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Organic Shampoo: Making the Switch

In this day and age, almost everything you see around you are either instant, synthetic, or both. You encounter it everywhere: you eat instant noodles, sip a cup of instant coffee, cook “carbonara” in under five minutes, get some extensions attached to your hair, have your eyebrows tattooed – the list goes on and on. This has become a norm in our society that everybody seems habituated to it already. However, with the trend getting bigger and bigger each day, people are beginning to realize how much change the world has gone through and how fast our pacing has become. With everything being synthetic nowadays, we have become ignorant of how much we have let ourselves deteriorate health-wise.

On the brighter side of things, this has brought a lot of people to the realization that something must be done to reverse the detrimental factors that had already been inflicted on our bodies by all the instants that surround us. Quite paradoxically, with this realization emerged the boom of the health industry. Many people nowadays, young and old alike, have become more health conscious because they believe that in this busy world, it pays to marvel at and take good advantage of the beauties that Mother Nature has to offer. After all, what good are these resources if they won’t get utilized?

Aside from food, another industry that promotes natural and organic products for the health conscious is the personal care industry – and one of the most commonly used personal care products daily wherever you go around the globe is shampoo. What exactly, though, does natural/organic shampoo have to offer that traditional shampoo doesn’t? Read on further to find out.

Traditional Shampoo

The invention of traditional shampoo may be attributed to many inventors and is debatable between various hair dressers and key influencers in the hair industry. Though shampoo is considered a modern invention, it has been developed way back in as early as 1898 by German inventor, Hans Schwarzkopf, whose work has been later enhanced for commercial use by Kasey Herbert, who introduced the very first commercial shampoo sometime in the early 20th century.

To make a long story short, traditional shampoo has been around for many, many, many years now. Knowing that the product has been around for such a long time could only mean that it works, and it probably works very well for it to last for more than a century. So the big question now would be: why would you even consider making the switch from traditional to organic in the first place? What exactly makes organic shampoo seem preferable over traditional, which has apparently been used by many for so long? Let’s take a look below at some of the key ingredients that make up traditional shampoo to find out why they should be avoided.

  1. Sodium lauryl sulfate. This ingredient, also commonly known as SLS, is tagged by the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database as a “moderate hazard”. SLS is an additive that enhances foaming, which explains the sudsy effect of traditional shampoo when applied and scrubbed onto your hair. Derived from coconuts, SLS may be considered by many as a non-toxic hazard, but the manufacturing process creates a toxic byproduct that contaminates the substance, which in turn links this additive to various side effects such as cancer, neuro- and organ toxicity, skin irritation, and endocrine disruption. Apart from these, SLS also causes eye problems such as cataracts in adults and poor eye development for children. Though some labels may not indicate SLS as one of the ingredients, it may still be present and have just been replaced with its variations, including sodium dodecyl sulfate, sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester, sodium salt, and aquarex methyl, among others.
  2. Sodium laureth sulfate. Also widely known as SLES, sodium laureth sulfate is similar to SLS in that it is also a foaming agent and contains similar characteristics to the latter. The only known difference between the two is that SLES has a higher foaming ability compared with SLS, and is also slightly less irritating to the eyes and skin.
  3. Ammonium lauryl sulfate. This substance, also commonly known and referred to by many as ALS, is similar to both SLS and SLES in both characteristics and risks posed. One variation of this additive is ammonium dodecyl sulfate.
  4. Sodium myreth sulfate. This additive is yet another foaming agent that is structurally similar to the aforementioned additives above.
  5. Olefin sulfonate. Though comparable to SLS in terms of the irritation it causes, olefin sulfonate is structurally different in that it is apparently deodorized kerosene. Olefin sulfonate is added in personal care products such as shampoo as it gets rid of oil very easily, which is one major problem of many when it comes to their hair, especially when exposed to too much sweat and dirt on the outdoors. However, this additive is quite harsh on the skin and may be extremely harmful to organ and hormone function.
  6. Derivatives of lauryl alcohol. Lauryl alcohol is also considered a fatty alcohol (as it is derived naturally from fatty acids which come from coconut or palm kernel oil) with a flowery aroma, and is added as an ingredient to various shampoos. It controls and manages the viscosity of formulations, stitching them together tightly and perfectly to ensure that water- and oil- based solutions on ingredients, among many others, will not separate. This is important because meshing ingredients together to keep them intact would make sure that their desired effects will work. In addition, lauryl alcohol also increases the permeability of various ingredients, hence allowing a deeper penetration upon application. However, this may be harmful to the organ system as certain ingredients that penetrate deep into the skin may cause adverse effects such as irritation to the skin and eyes. Variations of lauryl alcohol include dodecyl alcohol.

