Want to wash your luscious locks with a highly rated shampoo that is kind to animals, the planet and you? We are here for you! We have compiled a list of eight vegan, cruelty-free shampoos that are also EWG Verified, meaning they are free from any concerning ingredients. These popular shampoos will keep you and your hair healthy and looking great!
We did MANY hours of research to comb through the hundreds of shampoos out there to find ones that meet our criteria and we learned a LOT in the process. For example, we were personally shocked to learn that being vegan does not necessarily mean cruelty-free or natural. A vegan shampoo can still be tested on animals or contain harmful chemicals. Yikes! So it is important to go beyond the green-washing and dig into the details, which we did.
If you like, you can click here to jump straight to our shampoo recommendations. Or, if you would like to learn more about the harmful ingredients that are lurking in your conventional shampoos and their possible health impacts, as well as the criteria we used to pick our recommended vegan, cruelty-free shampoos that are clean and kind, then keep reading!
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Our Methodology for Selecting Recommended Shampoos
Here are the four criteria we used in selecting our recommended vegan, cruelty-free, EWG verified shampoos:
1. Shampoos that are Vegan
The first criterion was to pick vegan shampoos. A vegan shampoo means that it does not contain any animal products or animal by-products.
The term vegan does not imply anything about animal testing. In fact it is hypothetically possible that a vegan shampoo was tested on animals.
Vegan also does not imply anything regarding whether the ingredients are natural or non-toxic. There are vegan shampoos that contain synthetic chemicals that are harmful to your health.
2. Shampoos that are Cruelty-Free
Our second criterion was that the shampoo also needed to be cruelty-free. A cruelty-free shampoo means that it has not been tested on animals.
3. Shampoos that are EWG Verified
Our third criterion was that the shampoos needed to have the "EWG Verified" rating, which is the best rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). This means that the product avoids EWG's ingredients of concern, there is full transparency with ingredients listed, and the brand has good manufacturing practices.
The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit that researches and reports on the toxicity of product ingredients and specific brand products. They make this information available through their online database called the EWG Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database. Currently, the Skin Deep database has information on 8,892 ingredients and 64,983 personal care products.
EWG assigns a hazard score to each individual ingredient and to each personal care product based on the toxicity of the ingredients. Their range starts with "EWG Verified" which means there are no chemicals of concern, and then proceeds with a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being the lowest hazard and 10 being the highest hazard.
We recommend using products that are EWG Verified, or at least have ratings of 1 or 2, all of which are in the "low hazard" category.
4. Shampoos that have good reviews on Amazon
Finally, we wanted to recommend products that are easy to buy, so these are all available on Amazon. We chose only products that had a preponderance of positive user reviews.
Next, let's take a look at WHY we thought it was important to include the EWG Verified rating to ensure that your shampoo is non-toxic and safe to use.
Harmful Ingredients in Conventional Shampoos & their Health Risks
We were shocked to discover the number of harmful chemicals commonly found in conventional shampoos. You might think, "All of these big brands have been on the market for years, so they can't be that bad or they wouldn't be allowed." And yes, you could reasonably assume that in the United States there would be adequate consumer safety regulations for product ingredients, but to a surprising extent, they are not as stringent as you might like them to be. So if you want to be sure that the products you are using are actually free from harmful ingredients, it is wise to do your own research on ingredient safety, and then choose brands that have safe ingredients and align with your values.
Here are several of the common hazardous ingredients found in shampoos along with their potential health impacts:
Sulfates help the shampoo in foaming. The most common ones are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). On rinsing, they remove natural oils, moisturizers, and color, which in turn causes dryness and flaking. They may also cause diarrhea, intestinal pain, lung irritation, dermatitis, and edema. However, this is only possible if the sulfate quantity is high.
Parabens are used in shampoos and conditioners to increase their shelf life. Scientific studies have found that parabens cause skin irritation, disrupt hormones, have negative impacts on reproductive organs, harm fertility, increase cancer risk, and impact birth results. To check for parabens, look for ingredient names ending with 'paraben', such as butylparaben or ethylparaben.
Polyethylene glycol or PEG is used for the thickening of shampoos and conditioners. Its common health impacts include severe allergic reactions, digestive issues (if ingested accidentally), and electrolytic imbalances.
