These are the best non toxic hair care products. Everything from shampoos to conditioners to hair styling products. You will also learn how to read labels and the ingredients you should watch for when trying to find safe hair care products that are good for all hair types.
Disclaimer: some of the links in this post are affiliate links where I make a small percentage if you purchase the product through that link. This does not cost you anything extra and allows me to keep this website running.
Health and wellness is much more than just eating well and exercising. It also means using safe products on your body and in your home, including non toxic beauty products and hair care products. Unfortunately, many of the conventional hair care products on the market contain ingredients that are not great for our health, and can also be bad for the environment. Luckily, with more and more people starting to focus on safe and non toxic personal care products there are more and more safe hair care products available on the market.
In this post I will share the ingredients you should watch for and try to avoid, as well as a collection of safe and non toxic hair care products including shampoos, conditioners, dry shampoos, shampoo bars, conditioner bars as well as styling products.
Most of these products use all natural ingredients, some use organic ingredients, and some also use safe synthetic ingredients too. There are products here for all hair types to help repair damaged hair, and to keep your hair and scalp healthy and beautiful.
Table of Contents
- Ingredients to watch for and avoid in hair care products:
- The best non-toxic hair care products:
- Best non-toxic shampoos:
- Best Non Toxic Conditioners:
- Dry Shampoo:
- Best Non Toxic Dry Shampoos:
- Shampoo Bars and Conditioner Bars
- Best Non Toxic Shampoo Bars and Conditioner Bars:
- Best Non Toxic Hair Gels
- Best Non Toxic Hair Sprays and Other Sprays
- Best Non Toxic Scalp Scrubs and Treatments
- Best Non Toxic Mousse, Foams, and Styling Creams or Lotions
- Best Non Toxic Hair Oils, Masks and Serums
- Frequently asked questions:
- Other health info you will be interested in:
- Our expertise:
Ingredients to watch for and avoid in hair care products:
When reading product labels and ingredient lists, these are some of the terms and ingredients you want to be watching for and avoiding.
Note, for further reading on these chemicals and their effects please see the reference list at the end of this post.
Ethanolamines (DEA, TEA, MEA)
The European Commission and Health Canada actually prohibit the use of DEA in cosmetics and personal care products due to concerns regarding the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines, however, these chemicals are still allowed to be used in other countries.
There is also concern that these chemicals can negatively impact male fertility as studies have shown they negatively impact sperm motility and viability. Animal studies also shown concering neurological effects.
To avoid ethanolamines, look for DEA, TEA and MEA when reading ingredient lists.
Parabens are commonly used in personal care products, including hair products, as preservatives. Parabens can be endocrine or hormone disruptors that have been linked to negative health effects including infertility and developmental toxicity.
You can identify these in ingredient lists as they end in "paraben". When reading labels watch for ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben etc.
Parabens can also be hidden in a products fragrance so also avoid any products with the words fragrance, perfume or parfum in the ingredient lists.
Phthalates are known hormone disruptors that have been shown to have many negative health effects including decreasing sperm counts, causing heart disease, contributing to early death, weight gain and diabetes (reference).
When reading product labels watch for the ingredients Dibutylphthalate (DBP), Dimethylphthalate (DMP), Diethylphthalate (DEP), Di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP), Diisononyl phthalate (DiNP), Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBzP), Di 2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), Diisodecyl phthalate (DiDP), Di-n-hexyl phthalate (DnHP), Dimethyl phthalate (DMP), Di-n-octylphthalate (DnOP).
Phthalates are also commonly included in a products fragrance formula so also be sure to avoid products with the terms fragrance, perfume or parfum in the ingredient lists.
Fragrance, parfum, or perfume
If you have read any of my previous health related posts you have heard me talk about the potential risks of fragrances before. Fragrances are considered to be trade secrets, meaning that companies don't have to disclose the ingredients they use to make their fragrances.
This is problematic because fragrances can contain harmful ingredients like phthalates or parabens, and you have no way of verifying if those ingredients are in a fragrance or not. I recommend avoiding products with the terms "fragrance", "parfume" or "perfume" in the ingredient list for this reason.
