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The Best Safest Shampoo

Written by Irina Webb

Today you will learn about one of the safest shampoo that does not contain soap.  How do I know that it is one of the safest out there?  Well, it is a bit of a crazy story.  I compared over 114 shampoos by studying each ingredient of each shampoo and then created a rating system.  Thus, the 2020 Shampoo Rating List contained 87 shampoos because I excluded the least clean shampoos.  And then the 2021 Shampoo Rating List gained some cleaner shampoos for a total of 97 shampoos. You will also find out what constitutes a healthy shampoo so you can choose the best shampoo for healthy hair with confidence. 

The Best Safest Shampoo. A photo of a woman with hair washed with a healthy shampoo.

Picking the best shampoo that leaves your hair shiny, manageable, smooth, and moist, but not too heavy, is a tall order already, isn’t it?  And we also want to make sure that there are no chemicals that irritate the scalp, cause dandruff, contact dermatitis, or, even worse, hair loss.  Do you know that some shampoos have been alleged to cause hair loss?  You can read about Monat shampoo and DevaCurl shampoo.

Neither do we want any questionable chemicals to get absorbed via the skin into the bloodstream and potentially increase the risks of long-term health effects.  I look into all these concerns when I pick the best shampoo.

What I think about soap-based shampoos

The reason I emphasized that this safest shampoo does not contain any soap is that soap does not work for everybody.  For example, soap-based shampoos did not work for me despite my efforts to transition three times.  Although some say it took them 4 months, I did not have the patience.

I would love to use soap-based shampoo bars because I believe they are the safest shampoos.  That is to say, their simple ingredients do not have any health concerns.  In addition, they do not pollute the environment with plastic bottles.  To learn why shampoo bars did not work for me, please read my all-natural shampoo bars post.

With this said, in my opinion, Pure Haven shampoo is one of the safest non-soap shampoo.  Let’s look at the ingredients in this healthy shampoo.

Pure Haven safest shampoo ingredients

The ingredients of the Pure Haven shampoo are as follows:

aloe barbadensis (organic aloe vera) leaf juice, coco-glucoside, water, leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate, xanthan gum, citrus sinensis (organic sweet orange) oil, glycerin (organic, non-gmo), oriza sativa (organic rice) bran oil, panthenol, cocos nucifera (coconut) fruit extract, mentha piperita (organic peppermint) extract, equisetum arvense (organic horsetail) leaf extract, urtica dioica (organic nettle) leaf extract, yucca shidigera (organic yucca) root extract, lactobacillus, sodium phytate, citric acid (source).

As a rule, the main areas of concern in foaming liquid shampoos are surfactants and preservatives.

Surfactants in the Pure Haven healthy shampoo

To begin with, surfactants are foaming agents in a shampoo.  As for the Pure Haven safest shampoo, it has coco glucoside as a foaming agent.  Since coco glucoside is produced from coconut, I would like to say a few words about coconut allergy.

A few words about coconut allergy

Some people claim that they are allergic to coconut.  I am not trying to convince you to start using products with coconut derivatives.  But if you do not have a positive patch test result, you might benefit from hearing this. 

First of all, coconut is not a nut.  So, if you are allergic to nuts, that does not mean that you will be allergic to coconut. 

Second, when a surfactant is derived from coconut, it may go through a multi-step process where potentially harmful chemicals are added along the way.  The residue of those chemicals may trigger an allergic reaction, not coconut.  Here is an example. 

A popular surfactant that is not used in this healthy shampoo

Such a popular surfactant in so-called non-toxic shampoos as cocamidopropyl betaine can cause allergic skin reactions in some people.  Thus, the American Society of Contact Dermatitis lists cocamidopropyl betaine as one of the core allergens, even in concentrations as low as 1%.  Due to high rates of cases of allergic reactions, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named it the 2004 Allergen of the Year.  Therefore, it is really good that this safest shampoo does not use this ingredient.

