Toxic chemicals ratings of shampoo brands
The often complex and long ingredients lists of bodycare products contain a number of ingredients of concern. Parabens, phthalates and triclosan have been selected by Ethical Consumer as important indicators for our own toxics rating.
Companies that receive our best mark for their toxics policies avoid all three toxins, ones who score a middle in our score table above, have a policy to avoid one or two of the toxins, and companies that score a worst use all three of the toxins or have no policy.
|Odylique, Bentley Organic, Caurnie, Faith In Nature, Green People, Weleda, Pure Nuff Stuff, Little Satsuma, Neal’s Yard, Lavera, A Vogel, Avalon, JASON, Alba
Yaoh, Urtekram, Lush, Honesty, Aesop, Logona, Sante, Johnson’s, Neutrogena, Palmolive, Imperial Leather, Boots, Dove, Simple, Tresemme
Suma, Vosene, Molton Brown, John Frieda, Batiste, Clarins, Schwarzkopf, Estée Lauder, Sassoon, Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Herbal Essences, Avon, Body Shop, L’Oréal, Garnier, Superdrug, Daniel Field, Alpecin
Holland & Barrett's Dr Organic brand also score a worst rating whilst Friendly Soap scores middle.
Risks of foaming agents
Some people may also want to avoid the foaming agents sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and its milder form sodium laureth sulphate (SLES), which are known irritants and are often used in shampoos.
However, the Skin Deep website gives SLS and SLES hazard ratings of 1-2 (low hazard) and 3 out of 10 (moderate hazard) respectively, and states that research studies have found that exposure to the ingredient itself, not the products that contain it, have indicated potential health risks.
Find out more about toxic chemicals in our feature 'Toxic Beauty'.
Palm oil in shampoo
Palm oil and its derivatives are found in a vast number of cosmetics products including shampoo. How a company sources and traces its palm oil products will affect whether it is linked with the clearing of rainforests and peatlands, and the degree to which its products negatively affect local communities, biodiversity and climate change.
Our new palm oil column, in the table above, shows which companies receive our best, middle and worst ratings for their palm oil policies and practices.
Palm oil free: Odylique, Caurnie Soap and Honesty.
Animal testing by shampoo companies
As animal testing is common in the cosmetics industry, we have rated the animal testing policies of all companies in this guide. Companies will score a best rating if they have a policy not to test on animals, have a fixed cut-off date (a date after which none of their products or ingredients will have been tested on animals) for ingredients and are not selling to markets (e.g. China) where product animal testing is required by law.
Best Ethical Consumer rating:
Essential Care, Faith In Nature, Desford Holdings, Honesty, Friendly Soaps, Pure Nuff Stuff, Triangle Wholefoods Collective, Neal’s Yard Remedies, Weleda, Lush Cosmetics, Natura Cosmeticos, Little Satsuma, Logocos Naturkosmetik, Caurnie Soap, Daniel Field and Hain Celestial Group.
Middle Ethical Consumer rating:
Bentley Organic, Yaoh, Laverana, Bioforce Roggwil, Midsona, Li & Fung and Superdrug Stores.
Worst Ethical Consumer rating:
Kao Corporation, Church & Dwight, Holland & Barrett, Zochonis Family, Clarins, Henkel, Johnson & Johnson, Avon Products, Estée Lauder, JAB Holding, Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal/Nestle (owners of Body Shop International), Dr. Wolff-Gruppe, Daniel Field Direct, Colgate-Palmolive, WBA Investments and Unilever.
Cruelty International explain the global campaign to end animal testing in our feature.
Animal friendly alternative shampoo brands
There is now a wide range of vegan and vegetarian alternatives within the shampoo market – as highlighted by an [A] after the brand name in the table.
Vegan products are offered by Odylique, Daniel Field, Bentley Organic, Caurnie, Faith In Nature, Green People, Friendly Soap, Neal’s Yard, Honesty, Yaoh, Suma, Little Satsuma, Weleda, Laverana, Avalon Organics, Lush, Urtekram, Logona and Sante.
If you are vegan you may wish to buy from a vegan company as well. Vegan companies include: Caurnie, Honesty, Yaoh and Little Satsuma.
Most shampoo comes in plastic bottles which may not be recycled in all areas. Shampoo bars are offered by LUSH as an effective lower-input alternative. Friendly Soap only makes solid shampoo bars.