Saturday, July 26, 2008

All Natural and Natural Based Shampoo and Conditioner Recs: Part 1 (Natural Hair Care)

In my opinion, finding truly natural hair care is harder than finding all natural skin care, since it can be difficult to formulate completely natural hair care products (concerns that formulators deal with: cleaning or conditioning ability, rinsability, convenience of product, buildup, choosing whether to craft products that customers are familiar with or creating products not typically used by the majority of people, etc). Below are many all natural, nearly all natural, and natural based companies and products that I have tried.

Note: I've put these products into three categories based on my personal definitions of ingredients. People have different definitions on what constitutes a 'natural' ingredient. I nearly always use only 100% natural products, but occasionally will use nearly all natural or natural based products, as long as the synthetic ingredients in them are safe, non-toxic, and relatively benign.

I am (of course) very biased ;P but I thought I should mention that I will be offering some hair care products in my future business (which will open this fall (2008). Keep checking this blog for more information on when my grand opening is!). Initially I am only offering hair oils (a great 100% natural deep hair conditioning treatment) but in the future I hope to also offer herbal hair rinses, liquid shampoo (soap based), and shampoo soap bars.

This is part 1 of my reviews. Coming soon, part 2!


Aubrey Organics has an extensive line of many shampoos and conditioners. I highly recommend trying their shampoos and conditioners from several different categories since they all act on the hair differently. There is also no need to use the corresponding shampoo with its conditioner. I've found that it is better for me to alternate products between several different shampoos and conditioners that are made for different hair types. Most of the conditions are very rich so better for dry hair. If you find them too heavy, try the ones in the oily hair type category (even if you have normal, dehydrated, or dry hair) which are lighter. If you have very oily hair use the conditioners sparingly. They are sold in stores and online, and their hair products range from nearly all natural to natural based (depends on how a person defines certain ingredients).

Aubrey Organics used to be my favorite shampoo brand, until they reformulated all of their shampoos and conditioners a few years ago. I'm sensitive to an herb combination they began to put in many (but not all of their) hair products. I am pretty sure (but not 100% positive) that they are now using a detergent instead of a real soap like they used to though they still call it a soap (my friend Jen aka Camellia Rose pointed out to me a few months ago that their cosmetic dictionary now says under their 'coconut-corn soap' entry that it is a "natural" detergent made from sugar and coconut/palm fatty alcohols similar to plant saponins. Very strange since they still have real soap bars and use real liquid castille soap in many of their shower and bath products). Though most people can use gentle naturally derived synthetic detergents on a regular basis, I can't use them daily or often because they dry my hair and skin out too much. I only use Aubrey Organics shampoo and conditioners occasionally now, but I still love the ones I use! Great for most hair types (unless you have very strange hair like me!). Mostly vegan, some vegetarian, but also a couple are not vegetarian/vegan.

Burts Bees: I still like many of their products but even before Clorox bought them out, more 'borderline natural/synthetic' ingredients that I personally consider synthetic began to crop into their products (but most of these ingredients so far are relatively benign and non-toxic). I am not really sure how I feel about Clorox owning them now (I have not bought much from them in months because of this). Their liquid shampoos and conditioners are not as natural as they state but they are still a pretty good formulation. The shampoos clean pretty well (but I personally can't use them too often since they are detergent based, though they use a mix of the gentler ones. But they would work fine for most other people). I like their conditioners (very light conditioning) better than I like their shampoos. Overall, though I like their hair care products I can't say I love them. In my opinion, they are very basic and good to use if you don't have too many hair issues. They also have a shampoo bar, which personally I didn't like at all, but some others may. Their products are vegetarian but not vegan (contains honey). The shampoo bar is vegan though. They are sold in stores and online.

Chagrin Valley Soap and Craft Company. They make my absolutely favorite shampoo bars EVER. Actually they make my favorite shampoo (whether bar or liquid) AND soaps EVER. I think the soap maker, Ida, is a true artist, and I really respect her ability to craft. I have never seen another soap maker use ingredients quite in the same way she uses: she uses combinations of ingredients that I have not seen in other soap lines (and I've sampled a lot of natural soaps since I am a soap fiend!).

But I think she is underselling herself because she uses a lot of the more expensive ingredients, and when you consider all the other business costs that go into running a business, she still charges the same per ounce or in many cases less than other soap makers (and believe me, most other small soap makers are not overcharging or making huge profits).

