Review: Organic Shampoos | Hair Health Quest #3

Dear Adventurers and Adventuresses!
The BEAUTYCALYPTIC rider has been out there in the toxic wasteland and has gathered some healthy loot she is about to review NOW.


Testing shampoos has proven to be tedious business. Some of the tested products (tested but not included here!) have been so bad that I don’t see why the companies bothered certifying. If you replace a harsh industrial ingredient with a harsh organic ingredient, what’s the point in that? To give green a bad name?

That’s why I swear by companies whose history tells me they really mean their green approach. But let’s have a quick look at what I found.

These are my admittedly quite strict critera:
– Certified organic AND meaning it*, ideally they should pure nuff to drink
– No palm oil OR ingredients derived from it ** (dewy-eyed-me…)
– No harsh detergents, even the natural ones can irritate the skin and whatnot***
– No allergenes****
– Affordable for (if one likes, though I disapprove) everyday use and easy to buy (niche is so niche)
Cruelty-free (worth its own post series)

How I tested: Only hardcore! Hard water, no conditioner, here I come! No, seriously – I haven’t used any conditioner before or after washing – just to check how it feels after washing my hair with the product.

And here’s my Loot Review of three certified organic shampoos on the Quest for the best there is.

Frequent Wash Shampoo, 200ml/8,50€, available online at
Certified organic: Ecocert

Highlight: The company is quite serious about their green DNA and supports enviromental projects with their own foundation, especially focusing on safeguarding the bees. They encourage us to suggest support-worthy projects here.
Melvita also supports a nature photography award you should definitely check out!
Palm oil: Derivates are probably** used. Melvita isn’t listed as a palm-oil-free brand as far as I could see.
Detergents: This is really a very mild but effective formula, enriched with lavender water and honey extracts.
Allergenes: On the plus side – it does not contain any known potent allergene or added fragrance (a sneaky bugger sometimes). The scent consists simply of natural ingredients but some of those, like (small amounts) of limonene and caramel can cause some reaction with highly allergy-prone individuals.
Affordable: Apart from the 200ml bottle I bought, there’s a family size available (500ml for 17€). Well. It’s money well invested but I want to investigate the palm oil story further before I splurge on this bottle.
Cruelty-free: Even though honey is used, thus making the product non-vegan, I must admit that I’m fine with honey. I haven’t heard of industrially abused bees so far. But then there’s the palm oil issue**.
Test: The shampoo smells good, like a herbal infusion, and looks like forest honey. The lather is there, but not too strong, the shampoo is not thick so it spreads well. The hair does get very squeaky, but no itching or dryness occurs. Once dry, the hair is shiny, soft and manageable.
New product: Hafer Aufbau-Shampoo (Oat Shampoo for dry and damaged hair), 190ml/9€, available at most drugstores and online
Certified organicNatrue
Highlight: Weleda are highly transparent and their products always have good value for money ratio.
Palm oil: The company was among the first to use organic palm oil only. However, all shampoos/shower gels do or can** contain palm oil derivates. On the plus side – a fair amount of really awesome Weleda products is guaranteed palm-oil free.
Detergents: Mild and natural.
Allergenes: Contains Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Fragrance (made from essential oils) and Coumarin.
Affordable: Not cheap, but again, everyday washing is a ritual inflicted upon us.
Cruelty-free: Not vegan and palm-oil-based. So let’s say, it’s hopefully cruelty-free.**
Test: The shampoo smells sweet and “milky” and looks golden. The lather is fine and soft, the hair is left feeling very clean and it even squeaks. No dryness, no itching. Manageable, bouncy hair; mine stayed fresh for three days flat!
Shampoo for dry and brittle hair with Rhodiola rosea extract and Pine nut milk, 400ml/250 Rubel=6,20€ (if bought in Russia), 8€ if bought in Germany, availability – in Russia in every supermarket, but in Europe they’re somewhat hard to get – yet?
Certified organicICEA
Highlight: Cosmoprof Best Green Cosmetics Award 2012.
Palm oil: Thankfully not in the main detergent which is said to be coconut and sugar-derived. But probably in the plant glycerin** though you can’t be sure.
Adventurers, I admit, I didn’t realise how widespread the use of palm oil was is before I started. I somehow presumed that the certified organic products would be also an enviromentally safe bet. Seems it’s not that easy.
Next shampoos I’ll test (and use) well be palm-oil free!
Detergents: Mild and not too many. What I love about this shampoo is that plant extract water as a base is used – as opposed to “just water”. Natura Siberica also uses Siberian officinal plants in their products and supports local projects.
Allergenes: Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, otherwise none, unless one is allergic to the healing plants used.
Affordable: Quite so. The 400 ml bottle lasts and lasts and lasts.
Cruelty-free: Probably.
Test: The transparent, slightly pink gel lathers very well and smells surprisinly nice and fresh for a flagrance-free product. It helps soothe and balance the scalp. I’ve given it to a friend with very oily hair – oily is often just another word for “dry”. It actually helped her, so she uses all her Russia connections for supply now (and occasionally I get a bottle, too) :).