Octinoxate, also called octyl methoxycinnamate or (OMC), is a UV filter and it can be absorbed through skin. There are concerns that it is an endocrine disruptor and it is also bad for the environment.
When reading ingredient lists, watch for the words: octinoxate, methoxycinnamate (OMC), parsol, parsol MCX, parsol MOX, escalol, and 2-ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate.
Butylated Compounds (BHA and BHT)
Butylated compounds such as BHA and BHT are commonly used in hair styling products. They are known endocrine disruptors and can be toxic to other organs. They are especially concerning for pregnant women and children. To avoid them look for BHA or BHT on ingredient lists.
This chemical is restricted for use in Canada due to its health concerns, but other countries including the US do allow its use in personal care products.
Chloromethylisothiazolinone or methylisothiazolinone (CMIT/MIT)
- Methylisothiazolinone (MIT): 2-methyl-4-isothiazoline-3-one, Neolone 950 preservative, MI, OriStar MIT and Microcare MT.
- Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT): 5-Chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one and MCI.
Petrolatum, or petroleum jelly, is derived from petroleum. It's commonly used in personal care products for its moisturizing properties. When properly refined, petrolatum has no known health concerns, however, petrolatum is often not fully refined in the US, meaning it can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
When reading ingredient lists watch for Petrolatum, Petroleum Jelly, Paraffin Oil, and Mineral Oil. Note that the ingredient White Petrolatum indicates that it has been refined and is safe for use.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and certain preservatives release it so you want to avoid these specific preservatives that are known to do that:
- DMDM hydantoin
- Imidazolidinyl urea
- Diazolidinyl urea
- Polyoxymethylene urea
- Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
- 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bronopol)
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
The issue with sodium laureth sulfate is that it is often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which is classified as a probable human carcinogen. So while SLES itself isn't necessarily harmful, it's the harmful chemicals contaminating it that are the problem.
Now there are some brands out there who take the extra steps to ensure their SLS is safe and free from 1,4-dioxane so if there is a product you love that contains it I would research the brand or reach out to them to see if they are taking these precautions.
In a process called ethoxylation, ethylene oxide is added to other ingredients to make them less harsh. Ethoxylated ingredients include many chemicals that end in “eth,” like ceteareth and oleth. On their own ethoxylated ingredients are of little health concern, however, the process of ethoxylation can leave behind trace amounts of carcinogens including 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide.
Since labels do not indicate the presence of these contaminants, check labels for chemicals with PPG, PEG, and polysorbate in their name and ingredients that end in "eth" such as laureth, steareth, ceteareth.
Some companies do have policies to remove these contaminants, so if your favourite product has one of those ingredients, check with them to see if they take this extra step to ensure their product safety.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) compounds
These ingredients are often used as penetration enhancers, thickeners, softeners, and moisture-carrying agents. PEG compounds are formed by condensing water and ethylene oxide. While PEG compounds themselves are usually safe for our health, they can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which is a known carcinogen and because they are penetration enhancers, depending on what other ingredients are in the product, they can potentially make other toxic chemicals more harmful as well.
The best non-toxic hair care products:
Now that we have reviewed many of the ingredients you want to watch for and avoid in hair products, I will share a number of safe hair care brands and products, including my own personal favourites.
Best non-toxic shampoos:
These sulfate-free shampoos do not contain added phthalates or parabens. They may contain preservatives, but only the ones that I feel comfortable using. If you are looking for shampoo that's free from harmful chemicals, you should feel comfortable using any of the products on this list. Most rely on natural ingredients like essential oils, coconut oil, argan oil, tea tree oil, shea butter, and aloe vera, to provide cleansing and moisture to different hair types.
In addition to being free of harsh chemicals, most of these brands are also cruelty-free and/or eco-friendly and most are made with organic ingredients as well. Of course, I could never review every single shampoo brand on the market so there are likely many other brands that are also safe and non toxic, so if you want to do your own research just be sure to read ingredient lists and do your best to avoid the ingredients I've listed above.
- Evolvh shampoos
- Beautycounter shampoo - use this link and the code CLEANFORALL20 to get 20% off your first order!
