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Chemical-Free Shampoo: The Complete Guide On Safer Hair Care

Posted on May 27 2020

woman washing hair with chemical-free shampoo

Whether you’ve got long, flowing locks or sport a short, snappy cut, you want to take care of your hair with products that are safe for your body, good for the earth, and make you look and feel great. Say hello to chemical-free shampoo!

But with so many different brands and types of shampoo on the shelves, how do you know what’s good and what’s not? How can you find the best chemical-free shampoo?

First, let’s zoom out a bit and take a look at where the trend of “clean beauty” and chemical-free products came from in the first place.

Then we’ll go over what to look for — ingredients to avoid and ingredients to embrace! — when you’re shopping for shampoo.

Why You Should Read The Ingredients

If you thought reading the ingredient label was just for the grocery store, think again! What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body.

If you’re searching for non-irritating, earth-friendly, healthy cosmetics and hair care, you can’t grab any old bottle off the shelf — you have to read the ingredient list, or at least look twice at the bottle. Here’s why.

woman shopping for chemical-free shampoo

In 1938, Congress passed cosmetic (which includes shampoo) regulations. Since then, the government has not defined safety standards for cosmetic ingredients, even though a lot has changed since the mid-1900s!

What does that mean for shampoo? There aren’t many ingredients off-limits. Questionable, chemical-filled ingredients are in the hair products you use every day.

Since there’s no regulating body, if you want to avoid irritating and potentially harmful ingredients, you have to pick through the available products yourself.

Luckily, nonprofits like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) are on the same page. They’re helping consumers like you choose products that are safe for both you and the earth.

That being said, let’s get straight to shampoo and a few of the specific ingredients you want to stay away from if you’re hunting for a more natural, gentle shampoo.

Chemical-Free Shampoo: Ingredients To Avoid


This ingredient might ring a bell for you because there’s a lot of talk about sulfate-free shampoos in the beauty industry.

But sulfates are what make your shampoo lather and foam, giving you that great, clean feeling. Why would anyone want a sulfate-free shampoo?

man washing hair with chemical-free shampoo

It’s true that sulfates do a good job of cleaning your hair and getting rid of dirt, grime, and product buildup. The problem is they also strip your hair and scalp of natural oils, which can cause dryness, itching, and brittle hair.

What’s more, sulfates can irritate sensitive skin, too. And if you dye your hair, they will shorten the life of your color. All in all, we think it’s best to do away with sulfates!

How can you know if your shampoo is sulfate-free? Some bottles wear the “sulfate-free” label loud and proud on the front! If not, check the label for sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).

While you might miss the feel-good lather of regular, sulfate-filled shampoos, rest assured that your hair will still get clean with sulfate-free shampoo!


Another ingredient to stay away from are preservatives called parabens.

Of course, you don’t want your shampoo to grow bacteria or mold, but the problem with parabens is that they can cause allergic reactions and skin rashes.

Even more worrisome, parabens are an endocrine-disruptor. That means they mimic your body’s hormones and interfere with the way your body works.

We don’t know about you, but that’s a big, fat no from us!

What should you look out for? You’ll know you’ve spotted this preservative in your shampoo if you see “paraben” in the second half of a word. Here are a few examples of common parabens:

  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Ethylparaben


woman detangling hair after washing with chemical-free shampoo

Everyone loves a great-smelling head of hair! Unfortunately, synthetic fragrances that make regular shampoos smell so good can irritate your skin.

Synthetic scents sometimes show up on the ingredient list as simply “fragrance” or “parfum.” Even more troubling, tons of different synthetic fragrances and chemicals can hide in that one ingredient.

In other cases, synthetic fragrances go by these names:

  • Ethanol
  • Camphor
  • Citral
  • Phenoxyethanol

Chemical-Free Shampoo: Ingredients To Love!

When you’re looking for hair care products that are good for you and good for the earth, too, it’s not just about what ingredients your shampoo doesn’t have. It’s also about all the good ingredients it does have!

Let’s take a look at a few of our favorite chemical-free shampoo ingredients.

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice

Aloe Barbadensis plant

If you think of the beach when you think of aloe, you’re on the right track!

Aloe is what you put on your skin after you’ve spent a little too long in the sun or forgotten your sunscreen (oops!). But aloe does way more than calm sun-kissed skin.

The leaves of aloe produce at least six natural antiseptics, which can kill mold, bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

For skin care, aloe is most known for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties and is a great healer of dry skin.

We use aloe (along with cucumber) in our Swim & Sport Shampoo & Wash to moisturize and comfort your scalp and skin. You can count on this shampoo to remove chlorine, salt, pollution, and grime and leave your hair soft, hydrated, and shiny!

Vegetable Glycerin

Vegetable glycerin is a natural fat produced by various plant oils, like sustainable palm or coconut oil.

What role does it play in hair care? It can attract and retain moisture, which helps to moisturize hair follicles and give your hair a lustrous shine!

You’ll find this ingredient in Babo Botanicals’s Smoothing Detangling Shampoo & Wash, a must-have for anyone who has hair licks, knots, tangles, and frizz.

Our great-smelling shampoo contains smoothing and detangling moisturizers, like vegetable glycerin, for faster combing time and less pulling!

Babo Botanicals Chemical-Free Smoothing Shampoo & Wash

Calendula Oficinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract

Calendula is extracted as oil from the common marigold flower and is ideal for use on all oily skin types, including sensitive and delicate skin and scalps.

Calendula is known to help soothe cradle cap or dry patches on the scalp. That’s why we use it in our Moisturizing Baby Shampoo & Wash!

This shampoo for your little ones is rated a one in safety by the EWG and contains oatmilk to comfort dry or eczema-prone skin and calendula oil for cradle cap and dry patches.

Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil

Shampoo can do so much more than simply clean your hair. And it should!

Eucalyptus essential oil is known to help aid sleep and relieve coughs, congestion, and colds. When it’s in your shampoo, you’re doing two things at once: cleaning your hair and soaking in the natural vapors of comforting eucalyptus!

Here at Babo Botanicals, we wanted to take it one step further and make a eucalyptus shampoo that’s also good for the planet — specifically koalas!

To make our 3 in 1 Eucalyptus Remedy™ Plant Based Shampoo, Bubble Bath and Wash, we use natural eucalyptus harvested with 100% renewable energy on a woman-owned farm in Australia.

3 in 1 Eucalyptus Remedy™ Plant Based Shampoo, Bubble Bath and Wash

By growing eucalyptus, the farm creates a sanctuary and food source for the koalas. This encourages them to use the natural habitat as a safer way to travel in the area to avoid being hit on the busy roads.

Not only do we love supporting this farm, but we also contribute 10% of our Eucalyptus Product Sales to WIRES (Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service).

Healthy Hair, Happy Earth

carefree woman at the beach

With chemical-free shampoo, it’s possible to keep your hair shiny and healthy, take care of your body, and look out for the earth all at the same time!

As you’re shopping around for shampoo, remember to steer clear of sulfates, parabens, and fragrances. Instead, look for ingredients like aloe, vegetable glycerin, calendula, and eucalyptus, and opt for gentle shampoos like Babo Botanicals’s Smoothing Detangling Shampoo & Wash.

You won’t regret making the switch to chemical-free shampoo, and you can rest easy knowing that it’s contributing to your healthy hair and a happy earth!

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