When it comes to basic staples, shampoo is usually near the top of everybody’s list. The right shampoo is often the difference between dry, dead-looking hair and vibrant, healthy hair.
Using the right shampoo for your hair can completely change its appearance, improve your scalp health, and help you look your best.
There’s just one problem – a lot of the top-selling shampoo brands aren’t vegan or cruelty-free.
This means that they often contain animal by-products like ground-up beetles, bone extract, and other questionable ingredients. Additionally, many commercial shampoos (and the chemicals in them) are tested on helpless captive animals.
Thankfully, awareness is growing and there’s an expanding number of vegan, cruelty-free shampoos on the market. In today’s post, I’m going to show you guys some of the best cruelty-free shampoo brands!
- Fine hair
- Color-treated hair, all hair types
- Sensitive skin and scalp, all hair types
Cruelty-Free Shampoo Vs. Standard Shampoo: What’s Different?
I’ll admit, before going vegan seven years ago, I never really paid close attention to what was in my shampoo, conditioner, and other hair products.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d look on the front of the bottle for catchphrases like “anti-frizz” or “extra-hydrating,” but I never analyzed the ingredients.
Going vegan changed that.
Suddenly, I cared about what I was using. I learned that many of the top-selling mainstream brands of shampoo contain ingredients like shellac, keratin, silk powder, and gelatin; all of which come from animals and contribute to animal cruelty.
Non-Vegan Ingredients To Look Out For In Shampoo
It’s important to get informed about your products. While most people start by analyzing their food for animal by-products, everyday cosmetics and hair products like mascara and shampoo do just as much harm to animals and the environment as the meat industry.
To give you a better understanding of why it’s so important to start reading labels, here’s a table outlining some of the most common non-vegan ingredients used in mainstream shampoo.
Trust me, after you find out how some of these ingredients are obtained, you’ll never want to put them in your hair ever again!
|Non-Vegan Ingredients In Shampoo||Where They Come From|
|Shellac||Based on the name, you’d think this was some fancy Parisian plant butter… The reality is far from it, though. Shellac is ground-up beetle skin. That’s right, you’re putting crushed bugs in your hair! If you’ve ever paid close attention to beetles, you’ll notice that their exoskeleton has a shiny, reflective surface. This is due to naturally-secreted shellac. Shellac is often used in cosmetics and hair products to add shine and sheen. For obvious reasons, vegans should avoid any shampoo with shellac in it.|
|Gelatin||When most people think of gelatin, they think of the fun, colorful Jell-O that they used to eat as kids. While gelatin may look innocent, it actually comes from the remains of slaughtered animals. Gelatin is a fatty substance that’s naturally found within bones, ligaments, and other soft, fatty tissues. Gelatin factories take all of the wasted animal hides, bones, and connective tissues from slaughterhouses and then reduce it down to produce gelatin. It’s often used in shampoo as a stabilizer to help keep the ingredients together. Ask yourself – Do you really want to keep putting decayed animal carcasses in your hair?|
|Keratin||Keratin is a protein that serves as one of the building blocks of hair. In fact, your own body produces keratin to help keep your hair healthy and moisturized. As we age, though, our body produces less keratin, which is why some shampoos contain added keratin to “supplement” this. Unfortunately, keratin shampoos are not vegan. The keratin is derived from animal bones, feathers, and horns, all of which are obtained from slaughterhouses.|
|Collagen||Much like keratin, collagen is one of the building blocks of our human skin. It makes up around 70% of the layer of the dermis, where the roots of our hair are found. Some shampoos contain collagen to act as a deep moisturizing agent and to stimulate rapid hair growth. Unfortunately, cosmetic collagen is always obtained from animals. Like keratin, collagen is derived from the animal skins, bones, and connective tissues.|
|Lanolin||Lanolin is a natural wax that’s found in sheep’s wool and bird feathers. It’s often used as a protectant for hair and as a moisturizer in shampoos. Unfortunately, neither wool nor lanolin are considered vegan. The wool industry involves a lot of animal cruelty and directly supports the meat industry.|
|Silk Powder||Silk powder is used in some high-end shampoos to provide added silkiness and smoothness to your hair. The silk industry exploits silkworms and prematurely slaughters them to obtain larger amounts of silk. For example, a single kilogram of silk requires the slaughter of over 6,000 silkworms!|
|Propolis||Like honey, propolis is a bee-derived product that’s stolen from beehives. It’s a thick, waxy substance that serves as a deep moisturizer for hair and is often used in shampoo.|
Although there is some debate as to how vegan or non-vegan bee products are, commercial bee farming is, without a doubt, cruel.
How Can I Tell If Shampoo Is Cruelty-Free Or Not?
