Crappy shampoo-poo (Day 70)…

shampooI ran out of my beloved Kiehl’s protein concentrate shampoo yesterday and was so saddened, I felt like I should be holding some sort of memorial service for all the hard work it put into my frizzy, knotted tresses over the past six months. Alas, I just shed a silent tear and threw the empty bottle into the recycling bin … then realized afterwards that I probably should have taken it to my local hippie store to refill with natural suds from the bulk bin.

But I also don’t want to buy a full 11 ounces of something only to realize it sucks (see: Alba body wash episode from March). So I got a trial-size bottle of Avalon Organics lemon clarifying shampoo and figured if it worked I’d go back and get the big bottle.

It smelled delish, and I recently had great success with the same brand’s deodorant, so my hopes were high. But then I read on this party-pooper health website that Avalon’s shampoos score a pathetic yellow — or “moderate concern” — on the toxin scale, due to what they deem potentially harmful impurities (whatever) and some ingredient classified as a “penetration enhancer” (eeew).

Still, penetration be damned — if this was good shampoo and it was mostly natural, I was sticking with it. So I tried it out this morning. Unfortunately, once again, I’ve found that a lack of chemicals seems to necessitate a lack of lather. It may or may not be doing the job, but either way, it just doesn’t feel right when I can’t make my hair go in that foamy up-twist like the pretty girls do in the commercials.

Does anyone have any favourite natural shampoos? Ones that don’t have any penetration enhancers? Feel free to comment below. Of course, from now on I’ll only buy natural, organic shampoo, but I don’t think I’ll be staying faithful to the Avalon brand.

60 Responses to Crappy shampoo-poo (Day 70)…

  1. sandy says:


    This is what I use:

    Baby-Mild: Unscented: No Essential Oil
    A mild, smooth soap for sensitive skin (but still be sure to keep it out of the eyes).
    Ingredients: Water, Saponified Organic Coconut & Olive oils (w/ retained Glycerin), Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Vitamin E

    I use this for my hair. A few disclaimers: I have stick straight hair. Also, I have fragrance allergies, so I can’t use fun stinky girl shampoos. I had to give that all up. However, Dr. Bronner’s works great. I use it all over the house — you can clean with it, shower with it, wash your clothes with it (I don’t, but you can) and I’ve even read some hard core greenies that brush their teeth with it! (The lady at my health food store recommended that as well. No thank you. I’ll stick with Tom’s of Maine.)

    Anyway, it’s a suggestion. You have to get used to the fact that once you take all the chemicals out of products like shampoo they don’t lather up like you are familiar with. Plus, you save a lot of money this way — not having a separate product for everything!

    • brownshoe says:

      I’ve used Avalon’s lavender conditioner, and I really dislike it. The smell is nice, but I can almost feel my hair cringe when I put the stuff on. I never really feel like the conditioner rinses clean, even though I use a small ammount, and it leaves my hair feeling dull, limp and greasy, without really helping to reduce any frizziness.

      I’m not sure how it’s possible for a product that sounds so good to be bad in so many ways, but I wouldn’t recommend this one.

  2. Liz says:

    Have you thought about products from Lush? From what I understand, they are eco-friendly and the soaps and shampoos both give good lathers.

    • Caitlin says:

      Good lather in Lush products are a result of SLS, a known skin irritant with numerous other risks.

  3. SarahH says:

    I like Burt’s Bees Ginger and Citrus body-wash as a shampoo. I find that it actually works better than the shampoos, which I don’t like all that much. The aloe vera shampoo from Jason I thought was acceptable, but not great. I find the shampoos from that brand to be very thick, so you have to spend a long time putting water on it and lathering it in to make sure it gets all your hair. I’ve been meaning to try Dr. Bronner’s when this stuff runs out. Plus, the natural co-op near me has it in bulk!

  4. Lori V. says:

    I love my Aveda products for my hair, both in the shower and after!

    • x says:

      aveda is loaded with toxic ingredients. You might want to check the safe cosmetic database website for how toxic they are. I wouldn’t touch them even if they were free.

