Hey Laura, what’s an effective shampoo and conditioner without all the “bad stuff”?

Oh man, when this email popped into my inbox, I knew I was in for it. Hallie is, in my mind, already the pinnacle of “natural hippie girl,” and her question is one that has plagued me for several years!

Was this question going to force me to close my business as Your Expert, or would my enviable Googling skills pay off yet again?

Hallie wrote:

Dear Laura,
I want to use shampoo without tons of bad stuff but I get so overwhelmed trying to figure out what ingredients are no-no, and by the prices on the natural shampoos, I give up. Also I have NEVER found a natural conditioner that ACTUALLY makes my hair manageable, and once again, I don’t want to spend $200 trying different ones until I find a good one!!

And THEN, about two seconds later, she wrote:

and don’t give me any of that hippie garbage about how your hair doesn’t need to be washed, ‘cause my mom MADE me do that for like, 3 months when I was teenager and those were BAD days:)

Okay, Hallie, I promise I won’t suggest the “No-poo” method. I tried it once, too, and it….let’s just say, it did not work for me either. :)

First of all, here is a list of the ingredients that some sources think you should be avoiding if you want to be more natural with your beauty products. 

Opinions may differ about the list above, but my rule of thumb for ingredients in the foods we eat is always: Can I pronounce it? I’ve found this keeps us pretty clean and natural and I’ve been trying to practice this habit for the substances we lather on our bodies as well.

I’m currently using Depth Body Refresh Daily Shampoo, but really only because it smells so amazing. I got a sample of it when I was pregnant and it was one of the few things that didn’t make me want to hurl when I smelled it! It does have some fairly unpronounceable ingredients, which doesn’t thrill me, but since it’s from Whole Foods, it doesn’t have anything from the “bad list.”

While researching the answer to your question, I read probably close to a hundred reviews of various “natural” hair products. There are some drugstore brands that get decent reviews for both efficacy and safety - Burt’s Bees, Avalon Organics, and Yes to Carrots, among others - but all of them use detergents not too chemically different from Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (one of the major irritants in “bad” hair products) and many contain Dioxane: a yucky chemical I really don’t want to be absorbing!

So I went on the hunt for ultra pure shampoos and conditioners and found two fun little companies that have some great looking stuff (and not only for hair!).

First, Bubble & Bee, a company that’s out to “make organic fun!” “Without the bad stuff!”

I have to admit, their packaging and company vibe is adorable and very enticing. I am a die-hard Degree deodorant girl (I know, I know!! It’s just the only thing that works for a stinky lady like me!), but their Pit Putty looks fantastic (and the reviews are great). (Actually, I’m ordering it and their 100% Organic Insect Repellant right now!).

Bubble & Bee’s shampoos are not detergent-based, so they won’t lather like you’re used to. They have a whole paragraph explaining how your hair and scalp will have to get used to your new hair care regime. So, I’m not sure that this is exactly what you’re looking for, nor is it a good starter shampoo for all-natural newbies.

I have to give a shout out to the Central Oregon local Urban Hillbilly Organics company, based out of Prineville, Oregon. What is “urban” about Prineville, I’ll never know, but it’s a cute name nonetheless!

They have a very small line of salon quality (whatever that means, other than expensive, because…whoa: $31.98 for 12 ounces???) shampoos and conditioners. The Urban Hillbilly’s ingredient list reads a bit like what you might find in a salad at a fancy vegan restaurant (which, come to think of it, you might also pay exorbitantly for), so they are definitely all natural. But without user reviews to back them up, I’d be hesitant to throw down the cash for these.

And that brings me to my top choice - for Hallie and for my completely amused and intrigued self: Tate’s Natural Miracle Shampoo and Conditioner.

This stuff gets rave reviews on Amazon. Not tons of them, because it’s a kind of off the wall product, but everyone who writes a review says something along the lines of, “I never write reviews on Amazon, but…” or “I just happened upon this stuff in a natural food store and WOW!” and gives them 5 stars. The only 4 star review for the conditioner was because it’s a bit pricey (at $22.50 for 18 ounces), but then admitted how much they love it and how a little goes a very long way.

The Tate family have other products in their line, all of which get the same kind of customer response: “Wow, this stuff is great.” And look at the shampoo ingredients; you can’t get more natural than this:

Mountain spring water, coconuts, hazel nuts, pine needles, chamomile, nutmeg, lemons, thyme, passion flower, apples,  cocamide dea, cinnamon, eucalyptus, sea salt, geranium, raspberries, almonds, honey, love, smiles & hugs.

You gotta love a company whose product ingredients list includes “love, smiles, & hugs” and whose (rather hokey, broken-linked) website has a Prayer Request page! :)

The clincher is that Lester and Genoveve Tate offer a money back guarantee (and you get to keep the product) if you aren’t completely satisfied. They give their home phone number in case you need to contact them with any questions!

I don’t know about you, Hallie, but I think I’ve found my natural shampoo and conditioner solution!

Hey Laura, I think... Hey Laura, what’s an effective shampoo and conditioner without all the “bad stuff”?

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