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Reviewing Shampoo Ingredients in Cruelty-Free Shampoos

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Depending on the manufacturer, shampoos can contain any number of ingredients from hair nourishing vitamins such as biotin to surfactants such as Xylenesulfonates. Vegans and vegetarians typically prefer to consume products that are all natural and cruelty free. While Xylenesulfonates might not sit well with the vegan set, natural ingredients such as chamomile and tea tree oil will. Before we discuss natural and organic ingredients that may be used in many chemical free shampoos, let’s discuss shampoo ingredients that are probably better to avoid not only because they may be harmful to the environment, but some may also be quite harmful to your hair and skin.

Shampoo’s main purpose is to clean the hair, not strip it of all its natural protective oils. Some shampoos contain so many harsh chemicals, that they are too powerful for hair. In fact, many of these same chemicals are used in products that call for powerful detergents and cleaning agents. Some of the most common ingredients in shampoos include ammonium Lauryl Sulfate or ammonium lauryl ether sulfate (ammonium laureth sulfate).

Other common shampoo ingredients include cocamide (MEA or TEA), a foaming agent; glycol distearate (wax, non-vegan); table salt; cellulose, a thickener; animal glycerin (non-vegan, non vegetarian, not cruelty free), and preservatives. Two of the most common preservatives include DMDM hydantion ad imidazolidinyl urea. These preservatives help prevent fungus and bacteria. They also release formaldehyde to kill germs. Sodium benzoate is also used as a preservative in shampoos. It kills yeasts, bacteria, and fungi. Citric acid and sodium citrate (a buffering agent) are used in shampoo as well.

Shampoos may contain a number of other chemicals and harsh ingredients as well. Too many to name in one article. So, according to Savvy Skin (, there are number of top ingredients to avoid. Keep this list in mind when shopping for shampoo at your local drugstore or beauty supply house.

Extremely common ingredients to avoid

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
Ammonium Xylene Sulfonate
TEA Lauryl Sulfate
Sulfur (in dandruff shampoos)
Selenium Sulfide (in dandruff shampoos)

Less common ingredients to avoid

Magnesium Sulfate
Sodium Thiosulfate
Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
Alkyl Sodium Sulfate
Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate
Sodium C12-15 Alkyl Sulfate
Sodium Dodecyl Sulfonate

Ingredients in Vegan /Vegetarian Shampoo

When it comes to vegan and vegetarian friendly shampoos most do not contain wheat, gluten, parabens, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, phthalates, artificial fragrances or colors, animal ingredients, phosphates, silicones, EDTA, glycol, or petroleum-based ingredients. What these shampoos do contain ranges from fruit and vegetable extracts and essential oils to herbs, vitamins, and minerals. Just a few top ingredients used in vegan/vegetarian shampoos include aloe vera, black elderberry flower, shea butter, jojoba oil, coconut, grape, apple, comfrey, elder flower, avocado, lemongrass, rosehip, bark, sage, lavender, nettle, kelp, hemp seed oil, chamomile, peppermint, fennel seed, rosemary, ginger, raspberry leaf, tea tree oil, burdock root, olive leaf, and pro-vitamin B5.

These are just a few ingredients contained in many vegan and vegetarian shampoos. It is important to note that these ingredients may also be used in shampoos that contain many of the harsh ingredients mentioned in this article. If you do not have access to stores such as Whole Foods, Mother’s Market or any other health food store and you would like to minimize your exposure to harsh shampoo ingredients, at the very least, read the labels in an effort to choose shampoos with the least amount of these chemicals. Fortunately, many drug stores do carry brands that contain a minimal amount of harsh shampoo ingredients.

Vegan and Vegetarian Friendly Shampoo Brands

-Beauty Without Cruelty
-Chagrin Valley
-Desert Essence Organics
-Gear Head
-Jason Natural Cosmetics
-Max Green Alchemy
-Nature’s Style
-Nature’s Gate

Top Tea Tree Shampoos

-Paul Mitchell Lemon Sage Thickening Shampoo
-Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo
-Knotty Boy Dreadlock Shampoo

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1 Comment

  1. I Khaled


    Could you please confirm whether or not the above mentioned Vegan brands ,such as Nature’s Gate etc,contain any Ethyl Alcohol in their products as a hidden ingredient/fragrance carrier,etc?

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