Natural Shampoo Guide: How to Find the BEST Clean Shampoo for Your Hair Type

Natural Shampoo Guide: How to Find the BEST Clean Shampoo for Your Hair Type

Not gonna lie, finding an effective and natural shampoo can be TOUGH. It’s definitely one of the trickiest swaps to make! And to be completely frank, a lot of clean and organic shampoos used to kind of…suck. There, I said it! But thankfully, formulas have come a long way and are MUCH more advanced. I’ve tried a ton of non-toxic shampoo brands over the years (plus my readers shared their faves!) and I’ve compiled the absolute best of the best for ya today! 🚿


This post contains affiliate links.


What you’ll find in this post:

Common Ingredients to Avoid in Shampoos

First, take a look at your current shampoo ingredient label. Do you spot any of these? I personally recommend avoiding these due to their links to hormone/endocrine disruption, contact allergies, and potential carcinogenic properties ❌

  • Dyes (like, do we really NEED shampoos to be fluorescent and colorful?! no thanks)
  • Harmful preservatives (like methylchloroisothiazolinone and parabens)
  • PEGs
  • Silicones
  • Sulfates (such as sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate)
  • Synthetic fragrances/parfum

There tends to be a lot of greenwashing when it comes to hair care and shampoo brands on the market. Many will claim to be “plant-based” or “herbal” yet still use iffy ingredients. That’s why it’s sooooo important to learn about ingredients! Check out my ebook to learn about 48+ ingredients to avoid in your personal care products:

Green Beauty Ingredient Glossary

The Best Low Tox Shampoos by Hair Type & Concern

I’ll start by sharing more about my own hair type! I have very thick, wavy hair and only wash it about once a week. So I tend to use shampoos that are clarifying and have a strong lather. In addition, I get highlights occasionally, so I look for something that keeps color intact.

That being said, I’ve tried a bunch of different formulas that are not specific to my own hair type, so I’m going to share about the top non-toxic shampoos for multiple hair types/concerns. I polled my readers for input and will share a few of their testimonials as well 💆‍♀️

Note: Many of these are generally suitable for all hair types, but this post will focus on what they’re MOST ideal for. Almost all of these have complementary conditioners too!

Normal, Medium, Thick, & Oily Hair: Plaine Products Refillable Shampoo (⭐️ Becca’s Favorite!)

Vegan & cruelty-free • Sustainable packaging

Plaine Products Refillable Shampoos

This is one that I have personally used the longest and most consistently! There’s so much to love and some of my readers feel the same way. It uses aloe instead of water so it’s more concentrated and a little goes a long way. You can get a sudsy lather and it even thoroughly washes thick hair like mine; it’s very clarifying and great for removing excess oil! You can pick from three scents: Rosemary Mint Vanilla (my fave), Citrus Lavender, or Unscented.

[I recommend skipping the Cherry Almond scent since it uses “fragrance” whereas the other scents are essential oil-based!]

BONUS: The bottles are recyclable aluminum but Plaine actually covers the cost of return shipping and has a subscription/refill program. They’re an extremely eco-conscious company! You even reuse your pump, and they offer BULK glass jugs. Zero waste and plastic-free FTW ♻️ If you want to learn more about Plaine and how the model works, read this blog post!

Plaine Products Refillable Shampoo

Although many people with drier hair like this shampoo, I have heard from a couple that it’s too clarifying/drying for them, so just a heads up. If you wanna sample it, Plaine offers little $6 travel-sized bottles.

“This shampoo is the most gentle yet effective natural shampoo I have tried. It keeps my hair clean and fresh without drying it out, and I love the scent!” —@sustainable.kay (fine, straight hair)

You can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount on Plaine Products!

Shop Plaine Products Shampoo Here

Also available here on Amazon and Earth Hero.

⭐️ Runner-Up Normal/Medium Hair Shampoo Fave: Innersense Pure Harmony Hairbath

For Curly & Wavy Hair: EVOLVh Smart Curl Hydrating Wash

Vegan & cruelty-free • Curly Girl Method Approved

EVOLVh Smart Curl Hydrating Wash

A super popular response from my curly-haired readers! It’s Curly Girl Method approved and was created to maximize pliability, elasticity, and hydration while lessening frizz. It’s silky and rich yet won’t weigh your curls down. The EVOLVh shampoo is ideal for wavy hair, too.

“I like the EVOLVh curly shampoo because it doesn’t leave any buildup in my hair, lathers well, and feels lightweight (doesn’t make my hair feel heavy and limp like a lot of natural hair products can since the oils are heavy). I let my hair air dry after using and I have perfect waves and bouncy curls without any styling!” —@herbal.arsenal

Shop EVOLVh Smart Curl Wash Here

Also available here on Amazon and The Detox Market.

⭐️ Runner-Up Curly Hair Shampoo Fave: Innersense Hydrating Cream Hairbath
💸 Budget Curly Shampoo Recommendation: Acure Ultra Hydrating Shampoo (use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount at The Choosy Chick store)

For Dry, Thin, Fine, & Damaged Hair: Under Luna Shampoo

Vegan & cruelty-free • Glass bottle

Under Luna Shampoo

Sooooo many of my readers like this one! Most of the responses from people that love Under Luna have thinner or drier hair. Some curly-haired people too! It’s available in two scents and an unscented version (if you’re sensitive to strong smells or essential oils). They have really pure ingredients and come in glass bottles.

