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My Favorite Non-toxic Hair Products

My hair after washing with shampoo bar and rinsing 
with vinegar (no conditioner).

EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database

To determine the toxicity or safety of products or specific ingredients, I often consult EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, which evaluates the safety of personal products based upon research regarding known and probable carcinogens, reproductive and developmental toxicants, as well as allergens and irritants. The higher the score, the more potential toxins your product contains. Personally, I pay more attention to ingredients linked to cancer and developmental/ reproductive problems than those that are allergens (essential oils are often potential allergens or skin irritants).

The one problem with this database is that sometimes it is out-of-date or incomplete. Sometimes for the product I am investigating, an old formulation might be listed. I always cross-check the ingredients listed in the Cosmetic Database against a list of online ingredients (either from the manufacturer or from an online drugstore that lists all ingredients such as Vitacost). Other times the product is not in the database at all. Sometimes I use the Build Your Own Report function of the database, which takes a few minutes, but is easier than typing in individual ingredients in the search box. And then you have your custom report to refer back to whenever you please.

Here are the hair products I am currently using.


For the last couple of years, I have been using a shampoo bar (like a bar of soap) instead of liquid shampoo. I love it! I also converted my husband (it was an easy sell). He prefers the shampoo bar as well, especially when he travels. Shampoo bars make so much sense since the first ingredient of bottled shampoo is often Aqua (aka Water). Packaging is also a big advantage: with a bar, the packaging is a small strip of recyclable paper instead of a plastic bottle. I was lucky to like the very first shampoo bar I tried, a Sweet Orange Shampoo Bar purchased from Etsy shop Dress Green. In case you are wondering, yes the shampoo bar does produce bubbly suds. I know that's an important part of shampooing for many folks.

I just barely ran out of my last bulk order, so I took a moment to make some calculations. Note that I only wash my hair about once a week, but I use a lot of shampoo when I do because I have a lot of hair. My husband washes his hair every day.Our last bulk order lasted us 18+ months, which means that we spent a mere $3.64 per month for both me and my husband on handmade eco-friendly non-toxic shampoo. {Correction: I just realized we spent even less than this since my sister and a friend each bought a bar from me, making the amount spent per month closer to $3.00)} According to the Skin Deep report I built, my shampoo bar has a hazard score of 0 (low hazard and best possible score). Individual ingredients had a hazard score of 0 or 1 (low hazard).

Once a month I also do a vinegar rinse after shampooing to remove any soap buildup, as recommended by the seller. Dress Green recommends doing this once a week. Since I wash my hair once a week, I do a vinegar rinse every month or two. I use apple cider vinegar from the grocery store. Nothing fancy. The smell quickly dissipates, and if you use conditioner afterwards, you probably won't smell the vinegar at all. My husband never does the vinegar rinse, and he also doesn't feel like he needs to use conditioner now that he's switched to the shampoo bar (a common experience of shampoo bar users, according to the seller).


I'm still using my Avalon Organics Lemon Clarifying Conditioner, even though my sister pointed out to me some time ago that it has some ingredients with higher hazard scores in the Skin Deep Database. According to the custom report I built using the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, my conditioner has a hazard score of 4 (moderate hazard). I'd like to find a conditioner with a better/ lower hazard score. I've tried a few other conditioners and haven't liked them. I really need a thick goopy conditioner to tame my thick curls/ frizzies, and at the moment I'm not feeling that experimental. So for the moment, I'm using up the bottles I have, and hoping I find an awesome conditioner bar soon.

Styling Products

My husband and I have used and liked many different leave-in conditioners and hair gels (my husband who has short thick curly hair tends to prefer the gels and other products which have a stronger hold). Whatever these styling products are called, the important factor for me is that you leave them in and do not rinse them out, so I care a lot about the ingredients. My current favorite is EO's Tame Curl Control Gel (coconut & vanilla). In EWG's Skin Deep Database, it scores a Hazard Score 2 (low). Since this product is not in the database, I used the Build Your Own Report function to get a general idea about any problem ingredients. It has a light natural scent that is mostly gone by the time your hair dries. My husband recently ran out of the gel he was using, and gave mine a try. He liked it, so now we're using the same hair gel too.

Other styling products we have used and liked:

What are your favorite non-toxic hair products?

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This post is part of
Works for Me Wednesday