Most of the top-selling cruelty-free shampoo brands on the market are clearly labeled to let consumers know that their products are 100% cruelty-free.
Some may feature large text on the packaging that says “Cruelty-Free,” while others may feature the Certified Vegan logo or the Cruelty-Free Bunny logo:
Although these indicators are always good to look out for, sometimes labels can be deceiving. For example, some Chinese brands may claim to be “vegan” while including non-vegan ingredients.
If you want to be 100% sure, the best way to tell is to read the labels and check for any of the non-vegan ingredients I mentioned in the table above.
Does Pantene Still Test On Animals?
Although Pantene engaged in animal testing a long time ago, they’ve since changed their policy. Today, none of their products are tested on animals.
In fact, they are committed to pursuing alternative testing methods and don’t sell their products in countries where animal testing is required (like China, for instance).
Is Argan Oil Shampoo Cruelty-Free?
Argan oil is a plant-based oil that’s obtained from the seeds of the Moroccan argan tree. While some argan oil shampoo is vegan and cruelty-free, many others are not and may use other non-vegan ingredients or animal testing.
Is Keratin Shampoo Cruelty-Free?
Keratin shampoo is never vegan. Keratin can only be obtained from animal skins and bones, which makes it a direct by-product of the meat industry.
Is Vegan Shampoo Better For Your Hair?
For the most part, vegan shampoo is almost always better for your hair! For one, vegan shampoo doesn’t contain any decayed animal remains. Secondly, vegan shampoo typically uses more natural ingredients and contains fewer toxic chemicals.
It may cost a little bit more than mainstream shampoo, but it’s worth it in the long run.
The Best Cruelty-Free Shampoos For All Hair Types
Now that you know what to expect out of a good cruelty-free shampoo brand, it’s time to show you some of the best cruelty-free shampoos for all hair types!
Whether you have curly hair, fine hair, wavy hair, or want a volumizing shampoo, I’ve included a little something for everybody.
I have fine hair, so I can personally attest to several of these products. For the others, I had to hit up a few of my vegan friends for their personal recommendations. All of these cruelty-free shampoos are certified vegan, though, and come with top-tier ratings!
1) Love Beauty And Planet Volume and Bounty Thickening Shampoo For Fine Hair (link)
Best For: Fine hair
Love Beauty And Planet is one of my favorite vegan hair product companies! They manufacture a number of vegan shampoos, conditioners, and several other great hairs and cosmetic products.
The Bounty Thickening Shampoo is what I currently use as my everyday shampoo and it’s been great. It’s designed to provide moisture and volume to thin hair like mine.
From personal experience, this cruelty-free shampoo does just that. Every time I use it, I come out of the shower looking like I just went to a professional hairdresser!
It contains added coconut water and mimosa flower extract which give it a light, all-natural scent. Both coconut water and mimosa flower are also known for their antioxidant properties and also work as potent moisturizing agents for your scalp.
It also contains coconut oil, which adds a nice bit of shellac-free sheen to your hair.
This product contains 93% naturally-derived ingredients, which means that you don’t have to worry about putting a bunch of artificial chemicals and detergents in your hair.
Additionally, all of the natural ingredients are ethically sourced, which means the workers and farmers are paid and treated well.
You might expect a vegan shampoo of this caliber to be expensive. But it’s actually quite affordable, which means that you can use as much as you need without breaking the bank.
What I Like About It:
- Uses 93% all-natural ingredients.
- Contains coconut water and mimosa flower for scalp hydration.
- Contains coconut oil for added sheen.
- Ethically-sourced ingredients.
- Provides volume to thin hair.
- Some reviews say that it can leave your hair too oily. To avoid this, don’t use too much at one time. A little bit goes a long way.
2) Love Beauty And Planet Blooming Color Vegan Shampoo For Color-Treated Hair (link)
Best For: Color-treated hair, all hair types
A couple of months ago, I dyed my hair a deep shade of burgundy that matches perfectly with my natural brunette hair color. The only problem I have with the dye is that it needs to be properly maintained.
If you don’t use the right shampoo, then it can easily take on a brassy, slightly faded appearance.
The usual recommendation is to use purple-tinted shampoo, which deposits purple pigment on your hair and neutralizes the yellow tones. However, you’re not supposed to use purple shampoo more than once a week, because it can dry out your hair and scalp.
During the rest of the week, I use Love Beauty And Planet’s Blooming Color shampoo. Like their other products, Blooming Color is a 100% vegan and cruelty-free shampoo.
It’s paraben, sulfate, and dye-free, and uses all-natural plant-based cleaning agents. The main active ingredients are coconut oil (which adds a bit of sheen to your hair and moisturizes your scalp), murumuru butter (a fatty acid-rich nut butter), and rose petals for a vibrant scent.