Triclosan is an antibacterial preservative, which is now banned in antibacterial soaps. Its most common health impacts include skin irritation, muscle function issues, endocrine disruption, and problems with antibacterial resistance.
There are lots of studies that show that formaldehyde is a carcinogen but it's still found in numerous shampoo brands to prevent bacterial contamination. Common health impacts include skin rashes, breathing problems, and issues with lung function. It's normally labeled as quaternium-15 in shampoo ingredients.
Synthetic Fragrances and Colors
The synthetic fragrances and colors contained in shampoos are superfluous to actual hair care, but they can result in damaged hair, skin issues, and other health problems.
The word "fragrance" is a label used for multiple harmful chemicals by shampoo brands to add fragrances. It may cause infertility, irritation, asthma, and even cancer.
Now, let's talk a bit about synthetic colors. These colors are generally derived from petroleum and coal tar. They cause skin irritation, sensitivity, and block pores. Look for FD&C and D&C alongside a number to check for synthetic fragrances and colors in your personal care products.
Dimethicone, a silicone form, is used by shampoo brands to make your hair feel soft and smooth. Unfortunately, it isn't a long-term benefit, in fact, it eventually dries your hair, causes itchy skin, and results in built-up roots.
Retinyl palmitate is used in shampoos to improve the appearance and feel of the hair, but its usage, in the long run, causes aging and other skin problems, such as burning, itching, irritation, peeling, and scaling. Other health impacts are reported to include liver damage, brittle nails, skin cancer (when exposed to excessive sunlight), and osteoporosis and hip fractures in old age.
If you'd like to avoid all of these harsh chemicals with their potential health impacts, and also avoid animal derived ingredients, then we hope you will like the shampoos we recommend below!
Our Top Picks: 8 Best Vegan, Cruelty-Free, EWG Verified Shampoos
Whew! Now that we've gotten through the ingredients in conventional shampoos, let's jump into the shampoos that actually made the cut after going through our rigorous selection process! These are vegan and cruelty-free shampoos that are EWG Verified and available to purchase on Amazon.
The ATTITUDE Super Leaves shampoo is designed to revive thin and dull hair in a gentle manner with refreshing orange and cardamom aromatics. It promises to give volume, strength, and shine through an expertly driven combination of cranberry extract, antioxidants, and soy protein. The watercress and Indian cress super leaves extract ensure you get glow and volume, without any greasy feeling, thanks to the vitamins and minerals present in them. You can refill the bottle numerous times through their innovative eco-refills. And ATTITUDE has planted 1.5 million trees since 2021.
Positive Review: "Great shampoo that is perfect for fine hair! It doesn't weigh it down." ~ Amazon reviewer Melody M Jenkins
- Values: ECOLOGO® certified, clean ingredients, dermatologically tested, hypoallergenic, vegan, and cruelty-free shampoo
- Packaging: Recycled HDPE #2 plastic refillable bottle, BPA-free, 100% recyclable #7 plastic bag and tap, and FSC-certified, 100% recyclable cardboard box. Up to 80% less plastic (packaging options vary based on the volume of the product).
- Color-Safe: No
- Ingredients: Aqua / water / eau, sodium coco-sulfate, coco-glucoside, vegetable glycerin, sodium cocoyl isethionate, citric acid, panthenol (vitamin B5), glyceryl oleate, sodium benzoate, inulin, potassium sorbate, nasturtium officinale (watercress / cresson) extract, tropaeolum magus (Indian cress / capucine) extract, maltodextrin, moringa oleifera seed extract, hydrolyzed soy protein, vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberry / canneberge) fruit extract, decanal (fruit), pentadecalactone (fruit), raspberry ketone.
View on Amazon: Attitude Super Leaves Shampoo
If you are looking for a vegan shampoo option for your brittle or hair, then the Avalon Organics Strengthening Peppermint Shampoo is one of the best cruelty-free shampoos that you can get your hands on. It gently cleanses and brings back bounce through peppermint and babassu essential oils. Other ingredients that may help in preventing future breakage and healthy hair growth include quinoa protein, calendula, aloe vera, and vitamin E.