However, this one did not totally work out for me personally! 🤷‍♀️ These are a little different because you’re supposed to double wash; there is a learning curve. The first application of Under Luna shampoo should grab dirt/oils and then the second time will have a stronger foam. But, since my hair is SO thick, I feel like I need a TON of shampoo to get a suds and make my hair actually feel clean and clarified. I basically need to wash 3x with it.

So it makes sense that those of you who love the shampoo have drier or thinner hair. But for my fellow thick-haired ladies, maybe pass on this one!

“Under Luna shampoo gently cleans my scalp and hair while not drying it out. I love the smell and feel of it, too! It meets my ingredient standards but still has suds and lathers. The glass pump bottles are a bonus!” —Laura M. (dry hair)

You can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount on Under Luna products at the Love Peace Organic store!

Shop Under Luna Shampoos Here at Love Peace Organic

⭐️ Runner-Up DRY Hair Shampoo Fave: Rahua Hydration Shampoo
⭐️ Runner-Up FINE Hair Shampoo Fave: Innersense Pure Harmony Hairbath (but, I have thick hair and this one even works nicely for me!)
💸 Budget Dry Hair Shampoo Recommendation: Acure Ultra Hydrating Shampoo (use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount at The Choosy Chick store)

For Dandruff & Dry/Itchy/Flaky Scalps: Briogeo Scalp Revival MegaStrength+ Dandruff Relief Shampoo

Vegan & cruelty-free

Briogeo MegaStrength+ Dandruff Relief Shampoo

A better swap for Head & Shoulders! Many conventional shampoos made for dandruff or scalp conditions can contain coal tar (😯) or active drug ingredients such as zinc pyrithione. Briogeo’s formula is made with salicylic acid, lactic acids, tea tree, and charcoal to help eliminate scalp flaking and irritation without stripping moisture. It can be helpful for dandruff, dryness, itching, flaking, and psoriasis. My husband uses this one because he has a dry scalp, and a couple of my readers like this one as well!

“I have reallllllly bad flakiness in winter and I swear Briogeo is the only one that actually helps!” —Joanna G. (medium hair, dry scalp)

Shop Briogeo Dandruff Shampoo Here

Also available here on Amazon.

💸 Budget Dandruff Shampoo Recommendation: Max Green Alchemy Scalp Rescue Shampoo (use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount at The Choosy Chick store)

Note: While these types of shampoos can help symptoms, it’s always good to figure out WHY you’re experiencing them! Many skin conditions might be linked to gut or autoimmune issues, for example. Sometimes topical products can only do so much!

Other products that might help with dandruff and flakes:

For Color-Treated Hair: Innersense Color Awakening Hairbath

Cruelty-free • Contains honey

Innersense Color Awakening Hairbath

While all of the shampoos in this post are color-safe because they do not use harsh sulfates, Innersense’s is specifically formulated to protect color from fading and preserve chemically-treated hair. It uses ingredients that are gentle enough to not remove color deposits, such as pumpkin seed oil which can promote vibrancy and shea butter which can enhance UV-B defense. It’s suitable for all hair types (best for medium texture) and smells like orange and tangerine!

“Innersense Color Awakening Hairbath is my favorite clean shampoo. The consistency is good, i.e. not runny, and has a pretty good lather. My hair feels really clean and not weighed down, and my color holds really well!”—Sydney G. (fine hair)

Shop Innersense Color Awakening Shampoo Here

Also available here on Amazon, The Detox Market, and Love Peace Organic.

💸 Budget Color Protection Shampoo Recommendation: Griffin Remedy Color Extend Shampoo (use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount at The Choosy Chick store)

For Blonde, Silver, Gray, & Platinum Hair: Innersense Bright Balance Purple Toning Shampoo

Vegan & cruelty-free

Innersense Bright Balance Purple Shampoo

If you’re not familiar with purple shampoo, it’s literally just shampoo with purple (or blueish) pigment in it 💜 It’s for blonde, platinum, silver, highlighted, or gray hair (natural or dyed/bleached) and helps neutralize the yellow tones and brassiness and keep the color fresh and bright!

If you look at the color wheel, violet is the opposite of yellow. So using a purple shampoo is a simple way to counteract those tones! It’s most effective to use as a pre-wash treatment (apply to dry hair about 15 minutes before you wash to let the pigment soak) or rotate with your regular shampoo.

Acure Ionic Blonde & Innersense Bright Balance Purple Shampoos

I have tried numerous natural purple shampoos and my favorite is the Innersense Bright Balance Hairbath! It’s concentrated, smells like jasmine and apple, and also performs well as a shampoo to thoroughly wash. I DO notice an improvement in the tones of my hair; definitely brighter and less brassy!

Shop Innersense Purple Shampoo Here

Also available here on Amazon, The Detox Market, and Love Peace Organic.