- Innersence shampoos
- John Masters shampoos
- Wellnesse shampoos
- 100% Pure shampoos
- Act + Acre shampoos
- Acure shampoos
- Alaffia shampoos
- Alba Botanica shampoos
- Andalou shampoos
- Aromatica shampoos
- Attitude shampoos
- Avalon Organics shampoos
- Babyganics shampoos
- Baja Baby shampoos
- Briogeo shampoos
- Cantu shampoos
- Captain Blankenship shampoos
- Carina Organics shampoos
- Clevos shampoos
- Curls Dynasty shampoo
- Dr Teals shampoos
- Earth Science shampoos
- EO Everyone shampoos
- Erbaviva baby shampoo
- Farma Dorsch shampoos
- Giovanni shampoos
- Graydon shampoos
- Field Day shampoos
- Green People shampoos
- Griffin Remedy shampoos
- Hair Print shampoos
- The Honest Company shampoos
- Herbal Essences Bio Renew Sulfate Free shampoos
- Inna Organic Shampoos
- Jason shampoos
- Josh Rosebrook shampoos
- Juice Organics Shampoos
- Kinky Curly Knot shampoos
- Live Clean shampoos
- Living Libations shampoos
- Maison Jacynthe shampoos
- Morgan Cosmetics shampoos
- Neal's Yard Remedies shampoos
- Pacifica shampoos
- Paula's Choice shampoo
- Phillip Adam shampoos
- Puracy shampoos
- Pure Haven shampoos
- Rahua shampoos
- Rare El'ements shampoos
- Routine shampoos
- Sudsatorium shampoos
- Pipette shampoos
- Prose shampoos
- The Body Deli shampoos
- The Grandpa Soap Company shampoos
- The Seaweed Co shampoos
- Thinksport shampoos
- Vegamour shampoos
- Whamisa shampoos
- Yodi conditioners
- Zatik Naturals shampoos
Best Non Toxic Conditioners:
- Evolvh conditioners
- Beautycounter conditioner - use this link and the code CLEANFORALL20 to get 20% off your first order!
- Innersence conditioners
- John Masters conditioners
- Wellnesse conditioners
- 100% Pure conditioners
- Act + Acre conditioners
- Acure conditioners
- Alaffia conditioners
- Alba Botanica conditioners
- Andalou conditioners
- Aromatica conditioners
- Attitude conditioners
- Avalon Organics conditioners
- Baja Baby conditioners
- Briogeo conditioners
- Cantu conditioners
- Captain Blankenship conditioners
- Carina Organics conditioners
- Clevos conditioners
- Curls Dynasty conditioners
- Dr Teals conditioners
- Earth Science conditioners
- EO Everyone conditioners
- Farma Dorsch conditioners
- Giovanni conditioners
- Graydon conditioners
- Green People conditioners
- Griffin Remedy conditioners
- Hair Print conditioners
- The Honest Company conditioners
- Herbal Essences Bio Renew Sulfate Free conditioners
- Inna Organic conditioners
- Jason conditioners
- Josh Rosebrook conditioners
- Juice Organics conditioners
- Kinky Curly Knot conditioners
- Live Clean conditioners
- Living Libations conditioners
- Maison Jacynthe conditioners
- Morgan Cosmetics conditioners
- Neal's Yard Remedies conditioners
- Pacifica conditioners
- Phillip Adam conditioners
- Prose conditioners
- Puracy conditioners
- Pure Haven conditioners
- Rahua conditioners
- Rare El'ements conditioners
- Routine conditioners
- Sudsatorium conditioners
- The Body Deli conditioners
- The Grandpa Soap Company conditioners
- The Seaweed Co conditioners
- Vegamour conditioners
- Whamisa conditioners
- Yodi conditioners
- Zatik Naturals conditioners
When shopping for dry shampoos, in addition to the ingredients to avoid that I listed above, you also want to watch for these ingredients:
- Butane, propane, or isobutane - these ingredients are typically found in aerosol type dry shampoos and are concerning because they can be contaminated with butadiene, which is a known carcinogen.
