The Benefits and Efficacy of Natural Shampoo

When it comes to looking after your hair, the products you use play a pivotal role in its health and appearance. Among these, shampoo is a hair care staple for most people.

While it may be a challenge in finding the perfect one that brings out the best in your locks, shifting to natural shampoo is an advisable choice due to the numerous benefits it offers. Natural shampoo is made from biodegradable materials and natural ingredients like oils, plants, berries, and other nature-derived substances. Unlike conventional shampoos, they are free of harsh chemicals that can be detrimental to both our body and the environment.

simple shampoo bottle on pastel background

We’ll be sharing why men have started to prefer natural shampoos over their synthetic counterparts, focusing on their benefits, the science behind their efficacy, and how this growing trend is reshaping the personal care industry.

But first up, defining what natural shampoo really means.

Demystifying the Terms: Natural, Organic, and Biobased

Here you’ll learn what the terms natural, organic, and biobased mean in the context of shampoos, as they are often used interchangeably and can sometimes be misleading.

Defining Natural Shampoo

green shampoo bottle on pastel table

The definition of a ‘natural’ shampoo can be a bit tricky as the Food and Drug Administration has explicitly stated that they currently have no legal definition for the term “natural.” Typically, though, it is understood to refer to products made primarily or wholly from substances derived from nature—these can include botanical extracts, oils, waxes, and other plant- or mineral-based ingredients, as opposed to synthetic chemicals.

This means that you are unlike to find harmful chemicals such as sulfates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances and dyes.

However, it is worth noting that should you come across a natural shampoo brand, you should still scrutinize its ingredients. While the product may be marketed as natural, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it is completely free of synthetic substances. Therefore, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with ingredient names and understand what goes into your shampoo to ensure your choice’s authenticity.

Understanding Organic Shampoo

Organic shampoos are a subclass of natural shampoos. Like natural shampoos, organic labeling on cosmetics is not defined by the FDA.

man under shower

However, with that being said, organic ingredients may be certified by independent organizations.

Broadly speaking, organic often means that the ingredient has been grown and processed under a very strict code of cleanliness, with no pesticides or fertilizers, and absolutely no genetically modified organisms. Organic shampoos are made with certified organic ingredients.

USDA Certified Biobased Products

USDA Certified Biobased Products form another category within the realm of natural personal care products. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established the BioPreferred Program to promote the increased purchase and use of biobased products, which they define as commercial or industrial products (other than food or feed) that are composed in whole, or in significant part, of biological products, renewable agricultural materials (including plant, animal, and marine materials), or forestry materials.

shampoo bottle next to natural ingredients

Under this program, products can get certified as biobased depending on the percentage of biobased content they contain. This is determined by laboratory testing of the carbon isotopic ratio, which tells how much of the carbon in the product comes from plant and animal sources rather than from petroleum. This program gives consumers a reliable way to identify products that are more closely aligned with their values and concerns about the environment.

The Benefits of Natural and Organic Shampoos

We have established what labels like ‘natural’, ‘organic’, and ‘biobased’ mean in the context of shampoos. Now, let’s delve into the tangible benefits that these natural and organic shampoos offer to our health and the environment.

  1. Gentler Cleansing: Natural shampoos make use of gentle plant-derived surfactants that cleanse your scalp and hair without stripping them of their natural oils. In contrast, conventional shampoos often contain harsh cleansing agents like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which can strip your hair of its natural oils, leading to dry, brittle hair and an irritated scalp. Natural shampoos can help maintain the scalp’s pH balance and prevent unnecessary dryness and irritation.
  2. Reduced Irritation: Throwing out the harsh sulfates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances means that natural shampoos are less likely to cause scalp irritation and allergies.
  3. Nutrient-Rich: Natural ingredients like aloe vera, jojoba oil, tea tree, and lavender provide your hair with a broad spectrum of vitamins and essential fatty acids that improve hair strength and shine.
  4. Environmentally Friendly: By opting for natural and in particular organic shampoos, you reduce your ecological footprint as these products are biodegradable and come with less plastic packaging resulting in reduced chemical exposure.
  5. Healthier for the Body: Many of the harmful chemicals found in traditional shampoos can penetrate the skin barrier and disrupt the body’s hormonal balance. Using natural shampoos minimizes this risk.

Comparing Natural and Traditional Shampoos

Here’s a comparison of the key differences between traditional and natural or organic shampoos:

FeatureTraditional ShampoosNatural/Organic Shampoos
IngredientsSynthetic (sulfates, parabens, artificial fragrances)Natural (plant extracts, minerals, essential oils)
Cleansing MechanismStrip hair of natural oilsGentle cleansing
Common Side EffectsScalp irritation, dry hairReduced irritation, improved hair health
Environmental ImpactNon-biodegradable, often non-recyclable packagingBiodegradable, often use recyclable packaging
CostGenerally lowerGenerally higher

While it’s clear that natural and organic shampoos have a multitude of benefits, it’s important to bear in mind that these products are generally a bit more expensive than their conventional counterparts. However, for those who value the health benefits and environmental-value-add, the price point might be worth it.

In conclusion, natural and organic shampoos offer a safer, more ecological approach to hair care. By choosing these products, you provide better care for your hair, your body, and the planet.

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more. When Adam isn't working, he enjoys spending time with his two little kids who keep him both on his toes and young at heart.

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