Although cocamidopropyl betaine is derived from coconut fatty acids, let’s look at the fine print.  In its manufacturing process, they use two chemicals: 3,3-dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA) and amidopropyl dimethylamine (amidoamine).  Neither of them is an appropriate ingredient for a healthy shampoo because they both are allergens.  They may also remain in cocamidopropyl betaine as residue. 

Therefore, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel encourages manufacturers to minimize the amounts of these by-products in cocamidopropyl betaine.  The Panel noticed that once the levels of DMAPA and amidoamine started going down, so did the number of people reacting to cocamidopropyl betaine (source).  Do you see what I am saying? 

Perhaps, some people are allergic to contaminants in the surfactant rather than to coconut.  By the way, a common substitute of cocamidopropyl betaine is cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine.  Is it any safer?  You can find out in my cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine post.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about coco-glucoside.

Coco-glucoside in Pure Haven safest shampoo

First of all, coco-glucoside belongs to the glucoside family of surfactants.  Because they are gentle on colored hair and the eyes, glucosides are common in shampoos, especially baby shampoos. 

The typical non-petroleum sources for them are corn, palm, potato, wheat, or coconut.  In addition, there are no bad chemicals in the manufacture of coco glucoside, and thus, no chemical residues.

So, is it an ideal ingredient for a healthy shampoo?

Research into coco glucoside safety

According to a 2013 Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) report, glucoside surfactants are non-sensitizing, which is good news.  It looks like they can belong in the safest shampoo.

However, the CIR Expert Panel indicates that there is a potential for dermal (skin) irritation.  So, manufacturers should formulate products in a way that would reduce the risks of irritation.

On the other hand, Belgian dermatologists reported that only 30 people out of 11,842 (0.25%) test participants had allergic contact dermatitis to one or more glucosides.  They concluded that allergic contact dermatitis caused by glucosides in cosmetics does occur.

In addition, US dermatologists at the Columbia University Medical Center reported in 2017 that out of their 897 patients, 48 patients (5%) had positive reactions to decyl glucoside and/or lauryl glucoside.

Thus, glucoside surfactants are not as harmless as previously thought.  Nonetheless, considering the alternative surfactants, I still think it belongs in this healthy shampoo.

Preservatives in shampoos

To begin with, preservatives protect a water-based product from mold and bacteria contamination.  However, many of so-called natural or organic shampoos do not seem to contain any preservatives.  Others claim that they use essential oils or potassium sorbate or citric acid as a broad-spectrum preservative.  Would this be enough for the safest shampoo? 

Well, my work experience with skincare and personal care product formulators tells me the following.  It is critical for a product that contains water to have a sufficient preservation system.  Indeed, bad bacteria can be even deadly for newborns or people with compromised immune systems. 

For example, the Journal of Hospital Infection reported numerous infections among 14 babies due to a contaminated baby shampoo.  Specifically, the infections were meningitis, septicemia, purulent conjunctivitis, and urinary tract infection.  In fact, one baby died from meningitis and septicemia. 

In other words, I would not call a shampoo without a sufficient preservation system a healthy shampoo, even if its ingredients were safe. 

Hence, in my Shampoo Rating List e-book, I mark with an asterisk shampoos that in my opinion do not have a sufficient preservation system.

Leuconostoc/Radish root ferment filtrate in the Pure Haven safest shampoo

In both of its clean shampoos, Pure Haven uses one of the safest preservatives – leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate.  To clarify, it is a unique peptide with antimicrobial and conditioning properties derived from fermented leuconostoc kimchii radishes.

Besides, leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate qualifies for EcoCert certification, which means that it is truly natural and plant-based.  You can read more about the radish root ferment filtrate here.

Other preservatives in Pure Haven healthy shampoo

In addition, there are three more ingredients that help protect against mold and bacteria.  Namely, they are sodium phytate, cocos nucifera (coconut) fruit extract, and lactobacillus.

First, lactobacillus is a probiotic that you may take orally.

Next, cocos nucifera (coconut) fruit extract is made by fermenting cocos nucifera (coconut) fruit with lactobacillus to prevent yeast and mold from growing in the Pure Haven safest shampoo.  It also helps condition the scalp because it is rich in fatty acids, proteins, and complex B vitamins.