- Talc - talc can be contaminated with asbestos, which is a known carcinogen, and even if it isn't contaminated with asbestos, studies done by the National Toxicology Panel have shown that cosmetic-grade talc is a form of magnesium silicate that also can be toxic and carcinogenic.
- Mica - like talc, mica can also be contaminated with asbestos. Now, companies can get certified asbestos free mica, so you can check with the brand to see if they take this extra step, because if they do, mica itself is safe to use.
- Benzene - benzene is a known carcinogen and many aerosol dry shampoos have been recalled recently because they were found to contain benzene.
Best Non Toxic Dry Shampoos:
- Primally Pure dry shampoo - Use this link and the code PUREANDSIMPLE at checkout to get 10% off your first order!
- Captain Blankenship Mermaid Dry Shampoo
- Acure dry shampoo
- Be Green dry shampoo
- Billie dry shampoo
- Beauty by Earth dry shampoo
- Chagrin Valley Dry Shampoo
- Luluorganics dry shampoo
- Morrocco Method dry shampoo
- Fat and Moon dry shampoo
- Franklin & Whitman dry shampoo
- Hair dance dry shampoo
- Handmade Heroes dry shampoo
- Lark and Owl dry shampoo
- 100 Percent Pure dry shampoo
- Pure Haven dry shampoo
- Rahua dry shampoo
- Rowe Casa Organics All-Natural Dry Shampoo Dark
- QET Botanicals Dry Shampoo
- Vegamour Dry Shampoo
- Wellnesse dry shampoo
My personal favourite dry shampoo is Primally Pure. I have been using it for years and love the volume it gives my hair. Plus it's really easy to use and each bottle lasts a really long time. If you are interested in trying it, shop through this link and use the code PUREANDSIMPLE to get 10% off your first order.
Shampoo Bars and Conditioner Bars
Shampoo bars and conditioners bars are great because they completely eliminate the packaging that most shampoos and conditioners come in. Most shampoo containers are made from plastic, and not not only do plastics take years to break down in the environment, when they end up in the oceans they break down into microplastics which then get ingested by fish and other marine life.
Microplastics are now found in fish all over the world, so shampoo bars and conditioner bars are a great way to go plastic free and help make less of an environmental impact. But, you still want to be sure the ingredients in the shampoo bar and conditioner bars you are choosing are safe and non toxic as there are many on the market that still contain some not so great ingredients.
Best Non Toxic Shampoo Bars and Conditioner Bars:
- Acure Shampoo Bar
- ArtNaturals Shampoo Bars: Lavender, Eucalyptus, or Sweet Orange
- Aspen Kay Naturals Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
- Auromere Shampoo Bar
- Badger Shampoo Bar
- Beauty and the Bees Real Beer Shampoo Bars
- Bossman Men’s Bar Soap 4-in-1
- Bravo Sierra Shampoo and Body Bar
- Earthling Unscented Shampoo Bar
- Earthsuds Unscented Shampoo and Conditioner Tablets
- Ethique shampoo bar
- Friendly Soap Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
- High-End Hippie Shampoo Bars
- JR Liggett’s Old-Fashioned Bar Shampoos
- Maple Hill Naturals Shampoo and Conditioning Bars
- Odacite shampoo bar
- The Yellow Bird Shampoo Bars
- Sade Baron Shampoo Bar
- Skinny & Co. Shampoo Bars (Raw, Rosemary, or Lavender & Orange)
- Sweet & Sassy Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
- Unwrapped Life Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
- Vegan Glow Original Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
- Whiff shampoo and conditioner bars
- Yuve Organibar Shampoo & Conditioner Bar
Best Non Toxic Hair Gels
- Innersense I Create Hold Gel
- Alaffia Repair & Restore Curl Defining Cream Gels
- Andalou Healthy Shine Styling Gel
- Carina Organic Sweet Pea Alcohol-Free Styling Gel & Unscented Alcohol-Free Styling Gel
- Essante Organic Captivate Hair Gel
- Giovanni LA Hold Styling Gel
- Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Heatless Curl Stretch Gel
