Shampoos and conditioners that are safe and free of harmful chemicals can be difficult to find. And it can be even harder to find a shampoo and conditioner that are natural and also keep your hair looking and feeling great. I decided to see if I could find natural options at a nearby big-name store. Then I tried out the “cleanest” ones to see how well they worked on my thick, sometimes frizzy hair. Read on for my healthy natural shampoo review, and find out which one was my favorite (hint: it’s at the end)!
Natural products are becoming much more popular, and even the mainstream stores appear to be jumping on board to carry more natural products. But how many of these products are truly natural? It is hard to tell, since there is no legal definition of how companies can use words like “natural,” “herbal,” or even “organic” on cosmetic products!
I wanted to see if I could easily find truly natural products at a big-name store. To be honest, I had no idea what I would find, or if I would find the clean products I was looking for. I chose Target for this review, because they are found all over the country and are carrying more naturally-marketed products. I hoped whatever shampoos and conditioners I found would be easy for my readers to find as well (and I am all about easy)!
Searching for “clean” shampoo
I headed to Target, armed with the Think Dirty app (which gives a score on the “dirty meter” for each product – you can read my full write-up of the app here). I also managed to sneak out of the house without kids in tow. My mission was to scan every shampoo and conditioner in the store that claimed to be natural or free of harmful chemicals, and see what was really in there.
The Dirtiest-Scoring Products
In the shampoo aisle, I was quickly drawn to a big, colorful display that read “Hair Food,” and contained a row of colorful bottles that claimed to be Sulfate Free. Then I noticed they were by Clairol, which usually sells products that are anything but natural. I scanned one with the app, and here is how it rated (The left side shows the “dirty meter” in the app, and the right side shows the ingredients). In the app, zero is the best or “cleanest” score and 10 is the worst:
No big surprise, Clairol’s “Hair Food” was one of the worst products I rated all day. Notice how the bars for “Carcinogenicity” and “Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity” go way over into the red? Yeah, that’s bad.
Other products that rated poorly (or Click here to skip down to the three finalists):
One shampoo I scanned appeared to be a much better choice than the others so far…
Until I scanned the conditioner that went with it.
A Note on Burt’s Bees
Target also carries Burt’s Bees products, which are known to be natural, but the results were a little confusing when I pulled them up in the app. Several of the shampoos appeared to have two listings for the same product, one with a score of 9, and one with a score of 3 or 4.
Think Dirty’s take on fragrances is any product that lists “fragrance” on the label will automatically receive a rating of 9 or higher. This is because the term “fragrance” can be used to cover up a huge list of potentially hazardous chemicals used in the fragrance part of the product. These chemicals do not have to be listed separately in the ingredients. The chemicals in “fragrance” can include allergens, asthma triggers, sensitizers, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens and neurotoxins.
Some of the Burt’s Bees listings have been updated after they disclosed the following Fragrance Policy to Think Dirty:
“The term ‘fragrance’ on our labels may indicate the use of natural fragrance (essential oils), synthetic fragrance or a combination of both. Burt’s Bees makes every attempt to exclusively use blends of natural oils in formulating our fragrances, which sometimes results in us using over fifteen different essential oils. However, on certain occasions, it may be necessary to use synthetic ingredients in our fragrances in order to sufficiently mix the fragrance with the product formula base and to keep the product stable.”
Think Dirty has assigned Burt’s Bees products a new lower rating, with the assumption that their “fragrance” comes from essential oils. I chose not to select Burt’s Bees products in the finalists for this review, because of the uncertainty about what is actually in the products, and the possibility of hidden toxic chemicals.
Healthy Natural Shampoo Finalists
After checking through all of the products I found on the shelves at Target, I came up with three brands who stood out as cleaner than the rest. These brands were Shea Moisture (though some products contained fragrance, many did not), Acure Organics, and Giovanni 2Chic.
I found a moisturizing shampoo in each brand, and checked the conditioners as well. Here is how the three finalists rated for how clean their ingredients were (see the next section for how well they worked on my hair!):
#3 (not as clean) – Giovanni 2Chic Ultra Moist Avocado and Olive Oil Shampoo and Conditioner
I decided to try all three of the Finalists, to see if any of them could tame my dry, frizzy hair without all the chemicals of other shampoos. I have been using natural shampoos for a while, and some of them just don’t seem to get my hair clean, while others make my hair completely frizz out.
I’m just going to put this out there – I don’t wash my hair very often. I wash about every 3-4 days. I tried the ‘no poo’ thing for a while (yes, it’s a thing, you can Google it! Basically, you don’t wash your hair with shampoo for a while), and ever since then, my hair has not gotten oily as quickly. It is actually healthier for your hair and scalp to go a little longer between washings if you can.
To even the playing field, I used the same method each time I tried a new shampoo and conditioner. I made sure to wait four days before each of them. By then, my scalp was just a little oily. I wanted a little bit of oil to see how the shampoo handled it. Each time, I washed, rinsed, and conditioned my hair, and left the conditioner on for three minutes each time before rinsing.
After the shower, I combed through my hair and towel-dried, then let it air dry for two hours. I finished drying it on medium heat, and added a little bit of curl with a curling iron.
It only took about 10 minutes total to dry and style my hair each time, and I did not add any product or anything else to my hair. I wanted to find a shampoo and conditioner that would work for me with as little work as possible (if one exists)!
Note: the following results were on my hair type, and these products may work differently on different hair types.
And now, the results …
Third Place: Giovanni 2Chic Ultra Moist Avocado and Olive Oil Shampoo and Conditioner
This one rated third on the “Dirty Meter” and also third on it’s test run on my hair. I really enjoyed the scent. It had a subtle, fresh clean smell. The shampoo had lots of lather and got my hair nice and clean, but also left it feeling pretty dry. The conditioner was thinner than most, and it came out very quickly. It was in a squeeze tube, so there was no way to put any back in the bottle.
After leaving on for three minutes, my hair felt softer, but still a little dry. After my shower, my hair felt clean, but somewhat straw-like.
After letting my hair air-dry for a few hours and then finishing with a hair dryer, the frizz was out of control. I hoped the curling iron would smooth it a little, but it didn’t help much. My hair took the curl VERY well, but was still VERY frizzy and dry. The one positive thing I can say is it did add a LOT of volume.
I did not like the way this worked on my hair at all. And now for an unflattering picture of my hair with this shampoo …
I absolutely loved the smell of this shampoo. It had a bright, delicious, cherry-almond type scent. The shampoo did not really lather, and I had to use slightly more than usual. Despite this, it did a great job cleaning my hair and scalp.
The conditioner was pretty thin, like the Giovanni conditioner. I left it on three minutes, and my hair still felt a little dry.
After I combed through and towel-dried, my hair actually started to feel a little softer. When I dried and styled it, it was a little frizzier than I like, although not as bad as the Giovanni brand. I probably could have fixed it with a tiny bit of conditioner rubbed through it, or a little bit of product. However, I was going for simple, so I didn’t add anything to it.
Overall, this shampoo and conditioner were nice, and may have worked for someone whose hair is just a little oilier. This was also the least-toxic option.
And a slightly less-unflattering picture of my hair …
The scent of this shampoo and conditioner were not my favorite at first. They had a slightly perfumy, baby-powderish scent, and it was a little strong. It did not affect my allergies like some other fragrances though.
The shampoo lathered up a little bit, and I did not have to use too much. It rinsed out easily, and my hair felt very clean after. The conditioner was thick, but not too thick. I left on for three minutes, then easily ran my fingers through. And my hair actually felt soft! So far, so good.
When I styled my hair, the scent was still lingering in my hair, but it had softened a lot. I liked it much better at this point. My husband said he noticed the smell when he walked in the front door, and he really liked it.
When I styled my hair, I had a very minor amount of frizz, but not near as much as the other shampoos. I think this was about as good as my hair gets with such a minimal amount of styling and product.
I was VERY happy with the results of this shampoo. I would feel comfortable with this quick styling routine every day, and I loved not having to straighten or use product on my hair. This choice was not the absolute “cleanest” as far as chemicals, but it was MUCH better than most on the market, and was non-toxic enough to receive a green rating on the “Think Dirty” app.
Here is the picture of my hair …
Can you believe the results I got with such a little amount of work? I can’t. This shampoo is definitely a keeper for me!
Overall, I think the Acure Organics and Shea Moisture products were far superior to the Giovanni products. I would definitely choose the Shea Moisture products for dry hair (but check to make sure you use the same one I used, or another Shea Moisture product that does not contain fragrance as an ingredient). If your hair is a little oilier and you don’t really have problems with dryness, then the Acure Organics might work for you.
SPECIAL OFFER: Target is offering the following deal right now, just in time to pick up some shampoo and conditioner and other personal care products!
If you don’t have a Target Card, you can skip the shipping costs by ordering online, and picking up in the store!
Here are the links again for the top three shampoos:
I would love to hear what your favorite natural shampoos are! Also, please let me know what you think if you try any of the shampoos above.
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