The profile of a brunette woman lathering her hair while showering in the outdoors on a sunny day as a reference to cleansing hair with the environment in mind.
December 21, 2023
 in 
Beauty

15 Eco-Friendly Shampoo and Conditioners for All Hair Types

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en years ago, sustainable shampoo and conditioner options were limited to weird-smelling potions from health stores or something you had to mix up at home from a YouTube video. Thankfully, haircare has come a long way since. 

Options for zero-waste shampoo and plastic-free conditioner are now popping up everywhere. The only problem? Many still assume that products that are kind to the planet won’t be as good for your hair. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 15 eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner brands, broken down by their sustainability claims as well as their haircare benefits.

We’ve got products for curly hair, dry hair, bleached hair, and everything in between. We’ll also break down why using more sustainable shampoo and conditioner even matters in the first place and bust some of the myths that surround them.

Lather up, we’re about to wash away any pre-conceived notions you have about eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner:

Table of  Contents

What Makes a Shampoo or Conditioner Eco-Friendly?

“Eco-friendly” is a term that gets thrown around a lot, especially in a marketing context. We have a whole article dedicated to biodegradable soap with even more information, but here are the criteria we use to define an eco-friendly shampoo or conditioner:

Production

The manufacturing process involved in creating a product is crucial for understanding its environmental impact. This includes energy and water usage at the production phases, fair wages, and other labor practices, and whether the item is produced locally or not.

Ideally, an eco-friendly haircare product would:

  • Include a commitment to low water and energy usage during production.
  • Enact fair labor practices.
  • Be made locally to reduce shipping and, as a result, carbon emissions.

Ingredients

Ever watched the soapy suds of your shampoo run down the drain and wondered what ingredients are slipping into our water systems with it? The ingredients that make up everyday haircare items can have a massive impact on both the health of our hair and the planet.

Here are some of the main ingredients we’d prefer sustainable shampoo and conditioner products would avoid, and why:

  • Phthalates: This group of chemicals is most frequently used in plastic production, but it’s also used in many cosmetics. Early research suggests that it is an EDC (endocrine-disrupting chemical) that can cause issues related to reproduction. Some studies have also shown that it can increase the risk of miscarriage and other pregnancy-related issues. It’s also a notable skin irritant. With it posing such a risk to human health, it’s no wonder that it isn’t great for the environment either. Just like they can disrupt human reproductive and hormonal health, phthalates can be similarly toxic to aquatic life. This is particularly terrifying when you consider that Phthalates have been found in the ocean, in soil, waterways, and is widely considered a pollutant. As far as we’re concerned, this is one of the main ingredients that a good, eco-friendly shampoo or conditioner should avoid.
  • Parabens: Recent research has begun to show that parabens may also be an EDC. Used as a preservative in many cosmetic products, it’s another skin irritant that also may be harming our reproductive health. Some laboratory tests have shown that it can kill coral and that it has been detected in fish and surface waters. We don’t yet know the full damage it might cause to ecosystems, but there are enough red flags that sustainable shampoo products should certainly be avoiding this ingredient.
  • Sulfates: Anyone with scalp issues will probably already be aware of how irritating sulfates can be. But what about the environmental side of things? Naturally occurring sulfates in water are not an issue but most sulfates you see in cosmetics are synthetic. They’re often petroleum-based and manufactured using polluting and environmentally harmful practices. For the sake of your scalp health and the planet, a sustainable shampoo should always skip sulfates.
  • Synthetic Fragrances and Dyes: The FDA doesn’t require cosmetics brands to list the ingredients in proprietary fragrances which makes it very easy for them to sneak unwanted chemicals in there. Synthetic dyes, on the other hand, often have metals in them and aren’t biodegradable. This means that they stick around and contaminate waterways and ecosystems. Both synthetic fragrances and dyes are also well-documented for being skin irritants.
  • Silicones: Silicones can make hair shiny and soft, but most aren’t biodegradable and have been shown to collect in water systems and pose risks to aquatic life there. 

Packaging

If a brand is claiming to have an “eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner”, we’d argue that the packaging has to do better than the traditional, single-use plastic bottles we’re used to. This can include:

  • Refillable packaging: Even if the original shampoo bottle is plastic, this helps reduce waste.
  • (Easily) recyclable packaging: This is made even better if the brand runs a recycling initiative.
  • Zero Waste: The most eco-friendly shampoo packaging is anything that can be composted as it means zero waste going to landfills.
  • Plastic Free: Since plastic remains one of the biggest causes of pollution, be it through the way it’s burnt at landfills or ends up in our oceans as microplastics, plastic-free packaging is a great way to make shampoos and conditioners more eco-friendly.

The Big Picture

The reality is that eco-friendly measures are often expensive. Most beauty brands aren’t skipping out sustainability simply out of cruelty, but because it saves money.