- Advanced Botanical Strong Hold Style Gel
Best Non Toxic Hair Sprays and Other Sprays
- Evolvh Hair Spray
- John Masters Organic Hair Spray
- John Masters Sea Mist Spray
- Innersence Hair Prep Spray
- Innersence I Create Finish Finishing Spray
- Innersence I Create Waves Spray
- Captain Blankenship Sea Salt Hair Spray
- Captain Blankenship Golden Waves Shimmer Sea Salt Spray
- Aveda Air Control™ Light Hold Hair Spray
- Carina Organic Sweet Pea Fast Drying Hairspray,
- Carina Organic Unscented Fast Drying Hairspray
- Giovanni LA Hold Hair Spritz
- Alba Botanica Hawaiian Leave-In Conditioning Mist
- Josh Rosebrook Hair Spray
- Alaffia Coconut Texturizing Spray
- Essante Organic USDA Organic Hairspray
- Pure Haven Regular Hold
- Pure Haven Supergreens Thermal Protection Hair Mist
- Pure Haven Supergreens Detangler
- Rahua Hair Spray
- Rahua Volumizing Spray
- Rahua Enchanted Island Salt Spray
- QET Botanicals Natural Sea Spray
- Ivy and Elder Wear the Wind Wave Spray
- Every Man Jack Texturizing Surf Spray
- Druide Styling Hair Spray
Best Non Toxic Scalp Scrubs and Treatments
- Goop Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub Shampoo - I LOVE this stuff! It makes my scalp feel so clean and my hair feel so nice and smooth. It also lasts a long time, one jar lasts me about a year.
- Innersence Enlightenment Scalp Scrub
- Briogeo Scalp Scrub
- John Masters Scalp Scrub
- Rahua Scalp Treatment
- Rahua Leave in Treatment
Best Non Toxic Mousse, Foams, and Styling Creams or Lotions
- Innersence Natural Inner Peace Whipped Creme Texturizer
- Innersence Natural Quiet Calm Curl Control
- Innersence Volumizing Hair Lotion
- Innersence I Create Lift Volumizing Foam
- Evolvh Wonderbalm
- Evolvh Styling Lotion
- Evolvh Styling Creme
- Andalou Argan Oil & Shea Moisture Rich Styling Cream
- John Masters Volumizing Foam
- Alaffia Repair & Restore Curl Maker
- Desert Essence Coconut Shine & Refine Hair Lotion
- Desert Essence Soft Curl Hair Cream
- Desert Essence Coconut Hair Defrizzer And Heat Protector
- Giovanni Mousse Air-Turbo Charged Styling Foam
- Pacifica Pineapple Swirl Curl Defining Cream
- Pacifica Salty Waves Beach Balm
- Pure Haven Styling Cream
- Rahua Smoothing Hair Balm
- Rahua Cream Wax
- Rahua Curl Cream
- Rahua Freestyle Texturizer
- Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Frizz-Free Curl Mousse
Best Non Toxic Hair Oils, Masks and Serums
- Innersence Hair Mask
- Innersence Healing Oil
- John Masters Hair Mask
- John Masters Scalp Purifying Serum
- Rahua Hair Oil
- Sahajan Hair Oil
- Briogeo Scalp Oil
Frequently asked questions:
There are many healthy, non-toxic hair brands on the market now. Some of my personal favourites include Rahua, Innersence, John Masters, and Evolvh. These brands avoid parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde releasers and other harmful ingredients that are common in many conventional hair care brands.
When looking for safe hair products be sure to use hair care brands that avoid phthalates, parabens, synthetic fragrances, and formaldehyde releasing preservatives and instead focus on natural ingredients that are safe and non-toxic.
Other health info you will be interested in:
- The Best Non Toxic Dental Products
- The best non-toxic deodorants
- The best non toxic body lotions
- Is there mercury in your mascara?
- Is mineral or chemical sunscreen better?
- How to choose safe cookware
- Are candles toxic?
Dr. Erin Carter, MD, FRCPC, is a physician with board certifications in internal medicine and rheumatology. She is passionate about environmental health and low toxicity living and has been doing research and publishing information in this area for years. She is also a self-trained chef and has been creating and publishing recipes since 2015. Her recipes have been featured on many different websites and online publications.
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