Positive Review: "This clarifying shampoo smells great and gives my hair pristine brilliance! My hair is left lightweight with a clean scalp. A lifesaver for one with an oily scalp and dry hair issues." ~ Amazon reviewer CamillaAstrid
- Values: Vegan, cruelty free, biodegradable formula, certified by QAI to NSF/ANSI 305, and recognized by the CCIC Leaping Bunny Program
- Free From: GMOs, synthetic colors or fragrances, parabens, harsh preservatives, and phthalates
- Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juicer (Certified Organic Ingredient), Aqua (Water), Coco-Glucoside, Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate, Glycerin, Heptyl Glucoside, Xanthan Gum, Canarium Luzonicum Gum Nonvolatile, Cedrus Atlantica Bark Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Geranium Maculatum Oil, Mentha Arvensis Leaf Oil, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Calendula Officinaiis (Calendula) Flower Extract (Certified Organic Ingredient), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (Certified Organic Ingredient), Chenopodium Quinoa Seed (Certified Organic Ingredient), Mentha Pipenta (Peppermint) Leaf Extract (Certified Organic Ingredient), Tocopheryl Acetate, Alcohol (Certified Organic Ingredient), Babassu Oil Polyglyceryl-4 Esters, Bisabolol, Citric Acid, Inulin (Certified Organic Ingredient), Sodium Chloride, Benzyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Limonen.
View on Amazon: Avalon Organics Shampoo
The Bravo Sierra Hair and Body Solid cleanser is an all-in-one vegan and cruelty free cleanser for hair, face, and body, which makes it an excellent choice for traveling and active military service. Even though it has a sulfate free formula, it produces a rich and dense lather. The coconut, oat flour, and shea butter leave the skin feeling soft and the hair looking healthy. Each bar lasts for 30 to 40 showers. Even though it's advertised for men, women can use it as well.
Positive Review: "This solid cleanser is fantastic. It lathers really well, cleans great, and rinses well, even with hard water. It also lasts quite a while and doesn't irritate my skin. The price is great also, more product for less money than other brands." ~ Amazon Reviewer Brandon Petrowski
- Values: Vegan, cruelty free, contributes 5% of the sales to military Quality of Life support, carbon neutral manufactured, Cradle to Cradle Gold certified, and Navy Seal Foundation supporter
- Free From: Fragrance, parabens, phthalates, phenoxyethanol, silicons, PEG, and sulfates
- Ingredients: Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Water (Aqua), Polyglyceryl- 4 Laurate, Glycerin, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour, Fragrance (Parfum), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Maltodextrin, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Spirulina Maxima Extract, Citric Acid.
View on Amazon: Bravo Sierra Hair & Body Solid Cleanser
Are you looking for a vegan cruelty free shampoo for your kid that doesn't contain coconut? If yes, then you should give Clean Kids Naturally Tropical Orange Burst Shampoo a shot to achieve a highly effective, yet extremely gentle cleansing result through a balanced combo of lime and orange. The seaweed and aloe vera extract work wonders in balancing the hair and scalp of sensitive skinned kiddos through a rich stimulating effect. Did we mention that it smells amazing?!
Positive Review: "The only one we've found that's safe for coconut allergies and doesn't leave a residue. So glad to have found this." ~ Amazon reviewer Evie
- Values: Vegan and animal cruelty-free
- Free From: Gluten, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, coconut, artificial colors, fluoride/glycol, lanolin, petrolatum, and mineral oils
- Packaging: Recyclable through the TerraCycle Zero Waste Box (you get a free makeup product of your choice on sending five containers for recycling)
- Color-Safe: Yes
- Ingredients: Aqua (Infusion Of Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice), Laminaria Japonica Extract, Glycerin, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Flower Extract, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Peel, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citric Acid, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Lecithin, Calcium Pantothenate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Sweet Orange) Flower Oil, Potassium Sorbate.
View on Amazon: Clean Kids Naturally Shampoo
If you are looking to fulfill your goals of healthy hair and fresh skin, without a ton of products, then the Everyone 3-in-1 soap is a great pick for you. This versatile cleanser gently cleanses your hair and body, leaving you smelling divine, thanks to the great combination of cedar wood and citrus. The bottles and packaging are made from 100% recycled materials, giving it extra points for being eco-friendly.