  5. Greenpa says:

    I’ve tried several Aveda thingies- no bad experiences. Full Disclosure – Offshoot #2 was working in their quality control lab- we got the leftovers from testing for free- usually out of my price range otherwise. But nice.

  6. anna banana says:

    the thing that makes it foam like in the commercials is the sodium laurel sulfate (and also the sodium laureth sulfate), which is one of the chemicals we’re trying to avoid.

    have you heard of the no ‘poo movement? (it has to do with SHAMpoo rather than any other kind of ‘poo 😉 )

    • Caitlin says:

      Yes excellent point! Check out this site I found on stumbleupon:

      I have been off shampoo for almost 2 weeks and my hair hasn’t had so much shine and volume in years.

      Through the help of this blog, I formulated this method specifically:
      -Baking soda wash once a week, use liberal amounts and scrub directly on scalp, let sit for 1min and rinse thoroughly
      -Apple cider vinegar rinse after baking soda, pour on sparingly to hair line, letting it run back through your hair, apply small amounts directly to un-reached areas of scalp, let sit under 1min and rinse (letting it sit too long leaves a bit of a smell)
      -brush hair 2-3 times per week (not on wash days). Use a paddle brush or something similar and brush to roughly 100 strokes to spread your natural oils through your hair

      My boyfriend and I are both doing this and we have noticed increased softness, shine, and volume. Amazing!

  7. Heather K says:

    I tried the Bert’s Bees Shampoo and was very unimpressed. Just started using JASON hair smoothing shampoo and i like it a lot more. Very lather-y! JASON has been my favorite body wash and deodorant so far as well.

  8. Conni says:

    Don’t give up on Avalon entirely though! Their lemon-scented lotion smells yummy and is not greasy at all! I love it. They also make an unscented lotion that I use when I’m feeling the need for extreme simplicity…

  9. Vanessa says:

    Oh, Heather, I tried a sample of the Burt’s Bees shampoo once — AWFUL. It was like putting raw honey in my hair. Horrid. I do like Aveda stuff, actually, but they are on the expensive side. Plus I always feel like I’m being pushed into the Aveda products by my pushy hairdresser at Civello’s, so I get bad vibes from it. Maybe I’ll try Lush… or this no ‘poo movement!

  10. Evan says:

    I’ve been through all of this and I have really curly hair that goes frizzy sometimes. I’ve used Aveda which I love, but I’m trying to avoid the expense and the too much plastic. In the winter when the humidity is lower, I used Kiss My Face olive soap bar for my hair and skin. I found that I didn’t need a lotion or conditioner. It kept my hair clean and it does lather. There’s no plastic to recycle. If you buy the jumbo bar, it costs about $3 and lasts a couple of months and there’s only one paper wrapper to recycle. I’ve done the baking soda and vinegar wash, too and still do on occasion. I’ve found that I go back to Aubrey’s Organics GPB conditioner in the summer. I don’t shampoo anymore, I just use the conditioner as a shampoo and don’t rinse it out completely. This works even after a really funky workout. We use baking soda as a toothpaste and we only use baking soda and vinegar to clean our house. I used to be a product queen with no fewer than 6 Aveda hair products that were used every day to tame my unruly messy hair. I use organic raw coconut butter on my face as a moisturizer, too and it helps with fly-away hair. It won’t leave your hair greasy if you don’t use too much and you can use it in your smoothies. I have read lots of naturopathy books that say if you wouldn’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your hair or your skin. I think that’s sound logic. Good luck!

  11. freen12 says:

    Hi Vanessa. I’ve been using products from Lamas Botanicals Pure & Natural Line. I’ve also found that some of the natural shampoos are lacking in the amount of lather they generate. The Lamas stuff actually gives me a large amount of lather with very little shampoo being used. Someone else mentioned Jason, which I really like, but it doesn’t lather up really well and takes a lot more shampoo. Check Lamas here.