💸 Budget Purple Shampoo Recommendation: Acure Ionic Blonde Color Wellness

Related post: “The Best (Natural & Non-Toxic!) Purple Shampoo Brands for Blonde & Gray Hair

Best Shampoo Bar: Viori Bars

Vegan & cruelty-free

Viori Shampoo Bars

I had not heard of this brand before, but some of my readers swear by this one and it was the most popular bar response! Shampoo bars are nice if you’re looking for something low-waste and package-free. Viori uses Longsheng rice water which makes hair smoother, shinier, and stronger. You should be able to get between 30-60 washes from a bar depending on how much hair you have.

I gave it a try myself, and yes, it does surprisingly lather and clean hair well! I also appreciate that Viori has an unscented (Native Essence) bar, so my husband uses it too. I do find that shampoo bars can take longer to disperse the lather if you have thick hair (like me!) or a lot of hair. But of my readers who enjoy Viori bars, the majority of them have thinner/straight hair!

“I switched to Viori and will never look back because 1. My hair is so soft after using it and stays looking clean for far longer than other toxin free shampoos I’ve tried and 2. I love that it is not in a plastic bottle; I can use every drop of the shampoo without wasting any expensive product or making any waste. Another plus is that it smells amazing! 10/10” —Paulina M. (fine, oil-prone, straight hair)

You can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount on Viori bars!

Shop Viori Shampoo Bars Here

Also available here at Sephora and Amazon.

Best All-Around Budget-Friendly Shampoo: Carina Organics

Vegan & cruelty-free

Carina Organics Shampoo

Another popular reader favorite for various hair types. Carina has simple and organic formulas at affordable price points. Plus, they also have an unscented version without any fragrances or essential oils. I have used their Citrus Daily Moisturizing shampoo and it really does smell wonderful; the scent even lingers a bit after washing 🍊

It does have a good lather but I find that it dissipates quicker than I would like it to; I kind of have to use a lot of shampoo for my thick hair. But it literally leaves my hair squeaky clean and soft, and I was pleasantly surprised for the price! They also have some shampoos for kids and babies.

Shop Carina Organics Shampoo Here

Also available here on Amazon.

💸 Runner-Up Budget Shampoo Recommendation: Acure has a bunch of shampoo formulas to choose from (clarifying, hydrating, volumizing, smoothing, etc.)

Related post: “My 6-Step Organic, Low Maintenance Hair Care Routine

Natural Shampoo Guide: How to Find the BEST Clean Shampoo for Your Hair Type


Five Essential Tips for Transitioning to Natural Shampoo

When switching to sulfate-free and silicone-free shampoo, it can take a few weeks for your hair to adjust! It’s possible to experience a “heavy” feeling or maybe feel like your hair isn’t totally clean. But don’t give up because it WILL get better! Here are tips to make the transition easier:

DIY apple cider vinegar/baking soda/honey hair rinse.

This is super helpful if you need to de-gunk and clarify your hair. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has properties that help break down nasty buildup, balance hair’s pH, and kill off bacteria. It also helps detangle. There are various ways you can do it but here’s the recipe I’ve used:

  • Mix 1 part baking soda with 3 parts water, then massage into your hair and scalp. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Then take 1 part raw, unfiltered ACV and 4 parts water, you can also mix in about a spoonful of honey 🍯
  • Then use this to rinse out the baking soda. When it’s out, rinse your hair completely (opt for cold water if you can handle it!). The baking soda helps remove buildup and the honey helps condition hair.
Use a scalp scrub or scalp massager.

I like the Innersense True Enlightenment Scalp Scrub. It’s a minty scalp scrub that you work into your hair (before shampooing). It tingles, clarifies, removes buildup, and leaves hair feeling soft and manageable. Similarly, a silicone scalp massager works too. These are wonderful additions to any hair care routine!

Get your hair fully wet BEFORE applying shampoo.

Some of the sulfate-free shampoos just don’t have as intense of a lather and they’ll distribute better on hair that is already wet. In addition, you may need to shampoo a second time, especially if you have a lot of hair.

Skip the conditioner for the first few washes.

Conditioner might not be necessary and could even weigh your hair down, so you might want to forgo it until your hair has transitioned!

Install a good shower filter.

Chlorine is often present in water systems and can wreak havoc on hair. It can strip the natural oils (causing thirsty, brittle, damaged hair), break down amino acids (depleting the strength), dissolve lipids (leading to split ends and less shine), irritate the scalp, and even dull the color of hair. Filtering out chlorine and contaminants can lead to stronger, healthier hair. I suggest this shower head filter!

Five Essential Tips for Transitioning to Natural Shampoo


And that’s that! Hopefully this post has helped you find your new favorite organic shampoo. Say goodbye to the toxins and HELLO to healthy hair. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions. Thanks for reading 💚

Becca Signature

 

 

Natural Shampoo Guide: How to Find the BEST Clean Shampoo for Your Hair Type

Written by: Becca

Becca is a blogger, wife, and dog mom living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Having seen firsthand the benefits of switching to a natural lifestyle herself, she's passionate about helping women make the switch to clean beauty products, organic skincare, and a holistic way of life (without the stress of being perfect about it!).

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