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My Cosmetics Quest: Favourite Shampoo & Conditioner Brands

shampoo brands

Current Household Brand Favourites

My quest to use safer cosmetics is progressing slowly (but surely). In contrast, changing over the family’s shampoos and conditioners can be done in one quick and easy swoop.

Since day one, I’ve been more careful to read ingredients on the products I used with the kids, so I’ve had some years to try quite a few brands. To date, these have included:

  • Prairie Naturals’ Northern Lights;
  • Mill Creek Botanicals;
  • Green Beaver;
  • EcoKid;
  • Giovanni;
  • Burt’s Bees; and
  • Kiss My Face.

Out of these, the least favourite for the kids was EcoKid. According to Stella, my 10-year-old, it is clumpy and smells too strong. On my end, I never noticed it being “clumpy,” but it is quite thick and takes longer to rinse out.

When it came to the others, she was content to use any of the brands pictured above. However, she does have a clear favourite: Green Beaver Fresh Mint. Her top reason? If you get it in your eyes, it doesn’t sting at all.

Green Beaver Mint Shampoo

Besides that my kids like the product, my reasons include that this shampoo and conditioner are:

  • Canadian;
  • Certified organic;
  • Vegan;
  • Biodegradable;
  • Reasonably priced.

Both Adria Vasil and Gillian Deacon are also fans of Green Beaver (Deacon’s kids chose Lavender as their favourite Green Beaver Shampoo).

Now, I mentioned I’d been lax when it came to what Hubby and I used. I dunno … it just didn’t seem as important somehow. But in reading through There’s Lead in Your Lipstick, Deacon cautions that the “SLS” ingredients (sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate) have suspected links to cancer and that the Environmental Working Group classifies both as carcinogenic.

So I decided to pick up a new shampoo and conditioner brand for us to. The one I came home with is called Live Clean.

I quite like this shampoo and conditioner and haven’t really noticed any negative differences since switching from my former salon-brand to this one in terms of how my hair looks and feels. I also checked in with my girlfriend who was shopping with me and also bought this combo. She has extremely sensitive skin and experiences nasty reactions to any products with formaldehyde-based ingredients (it is really gross how many of our every day products have formaldehyde in them!). She loves the line and has had no reactions whatsoever.

But in doing a bit of research for this post, it would seem that not everyone is a big fan. Dan Thompson concluded that Live Clean shampoo does not offer “anything “greener” or superior to just about any mass market shampoo.” In reading Thompson’s review (dated 2011), I think he was a bit heavy-handed in saying that it does not offer *anything* superior to mass market shampoo because LiveClean is:

  • Petroleum free;
  • Paraben free;
  • Phthalate free;
  • Phosphase free;
  • Vegan;
  • Biodegredable; and
  • Not test on animals.

However, he’s not the only one noting that Live Clean is not full of all the green and lovely ingredients you might imagine. Many of its ingredients are chemical-based, rather than plant-derived (in her book, Vasil demotes it one star in her rating  for this reason).

But just because something is from nature (hello arsenic?) doesn’t necessarily mean its safe and vice versa when it comes to chemically-derived ingredients. However, one thing that has stumped me a bit is that in a comment, Thompson suggests that the Live Clean shampoo cannot be “phthalate free” because phthalates are one of the main ingredients in cosmetic fragrances. Evita Ochel at Evolving Wellness (in 2008) also calls out the fragrance (called “Parfum” in the ingredient list) in Live Clean as problematic.

But since I’d bought my Live Clean products from Terra20 (remember them? … my personal assistant for avoiding greenwashing), I went back to my handy-dandy list of Terra20’s banned ingredients and confirmed that phthalate-based fragrances are not allowed through its doors. So, it would seem to me that some fragrances are safer than others. (I think I’ll try Stella’s Green Beaver choice next time for Hubby and I too, anyhow.)

But how the heck an average consumer is supposed to know which kind of fragrance or “parfum” has been used in a shampoo though is beyond me! Cosmetic giants sure don’t make it easy for us moms who just want to grab something off the shelf quickly, that’s for sure. What’s that old saying … oh yeah, it’s not easy being green.

Have you been trying out any new shampoos or conditioners? What are your favourites and why?

Update (Jan 17):  Pamela, the Terra20 Community Manager, got in touch with me personally to confirm that Live Clean does indeed meet the strict ingredient policy and does not contain any of the items on the “Banned Ingredients.” (Talk about great customer service, eh?)

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