  12. Greetings!
    What a touchy subject this is. I always had a hard time with this, myself. I have thicker hair that, while is still manageable, still had frizziness sometimes. This was a difficult transition. In the end, I began using Giovanni’s “Smooth as silk” organic conditioner and shampoo. Well that got costly, because they don’t sell very large bottles. A while back, I then stopped using conditioner after reading a very good article about not using shampoo anymore. I decided to give it a go with the promise of “softer, less frizzy hair”, and wouldn’t you know, it worked! With just 30 seconds of extra scalp rubbing the conditioner managed to improve my hair almost overnight.
    It’s been amazing. The reviews aren’t bad, either:

    I never liked Avalon products…in fact anything that contains SLF (sodium laurel sulfate) and the like I will always stay away from as it’s a suspected carcinogen. Besides, the hair care products without them has always treated my hair better.

    Good luck to you, dear!

  13. […] like shampoo was on a couple of peoples’ minds, or is it that heads Vanessa ran out of her regular stuff and is trying something new. She gave a great website, –>Skin Deep, to check on your health and beauty products. If […]

  14. Kerrie says:

    I’ve been using a latherless product for a couple weeks. It feels strange to shampoo without lather, but my hair still gets perfectly clean. I have heavy hair that gets oily quickly and isn’t any worse than it was with lots of lather shampoos. I even use sticky pomade in my hair, which comes out easily.

    Conditioner doesn’t lather, but still covers all your hair and scalp. That’s how the latherless shampoo works. At least, that’s how I think of it.

  15. CBM says:

    I love this shampoo and conditioner! Its natural, hair feels clean, and it actually lathers.

    Giovanni Invigorating Shampoo, Tea Tree Triple Treat

    It does not have SLF, not sure if it has anything else that you are avoiding.

    They have it at some nature food stores where you can fill up your own bottle. I’ve tried the intense conditioner which is really good. The tea tree oil conditioner is good too!

  16. Steph says:

    I’m not sure anything about penetration enhancers (guess it’s something i need to look into) but I do really, really like Shikai Natural Everyday Shampoo.

    It says it’s rich in organic ingredients. Who knows? It’s probably better than traditional stuff — and it’s sudsy!

    (oh and as a sidenote — i think I remember reading that LUSH products contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which = not good.)

  17. Nicole says:

    The three I’ve had huge success with so far:

    Giovanni Invigorating Shampoo, Tea Tree Triple Treat (which CMB mentioned above)
    Lush Godiva shampoo bar
    and some form of Tea Tree shampoo that I got at the health store.

    But I highly highly recommend Lush. Their products are the greatest. There are some ingredients that aren’t too great, but for the most part they use all natural ingredients, no animal byproducts, or animal testing, and you could pretty much eat all the their stuff, it smells so good (they also have great deodorants).

  18. anna banana says:

    just a word on the lush deodorants – they’re not for everyone. i ended up with a nasty reaction to something in the aromacreme one when i tried it. swollen red pits of fire anyone?

  19. nichole says:

    I only wash my hair twice a week. It’s great on my curly hair…and honestly, I now hate how my hair looks right after it has been washed.

    I think I’m going to have to step up that practice and try the baking soda and apple cider vinegar combination. It’ll be nice to get rid of another product…

  20. I’ve tried some of the Avalon hair products. Blech. It felt like I was washing my hair with liquid margarine. Not a pleasant experience.

    I looooove Aveda stuff though. It’s not any more expensive than other “salon” hair products. Here’s their spiel:

  21. Tracy says:

    I have frizzy, knotted tresses also, and I have found that Dr. Bronners Peppermint is the absolute best – it makes my hair super awesome curly! Oh, and I only wash with shampoo once per week also. I use conditioner daily though.

    Good luck – finding the perfect hair product can be impossible sometimes.

  22. river2sea72 says:

    I’ve been using Giovanni hair care products (Smooth as Silk shampoo and conditioner and leave-in conditioner). I’m EXTREMELY picky about my hair-care products (I have very curly, tending to frizzy locks), and have been very satisfied with these products. I order it in bulk from Good luck!