* Just so you know: I won’t test “greenwashed” stuff. After all, I buy all the products I test here, and it’s my decision to give my money to a long-time-pioneer or a specialist manufacturer or a company I trust.

** WHAT’S THE THING WITH PALM OIL!? Well. The industrial palm oil is a rainforest killer and it’s so widely used in everything from chocolate to laundry liquid, from store-bought muesli to baby food… Its market share was 30% in 2012!

Now guess what happens – in order to produce and to sell more of this sought-after liquid gold, some people have said “Who needs stupid rainforest? It’s been growing here forever, it can surely live without a hectare or two! Let’s burn it, and plant palm trees, and make money!”…

Granted, certified organic companies normally use sustainable palm oil. But when they buy palm oil derivates, the sustainability gets blurry – no cosmetic company can guarantee that their supplier used sustainable palm oil. Duh!

It’s also hard to tell if the ingredients in your cosmetic product are palm-oil-based or not.

Well, given the market share of palm oil, they probably are, but it’s not like you can look at the INCI and actually tell what it is, except for such safe bets as Palm, Palmitate, and Palmate. Following ingredients can be or can be not palm oil based: (Plant) Glycerin, Cetearyl, Cetyl, Lauryl, Lauroyl, Laurate, Stearyl, Stearate and any unspecified “Plant Oil“.

But thank God there’s sustainable palm oil, right! Right?

How good are you in taking bad news?

To make matters worse, the Round Table organisation that sources organic/sustainable palm oil has faced some controversy re its reliability, being criticised by Greenpeace and the WWF.

This leaves me with a lot of questions. Until answers are given, I will avoid all products that use palm-tree oil and its derivates from now on. I see that the awareness is rising, which is good. The customers don’t want to willingly support environment destruction, poverty, and animal killings/extinction with their hard earned bucks!

But having spoken to people who travelled to the plantations, I quote them as saying “It might be already too late.”

*** Even detergents fit for certified organic products can be irritating. They aren’t good for any skin type that’s out of balance, dry, sensitive, or oily. And even shampoos stuffed with mild detergents (yes, they exist – for squeaky hair enthusiasts, probably) make my hair extra poofy in winter. I take off the cap and wuzzzz! bride of Frankenstein, or as I say, Tesla hair style.

**** Natural or organic doesn’t mean it’s blindly safe for allergy-prone people. Even aloe vera, which is used to soothe irritated skin, can cause severe reactions with some people.


Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

27 Responses

  1. I came looking for a Weleda shampoo review and I found you! ❤ I'm a huge weleda fan and haven't seen their shampoo around yet, I don't think it's out in the states yet!

  2. Hi. This post is pretty useful for me. I’m running a website related with shampoo for natural, free chemical. BTW, Is it possible to get your recommended product through I’m wondering about that. Anyways thx for your nice review. I will drop by often!

      1. Ooh, there was so much to take in that I forgot about the photo contest. Hm…do you think that my photos of Ben count? 😉 Remi won a safari one year for the Travel Photographer of the Year competition and so we did a story on it for Grands Reportages-it was a blast!!! We CAMPED. :O Scary times but very fun…

          1. Lemme see…these are from that safari:
            And most of these:
            And because we loved Ngorongoro so much we went back the year after and as I was DONE with camping amidst lions, we also did:
   (one of my favorite hotels we ever did)
            and the trip we took was something like:
   (save no Masai Mara and Zanzibar instead)
            And just for fun, taken on the second trip to Ngorongoro:

            Ta-da! 🙂

  3. You are explaining it to those of us who really don’t want to be ignorant and do want to understand.

    (Trying to figure out where in the heck I go now… to find good organic shampoos, and yes, I’ll check the fine print for the palm oil.)

    Awesome post!

  4. BLYSS chocolate

    brilliant article. well explained about the evils of palm oil, and the greenwashing of big brands, and also the difficulties the smaller distributors still have. more power to the info!

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