Positive Review: "Smells fresh and great. Perfect unisex multipurpose soap. Awesome value." ~ Amazon reviewer Allison Weeks
- Values: Vegan, animal cruelty free brand, no animal testing. Zero waste manufacturing.
- Free From: Synthetic Fragrance, parabens, dyes, phthalates
- Packaging: 100% recycled plastic bottles
- Ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Coco-Sulfate, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Sodium Chloride, Coco-Glucoside, Panthenol, Lavandula Hybrida Oil, EO Herbal Blend [Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract and Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract], Glycerin, Citric Acid, Sodium Phytate, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Tocopherol.
View on Amazon: Everyone 3-in-1 Soap
The Pipette Baby Shampoo + Wash in the vanilla + Ylang Ylang scent is a baby natural shampoo and wash option formulated with clean, plant-derived ingredients. The sugarcane-derived moisturizing squalane and plant-derived glycerin gently cleanses the sensitive scalp and hair of your newborn without striping the natural moisture, and restores the baby's natural delicate skin balance. Clinical results show that there's 157% improvement in hydration after using the Pipette baby shampoo + wash. That's quite something!
Positive Review: "Love this for my newborn. My kids have all had sensitive skin and none of them react to this." ~ Amazon reviewer Lindsey
- Values: Vegan, cruelty free brand, tear free, leaping bunny certified, pediatrician approved, and hypoallergenic
- Free From: Synthetic fragrances and sulfates
- Packaging: Pipette uses renewable plastic sources whenever possible for their bottles
- Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Glycerin, Coco-Glucoside, Glycolipids, Squalane, Citric Acid, Vanillin, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Magnesium Chloride, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Triethyl Citrate, Sodium Benzoate, Juniperus Virginiana Oil, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Anisaldehyde, Benzyl Acetate, Sodium Gluconate.
View on Amazon: Pipette Baby Shampoo & Wash
The Whole Naturals Pure-Castile Soap is a one size fits all in vegan cleansers as you can use it for a wide range of cleaning purposes ranging from washing hair to doing laundry. It is completely scent free and comes with a free recipe ebook to create your own perfume formula. The liquid soap is made of luxury oils (prickly pear, argon, jajoba, almond, and hemp) that provide vitamins, antioxidants and omega fatty acids to smooth and hydrate the skin. Last but not least, it is the only third party Certified Palm Oil Free soap company in the world!
Positive Review: "The only soap I use for EVERYTHING! I won’t use anything else!" ~ Amazon reviewer Alyssa
- Values: Vegan, cruelty free, biodegradable, OTCO certified organic, and leaping bunny approved
- Free From: Palm oil, GMO, parabens, phthalates, gluten, artificial color or fragrance, and SLS or SLES
- Ingredients: Purified Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Castor Oil, Organic Argan Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Almond Sweet Oil, Organic Apricot Kernel Oil, Organic Prickly Pear Oil, Organic USP Vegetable Glycerin (Flaxseed Derived), USDA Certified Organic Ingredients, Fair Trade Coconut Oil
View on Amazon: Whole Naturals Pure-Castile Soap
Carolina Gentle Peppermint Castile Soap can be used for everything! It makes for a wonderful shampoo and body wash and can even be used for your laundry soap. Its main oil ingredient is olive oil which reviewers say makes it a skin-softening soap that is gentle and hydrating for sensitive skin. Carolina Castile Soap comes in unscented as well as a variety of scents made from essential oils. There are no artificial fragrances used in any of their formulations.
Positive Review: "Loved the fragrance and the feel of my hair after using for shampoo and body wash." ~ Amazon reviewer Dr. Merrill Ashcraft
- Values: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Not tested on animals
- Free From: Paraben Free, No artificial fragrance, no palm oil
- Ingredients: Organic Olive Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Fair Trade Cocoa Butter, Wild Mint Oil, Peppermint Oil, Kukui Nut Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
View on Amazon: Carolina Castile Soap
We hope this article has given you some good options for cruelty-free vegan shampoos that are also good for you and the planet. Let us know in the comments below if you've found a favorite new shampoo!
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- 8 Best Vegan & Cruelty-Free Shampoos that are EWG Verified - January 2, 2023