Hey! Now that we’ve gotten your attention with our greenwash-y, SEO-friendly title (thanks, Google), you should know that while there’s no such thing as “eco-friendly” shampoo & conditioner, here’s what to be wise on when you’re shopping so you can pick the best option for you, the planet, and the people making your stuff.
While the goal is to find a plastic-free soap without harmful chemicals and fragrances, we know this isn’t always realistic in a pinch, especially if you have specific preferences.
WHAT TO BE WISE ON:
Liquid shampoo and conditioners are made up of 80% and 95% water, respectively. Spoiler alert - your shower already has water. A concentrated shampoo bar uses the water in your shower to create the same effect as the liquid bottled stuff.
THE FACTORS TO CONSIDER:
Choose one without parabens, synthetic fragrances, or anything from formaldehyde.
Look for vegan or a clear statement that it’s not tested on animals.
A FEW TAKEAWAYS:
Surfactants are why shampoos make suds or lather, but we don’t see sudsing much in nature, right? Sudsing is created by a chemical reaction or agent and, while surfactants aren’t toxic to humans (unless they get in your eyes or mouth in large quantities), they’re often harmful to aquatic life. Same with the emulsifiers, found in conditioner, that help combine oil and water so conditioners don’t separate. Siloxanes are effective at softening and smoothing, but they don’t break down as much as we’d like in the environment. (Source: EWG)
The surfactants, emulsifiers and preservatives found in shampoo and conditioner don’t have high enough levels of toxicity to show scary long-term effects, so we suggest focusing on reusable or zero-waste packaging. Shampoo and conditioner bottles make up a large percentage of the plastics found in our water streams, so choosing alternative packaging or bars is ideal. Plus, one standard bottle gets you between 30-40 washes, while a bar can be used 80-90 times. Save water and money, maybe?
Finally, and we feel very strongly about this, the best way to lower the environmental impact of your shampoo and conditioner is to wash your hair less often. Washing your hair every single day will likely leave your hair even greasier in the long-run and make you dependent on shampoo and conditioner regardless of the ingredients. Your scalp has a biome like the rest of your body and natural oils are a part of that, so conventional shampoo may be stripping away these natural oils and leave buildup and residues.