As part of my big trip prep I have been investigating what the shampoo options are that aren’t going to harm the fishies if I wash in a lake or river. I was hoping for a bar if possible, because some of them can do enough washes for 3 bottles, which would be awesomely space saving while living in the van and potentially plastic free.
At first I just searched for biodegradable options, hoping that this would be labelled all over anything that was, but unfortunately there is a massive variation on the amount of information you can find depending on the website, retailer or manufacturer.
So having spent quite a lot of time doing this research, I thought I would share so others can make an informed decision too!
Shampoos seem to be the most problematic as there are ingredients required to make lather which are not required in conditioner, I’m not too fussed if I get a head full of soapy bubbles so long as my hair is clean, in good condition and detangled at the end of the day, but as I try out each one I will link a review. If you have more information, I’d love to learn more so please add in the comments below 🙂
What ingredients might you want to look out for?
For me, biodegradable and using as few synthetic ingredients is the most important thing, but you may have other criteria. I’m not vegan, and in fact would prefer to use something made from honey or egg than some chemical made in a lab. However, ingredients lists on bottles are not always clear. Here is what I was looking out for:
These are a preservative but have the ability to mimic oestrogen and there is some concern that this may be linked to cancer. Can be replaced by rosemary, thyme, oregano, grapefruit and others.
SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate)
Is used as a skin irritant when testing allergies, can also be found in engine degreaser and is mostly there to produce a nice lather in shampoos.
Other things that I got confused with SLS: sodium lauroyl sarcosinate (natural amino acid that can be found in coconut oil or palm oil)
Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)
A weaker form of SLS but the chemicals required to convert SLS (whether sourced from petroleum or plant) to SLES are all from petrol and crude oil.
Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate (ALS)
Doesn’t penetrate the skin as much as SLS because of its larger molecular structure, this is a surfactant (helps oil and water mix= lather) and helps remove dirt. Being a suphate, it can be drying to the hair. It is classified as biodegradable, however, I don’t think the lake I wash in should have to spend 14 days ‘curing’ itself after it has been exposed.
Mostly responsible for deforestation of rainforests, this is generally not seen as an environmentally responsibly oil choice. The use of palm oil hasn’t been considered in my Venn diagram, but there is a note with each brand below.
Where did I get my information?
I started with the obvious highstreet stores, Boots, Superdrug, Lush and Body Shop.
When they provided less fruitful than I had hoped, I tried health store Holland and Barrett.
Then I tried online outlet www.ethicalsuperstore.com, which I was surprised to find was UK based. I now love this site, you can search by ethical tags and it does all sorts of products, not just health and beauty!
One thing to note is that I have taken the manufacturer/retailers claims rather than going into depth to verify this.
To summarise the shampoo information I found here is a handy Venn diagram:
Lush- Vegan friendly and lots of natural and fairtrade ingredients, but all products (including conditioner bars) contain SLS/ALS.
Body shop- The Rainforest line is the best of those available, all natural ingredients and vegan and sustainably sourced.
Hairburst- Contains ALS only
Dr Organic– Contains sodium lauroyl sarcosinate which can be easily confused with SLS, but contamination can make it carcinogenic
Faith in Nature- Contains ALS only, uses sustainable palm oil sources, is vegan and cruelty free. Refills are available in some plastic free/ independent shops (ie you squeeze what you want out of massive bottles). Some of their conditioners also contain ALS.
Pure Potions – Cruelty free and vegan
Good Bubble- Child friendly no tears formulas and vegan
Andalou- cruelty free, vegan, gluten free, not GMO, somehow uses fruit Stem cell research, but not entirely sure how
Green People- Palm Oil Free, organic and vegan
Jason- Sustainable palm oil sources
Alba Botanical- Made in the USA, vegan, contains SLS.
Akin- Contains palm oil
La Coupe ORGNX- contains SLS
Friendly soap- Cruelty free, vegan, made in the UK, plastic free packaging.