Hair care is a big part of our daily beauty routine. From shampooing and conditioning to treatments and styling aids, we apply a great deal of product to our scalps and hair every day.  While we often concern ourselves with what goes into our skincare, sunscreen and cosmetics, we tend to neglect to check the ingredients in our hair products.

It should come as no surprise that many commercial shampoos contain a number of ingredients that are both harmful to your health and to the environment. Reading about the potential harm that these chemicals can do was frankly quite alarming.

In our pursuit for a balanced, healthy and considered life, it’s become increasingly important to find and support companies that embrace sustainability by making products that are kinder to us, our planet and the creatures that inhabit it with us. Not to forget though, that we also value quality and products that actually work.


The list of nasties that can be found in beauty and hair care products is quite extensive. These include chemicals that are toxic to our immune systems, have been associated with cancer and are linked to a plethora of health issues from skin and liver damage to interfering with growth hormones and the reproductive system. Not only are they bad for your health, but they are also very toxic to the environment. To make matters worse, prolonged use will actually damage your hair!

The list can be quite dizzying so I’ve tried to distill the most frequently mentioned baddies, the worst of the worst if you like, below. Keep this handy when next you shop. The idea is to find a product with the least amount of these present but preferably, none!



Choose products with natural oils like avocado oil, shea butter, argan oil, olive oil and jojoba. They will condition and moisturise your hair without an oily build-up while also providing vitamins and protection. Honey serves as an antiseptic and helps your locks retain moisture. Panthenol (Vitamin B) thickens follicles and also retains moisture. Citric acid lowers the pH balance in shampoos while keeping your hair cuticles flat and smooth looking.

Some careful consideration when picking out your products can save both your hair and your health from some of the nastiest effects of the chemicals found in many commercial hair care products.

To help, we’ve provided a selection of quality (salon grade), cruelty-free hair care product ranges that are available locally that we consider to be a safer bet than most. These ranges contain products for all hair types. Some may still contain certain bad chemicals but on balance, they are less harmful to us and the planet than the majority of the brands commercially available on our shelves.



Natural & Organic | Natural, plant-based ingredients.

Eco-Friendly | Plant-based, biodegradable ingredients.

Price Range | R420 for shampoos, R450 for conditioners and R950 for their Colour Restore Packs.

With everything I’ve read about his brand, I was SUPER excited to find this product locally.

HAIRPRINT was founded on the back of a safe, environmentally friendly, non-toxic, way to colour greying hair. Their revolutionary natural dying method is the only hair colour treatment in the world to be granted Madesafe certification which means it’s completely safe to use and it’s great for the planet! Because most shampoos have ingredients that coat the hair and can block HAIRPRINT, they came up with a range of their own natural shampoos to effectively rid hair of synthetic build-up without stripping and damaging the hair. They also have daily use shampoos and conditioners created to restore and balance the scalp and hair over time. And their packaging is gorgeous!

Available online at Hair Print South Africa.



Natural & Organic | 88-95% naturally derived ingredients.

Eco-Friendly | Plant-based, biodegradable ingredients.

Price Range | From R270 for shampoos and conditioners to R495 for treatments.

I’ve been using Davines products for some time now. Aside from their beautiful packaging and wonderful range of quality products, this family-owned business is guided by a core principal of sustainable beauty.

Available at Carlton Hair salons or online from Scar Hair or Bionic Hair & Beauty Studio.



Natural & Organic | Sulphate, paraben, DEA, TEA and propylene glycol free.

Eco-Friendly | They say their products “respect the environment”.

Price Range | From R350 to R540 for shampoos and conditioners.

This Australian brand is fun. I’ve used their Ritual Salvation range for chemically treated hair which helped keep my hair soft and colour brighter. Perhaps not as free of all harmful chemicals as other ranges on this list but still better than most.

Available at some professional salons and online at Scar Hair.



Natural & Organic | Sulphate and paraben free, gluten free, vegan shampoo.

Eco-Friendly | Dedicated to preservation of the Amazon Rainforest.

Price Range | Pricey.

This very exclusive (aka expensive) brand seems to have amassed a bit of a cult following. It’s committed to clean, natural, vegan, organic products and dedicated to sustaining the Amazon Rainforest and its indigenous people. All the products contain oil from the Rahua nut, which is not only incredibly hydrating, but also has a special molecular structure which bonds and repairs the hair cortex as opposed to just coating it. Definitely on my “lusthave” shopping list!

Find a selection of their products available at



Natural & Organic | Sulphate and paraben free. Follows the USDA certified-organic food standards.

Eco-Friendly | GMO-free, recyclable packaging.

Price Range | Conditioners are sold locally at around R570. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any shampoos at the time of writing this article.

A hair care and beauty brand born out of the owner, John Masters’, desire to create luxury beauty products using ingredients that are organic and free of harsh synthetic chemicals and that “treat the planet with respect”. I haven’t used this range but the products are on just about every “Best of natural & organic” hair care list I’ve read.

Find a selection of their products available at



Natural & Organic | Sulphate and paraben-free.

Eco-Friendly | Their signature square packaging holds more volume and uses 40% less plastic.

Price Range | R350 – R550 for conditioners, shampoos and treatments.

KEVIN.MURPHY products use high levels of natural ingredients and essential oils. Ingredients are sourced from companies that use small–scale cultivation, organic growing practices, or ecologically sound wild harvesting techniques to minimise the impact on the environment.

Available at professional salons or online at Bionic Hair and Beauty.


If none of these “salon” ranges appeal to you, there are a number of alternative natural hair care ranges carried by the likes of Dischem, Faithful to Nature and the Wellness Warehouse. Look out for brands such as Dr. Organic, Dr. Hauschka, Naturalmente, and Oneka.

Review – Esse Probiotic Serum
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