All of Love Beauty And Planet’s hair products use mostly natural ingredients, all of which are ethically sourced. Aside from my own personal experience, this shampoo receives stellar reviews and is affordably priced so anybody can afford it!
What I Like About It:
- Made almost entirely with natural, plant-based ingredients.
- Uses plant-based cleaners.
- Contains murumuru butter, a rich nut-derived moisturizer.
- Safe for colored hair.
- Minimizes dull, brassy tones in dyed hair.
- Don’t use too much as the murumuru is a potent moisturizer that may leave your hair oily.
3) ATTITUDE Soothing & Calming Hair Shampoo for Sensitive Skin (link)
Best For: Sensitive skin and scalp, all hair types
If you struggle with an itchy, dry scalp or have experienced eczema or breakouts after using certain types of shampoo, then you likely have sensitive skin. It’s perfectly normal, as our skin didn’t evolve to be covered in synthetic chemicals and detergents!
Attitude Soothing & Calming Shampoo is 100% cruelty-free, vegan, and is designed with sensitive skin in mind. It has a light floral scent, so it’s not overwhelming on the senses.
The primary cleaning agent is natural, plant-based glycerin which has been used for hundreds of years around the world as an all-natural soap.
This shampoo also includes two added ingredients designed to calm skin reactions and moisturize your skin: chamomile flower extract and oatmeal.
Chamomile flower is known for its soothing properties and is also a natural anti-inflammatory compound, which is known to reduce redness, irritation, and allergic reactions. Oatmeal has similar effects and also acts as a soothing moisturizer.
It’s made in Canada, where manufacturing laws are strict and regulated, so you don’t have to worry about any nasty hidden ingredients. It’s also ECOLOGO Certified and EWG Verified, so you can be extra sure that it’s vegan and manufactured with integrity.
What I Like About It:
- Great for sensitive skin and scalp.
- Contains added chamomile extract and oatmeal, which are soothing and anti-inflammatory.
- Uses all-natural plant-based glycerin as a moisturizer.
- Some users claim that it doesn’t clean their hair well enough due to the lack of strong synthetic detergents.
4) Sun Bum Curls & Waves Shampoo (link)
Best For: Curly and wavy hair
Thankfully, I don’t have curly hair. But my best friend does. She used to spend all summer complaining about how the humidity makes her hair ultra-frizzy, poofy, and annoying. That is until she found this shampoo.
Unlike many of the other popular curly hair shampoos out there, Sun Bum Curls & Waves Shampoo is cruelty-free and certified vegan.
It’s sulfate-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, and doesn’t contain any artificial dyes. It’s also completely color-safe, so you can use it on your dyed or color-treated hair without having to worry about it stripping the color out.
One of the coolest things about this shampoo is that it contains all-natural UV-protecting ingredients. This makes it great for a day out on the beach, as it will protect your hair color from UV damage, which can thin your hair and change its natural color tone.
It contains kukui nut oil and coconut oil which help keep your frizz under control and moisturize your scalp at the same time. Plus it even contains all-natural seaweed protein, which serves as a great vegan alternative to collagen and keratin!
What I Like About It:
- It’s perfect for curly or wavy hair.
- Protects your hair from UV damage.
- Contains kukui nut oil and coconut oil for moisturization, sheen, and frizz control.
- Contains seaweed protein to strengthen hair.
- It’s a little on the expensive side for the small amount you get.
5) Pureology Hydrate Vegan Shampoo (link)
Best For: Dyed hair and dry scalp
If you dye your hair often, then you know the struggle of having to deal with a constantly dry, itchy scalp and frizzy hair. This can be avoided by using the right shampoo and conditioners for your dyed hair.
When I was first struggling with this issue, Pureology Hydrate Vegan Shampoo massively improved the quality of my dyed hair.
Although this shampoo is definitely on the more expensive side, it’s worth a try if you’ve been dealing with scalp dryness and dandruff. Even if your hair isn’t dyed, it can still help restore the natural balance and moisture that your hair should have.
What I Like About It:
- Great for a dry, itchy scalp.
- Can prevent dandruff.
- Restores your hair’s natural hydration.
- 100% vegan and cruelty-free shampoo.
- It’s expensive, but worth it if you’re dealing with a severe case of dry scalp or irritation after dying your hair.
Switching to a vegan, cruelty-free shampoo doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Although there are definitely some pricey options out there, some of the best cruelty-free shampoos are quite affordable and suitable for everyday use.
Aside from using the right hair products, one of the best things you can do to improve the quality of your hair is to ensure that you’re getting enough protein in your diet (something that some vegans struggle with).
Keep on reading to find out the best sources of all-natural vegan protein that will keep your hair and skin looking and feeling great!