Consumer Goes Green: Hair

I am vain about my hair. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am. It’s long and thick and pretty and when it looks good, I walk with a little bounce in my step. When I started switching my regular products for cruelty-free green options, finding a good shampoo and conditioner was a pretty high priority.

I expect a lot from my shampoos. I don’t style my hair at all, not even blow drying. I wash it, brush it and go. I also like to dye and/or bleach my hair, so I need a shampoo that will take care of style and give me some moisturizing love all at the same time. Because of this, I’ll only be talking about shampoo and conditioner. I have no frame of reference for styling products, so if you have any suggestions for people who do use product, please leave them in the comments.

Shampoo shopping really made me appreciate the power of marketing. In most stores, the organic* bath and beauty products are in their own separate section. I discovered pretty quickly that it is hard to walk by the regular aisle full of bright colors and promises of sleek, fragrant locks to go to the little section of organics. It’s like passing up a chance to go to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory so you can stay home and eat oatmeal, instead. Imagine my delight, then, when someone at Burt’s Bees noticed this and the Bee Man stepped up to fill the void with his new Güd line.

To give you an idea of where I started, I was using Aveeno shampoo and conditioner, which averages $6.50 a bottle in stores, $5.00 on Amazon. I have said before that my idea of an affordable change is paying less than a dollar more than what I was paying before. I know it’s not always going to be possible, but that is what I am shooting for. Güd’s Pearanormal Activity is $6.99** in stores, $6.26 on Amazon (though you have to pay for shipping). I f-ing love it. It smells good, it looks pretty and my hair feels fantastic. It is also cruelty-free and contains no parabens, pthalates or petrochemicals.

Before (Image from Amazon)
I couldn't find a picture of the Pearanormal Activity, but the Floral Cherrynova looks very tempting too.

Other options in the $5-$10 range are:

  • Regular Burt’s Bees
  • Giovanni (but you have to shop around; it is almost $2 cheaper at the grocery stores than it is at Target – strange but true)
  • Nature’s Gate (also cheaper at the grocery store)
  • Avalon Organics
  • Dr. Bronner’s casteel soap can be used on your hair, but it’s a little harsh
  • LUSH solid shampoo
  • Trader Joe’s (the cheapest of the bunch at under $5, but it dried my hair out, so I gave it to the kids)
  • Great Clips store brand (I know it’s cruelty-free, but I’m not sure how “green” it is)

There are tons of options out there, but these are the ones that I found readily available within driving distance of my house. The first five were in pretty much every store I checked.*** The last three are store specific, but the stores are fairly easy to find, and/or their products are available online.

Like I said before, if you have any recommendations for hair-care products that you love, let us know about them in the comments. I always want to hear more.

 

*I’m going to use the blanket term “organic” because I’m lazy and I don’t want to write “eco-friendly, cruelty-free, paraben-free,” etc., every time. In this case, it’s one of those crappy words that advertisers have almost robbed of all meaning, but it’s gonna have to do.
**The Güd comes in a 12 oz. bottle and the Aveeno comes in a 10.5 oz. bottle, but the Güd is a little thinner, and I use a little bit more each time, so I am calling the volume difference a wash and sticking with a net price increase of $0.50.
***Target, Wal-Mart,”  Kroger, Publix, Rite-Aid drug store. I am fortunate enough to live close to a crapload of shopping options. This is my way of using my awesome shopping powers for good.
” I know Wal-Mart is problematic, but there are a lot of people who don’t have many other options, and I don’t want to leave them out.

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[E]SaraB

Glass artisan by day, blogger by night (and sometimes vice versa). SaraB has three kids, three pets, one husband and a bizarre sense of humor. Her glass pendants can be found at www.etsy.com/shop/AngryOwlStudio if you're interested in checking it out.

34 thoughts on “Consumer Goes Green: Hair”

    1. I think it depends on the hair. When I was a carpenter, I sweated so much that my hair needed washing every day, but now that I am living a more sedentary lifestyle, I also go 2-3 days between shampoos. It is still my favorite part of a shower, though.

    2. I’m sitting here trying to figure out when I washed my hair last.  In my defense, I work from home, but I probably only wash it 2-3 times a week.  A lot of it comes down to drying time.  My hair is long so it easily takes me 30 minutes to dry it every time I shampoo.

    1. So far, the biggest complaint I have read about them is that “they claim to be all natural, but they use most of the same ingredients everyone else is using,” which I can live with. I didn’t include them in the list because their skincare products are everywhere, but I rarely see their hair care lines. Maybe my Target is just weird like that.

  1. I’m a big fan of the Lush solid shampoo. (protip – make sure it gets proper drainage after use or else it will turn all liquidy and not last. If you get one of the little tins they provide to store it in poke some holes in the bottom with a hot nail.) The thing with the Lush solid shampoo is that it actually lasts for a suuuuper long time, and, I’m convinced, is actually a more economical option than most drugstore brands. YMMV, of course, but that’s my experience. I like the Godiva one, but the others seem really nice too depending on your hair type.

  2. Ooh ooh! I’ve been using these kinds (no SLS, no parabens, no glycols, no silicone, etc.) of shampoos and conditioners for years! I’ve got a couple of obscure Euro brands to recommend.

    My current favourites are Urtekram shampoo and conditioner. For “green” products, they’re reasonably priced, and there’s quite a few options to choose from (although the stores around here don’t carry the whole range). I’ve tried three different shampoos across the past couple of years, and like the seaweed one the best. Camomile conditioner is also very nice.

    Before that, I used to love Organic Surge conditioner. The shampoo was less impressive, it didn’t foam very well. And when the shops around here stopped carrying the brand, I had to buy it online which was a bit of a PITA in the long run, hence the switch.

    Also, I keep hearing good things about Aubrey Organics shampoos and conditioners, which I would have to buy online, but I tend to be too broke. I didn’t really care for Avalon Organics shampoo, and iirc, the conditioner was horrible.

     

  3. Also, since you eliminated Tom’s of Maine for being owned by Colgate-Palmolive, you should be aware that Burt’s Bees is owned by Clorox. That said, they do make some dandy lip balm, which I continue to buy, but I’m less enamored with the new products they’ve been introducing lately.

      1. Sorry to be the bad news bearer! I still use Burt’s Bees, and Tom’s. I mean, it’s not like they’ve added bleach to the ingredient list or anything. It’s still better than Chapstick or Vaseline or Blistex (my go-to’s growing up). Although lip balm is pretty easy to make yourself, if you’re into that kind of thing.

        I don’t necessarily think that being partially or wholly owned by a crappy corporation is a deal-breaker, if the product itself hasn’t changed. The influx of cash enables the smaller subsidiary to reap the benefits of wider distribution channels and lower costs for raw materials and manufacturing, thus making products more available to more people and possibly lowering prices. Tom’s of Maine is now available in Walmart, and while it may not be the exact same product it was ten years ago, it’s still preferable to Aim or Crest or whatever the most popular toothpaste is these days. Better availability gives people more choices. More choices means we get to decide which aspects are most important to us, whether it’s price, or ingredients, or packaging, or corporate responsibility.

        So keep buying that Burt’s Bees Gud shampoo if you like how it works for you. You could do a lot worse.

         

        1. I still use Tom’s of Maine because of my annoying artificial sweetener allergy. Pretty much all makeup companies are owned by one of two corporations: Estee Lauder or L’Oréal. And often, the smaller company will have practices and policies and ingredients that the parent companies don’t, so as a consumer, you have to decide if you see them as separate entities, since each company has its own corporate structure, R&D, manufacturing, etc., that are not shared across larger parent company lines.

        2. I’ve been looking into it more and I am intrigued by the notion of “green streaming” (making green products more mainstream for greeter effect). I’m planning a post soon about it that I hope will spark some discussion about the idea.

          I also looked into Clorox and was happy with what I’ve read. They do test on animals, but it is minimal and limited to situations where it is required by the FDA, so I think Burt’s Bees is still on the table. I’m still on the fence about Tom’s and Colgate.

  4. Hair products…such a struggle to find something that works and keeps working! I feel like I’ll find something that I like and then by the time I get to the end of the bottle, my hair doesn’t like it anymore! It either gets too oily too fast or it dries out. :( I know that hair pH is a delicate thing–or at least it sounds that way–but I’ve been trying to find something that is a positive solution.

    I want to go green, even cruelty free, but I’ve had such a hard time finding hair products that work for my hair. Ironically, when I lived in Africa, using whatever I could get my hands on in the stores seemed to be just fine, and I rarely blow-dried my hair because it was really long and could air dry gradually without looking ridiculous. Now my hair looks silly when it air dries and gets really poofy, and I’ve been struggling with dandruff to boot.

    Basically, I want to chuck all bottled hair care products and just go the no ‘poo route to see if I can get my hair back to normal. I’m scared to try that though, so…suggestions there?

    1. Nothing to be scared of — it’s just hair. There’s oodles of info online about no-poo. I tried it and it wasn’t really for me, but it did put me on the path to simply using less products. You could start by reducing both the frequency of your hairwashing and the amount of product you use. I wash my hair every 2-3 days, and I’ve certainly gone longer. Your hair might seem greasier at first; it takes some time to adjust. I had the luxury of experimenting while I was on an employment hiatus. If you still need to be presentable, try hats or scarves or some such. Keeping your hair corralled in a braid or bun helps to keep it cleaner. Simply rinsing your hair with warm water helps a lot.

      It’s totally simple to wash your hair with baking soda. Use a tablespoon in a cup of warm water; I spooned the baking soda into a plastic pb jar before getting into the shower and then just added water. Pour it over your head and massage into your scalp. I was less enamored with the cider vinegar rinse, although it did make my hair soft and lovely. The debate continues over whether the smell dissipates.

