Natural Foods Merchandiser

Shampoo and conditioner

At a glance
Natural and organic shampoos and conditioners use herbs, oils and vitamins to clean, soften and add shine and volume. Shampoos rely on surfactants to help ingredients blend well and create a lathery, clean feeling (though too much surfactant strips the hair of its own fats, requiring extra oils and botanicals to replace them).

Conditioners use emollients or humectants to trap moisture in the hair shaft, seal the cuticle and make hair seem thicker, smoother and softer. Oils and waxes are emollients, as are proteins such as wheat and soy. Glycerin, either vegetable or synthetic, serves as a barrier, keeping water in the hair shaft. Wheat amino acids fill in cracks in the hair shaft, and vitamin B adds thickness. As water-based products, both shampoo and conditioner need preservatives to lengthen their shelf life.

Ingredients to look for
Olefin (coconut-based surfactant)
Coconut/Palm oils
Wheat/Soy protein
Vegetable glycerin
B vitamins
Citrus-based preservatives

Spotlight on: Hugo Naturals
A former chef, Chatsworth, Calif.-based Hugo Naturals’ Founder Hugo Saavedra loves using herbal and plant-based extracts in his hair products. One of his most unique formulations uses French lavender—grown in Bulgaria and Africa where soils are less polluted, says Saavedra—to combat dandruff.

“Lavender is an incredibly soothing ingredient,” says Saavedra, emphasizing its antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Other ingredients include tea tree oil, ginseng root extract and aloe, all of which combine to create a healthy scalp. And instead of water, Hugo Naturals uses vegetable glycerin as a base to eliminate the need for chemical preservatives.

Saavedra likens hair to a healthy herb garden: “If you start with polluted ground, you’re going to have herbs full of chemicals.” The same goes for hair. By nourishing, normalizing and soothing the scalp, you’re creating a shiny, healthy mane, he says.

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Editors’ picks

Burt's Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Shampoo and Conditioner: This shampoo combines grapefruit extract with vegetable oils to create lather, and adds sugar beet extract and soy protein to strengthen and protect hair while honey and essential oils create shine. Burt’s uses high-recycled-content packaging and no animal testing.

Hugo Naturals French Lavender Shampoo and Conditioner: This shampoo controls dandruff with a combination of ginseng root extract, aloe and French lavender oil. No parabens, petroleum products or animal byproducts.

Giovanni 50:50 Balanced Hydrating-Clarifying Shampoo and Hydrating-Calming Conditioner: Made from a vegetable-protein base and a slew of essential oils, this duo is suitable for vegan use.

Aubrey Organics BGA Protein + Strengthening Shampoo and Cream Rinse: Another vegan fave, this combo uses organic blue-green algae and soy protein to strengthen hair, and herbal extracts to remove buildup and create fullness.

Avalon Organics Olive and Grape Seed Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner
: In addition to olive oil, Avalon uses organic grapeseed oil to help damaged and stressed hair.

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