  23. Rachel says:

    I came across the idea of using baking soda and vinegar for hair on NIM’s blog a couple of weeks ago, and finally got around to trying out the vinegar last week. I was really skeptical, but couldn’t believe how soft and tangle free my hair was. I have really fine hair that works itself into horrible tangles even with regular brushing, but for two days I could run my fingers through it, even at the nape of my neck where the worst tangles form. So inspired by that success and kicked in the butt by this blog, I tried the baking soda yesterday. It worked great, my hair felt just like it usually feels after washing. I am so stoked about this, I love it when I can help the environment AND save money at the same time. And yes, I know that the manufacture of vinegar and baking soda is not exactly “green”, but I know both the manufacture and the packaging is less than my alternative of shampoo and conditioner.

  24. Sarah Pretty says:

    Vanessa, I use Nature’s Gate Rose Persimmon moisturizing shampoo and i love it. I have been using hippie shampoo for a decade now and it is the first stuff that actually lathered. There is probably something terrible in it, but don’t tell me cause I really like it.

    Love love,


  25. Sarah Pretty says:

    And not to be a kill joy, but the Aveda stuff all has sodium laureth sulfate the major bad guy.

  26. Sarah Pretty says:

    And most of the lush ones do too. Oh and I have two other friends who got nasty armpit rashes from the deodorant. My impression Lush is a lot like Coup Bizarre, SCAM.

  27. besweet says:

    I’ve been using Live Clean shampoo and conditioner — vegan, organic, naturally derived, no parabens and no sulfates in the shampoo. I’m really happy with the line. I found it at Shoppers.

  28. christal says:

    i use SIMPLY ORGANIC products & I love them!!
    and there are no parabens like aveda and lush.

  29. Keri says:

    Hi there…I just found your site via Crunchy Chicken. She actually posted (or maybe someone else did) about using apple cider vinegar and baking soda as “shampoo.” That would be a cheaper and more effective alternative (once you get past the one week of initial greasiness while your scalp gets used to the lack of chemicals drying it out). Good luck! =)

  30. jenn says:

    I use the “no-poo” method (google should explain) in addition to OCM (oil cleansing method) for washing skin and hair and it works wonderfully- no shampoo to buy that has to be transported. I have really thick straight hair cut pretty short, but many of the people who do no-poo have very curly and long hair and say it helps with the frizz. My only pointer would be that most people don’t need to wash every day (as Im sure you know) and with nopoo you don’t really need to do the acv rinse more than eery other time or so.

    Alternately, I can’t say enough good things about she has shampoo bars (think like burts bees but indie) that are very natural. Shanpoo bars would mean they are lighter weight (not liquid) so transport is less and they don’t come in a big plasticy bottle.

  31. John E says:

    giovanni organics has an awesome line of hair care products.
    and the shampoo lathers wonderfully.

  32. maneesh says:

    people! if any one who knows a shampoooo which is made ONLY with herbals please please let me know, and which is only design for human hair. thank you to all of you. manesh

    • Frozen dry says:

      Try Live Clean it is all natural. They have a web site that is full of information. I have thick curly hair and live in a very dry climate. But this aha sseemed to work wonders in combination with olive oil after I wash and condition it.

  33. […] I know how controversial shampoo can be. But I think that maybe the persistence is the key to the great shampoo drama. When […]

  34. jamillah says:

    What really is missing from all these cooment’s I have read is
    Is these recipe’s good for Women Of Color
    I have very course hair
    I have To Relaxer My Hair and I wash my hair every two week’s
    I use philosphy to wash my hair since it’s a milk based product but
    I have been doing a lot of reading about Latherless Shampoo
    I found Deva which is way less then Wen(SOLD ON QVC) .
    I really don’t mean any harm but I would just like to know from someone with the same type of hair as mine if this really is good for me to start using .I understand going green is good but we must remember that we are different an we must use what best for us. If anyone have any idea’s on what I should try please give me a shout out at
    I would be very happy…Like I said I’m thinking about buying the Deva NoPoo.!!!!