All the ingredients mentioned above are infamous among researchers and scientists for drying out the scalp, irritating oil glands, and corroding hair follicles, making traditional shampoo quite harmful to your hair – and with all the other side effects stated above, possibly even to your overall health.

Baby Shampoo

Contrary to popular belief, the common baby shampoos you see in stores are not natural/organic, though some would believe so since it is, after all, meant for babies’ use and should be generally safe. However, just because baby shampoos are labeled gentle, does not mean that it is perfectly harmless to your little tyke. In fact, these shampoos contain a very harsh chemical that causes numbing to both the eyelids and tear ducts, to which the all-too-known “no tears” tag could be attributed. Furthermore, baby shampoos contain, more or less, the same key ingredients of traditional shampoo, including the ones stated above. Adding the numbing effect to the eyelids and tear ducts of little babies makes the entry of unwanted chemicals from the shampoo to the baby’s eyes far less noticeable for parents. Hence, baby shampoo is, quite paradoxically, considered one of the harshest shampoos being sold in the market.

Organic Shampoo

tea tree oil in organic shampoo

Amidst all the harmful shampoos in the market comes organic shampoo, which is probably the best route to take when you are looking out for your overall health and wellbeing not only for the meantime, but also for long-term.

Organic shampoo is a healthy alternative to traditional shampoo that, as many very well know, comes from all-natural resources and is absolutely free of chemicals, synthetic ingredients, dyes, and many other harmful substances that could be detrimental to your hair’s health, among other things. Above all, it is biodegradable, making it safe to be washed off into the drain. It may come as a complete surprise for many to find out that most traditional shampoos are apparently non-biodegradable, but it shouldn’t. With all the chemicals used as ingredients for traditional shampoo, it is highly likely and must be expected that its substances poison our waterways with ingredients that stick around for a very long period of time – even way after your shampoo bottle has deteriorated. So making the switch from traditional to organic shampoo is not only good for your health, but also for the environment.

Advantages of Organic Shampoo

Besides the obvious pros of organic shampoo presented in the previous paragraph, here are other advantages of taking the natural route when it comes to taking care of your hair.

  1. Organic shampoo is pretty easy to find nowadays, what with it being available in grocery stores, pharmacies, personal care stores, supermarkets, and online. Since organic is just as accessible as traditional, you wouldn’t be having a difficult time putting in effort to look for the former just so you could make the healthy switch. How convenient!
  2. As stated above, going organic helps save the environment since biodegradable substances wash up your drainage instead of harmful chemicals. Apart from naturally dissolving completely after a significantly shorter period of time compared to traditional shampoo, it also keeps your waterways free from harmful toxins which may mix with a myriad of many other substances found in the pipes.
  3. Organic shampoo is as gentle as gentle can get, infusing your hair follicles and skin cells with only natural ingredients which include healthy minerals, herbal extracts, and essential oils.
  4. Good news for those with thinning hair! Organic shampoo also helps prevent hair loss, as the natural oils strengthen your locks for a longer-lasting healthy hair. Pura D’Or is an organic anti-hair loss shampoo, and is a bestseller at Amazon.com. Another brand that offers the same hair strengthening qualities which can also be found in Amazon is The Wonder Seed Hemp Seed Oil organic shampoo, with zero toxins (vegan blend) that also prevents dry and itchy scalp caused by dandruff.
  5. Being made up with only pure ingredients, your hair will go through a deep cleansing which may be equivalent to having a hair detox. Imagine having this done every time you take a bath! You won’t have to spend too much money for hair treatments at the salon anymore because your hair is kept healthy and well-maintained every single day.
  6. Thin and translucent (or filmy) residues won’t gather in your hair after washing.
  7. Your hair will be smoother and shinier as it will maintain its natural moisture without compromising your hair’s health. Maple Holistics’ Degrease is an Amazon bestseller which addresses oily hair and scalp, dandruff, and hair loss, and its Sage Shampoo is a hit for those with colored hair who are also looking to eliminating and/or avoiding dandruff.

Common Ingredients of Organic Shampoo

If traditional shampoo mostly contains surfactants, what are the common ingredients that organic shampoos contain? See below for a list of some of the most common natural resources used for the creation of organic shampoos.

