Adventures in Green Haircare

Over the past two years, step by step, our family is replacing all cleaning and personal care products with eco-friendly equivalents that are healthy for the Earth, our home, and our bodies. Part of my family’s concern for the kinds of products we use has to do with the chemicals that go into our bodies and ultimately end up in the water supply. Chemicals that make my mommy alarm go off include the following: phthalates, bisphenol A, and triclosan, which are in cosmetics, antibacterial soap, perfumes, containers of all sorts (think food packaging, shampoo bottles, makeup containers), and plastic bottles. When these chemicals reach our water supplies, the natural wildlife are adversely affected and the overall environment is negatively impacted.

Our motto is out with the old, and in with the green! Everything from laundry detergent to shampoo and deodorant are being switched out and replaced with healthy, environmentally friendly alternatives. Mostly our experiences with these new green products have been positive, but with any kind of change, there’s a lot of trial and error. This week I’d like to share our family’s review of 4 eco-friendly hair care products. Read on to find out more about our green haircare adventures.

1. Whole Body 365 Shampoo and Conditioner (grapefruit scented). The citrusy scent is refreshing and clean. I love that the shampoo builds a smooth lather, the conditioner softens my hair and smooths tangles, and together, both products provide clean and oil free hair. My hair feels light each time I use this product, and at $1.99 / 16 oz. bottle, my husband doesn’t shudder at the cost. When I checked in with the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, I noticed that none of the Whole Body products have been tested; however, the product label claims that the ingredients are free of parabens, animal ingredients, artificial fragrance (which is code for phthalates, or hormone disrupting chemicals), and other unnecessary chemicals. Overall, the Whole Body 365 Shampoo and Conditioner are winning choices for clean, healthy hair and the environment too.

2. Avalon Organics Shampoo and Conditioner (lavender scented). Once again my senses were pleased. I felt calmer as I inhaled the lavender scent of the shampoo but was disappointed with the lack of lather. I applied more shampoo to try again, but my hair simply felt sticky. To add insult to injury, after I dried my hair, my roots looked oily and my hair was stiff. Hoping that Avalon Organics might score more points with my husband than with me, I asked him to try it out. Since he is the last person to judge whether or not a hair product is good or not, I was surprised that even he complained that his hair felt unclean. The Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database rates Avalon Organics Lavender Shampoo 4 out of 10, which indicates a moderate risk. Skin Deep also notes that 26% of shampoos have lower concerns than Avalon. At more than $8.00 for an 11 oz. bottle and considering our less than satisfying experiences, we were eager to try other products.

3. Jason Henna Hi-lights Shampoo and Conditioner. A certified organic product, Jason Henna Hi-lights claims to give hair a “deep rich glow” and natural hi-lights. Again, I loved the gentle scent of this product, which is likely from the chamomile used to naturally lighten hair. Although my husband was unaware that the Jason Henna Hi-lights shampoo and conditioner were intended to both clean and naturally brighten hair, he lathered up and raved that these products felt great on his scalp and left his hair feeling clean.
Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database has not yet reviewed this particular product, however comparable Jason hair care products are rated between a 3 and 5 out of 10, which indicates a moderate risk. Jason Henna Hi-lights Shampoo and Conditioner costs $8.99 for a 16 oz. bottle, however for those who enjoy Jason as much as I do, lower priced products are available at and Maggie’

4. Nature’s Gate Tea Tree Calming Shampoo (for irritated, flaky scalp). I originally purchased Nature’s Gate shampoo to replace my husband’s Pert Plus, since he suffers from a dry scalp from time to time. After his experience with Avalon Organics shampoo and conditioner, he was a bit reluctant to try another environmentally friendly hair care product, but I convinced him that it was worth a shot. I am happy to share that Nature’s Gate was a hit with my husband. He says that his dandruff is under control and that he likes the lather, as well as the scent of tea tree oil and chamomile. Can I tell you that he feels zen after showering and washing his hair? No. But he’s a guy’s guy and probably would not share those details with me anyway. What I can tell you is that no complaints about a green product is a rave review from him. Skin Deep Cosmetic Database gives Nature’s Gate Tea Tree Calming Shampoo a score of 5 out of 10, which is a moderate risk; however this product is paraben-free, colorant-free, and alcohol-free. Nature’s Gate Tea Tree Calming Shampoo costs $7.99 per 18 oz. bottle.

Our family’s hair care experimentations are ongoing (by the way, we are purchasing these products on our own, and these reviews are not sponsored), but we’re excited that companies like Whole Body 365, Avalon Organics, Jason, and Nature’s Gate are committed to excluding parabens and other hormone disruptors, but are including organic ingredients. We’d love tips on other great, green hair care, so please leave any of your tips in the comments!

Jessica Monte also blogs about natural parenting and the environment at Green Mamma and API Speaks.

Original 5 Minutes for Going Green post.

27 Responses to Adventures in Green Haircare
  1. Jennifer, Snapshot
    July 16, 2008 | 3:29 pm

    I love reading honest reviews of these products, including cost.

    For me, the higher cost of going green is difficult for me to bear at times, so I especially enjoy hearing about affordable products that work.

  2. Jessica (Green Mamma)
    July 16, 2008 | 5:10 pm

    I’m happy my review was helpful. We’re trying to be earth friendly and resourceful. =) I’d love to hear about your experiences with green personal care products.

  3. Mrs. Greenhands
    July 16, 2008 | 6:04 pm

    Great reviews! Our family is just now jumping on the green band wagon, so I still have a lot to learn. I like reading other people’s reviews of green products!

  4. Beth (Coming Up For Air)
    July 16, 2008 | 6:22 pm

    I really like BWC (Beauty Without Cruelty)products. Organic hair care that’s never tested on animals!

  5. Gina
    July 16, 2008 | 7:31 pm

    Great info! Yes…I have been on a similar mission. So far I’ve tried a “Tate’s Miracle” shampoo and it was…okay. Also I now use Dr Bronner’s Peppermint Castille soap to wash my body and I LOVE IT…but I tried it on my hair and it was sooooo yuck. Felt like gum was stuck in my hair. Talk about tacky!! Keep the reviews coming. We’ll find something perfect eventually!

  6. Green Mamma » Blog Archive » Take 5!
    July 16, 2008 | 7:40 pm

    […] resource about green living, but I’m also super excited that I will be a regular contributor! Click here to check out my latest post on green […]

  7. Abbie
    July 16, 2008 | 11:29 pm

    I like Burt’s Bees Grapefruit and Sugar Beet Shampoo and Conditioner. Because of my allergies, it’s hard to find something with a scent that doesn’t make me sneeze or leave me with a headache. Grapefruit has been just the ticket.
    My #1 advice for those looking to green up their hair care routine is to skip the blow dryer. My hair is poker straight no matter what, so I let it dry on its own.
    Oh, and I could really green my hair by swimming in a chorinated pool, but that’s a different kind of green :)

  8. Monica (Healthy Green Moms)
    July 16, 2008 | 11:32 pm

    Thank you for the review!

    I’m still looking for the perfect natural hair care and will give the WB365 a try. I’m also a fan of the Dr Bronners soaps.(for body, not hair). My ultimate dream product for my face is the Eminence organic skincare, ooh it’s sooo nice and luxurious, but not cheap.

  9. chupieandjsmama
    July 17, 2008 | 8:20 am

    I love Aubrey Organics and specifically this one for my hair: – Rose Mosqueta Shampoo.
    It’s not cheap but it smells so good and works really well. It doesn’t lather all that great either so your hair needs to be really wet and you need to start the lather first in your hands. I’ll also give Dr. Bronners 2 thumbs up for body.
    We’ve just started going green (in the last 4-5 months) so I’m really glad that you’ve started this site.

  10. Karen
    July 17, 2008 | 11:34 am

    We use Melaleuca products. I used to have dandruff and itchy scalp before switching to Melaleuca. Even using the so called dandruff shampoos didn’t help the itching. After switching to Melaleuca’s original shampoo, I realized that my itchy scalp and dandruff was caused by the chemicals used in the shampoo. I don’t particularly care for the smell of the shampoo (it definitely smells like tea tree oil) but I use one of their conditioners too and it smells really good so it all balances out. The only draw back to Melaleuca is that you must be a member to purchase their products. However, they make “green” cleaners, makeup, and personal care products so it makes it convenient to buy it all in one place.

  11. melissa
    July 17, 2008 | 1:25 pm

    We have also been on a quest to find new cosmetic and haircare products, which has forced me to read the ingredients on EVERYthing. I almost purchased 365’s Whole Body line before I realized the second ingredient is Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Note of caution!
    I’m considering Shikai’s shampoo and conditioner but am open to other possibilities. Berkeley Bowl (if you live in either Oakland or Berkeley) have some very affordable bulk options.

    Thanks for all your research!

  12. Lisa @ Capitol Web
    July 17, 2008 | 1:54 pm

    Do your research!!! Many of the Jason products actually contain 1.4 Dioxane, a known carcinogin!

    Dr. Bronner is leading the way against fraudulent organic products:

    “The major cleansing ingredient in Jason “Pure, Natural & Organic” liquid soaps, body washes and shampoos is Sodium Myreth Sulfate, which involves ethoxylating a conventional non-organic fatty chain with the carcinogenic petrochemical Ethylene Oxide, which produces caricinogenic 1,4-Dioxane as a contaminant. The major cleansing ingredient in Avalon “Organics” soaps, bodywashes and shampoos, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, contains conventional non-organic agricultural material combined with the petrochemical Amdiopropyl Betaine. Nature’s Gate “Organics” main cleansers are Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate (ethoxylated) and Cocamidopropyl Betaine. Kiss My Face “Obsessively Organic” cleansers are Olefin Sulfonate (a pure petrochemical) and Cocamidopropyl Betaine. Juice “Organics”, Giovanni “Organic Cosmetics”, Head “Organics”, Desert Essence “Organics”, and Ikove “Organic” all use Cocamdiopropyl Betaine as a main cleansing ingredient and no cleansers made from certified organic material. Due to the petrochemical compounds used to make the ingredient, Cocamidopropyl Betaine is contaminated with traces of Sodium monochloroacetate, Amidoamine (AA), and dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA). Amidoamine in particular is suspected of causing skin sensitization and allergic reactions even at very low levels for certain individuals. Organic consumers have a right to expect that the personal care products they purchase with organic branding or label claims, contain cleansing ingredients made from organic agricultural material, not conventional or petrochemical material, and thus have absolutely no petrochemical contaminants that could pose any concern.”

    You can read more here:

    Disclaimer – I have never tried any of Dr. Bronner’s soaps, even though I may come across as a promoter of his products. I do read daily and it’s thru them that I first learned about the fraud going on in the organics industry.

    I really, really like this blog and I want you guys to succeed! Please make sure you do better research on “organic” products before posting info here!


  13. Jessica (Green Mamma)
    July 17, 2008 | 4:30 pm

    Lisa, thank you for sharing Dr. Bronner as a resource for researching the health of “organic” products. Currently I rely on the Cosmetic Database’s Skin Deep site to check on products and the safety of the ingredients used. Thank you again for sharing your research.

  14. Rick Bucich
    July 17, 2008 | 7:00 pm

    Green product reviews are terrific because many of us are so accustomed to certain brands that that we approach changing with trepidation. The following post outlines how a study on the response to “going green” and how we need to be more educated as consumers.

  15. Jessica (Green Mamma)
    July 18, 2008 | 2:43 pm

    Good point Rick. The most environmentally minded consumer can be bamboozled by green washed products. Educating ourselves about what is safe and healthy for our families and our planet is the first step to making informed and caring decisions when making purchases.

  16. Jennifer (Little Green Secrets)
    July 19, 2008 | 12:00 pm

    I’m looking for a way to color my hair naturally. Any suggestions? The white hairs are trying to take over and I’ve been dealing w/it, but may give in.

  17. Jessica
    July 20, 2008 | 12:38 pm

    Hi Jennifer (Little Green Secrets),

    I checked out the Skin Deep: Cosmetic Database and searched for hair color products. The lowest risk products score a moderate risk and include Bigen Permanent hair color. If you live close to a natural food store or a Whole Foods, I recommend checking with these shops and talking with one of their personal care experts (if one is available). Our local Whole Foods’ clerks seem to be informed about the chemical risks of most products.

    I hope that helps!

  18. Carle
    July 21, 2008 | 7:40 am

    I started the WO hair treatment challenge last week. WO means water only. Very interesting and so far I am suffering, though they say it takes 6 weeks for your scalp to become natural and balanced. Not for the faint hearted, but is the only true environmentally responsable approach to hair care.
    No chemicals
    No carbon footprint
    No bottle

    Just a boar bristle brush, water and the occasional Bi carb wash.
    Let me know if you want more info or links.

  19. Jessica
    July 21, 2008 | 8:42 am

    Carle, I’d love to learn more about the water only hair treatment. Also, what is a Bi carb wash? Thanks for sharing.

  20. Carle
    July 21, 2008 | 10:06 am

    Hi Jessica,
    Im pleased I tweeked your interest.LOL!

    Here are some links to get you going… [let me know if I can help again]
    A very active community with lot of info, but info is scattered
    a four page guide. Good and Bassic.
    Personal experiences that have been blogged [filled with good tips]
    This link has a little more scientific info

    Here are a few more links
    Good advice in the comments section.

    Good Luck,
    Let me know if you try out.

    South Africa

  21. Kelsie
    July 22, 2008 | 10:21 am

    This is for Gina, re: using Dr. Bronner’s on hair. :)

    I started using Dr. B’s liquid soap on my hair about 5 months ago. There WAS an adjustment period (about two weeks) where my hair definitely FELT sticky/tacky. Then, I realized that it wasn’t stick or tacky…it was just clean, wet hair without whatever is put into most shampoos to make it FEEL soft. My hair dried clean and soft, so I knew the Dr. B’s was doing the work.

    I cannot BELIEVE how un-greasy my hair gets now that I’m only using the Dr. B’s. I used to have to wash my hair every other night (I know it’s appalling to some people that I didn’t wash it every night…), but now I wash my hair once a week. I have butt-length hair, and as long as I comb it out before showering, I have no need for conditioner. I’d give the Bronner’s a second chance. I think of all the “earth friendly” soaps out there, Dr. B’s may be the friendliest. Its only database warnings come from the essential oils used in the formula, and, honestly, I’m not going to lose sleep over that. :)

  22. Gina
    July 22, 2008 | 3:16 pm

    LOL! Okay. For lack of a better project (I keep putting off The Master Cleanse), I will re-try the Dr. B as a shampoo! I used it this morning (and my hair looks fab) and I will see how it goes.

    As for the no-poo…I tried that too. That was hard to tough out because my hair is soooooo oily and prone to dandruff/psoriasis, etc. But I did find that the baking soda paste (for shampoo) and the apple cider vinegar rinse had AMAZING results. I just got lazy and started using the shampoo and conditioner bottles that were already there.

    A side note….I do notice that my adult acne is under MUCH better control when I use things like “no poo” and castille soap.


  23. scalpinfections
    February 26, 2009 | 1:30 am

    There are many definitions and symptoms commonly described as “scalp infections”. There are in fact quite a few quite different reasons why your scalp may be sore, itchy, inflamed burning red or infected.

  24. Gabrielle
    June 8, 2009 | 9:17 am

    I’ve used the Nature’s Gate Tea Tree Calming Shampoo, but if no one has commented yet, you should be made aware that it contains sodium laureth sulfate, which is known to contain the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane. Best to find something else, like the Nature’s Gate organic line, which does not contain the sodium laureth sulfate.

  25. Crystal
    June 14, 2009 | 8:22 pm

    I haven’t tried it due to finances, but I was reading today as I researched green hair care products, there is one called Native Wisdom, which is made with blueberries, honey, and yucca plant extract. The company was founded by 3 Native American sisters… one is a chemist, one is a cosmetics specialist, and one is a business student. I’ve read several articles and blogs saying that yucca plant extract is excellent for your hair, and the Native Wisdom website says that there are no parabens or other harmful chemicals… just thought I would give you the heads up as you experiment with the different products!

  26. Nautral
    June 29, 2009 | 1:54 am

    When I saw the product Avalon I thought to myself, my hair HATES that stuff. I was so happy to hear that my hair wasn’t the only one. I am so eager to try Whole Foods 365. After purchasing some for my pet and the lady at the check out counter had nothing but rave reviews about it, I thought, let me do a little research, maybe there’s something for MY hair. Glad to hear the positive review on the line. On my way back to whole foods tomorrow :) BTW: I love Alaffia’s line.

  27. Nautral
    June 29, 2009 | 1:55 am

    I’ve tried the Nature’s Gate Organic Line (the green bottle), I give it 5 stars :)