Searching for non-toxic shampoo that’s soy-free, gluten-free, and actually works? I’m breaking down 8 clean brands, including the shampoo I currently use myself.
Non-toxic beauty is finally starting to get some well-deserved attention. Clean beauty products can be so difficult to find, especially products that actually work. I’m sharing the most asked questions I get around non-toxic shampoo options.
Why is clean beauty important?
Just because a product is on the shelf doesn’t mean it’s safe! Thanks to loose regulations and heavy marketing, there are many ingredients linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, and reproductive toxicity in our makeup and hair products. To be honest, there are too many to list.
It’s important to be aware of what’s in our products because it gets absorbed directly through our skin. Especially when it comes to shampoo, our scalp has an increased absorption rate. When washing off your shampoo, the remnants will also run down your skin.
I always try to avoid fragrance, dimethicone, sulfates, and parabens. I love the EWG’s Skin Deep Database, where you can search a library of products to see any hazards linked to ingredients.
Why should you care? For starters, parabens have been linked to increased growth of breast cancer cells. If I’m spending time and effort eating a healthy diet, I’m surely not going to let a silly overpriced designer shampoo cause me to feel sick.
How do I find a safe shampoo?
Safe shampoo is not the easiest to find, especially when you’re also avoiding gluten and soy. If you’re allergic to an ingredient, I personally recommend avoiding it in your products to be safe.
The first step to finding a non-toxic shampoo is researching brands and reading the ingredients. Be wary of marketing. Just because something says ‘non-toxic’ or ‘natural’ doesn’t mean much unfortunately.
Check out the ingredients list and use EWG’s Skin Deep Database to get an understanding of toxicity. Look for keywords to avoid like the ones I mentioned above (sulfates, parabens, dimethicone, fragrance).
An important note: read ingredients EVERY time you buy a product. Companies change their formula often, and even if it says ‘gluten-free’ the ingredients may not be.
Shampoo Brand Research
After researching many brands, here are my findings including the shampoos I ended up using and love! (Updated: 2023)
- Desert Essence – this brand markets as ‘gluten-free’, but I was very disappointed to find ‘wheat protein’ in their Tea Tree shampoo labeled GF. They are not the only brand to do this. I reached out to them to ask that they correct this on their website/product.
- Acure – there are many articles stating this brand is GF, but I couldn’t find any mention of that on their products or website. I emailed them so we’ll see if they confirm. If they can confirm, I would try this one as a regular shampoo, and this one for volume. (UPDATE: “All of our formulas are indeed naturally free of gluten, although we are not currently certified gluten free. We are also free of soy, with the exception of our cleansing towelettes, which utilize non-GMO soy bean oil.”)
- Avalon Organics – After reading that they have a GF Cucumber shampoo, it seems it is no longer on their website.
- Mill Creek Botanicals – I tried this tea tree shampoo, it does have ‘natural fragrance’ which I don’t love. It was too drying for my hair, but my fiancé likes it. If you have oily hair this may be a good fit.
- Alaffia – This brand is extremely clean and fair trade. Their body wash is my favorite. We have this shampoo and I really like it. I recommend the Everyday Coconut as the Everyday Shea doesn’t clean my hair as well.
- EO – their nourish shampoo is GF. Would love it if there wasn’t alcohol in it which can be drying. Might give this a try one day.
- Phillip Adam – this shampoo is completely fragrance free and has great reviews. It even has apple cider vinegar which is great for hair shine. I plan on trying this shampoo next time I run out.
- Puracy – this shampoo has good ingredients, positive reviews, and their website states that it is gluten + soy free. I love that they use essential oils for fragrance.
- Oway – I finally found my holy grail shampoo. Oway has a list of their shampoos that are gluten-free, and after using their Smoothing shampoo, I’m obsessed.
What brand do you use?
My hair type is colored, naturally curly/wavy, and prone to frizz.
After my research, I have used Puracy, Alaffia, and Oway and really like them, but my favorite is definitely Oway. I always have a couple shampoos on hand so I can rotate between them based on what my hair needs. Switching between two also ensures that my hair doesn’t get used to anything.
Puracy gives you that squeaky clean feel, while Alaffia is more moisturizing. If my hair really needs a good wash, I use the Puracy. I use the Alaffia when my hair needs a break. Oway’s shampoo is great for an everyday shampoo.
Update: I have been using Oway for a year and love it. My hair looks healthy and I haven’t had a single skin reaction. I also use Oway’s moisturizing conditioner. I started with the small size for each of them, and now I buy the large size. It’s very concentrated so I find it lasts me a long time. I wash my hair twice a week. I would highly recommend it!
How do I switch to a non-toxic shampoo?
It’s difficult to find a brand that delivers results with perfect ingredients. Focus on minimizing the worst ingredients. If you’re transitioning to cleaner shampoos, try rotating a clean option in with your current shampoo.
It’s important to note that it can take 2-3 weeks for your hair to adjust to a clean shampoo, especially if you were using sulfates. Shampoo with sulfates may make your hair feel ‘cleaner,’ but it’s stripping your natural oils from your scalp which can be very damaging over time. Be patient as you’re switching over, and it will be worth it.
If you haven’t tried a clean shampoo yet, start with this one by Oway. It’s an amazing option with solid ingredients that will still leave your hair feeling clean. I was shocked at how well it lathers! It’s the best clean shampoo I’ve tried yet.
Are you in love with one of your shampoos that doesn’t have the best ingredients? Keep your current bottle for special occasions. Using it 3x a year is better than using it 3x a week.
Are you interested in other clean beauty products? Let me know in the comments! Xx