We say this because it’s important then to respect that when brands do attempt to re-address their ingredients, production measures, and packaging to make them more sustainable, it’s a big deal. Few brands will get all aspects perfect, but even just improving on two out of three areas can ease some of the strain being placed on our planet right now.

The Environmental Impact of Non-Eco-Friendly Shampoo and Conditioner Products

What you’ve probably gathered in that last section is that so much of what ordinarily goes into the making and selling of shampoo and conditioner can be very harmful to our environment. Packaging collects up in landfills and adds to pollution. Terrible ingredients end up in our water and cause harm to animal and plant life there and the manufacturing process causes harm to humans and the environment too.

The environmental impact of non-eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner products hasn’t been formally quantified, but there’s enough to show that isn’t good. Using sustainable shampoos and conditioners, however, can help turn some of this negative impact around.

The Biggest Myths About Eco-Friendly Shampoo and Conditioner

Even when people are aware of the environmental benefits of using a no-plastic shampoo or zero-waste conditioner, there’s often still some hesitancy to use them. Keep reading as we bust the three big myths that often keep people away from eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner:

It Won’t Work as Well as Regular Products

As long as you pick a product that is right for your hair type, there’s no reason why a sustainable shampoo or conditioner shouldn’t work as well as regular options. Another worry we often hear about this is whether eco-friendly shampoo is good for your hair and scalp. It is!

Thanks to the fact that many eco-haircare products skip irritating ingredients like synthetic fragrances and phthalates, they’re often extra kind to your scalp. Many also use natural, plant-derived ingredients which are even more nourishing to the hair than regular options.

You Can’t Use it on Color Treated Hair

Again, it’s all about finding the right eco-friendly alternative. Most are color-safe and as you’ll later in this article, there are even sustainable shampoo options specifically made to treat brassy tones in bleached hair.

It’s Less Convenient

The question of convenience often gets posed toward plastic-free shampoo and conditioner soap bars. We’d argue that as long as you have a portable soap case, these may be even more convenient than their bottled counterparts as they’re lighter to travel with. A single shampoo bar also tends to last much longer than a single bottle.

In general, though, there is such a range of eco-friendly shampoo packaging and formulations, that we’d argue there’s an option to suit every level of convenience. You just have to find the right product for your lifestyle. On that note, it’s time to look at some of the brands that can help you find just that …

The 15 Best Brands for Eco-Friendly Shampoo and Conditioners

Let’s get your hair and the planet looking good:

1. Snow Fox Skin Care

The  Plastic-free Hydrating hair, face and body shampoo bar by Snow Fox Skincare.

When Phoebe Song founded Snow Fox Skin Care, her aim as a lifelong sufferer of rosacea was to create “clinically proven, non-irritating herbal formulas”. The result is a line of skin and hair care products that are beloved for their efficacy as well as their eco-friendliness.

Standout Product: The award-winning Hydrating Hair, Face Body Bar.

Hair Benefits: Cleansing and deeply nourishing for the hair. It can also be used on the face and body!

Best For: Dry and damaged hair.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Waterless formula.
  • One of the best plastic-free shampoo and conditioner combos.
  • Cruelty-free.
  • Ocean safe.
  • Free of artificial fragrances, silicones, and 1400+ banned EU chemicals.
  • Relies mostly on plant-based ingredients such as Snowflower oil.

Price Range: $24

Where to Buy: Directly from their website.

2. Everist

The waterless eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner set by Everist.

If you’re looking for a plastic-free shampoo or conditioner that isn’t in a bar form, Everist has the low carbon, low waste product for you.

Standout Product: The award-winning waterless shampoo and conditioner concentrates.

Hair Benefits: Hydrates, strengthens the hair, and soothes the scalp while also stimulating hair growth thanks to the use of rosemary and peppermint oils.

Best For: All hair types (including curly).

Sustainability Stats:

  • Waterless.
  • Plant-based formula.
  • Recycled and recyclable aluminum tube.
  • Sulfate, silicone, and synthetic fragrance-free.
  • Cruelty-free and vegan.

Price Range: $25 - $28.

Where to Buy: Directly from their website and Grove Co.

3. Good Time

The plastic free hydrating shampoo and condition bar set by Good Time.

This certified B-Corp company is making some of the best plastic-free shampoo and conditioner bars on the market. As a bonus, they have a fragrance that will make your hair smell like summer.

Standout Product: The Hydrating Hair Duo (won a 2023 Allure Beauty award).

Hair Benefits: Cleansing, hydrating, and safe for color-treated hair.

Best For: All hair types.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Plastic free.
  • Carbon neutral shipping
  • Cruelty-free and vegan.
  • No preservatives, phthalates, sulfates, parabens, silicones, etc.
  • 50% of profits support clean water initiatives.

Price Range: $34.

