, 12 Fl. Oz. (Packaging May Vary)
Use this fresh-scented cleanser for a deep clean that leaves hair feeling lightweight and non-greasy long after use.
Rosemary & Orange Clarifying Shampoo Bar
This convenient bar is made in small, sustainable batches and loaded with beneficial oils, silk proteins and appealing aromas.
Natural Leave-In Hair Treatments
AG Hair Remedy Spray
Use this all-in-one elixir packed with natural ingredients for maximum hair benefits.
Davines OI All in One Milk
Spritz on wet hair to detangle, and enjoy the added benefits of shine, protection, and frizz-control.
Natural Curly Hair Treatments
Aunt Jackie’s Curl La La Defining Curl Custard
No matter what shape your signature curl, this custard cream defines, moisturizes, and adds shine—while keeping frizz at bay.
Aveda Be Curly Enhancer
Apply to wet hair at night and wake up frizz-free, thanks to a wheat protein blend that expands with wet hair and retracts with dry to help lock in waves.
Natural Products for Thin Hair
Andalou Lavender & Biotin Full Volume Shampoo
Allow this therapeutic lavender scent to relax your senses while energizing flat, thin strands.
Natural Scalp Treatments
Breed Love Beauty Co. Organic Hair and Scalp Treatment Oil
Beneficial botanicals help soothe inflammation and reduce dandruff, while promoting hair growth.
Natural Dry Shampoos
Natural Wave Spray
The Gnarly WhaleCoconut Milk & Peaches Beach Waves
Channel that effortless summer look with this eco-conscious sea salt spray that is surprisingly hydrating, thanks to coconut oil and aloe vera.
Natural Products for Color-Treated Hair
Arbonne ColorLast Hair Serum
Arbonne’s company standards even outstretch Europe’s lengthy list of banned chemicals, which is why we trust this serum to protect our hair color—and overall health.
Alba Botanica Replenishing Conditioner
Similarly, Alba Botanica adheres to European regulations—in addition to being reef-friendly, biodegradable, and overall good for the planet. This floral conditioner smells like a vacation in a bottle and will protect fresh color from fading.
Rahua Defining Hair Spray
This non-aerosol spray is good for the environment and protects hair from UV rays, thanks to organic aloe vera and green tea.
Intelligent Nutrients Perfect Hold Hair Spray
The founder of Aveda (now owned by Estée Lauder) created another conscious collection of haircare, which includes this certified-organic, non-aerosol hairspray with a strong hold.
Natural Product for Thick Hair
Many manes swear by this oil-balancing blend of essential oils that boosts hair’s bounce and promotes a healthy scalp.
Natural Shampoo for All Hair Types
Lather up with this earth-conscious line that leaves you with delicious-smelling tresses and less waste. Each compostable package even contains a bag of seeds!
Natural Hair Brush
Even your hair tools can be truly natural: This detangling bristle brush is made from sustainable bamboo and recycled materials.