      You don’t have to go full-on no-poo, just switch it up and see what works for you. Keep in mind that you really only need to wash your scalp and roots, you only need to use about a teaspoon of shampoo, and you rarely need to rinse and repeat. Conditioner goes on the ends. Vigorous towel-drying leads to tangling and breakage; squeeze out excess water, wrap in a towel, and pat dry. A good natural-bristle brush will help distribute the natural oils.

      To combat frizziness, I tether my hair in a low ponytail or bun while it’s drying. I also use a small amount of hair oil on the ends. Stay away from products containing silicones (usually listed as dimethicone or something similar sounding), which would be most products that promise to reduce your frizzies. They may work in the short-term, but over time they dry out your hair, leaving you with more frizzies and more dependence on products. For dandruff, try a shampoo with tea tree oil.

      Experiment, learn the nature of your particular hair, have fun. What works for me may not be what works for you. It is just hair, though, and probably not worth the amount of time, energy, and money that the advertising industry has convinced us to spend on it.

       

      1. I already wash my hair every 2-3 days because otherwise it’s overkill! I’ve also tried shampoos with tea tree oil, and they don’t seem to make any difference. I seem to have less dandruff when I don’t use a blow dryer and just let it air dry, but sometimes I don’t plan hair washing accordingly. It’s also hard because my hair is shorter now–just about shoulder length–so a lot of the ways that I would deal with my hair normally don’t work as well.

        Thanks for the tips on what to look for in shampoos and products! I’ve heard that silicone is bad for hair, but I’ve never known what to really look for. :)

        I’ve wanted to try less “western” hair care ever since I went to India and discovered that the young women I was working with only washed their hair with water and did a weekly oil treatment. Their hair was gorgeous!

        1. Sounds like you’re on the right track. I just keep experimenting to find what works for me. Yes, everyday washing is overkill. I’m kind of stunned by people who think it’s gross to not lather it up at least once a day, but to each their own. It’s not my job to regulate the world. Yet.

    2. For no-poo, I’d suggest easing into it!  Last year I tried going no-poo, both cold turkey and later with baking soda/vinegar rinses.  Going cold turkey resulted in greasy hair nastiness I couldn’t stand (and I have pretty low hygiene standards!), and the baking soda was difficult to get throughout my hair, leaving the top feeling like straw and the hair by the nape of my neck a greasy bundle.  Earlier this year I just decided to ease into it, first going every other day with shampooing, then a week or so later increasing to 2 days between washings, then 3 days, etc.  The greasy stage was more tolerable because I helped ease my scalp into reducing oil production.  Now I’m to going over a week without shampooing, with a water rinse and conditioner sometime in-between.  The process didn’t eliminate the greasy transition period, but for me it made it more bearable.

  5. I love using Dr. Bronner’s castile soap on my face! I dilute it  with water because of the harshness and add a few drops of essential oils for scent. On the hair side, I use an old bottle of Nature’s Gate Shampoo that I’m trying to get rid off. I’m thinking of trying the Shea Moisture shampoo I’ve seen around my city once I use it up. My favorite conditioner is Kinky-Curly Knot Today. It’s $12.99 for 8 oz, which is kinda pricey but my hair loves it. I’m so glad that the Rite-Aid near my house started carrying the KC line, so I don’t have to order it anymore! I also like Kiss My Face Upper Management gel. It gives really good hold and keep the frizz down. Unfortunately, they don’t carry the KMF line here anymore, so I have to order it but I only use a little bit when I style my hair, so it should last for awhile.

  6. About a year ago, I decided to stop dying my hair and just let the whiteys come. It’s all cool, they are pure white and look like strands of silver in the sunlight. The whole process was a drain — on my wallet, my hair, my health, and my time. I determined instead that I would have incredibly healthy hair. I was already using natural and cruelty-free products and I rarely use appliances, so this really wasn’t much of a stretch.

    Like you, I have long, thick, pretty hair. Yeah, I know you can’t really tell from my picture. It’s a couple years old. My criteria for shampoo are that it be gentle, cruelty-free, and sulfate-free. I’m currently swapping between Nature’s Gate and Alba Botanica, but I don’t actually use that much shampoo, I only use it on my scalp, and I don’t use it every day. My current conditioner is Yes to Carrots, and it’s paraben-free. My magic product is Weleda Rosemary Hair Oil, applied to the ends. It costs around $14, but lasts six months. If I had to choose only one product to use, this would be it. I’ll wash my hair with baking soda if I have to; the shampoo is the least important thing I’m using. One of these days, I’ll get a decent boar bristle brush, but for now I just use a wide detangling comb, having kicked that shitty plastic paddle brush to the curb.

    My last hair cut was in October. I have no split ends. I’m totally happy with how it’s working out.

    Maybe this has already been mentioned, but the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Database is a great resource for finding out about the ingredients in your products.

     

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