Where to Buy: Directly from their website.

4. Ceremonia

The deep moisture shampoo and conditioner set by Ceremonia packaged in recycled plastic bottles.

This independent beauty brand not only celebrates Latinx heritage but makes sure to take care of the environment too. If you want to try an eco-friendly shampoo with a great aesthetic and a lot of online buzz, this is the one for you.

Standout Product: Deep Moisture Wash Day shampoo and conditioner duo.

Hair Benefits: Cleanses, hydrates, strengthens, and boosts shine on the hair.

Best For: Thick or dry hair.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Free from sulfates, parabens, silicones, artificial colorants, etc.
  • Bottles are made from at least 30% to 100% post-consumer-recycled PET material (“PCR”) and are also recyclable.
  • Carbon-neutral shipping.

Price Range: $20 - $35.

Where to Buy: Directly from their website and Revolve.

5. Plaine Products

The cruelty-free citrus and lavender scented shampoo by eco-friendly shampoo brand, Plaine Products.

A no-plastic shampoo that isn’t in bar form can be tricky to find but Plaine Products has a great option and it’s made in the USA! 

Standout Product Their shampoo – it’s completely free of single-use plastics.

Hair Benefits: The product hydrates, is color-safe, and completely hypoallergenic.

Best For: All hair types.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Cruelty-free and vegan.
  • Carbon Neutral.
  • Eco-friendly shampoo packaging for the bottle (recyclable aluminum with refills available) as well as fully recycled shipping materials.
  • Free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, silicone, and synthetic fragrances.

Price Range: $27 - $30.

Where to Buy: Directly from their website.

6. Ecoslay

Natural shampoo and conditioner Balance Bundle by Ecoslay.

Ecoslay founder, Adria Marshall, never expected to be an entrepreneur. She just wanted to find better products for curly hair like hers. Her research led her into the world of natural ingredients and after seeing how much better they were for her hair, the idea for Ecoslay was born. It’s now a hub for anyone wanting curl-friendly, sustainable shampoo and conditioner options (as well as other haircare products).

Standout Product: Balance bundle (eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner duo).

Hair Benefits: Repairs and strengthens hair by getting the protein-moisture content better balanced.

Best For: Designed for wavy, curly, coily, and kinky hair types.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Mostly natural and plant-derived ingredients.
  • Hand-made in small batches.
  • Recyclable pouches and a recycling program.

Price Range: $30 -$52.

Where to Buy: Directly from their website or from various stockists.

7. By Humankind

Vegan Grapefruit and Lavender shampoos in reusable aluminum bottles by Humankind brand.

The fear with choosing a more eco-friendly conditioner or shampoo is that you’ll have to make do with less than-attractive packaging. By Humankind is changing that narrative with their sleek, simple, sustainably packaged products.

Standout Product: Grapefruit sustainable shampoo and conditioner.

Hair Benefits: Hydrates, is safe for color-treated locks, and helps reduce hair breakage.

Best For: All hair types.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Sulfate-free, silicone-free, and synthetic fragrance-free.
  • Vegan.
  • No single-use plastic.
  • Carbon neutral

Price Range: $22 - $26.

Where to Buy: Directly from their website.

8. Ethique

Tone It Down Brightening Purple Shampoo Bar by sustainable brand, Ethique displayed against various pink toned background.

Anyone with blonde or grey hair knows the hassle of trying to find a purple shampoo that isn’t packed with harmful, toxic ingredients. Ethique not only has a zero-waste shampoo bar to chill out brassy tones, but it also uses natural and ethically sourced ingredients to create its purple color.

Standout Product: Tone It Down™ Brightening Purple Shampoo Bar.

Hair Benefits: Tones down brassiness in bleached hair and makes hair look healthier and shinier.

Best For: Blonde and silver hair.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Certified B Corp.
  • Plastic-free and home-compostable packaging.
  • Cruelty-free and vegan.
  • Certified palm oil free.
  • Climate positive (they offset more carbon than they use.)

Price Range: $18

Where to Buy: Directly from their website.

9. Innersense

The Hydrating Cream Hair Bath product by Certified B-Corp brand, Innersense.

Luxury isn’t something we always associate with the idea of an eco-friendly shampoo but Innersense has a full range of haircare products that use natural, organic ingredients and feel like an utter treat to use.

Standout Product: Hydrating Cream Hairbath (Allure Beauty Winner, 2017).

Hair Benefits: Deep hydration and cuticle restoration.

Best For: Thick, coarse, and dry hair.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Certified B Corp.
  • Bottles are made from 100% post-consumer waste and the brand is partnered with How2recycle.
  • Climate neutral.
  • Leaping Bunny certified.
  • Free of phthalates, ethoxylates, sulfates, silicones, etc.

Price Range: $9 -$70.

Where to Buy: Directly from their website.

