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.


Anonymous said...

Hi Li,
You might not know what a wonderful you are doing, but reading your blog do help me a lot in searching eco friendly and skin friendly products. I just got the first order from Ida's shampoo bars. I ordered them after reading your blog and wanted to try them first before I say anything. I love how gentle the shampoo and soap bars are. I just have a hard time lather them up to get the bubbles I wanted. Mind you this is my very first time using soap bars ever. Do you have any tips you may want to share with me to make my shampoo bars extra foamy? Thanks so much!

Solarkat said...

Hi Linnie Winnie

Thanks so much for posting! Much apologizes in the delay in answering. I am so glad you love Ida's shampoo bars, they are amazing and she is truly a gifted soapmaker!

I like cutting the bars into smaller pieces, or use the sample bars. Wet your hair thoroughly, and your hands and soap too. then rub the bar vigorously in between the palm of your hands several times, put the soap down, and then massage the lather from your hands into you scalp and hair. Soap will not lather as much as a detergent based shampoo, but lather is not what cleans your hair; as long as you coat your hair with the soap, it doesn't matter if there isn't a lot of super fluffy bubbles.

HTH :)


Anonymous said...


I'm also using Ida's shampoo bars for the first time and I get a lot of lather so I thought I'd chip in. :) I wet my hair thoroughly, then I rub the shampoo bar in up down motion through the entire length of my hair; I make sure to do the underside too, so that the hair near the nape of my neck gets cleaned as well. I keep the bar wet (by waving it at the stream of water coming out of the shower nozzle) as I'm doing this so it lathers up quite easily. That's how I've been doing it and it's been working so far. The bar lathers up as you rub it (either in your hair or in your hands). I usually stop because I end up with so much lather! Hmm... now I'm wondering if I'm rubbing the soap too much!

Anonymous said...

Hi (again) Li,
Thanks so much for answering. The wait is nothing (since I started using all natural and mineral cosmetics, Im used to waiting whether for my orders or responds), so please dont feel bad about it. You are only a person. Ok, you are only a great person who cant do million things @ once.
Back to the soap. Yeah, I tried that too. It just feel a bit weird not seeing any bubble on the hair. Even tho I worked the bubbles on my hands, as soon as I rubbed them onto my hair, the bubbles disappeared. I guess it will take me a while to get used to. However, Im glad that I make this change. I have had a few compliments on how my hair looks, which is such a rare thing. I have to thank you and Ida for this (I did emailed her).
Please allow me to ask another question. When I use a wooden comb for my hair, its fine. But when I use the large rubber brush, there are some with-ish residue left on the brush. That have never occurred before. Do you think its because of me not rinsing well enough?
Again, thank you so much, Li. Cant wait til you open your own business!

Solarkat said...

Hi Dreamzz

Thanks for your comment! Ida's soaps are great!

Hi Linnie Winnie

See Dreamzz's suggestion too! Maybe your water is very hard or soft, sometimes when water is too hard or too soft it won't lather very much. But my water's pretty hard and mine lathers well.

Great that you've been getting compliments! :)

>But when I use the large rubber >brush, there are some with-ish >residue left on the brush.

What does the whitish residue look like; is it maybe flakes or dust? I use a wooden brush with wooden bristles but it has a rubber base where all the bristles are in, and
my brush grabs my hairs natural oils, dust, flakes (the scalp naturally flakes very fine flakes, but when it flakes too much in noticeable pieces that is dandruff). if it is flakes, is it very fine or large flakes?

You need to rinse well and when you first start using soaps, you need to use an acidic rinse: very well diluted lemon juice or diluted apple cider vinegar (like a acid: water 1:16 or 1:30 ratio), or herbal teas. I prefer teas because I find apple cider vinegar rinse too drying for me, but nearly all people prefer apple cider vinegar rinse.

>Cant wait til you open your own business!

Thanks! I keep having delays but definitely opening sometime in the fall.


Solarkat said...

Hi Linnie Winnie and Dreamzz

I forgot to mention I had to switch the settings on the comments from everyone allowed to post to only registered users allowed to post because of the amount of spam, so if you have any more questions please email me them if you aren't a registered user.

Take care! :)


Linnie Winnie said...

Hi Li,
I think my water is just too hard. I tried everything that you and dreamzz mentioned (and thank YOU for all of your advise), I did get a little lathers. Also, some soap may just lather much better than the other. The carrot honey Im using right now gives me a wondeful creamy lather that I love (again, not much bubble but I think Im getting used to it)while the nettle bar didnt lather as much.
Also, I did wash my hair with Loreal Viv once because I thought my hair needed a break. So I did a Olive Oil treatment, wash once with Loreal Viv shampoo, rinse, wash again with Ida's carrot honey bar, rinse with filtered water, rinse again with red wine vinegar. The result was unbelievable. My hair was soft, shiny, bouncy, full but light for two days. So the lesson is to listen to what my hair want and try to adjust to it.
About the brush. its not flake thats stick to it. Ist just a whit-ish residue like dust, but sticky and they are around the brush teeth. I also use a wooden comb and nothing sticked on it like they do the rubber one. I guess its the soap residue.
Thanks again, Li for such great review and advise. Im getting some bopdy bars for my mom in vietnam. Btw, registered to post on your blog only. Lol.

Solarkat said...

Hi Linnie Winnie

You're welcome :)

I love the carrot honey one too; just tried it a couple weeks ago. Very nice!

>Ist just a whit-ish residue like >dust, but sticky and they are around >the brush teeth.

My wooden brush with rubber base picks up a lot of dust and my natural hair oils too. It is probably dust and sebum.

>Btw, registered to post on your >blog only. Lol.

Cool; I am very sorry I had to switch settings, it seems to have cut out most of the spam though, but I did get one message that started out as more info on shea butter but it had a link to a company and the blog from the person was a blank blog with no entries. Sigh, I hate spam.