Her shampoo soap bars are amazing. The combination of ingredients she uses makes rich, lush, non-drying soaps, that are simply divine. I highly suggest that people try samples of several different kinds, as all of the bars are different (unlike many other companies who use only one base for all their soaps, her soaps are made with different ingredients so each bar acts differently upon the hair and the skin than other bars). I tried about twelve different shampoo bars so far: they are all fantastic. Nearly all worked for my hair though I love some more than others, and I use certain ones when my hair feels oily and others when my hair feels dry. My favorites are the cafe moreno, summer sunshine, rosemary lavender, and nettle shampoo bars :) For face/body soaps are fantastic too! :)

The samples are huge (so big I was able to split them up and send them to a friend, and though I wash my hair nearly every day, more than 7 months after I first got them I am still using the remnants of my last two samples). It says on their website the sizes of their samples are about 1.5 ounces but several of mine weighed more than that (the samples are odds and end pieces so irregular in shape, though they do sell gift samples that look nicer). Another great thing about them, if they don't work for your hair, you can use them for your face, body, or hands since they are (real) soap! The full size bars are huge too: anywhere from 5.5 to 7.2 ounces (depends on if she used her old or new soap molds). Vegetarian and many are vegan too.

When first switching to shampoo soap bars, you'll need to use some sort of rinse (either diluted apple cider vinegar or--my favorite--herbal rinses). After your hair gets used to them you won't need to use them as often.

Garden of Wisdom: I am also slightly biased ;P in mentioning them (since the owner Markey is a friend and I am also one of the moderators of her forum, but I don't work for them). She has a couple of conditioning serums, but I have never used them because they aren't vegetarian. She also sells a lot of ingredients and bases, including liquid castille soap, detergents, and ingredients like soapnuts (a saponin rich herb) so you can make your own (in the past, Garden of Wisdom was mostly an ingredient vendor, but that has been changing. Markey has been coming out with a ton of skin care products!). Products range from all natural to nearly all natural to natural based. Great prices and customer service! Online. Drop by the forum if you want to chat! :)

Part 2 will be posted in a few days.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Very Important! FDA Globalization Act of 2008 (Natural Cosmetics and Small Business News)

Please read about and sign a petition against the FDA Globalization Act of 2008. If passed, this legislation would mandate huge annual registration fees (at least $2000) and import fees (at least $10,000), which would greatly affect many existing and new small cosmetic businesses and suppliers (This legislation could cause many small businesses to go out of business. Many companies would not be able to afford the yearly fees. Also the majority of natural ingredients like essential oils, carrier oils, hydrosols, and herbs are grown/made in other countries, which would affect many suppliers). It would also affect consumers who love hand crafted products and who like supporting small businesses (less of a choice of natural and hand crafted cosmetics, and also huge increases in prices since small business companies and suppliers who pay the fees would have to increase prices to stay in business).

This is an issue that I am really concerned with as a long time crafter, a new small business owner, and a supporter of small businesses (many of which are usually family or woman owned or that are usually more ecological and social conscious, or that focus on natural cosmetics). Most of my favorite companies and suppliers are small businesses. Though I support more regulation of the cosmetic industry to increase safety in cosmetics, and support some (but not all) of the proposals in this legislation (like required registration of companies and listing of all ingredients in a product or following good manufacturer practices, which many small companies already do) I do not support the annual fees since they do not take into consideration the situation of or affect it will have on small cosmetic businesses and suppliers, especially the all natural and natural based cosmetic industries.

For more information on the issue or what you can do, check out Indie Beauty’s business blog and forum below (the owner of Indie Beauty Network, Donna Maria, is a well known natural cosmetics author and was a D.C. attorney). Sign their petition on the blog and also write to congress (the House, especially to the representatives on the energy and commerce committee) and tell them what you think! Read Indie Beauty’s forum for in depth discussion of the issue, and viewpoints of cosmetic owners and suppliers.

Indie Business Blog

Indie Business Forum

To read the draft of the proposed law, here is the link to the House’s Energy and Commerce committee.

the House's Energy and Commerce committee, FDA Globalization Act 2008

Thanks for reading, and please support small cosmetic businesses and suppliers!