10. Sienna Naturals

The Vegan and Cruelty-free shampoo and conditioner duo by Sienna Naturals with various awards displayed on right.

Actress Issa Rae may be one of the co-founders of this beautiful, clean haircare line, but she’s not even the most famous part of the brand. The award-winning, clinically proven, and eco-friendly conditioner and shampoo formulas have been garnering enough buzz all on their own.

Standout Product: Wash Day shampoo and conditioner duo.

Hair Benefits: Deep hydration.

Best For: Textured hair.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Vegan and Cruelty free.
  • Responsibly sourced ingredients.
  • Curbside recyclable packaging.
  • Free from synthetic fragrances, phenoxyethanol, and Prop. 65 compliant.

Price Range: $46- $52.

Where to Buy: Directly from their website.

11. 100% Pure

The Yuzu and Pomelo Glossing shampoo by 100% Pure displayed against white background.

Made in the USA and mostly organic ingredients? This sustainable brand is unmissable.

Standout Product: Yuzu and Pomelo Glossing Shampoo.

Hair Benefits: Gets rid of excess oil but adds back shine and bounce.

Best For: Anyone struggling with dull-looking hair.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Mostly natural and organic ingredients.
  • Biodegradable formula.
  • Cruelty-free and vegan.
  • Green Business Certified in California.

Price Range: $24 - $38

Where to Buy: Directly from their website.

12. DAE

The Vegan and Cruelty-free Violet Hour Shampoo in recyclable packaging by the DAE brand.

Here’s another brand making purple shampoo with natural dyes but this time, it’s a recent Allure beauty winner and the product comes in a pump bottle rather than a bar.

Standout Product: Violet Hour Purple Shampoo.

Hair Benefits: Reduces brassiness in silver or blonde hair, enhances color, and repairs damage.

Best For: Blonde, gray, and lightened brunette hair.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Vegan and cruelty-free.
  • No synthetic colors and sulfate-free,
  • Recyclable packaging.

Price Range: $30

Where to Buy: Amazon or Sephora.

13. Bars Over Bottles

The cruelty-free and vegan shampoo and conditioner bars by Bars Over Bottles brand, displayed next to their plastic-free packaging.

Zero-waste conditioner and shampoo options made specifically for curly hair tend to be quite limited, but Bars Over Bottles has a range of effective, eco-friendly products that address all kinds of hair concerns.

Standout Product: Curl Defining Bundle (shampoo and leave-in conditioner duo).

Hair Benefits: Deep hydration, defines curls, and reduces frizz.

Best For: Curly and textured hair.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Vegan and certified cruelty-free.
  • Plastic-free.
  • Waterless.

Price Range: $20 -$27.

Where to Buy: Directly from their website.

14. Suds & Co.

A colorful array of plastic-free shampoo and conditioner bars by Suds & Eco stacked on top of one another.

This brand is yet another brand ditching the bottle and making zero-waste conditioner and shampoo bars. They have a range of fragrances and formulations for different hair types.

Standout Product: Driftwood Conditioner Bar.

Hair Benefits: Gets rid of excess oils and is scalp-soothing.

Best For: Oily Hair, dandruff, or psoriasis.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Handmade in the USA,
  • Plastic-free packaging.
  • Carbon-neutral shipping.
  • Donates to 1% for the Planet.
  • Vegan and cruelty-free.
  • Free of sulfates, silicones, parabens, fragrances, and artificial colors.

Price Range: $12-$16.

Where to Buy: Directly from their website or Zero Waste Store.

15. ROZ

The Foundation Duo Set by Eco-Friendly brand, ROZ, displayed in shower against tile background.

Founded by hairstylist Mara Roszak, product efficacy is as important to this brand as sustainability is. One of the missions of this brand is to give customers a salon-grade experience from home.

Standout Product: The Foundation shampoo and conditioner duo (Allure Beauty Winner, 2023).

Hair Benefits: Removes build-up and readies hair for styling. It’s also deeply hydrating and smoothing.

Best For: All hair types and textures.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Organic, sustainably sourced ingredients.
  • Vegan and cruelty-free.
  • Silicone-free, Paraben-free, SLS-free, etc.

Price Range: $81 -$72.

Where to Buy: Directly from their website.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

The routine of washing our hair is something most of us will perform at least once a week for the rest of our lives. That’s why swapping out conventional products for more eco-friendly conditioner and shampoo options can be so impactful.

It can reduce the amount of plastic waste ending up in landfills and causing pollution, and mean fewer harmful ingredients slipping down your shower drain each week. There are also so many brands now that do better by the planet and give you great hair while doing so.

Next time you lather, rinse, and repeat, consider doing it with a zero-waste shampoo or sustainable conditioner. Small changes like these add up. If you need to add an extra dash of fun to the process, here’s the perfect soundtrack for your next eco-friendly shower: