Natural Shampoos : What exactly does that even mean?

Natural Shampoos : What exactly does that even mean?

January 28, 2020

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Everyone seems to have a different definition for a natural shampoo. I have learned that when patients ask me about them I have to take a moment to clarify what they mean by this. The range of options that seem to qualify as natural can be : homemade, sulfate free, paraben free etc. 

There are a number of reasons people seek natural options. The most common are those that are seeking to minimize their overall exposure to ‘chemicals’ often worried about cancer. 

When it comes to the word ‘natural’ as it pertains to products, the definition is what you decide it to be! There is no medical definition, there is no regulation on its use- it’s a marketing term or just a sentiment a person wishes to convey about what they are seeking from their products. 


There is no one definition to identify what a ‘natural shampoo’ leaves out or includes. I have seen and evaluated shampoos that call themselves ‘natural’ because they have mint extracted. I have seen ones that call themselves ‘natural’ for being sulfate free. But, Selsun Blue ‘naturals’ calls itself natural for having some botanicals but it still has sulfate and is medicated with salicylic acid!

The FTC regulates claims for ‘all natural’. If a company states their product is all-natural then you should be able to take them for their word. But to not state ‘all’- the word natural is what you make it. 


So, how is it best to choose a natural shampoo?

The first step to consider is what your desired outcome is. 

If you are seeking a natural shampoo because your hair is dry, brittle and lacks luster, then your natural shampoo should be sulfate free. Look for and avoid sodium laureth sulfate.


If you are seeking a natural shampoo to minimize your exposure to cancer causing chemicals, then seek out products that are paraben free and also maybe in a BPA free bottle.  In this category, be mindful to not just trust the company with their claims of being natural. Make sure their claim aligns with your expectation. If they just mean it’s natural because it has a rosemary scent you will be disappointed. 


Here are some options for natural shampoos I have come across ...

Drybar Sake Bomb Nourishing Shampoo

This shampoo is paraben free, sulfate free, phthalate free.

For my patients sincerely wanting to minimize their chemical exposure. 

Oribe Gold Lust Repair & Restore Shampoo

This brand tends to focus on being sulfate free, paraben free. (I actually love this shampoo but at this price with my long hair I just can’t bring myself to use it routinely! I have a bottle of it that I will rarely use!) 



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