  1. Tea tree. Also known as ‘melaleuca’, tea tree is famous for its highly effective antiseptic properties and its ability to treat wounds. This substance originated from Southeast Queensland and New South Wales’ Northeast coast in Australia. Apart from having properties that eliminates bad breath, tea tree also addresses scalp irritations which include, but is not limited to, dandruff. Calily Life is an organic tea tree shampoo offered by Amazon that garnered a five star rating from its users.
  2. Beta glucan. Beta glucan is a soluble fiber comprised of polysaccharides found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and algae, among others. No matter how much hearing these causes you to cringe, beta glucans are actually used as medicine on various occasions as  it is recommended for use to treat those suffering from high cholesterol, asthma, diabetes, cancer, asthma, and HIV/AIDS, among many others. Beta glucans are also immunomodulators which help boost your immune system internally and topically. In organic shampoos, this helps soothe inflamed cells of the scalp, which then provides you with the solution to dry scalp and itchiness.
  3. Aloe vera. Sometimes considered by many as a “wonder plant” or the “plant of immortality”, aloe vera is a short-stemmed stub which thrives in tropical places all around the world. Its use can be dated back to as early as 6,000 years ago in Egypt, where it can be seen depicted in various carvings on stone by the ancients. This comes as no surprise as it has antioxidants, enzymes, and minerals that contribute to the healing and improvement of the skin and immune systems, among others. Applied with organic shampoo such as The Seaweed Bath Co.’s (complete with bladderwrack seaweed, argan oil, and vitamin E), aloe vera comes as a natural moisturizer for healthy hair.
  4. Coconut oil. This effective moisturizer is an edible oil extracted from the meat of mature coconuts from tropical countries. Coconut oil has been classified as one of only few “superfoods” with the many benefits it gives out, and is also used as a component for skin and hair care products. Just like aloe vera, coconut oil also provides healthy hair through its excellent moisturizing qualities.
  5. Shea butter. A fat mainly derived from stearic and oleic acid, shea butter comes from the nut of the African shea (Karite) tree, from where it is extracted. Quite the same as coconut oil, this is also considered a superfood rich in vitamins A, E, and F. Apart from enhancing shine and moisture in the hair, shea butter also provides protection from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays with its SPF 6 component.

There are many other natural ingredients that may be used to create organic shampoos, such as combinations of lemongrass and rosemary (for shiny hair), as well as sage tea and lavender petrol (to regulate oily hair).

Disadvantages of Organic Shampoo

When looking at a particular product, you have to know not only the advantages but also the disadvantages that it could possibly come with. In the case of organic shampoo, only two had been found after much research:

  1. Organic shampoo is often slightly more expensive than traditional shampoo, which may also be a huge factor when it comes to deciding on which one to buy. However, spending a little more for a better, healthier alternative is a more practical choice than taking the road often travelled and going for the less expensive yet harmful traditional brands.
  2. With the absence of foaming agents, organic shampoo lathers a whole lot less than traditional brands, which some consider to be a disadvantage. This is not something too big a factor, though, as it does not affect the overall performance of the product in any way.

Organic Shampoo You Can Easily Find Online

To show you how varied organic shampoo can be when it comes to the natural components used to make them up, compiled below are a list of brands you can easily access via Amazon.com.

Pura D’Or

Pura D’Or is a brand more widely known for their organic anti-hair loss products, and for promoting hair care therapy reinforced by nature. The brand uses various natural ingredients which includes, but is not limited to, argan oil, tea tree oil, ylang ylang, lavender, and vanilla. Combined with a myriad of vitamins and nutrients in addition to those provided by these substances, Pura D’Or has perfected the formula that helps solve hair problems including hair loss due to breakage and dandruff which paved its way to being one of the bestsellers on Amazon and other physical platforms. Variants of the brand available online include its Anti-Hair Loss Premium Organic Argan Oil Shampoo (Gold Label) made with a powerful blend of biotin, pumpkin seed and black cumin seed oil, nettle, and other natural ingredients that prevent shedding, adds volume to, and thickens the hair (and is recommended for all hair types); Hair Loss Prevention Therapy Premium Organic Oil Argan Oil Shampoo, made with an invigorating blend of organic extracts and essential nutrients such as niacin, biotin, argan oil, antioxidants, and others detoxify the scalp and fortifies, reduces damage, and promote cell growth to the hair, encouraging healthy hair that is strong and resilient (and is recommended for thinning, damaged, and/or color-treated hair); and finally, Pura D’Or’s Enriching Aloe Vera and Essential Oils Premium Organic Argan Oil Shampoo, made with a powerful blend of ylang ylang, tea tree oil, biotin, lavender oil, argan oil, and others to provide hydration to the hair, giving it a more luxurious texture and enhances shine (and is recommended for all hair types). The Mad Mommy, a popular blogger, has made a review of the product once from whom it has garnered a five-star approval. She had taken before and after photos where it can be seen how significantly her hair had grown compared to its initial stage prior to using the shampoo. Common negative comments about the product, though, have to do mainly with the pumps that have apparently stopped working before the shampoo runs out, and that it had no contribution whatsoever in providing help for men in their late stages of baldness. However, aside from having a proper way of “activating” the pumps, Pura D’Or is also not to be considered a miracle cure for those who are already in their late stages of baldness as the essential oils and natural extracts in the product are meant to heal hair follicles, preventing hair to fall and break off.

The Wonder Seed Hemp Seed Oil Shampoo

Another brand that offers the same hair strengthening qualities as Pura D’Or is the color-safe The Wonder Seed Hemp Seed Oil Shampoo, with zero toxins and optimal, vegan blend of virgin organic hemp seed oil and aloe vera, ginseng extract, coconut oil, nettle extract, jojoba oil, cocoa butter, and more that help prevent dry and itchy scalp caused by dandruff, as well as eczema and psoriasis. This blend of various natural ingredients provide gentle cleansing and seals in moisture that gives off strength, elasticity, and shine to your hair while keeping away from oily and dry hair. Furthermore, you will be glad to know that the only negative comments this product has been receiving is that it needs to have a bigger bottle for their consumption. Otherwise, most consumers of the product have been having a great experience with it, garnering a 4.5 star rating on Amazon.

Maple Holistics

Maple Holistics, garnering a 4.5 star rating from Amazon users, boasts of having many bestsellers on the platform, two of which are its Degrease variant and Sage Shampoo. The Degrease addresses oily hair and scalp with its clarifying treatment with lemon essential oil, restoring a healthy sebum and balances your skin and hair’s pH levels. In addition, it alleviates the comfort of having no itchy feeling caused by germs in the scalp with its jojoba, rosemary formula that provides hydration to the hair follicles from the inside, while at the same time protecting your hair from outside pollutants. Furthermore, it strengthens your hair with its basil and cypress solution which cleans and minimizes pores in your scalp to improve circulation and increase hair growth, leaving you with healthy locks with increased volume and is frizz-free. On the other hand, Maple Holistics’ Sage Shampoo, with a unique formula of sage, tea tree, rosemary, verbenone, and spikenard, is a hit for those with colored hair who are also looking to eliminating and/or avoiding dandruff as it is enriched with botanical keratin, peach kernel, and jojoba oils, helping restore health to the hair and bringing back its natural moisture content.

Calily Life

Calily Life is an organic tea tree shampoo that garnered a five star rating from its users. It features a refreshing blend of tea tree oil, infused with specially selected Dead Sea minerals that removes impurities in the hair, and revitalizes, softens, and nourishes it. The natural ingredients deeply penetrate your scalp which prevents various conditions such as hair loss, dry skin, dandruff, head lice, and much more directly from the roots. Aside from relieving scalp conditions, Calily Life also stimulates hair growth and adds moisture and shine to your hair without the harsh chemicals.

The Seaweed Bath Co.

The Seaweed Bath Co. also has different variants, but with its Moisturizing Argan Shampoo made with organic bladderwrack seaweed, aloe vera, argan oil, and vitamin E being the bestseller amongst bestsellers of the brand in Amazon, garnering a 4.5 star rating from its users. Bladderwrack seaweed is sustainably harvested from the North Atlantic Ocean and naturally conditions and maintains healthy hair with its omega-3 fatty acids and a significantly large amount of trace vitamins and minerals. Other variants of The Seaweed Bath Co. include the Natural Balancing Argan Shampoo made with eucalyptus and peppermint, especially designed for normal to oily hair; and the Natural Smoothing Argan Shampoo made with citrus vanilla, broccoli seed oil (which contains vitamins C and B6, and omega-9 fatty acid) for smoother strands, and flax seed oil (enriched with ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid) that nourishes scalp to encourage healthy hair growth.

Going Natural

Overall, switching to organic could probably be one of the best decisions you will ever make as it offers practically no apparent disadvantages after all. It works just as well as – and even better than! – traditional shampoo sans the foaming, and it boosts your hair’s health and wellness. To top it all off, it doesn’t take an arm and a leg to acquire one so what’s stopping you from making the switch?