Hello shoppers! We're in our natural/ organic era (slay!). If you haven't yet boarded at au natural self-care station, tickets are still available – come one, come all – we're about to change your life. That is after we depart the station and leave some industry bigwigs and their false claims behind.
Today, our supermarket shelves are adorned with products boasting claims of being "natural" or "organic," when frankly, they are neither. You'd be forgiven for falling for common advertising tricks and proudly bringing home a new shampoo, only for your expert-level-organic-princess bestie to call you out and identify several pesky chemicals hiding in your ingredient label.
As always, George is here to demystify the world of genuinely natural shampoos in your new ride-or-die buyer's guide.
Vocabulary lesson #1: 'Natural' and 'Organic'
First up, let's brush up on our vocabulary. The terms "natural" and "organic" are often used interchangeably, but they carry distinct meanings when it comes to haircare products. A product labelled as "natural" typically indicates that its ingredients are derived from nature, avoiding synthetic or chemically processed components. On the other hand, "organic" signifies that the ingredients are sourced from farms following organic farming practices, avoiding synthetic pesticides and fertilisers. Nowadays, you'll see a blend of the two terms on the back of generic brands as some ingredients are easily sourced organic, while others are not.
When choosing organic shampoos, look for organic certifications. These certifications ensure that the product meets stringent standards for organic ingredient sourcing, guaranteeing higher purity and environmental sustainability.
Vocab lesson #2: Greenwashing
"Greenwashing" describes misleading environmental claims. This is when a brand uses terminology and imagery to portray a natural, organic product when, in fact, that's complete BS, and the product isn't close to 'natural' at all! With so many companies using this clever marketing tactic to encourage you to buy, choosing which products should earn a place in your trolley can be difficult. To determine fact from fiction, George recommends you work through the checklist below:
Check ingredient lists: Thoroughly examine the ingredient list. Indeed, natural products should feature botanical ingredients and avoid harsh chemicals, silicones, sulphates, and synthetic fragrances.
Look for certifications: Genuine organic shampoos often carry certifications from recognised organisations. Be wary of vague claims without substantiating certifications.
Research the brand: Investigate the brand's overall ethos. Companies genuinely committed to natural and organic principles will have transparent values and ingredient-sourcing practices.
Avoid hidden terms: Watch out for terms like "green-inspired" or "plant-derived." These phrases may indicate that only a fraction of the ingredients are natural.
Understand packaging claims: Packaging emphasising eco-friendly materials does not necessarily guarantee the product's organic nature. Focus on the ingredients inside rather than external claims.
Haircare Red & Green Flags:
Red and Green flags aren't just reserved for critiquing your Tinder date – we present to you common red and green flags in organic shampoos:
Sulphates: Sulphates, commonly found in conventional shampoos, can strip the hair of natural oils. While some natural shampoos may contain milder sulphate alternatives, avoiding harsh sulphates like SLS and SLES is advisable. George, no likey – so much so that we did a deep dive on why you should steer permanently clear here.
Artificial fragrances: "Natural" products shouldn't contain synthetic fragrances, which can be irritating and harmful. Look for shampoos scented with essential oils or labelled as fragrance-free.
Silicones: Some natural shampoos may include silicones, which provide a temporary smoothing effect but can lead to product build-up over time. Opt for silicone-free options for a more sustainable hair care routine.
Hidden preservatives: Parabens and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives can still be found in some so-called natural products. Check the ingredient list for these preservatives and choose products without them.
Overly complex formulas: A laundry list of ingredients might indicate a more processed product, especially if you can't pronounce them. Simplified formulations often align with a more genuinely natural approach.
Transparent ingredient lists: Brands that list their ingredients clearly and provide detailed information about each component demonstrate transparency and commitment to natural principles.
Certifications: Trustworthy certifications from recognised organisations indicate a product's organic authenticity. Not to toot our own horn here, but *toot* George is manufactured from certified organic ingredients and is PETA-certified!
Botanical extracts: Genuine natural shampoos feature plant-derived ingredients and botanical extracts known for their nourishing and beneficial properties.
Environmentally friendly packaging: Brands genuinely invested in sustainability often use recyclable or biodegradable packaging, minimising their environmental impact.
Cruelty-free: Products labelled as cruelty-free indicate that the brand does not test its products on animals. This commitment to ethical practices aligns with the principles of many natural and organic brands. Again… *toot toot*
Now, you could whip out this guide every time you go shopping, OR you could let George do the worrying, so you don't have to! Shop our legitimately better for you and our planet haircare here.