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  37. m says:

    Lush ! their shampoo comes in solid bar which they sell a reusable tin – I’ve not used a shampoo bottle in 4 year yay!

    And their solid deodorant is great as well

  38. […] testing. (If you can’t wait for me to come up with another suggestion, try the comments at Green as a Thistle’s similar […]

  39. Jen says:

    Hey! This is just a friendly WARNING to everyone out there looking for a sulfate free shampoo. i bought the HEMPZ brand color preserve by SUPRE because it said “sulfate free for gentle cleansing” right on the front of the bottle. i noticed it was still irritating my scalp, so i decided to read the ingredients list on the back (which i should have done in the first place) i was SHOCKED to read the SECOND INGREDIENT: Sodium Laureth Sulfate!!! SLS…. this company should be charged with FALSE ADVERTISING. disgusting. Armed with this knowledge, i will be spreading the word….

  40. Cindy says:

    Hi. I buy all of my personal care products from Melaleuca. They have everything that you could think of and all of their products have been totally green for 23 years. Not only are they priced well they are shipped directly to your door and are 100% satisfaction guaranteed. Save yourself time and money!

  41. Well, I see everyone has there own personal favorite shampoo and conditioner. I happen to love the Rock Star Organics line.

    They make everything from shampoo to hair pomade. They say it’s for kids, but I use it and love the smell and how soft it leaves my hair. Plus if I ever squirt a bunch of it in my eye it won’t burn 🙂

  42. Gemma says:

    My favorite natural shampoo so far is the john masters lavender rosemary shampoo. Dr. Bronners liquid soap makes good shampoo and I’m keen to try weledas haircare range as I like so many of their other products! You can find some hair care product reviews here:

  43. Amy says:

    Do you guys like Shikai shampoos?

  44. Ellen says:

    I agree, Live Clean products are very good. They leave your hair very soft and shiny. No parabens, SLS, organic, recyclable containers. AND relatively inexpensive and available at Shoppers Drug Mart! I also like that they have one for colour-treated hair.

  45. Nancy says:

    What a great blog! Over the last few months I seem to have developed a sensitivity or allergy to my hair care products..possibly the colour that my hairdresser uses as well as my shampoo/conditioner (Dove for colour treated hair). I’ve been on the search for some natural products. Tried Avalon and Jason. Didn’t like either, my hair felt tacky and not clean even after thorough rinsing. Then I tried Live Clean. Loved how it made my hair feel and look, but just found out it contains sodium hydroxymethylglycineate which are formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. Am now going to try Giovani, as my health practitioner uses it. I live in London Ont, so if anyone knows if any other product can be purchased here, please let me know!!
    Also, any suggestions for a relatively safe colour? My hairdresser cautions me against using henna, as it coats the hair and you’re stuck with that colour. I’m a very young 54 who isn’t ready to go grey yet! Thanks!

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  48. Vonda says:

    I think it’s quite not easy nowadays.

  49. justine says:

    just bought(today) Live Clean for color treated hair.. i’ve tried everything out there whether it be in a bar, in bottle.. expensive, cheap… i have a super sensitive, dry scalp.
    i’m using the new Live Clean tomorrow morning and hope this one is a good one.

    i’ve used Bumble and Bumble gentle shampoo and it’s the best thing i’ve ever used but it’s $25 (i live in canada and it’s more expensive here than on the US website) B&B is cruelty-free but i don’t really know about the toxins.. My hair is damaged, color treated.. when i’ve used B&B gentle, i didn’t need conditioner AND i could let my hair air dry

  50. Toni says:

    Best natural shampoo I’ve used is Soignee from Sunstar Organics. It lathers well, has MSM in it, smells great. I’ve been using it over a year and keep going back to it each time I try something else. If you buy the large size with a pump, you can save quite a bit and it lasts a long time.

  51. Toni Rice says:

    I really like L’Bri’s shampoo and conditioner….no SLS or parabens.

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