As for sodium phytate, there is some negative anecdotal information about it on the Internet.  Despite this information, clinical studies indicate that a cream with 0.49% sodium phytate tested on 22 subjects showed no irritation.  Also, a product containing 50% sodium phytate was classified as a minimal irritant to non-irritant.  Additionally, a product containing 1% sodium phytate did not cause skin sensitization in a test involving 25 subjects.  And finally, in vitro tests concluded no sensitization potential.  You can read these studies and more about sodium phytate in the Cosmetic Ingredient Review report.

Other good ingredients in the Pure Haven clean shampoo

First, this healthy shampoo has organic aloe vera that provides healing and nutrition to the hair and scalp.  It is also great that it is organic because there are no pesticide residues this way.

Second, there is panthenol in this healthy shampoo which helps to strengthen hair roots and restore shine to dull hair.

Lastly, plant extracts in this safest shampoo have excellent anti-inflammatory properties so they help sooth irritated and itchy skin.  This shampoo uses only one essential oil for a nice mild scent as well as stress reduction and relaxation.  Additionally, oryza sativa (rice) bran oil helps restore the luster to hair. 

Above all, I am happy to see that all extracts and oils are organic.  It means that there should be no harmful pesticide and herbicide residues in this healthy hair shampoo.

Now I would like to say a few words about the Pure Haven conditioner.

Pure Haven conditioner ingredients

The Pure Haven conditioner ingredients are as follows:

aloe barbadensis (organic aloe vera) leaf juice, brassica alcohol, cetyl alcohol, glyceryl caprylate, brassicyl valinate esylate, citrus sinensis (organic sweet orange) oil, heptyl undecylate, glycerin (organic, non-gmo), panthenol, mentha piperita (organic peppermint) extract, yucca shidigera (organic yucca) root extract, urtica dioica (organic nettle) leaf extract, equisetum arvense (organic horsetail) leaf extract, tocopherol (non-gmo), water, caprylhydroxamic acid, calcium gluconate (source).

It has almost identical extracts and essential oil with its healthy shampoo; however, its preservation system is different. 

Caprylhydroxamic acid preservative in Pure Haven conditioner

To start with, caprylhydroxamic acid is a very common preservative in green, natural, and organic personal care products. The great news is that the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel concluded that it is neither an irritant nor an allergen.  It also believes that it is neither an endocrine disruptor nor mutagenic.  So, is there potential for Pure Haven to have not only the safest shampoo but also the safest conditioner?

Well, the EWG rates caprylhydroxamic acid 1 (on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 as the safest).  However, I rate it 3 on a scale from 0 to 10 (with 0 as the safest) in the Conditioner Rating List e-book.  By the way, the EWG believes that there is no safety data available, which is not true.  Please read about the shortcomings of the EWG Skin Deep Database and how to use it without being misled in my Use the Skin Deep Database Correctly post.  

The reason I rate caprylhydroxamic acid 3 is that there is evidence in Finland that some people with skin damage caused by eczema developed a reaction to it.  In fact, this may be true of many other ingredients.  People with eczema must be extra careful about products they use.  Just to be on the safe side, I decided to rate it 3.

An important change in Pure Haven conditioners

There have been changes in both Pure Haven healthy shampoo and conditioner.  Thus, the conditioner used to have one of the safest quaternary ammonium compounds – behentrimonium methosulfate. 

On the one hand, quaternary ammonium compounds are effective at making the hair shiny, antistatic, free of frizz, and hydrated. But on the other hand, they are not good for aquatic life and some people may be sensitive to them.  Despite that after washing my hair with its safest shampoo, I used the Pure Haven conditioner with this ingredient because I loved how my hair and scalp felt. 

The good news is that now Pure Haven replaced behentrimonium methosulfate  with ECOCERT/COSMOS compliant ingredients.  Specifically, they are brassica alcohol, brassicyl valinate esylate, and heptyl undecylenate.  These ingredients have the same conditioning properties as quaternary ammonium compounds without potential harm to the environment.  The European Chemicals Agency database does not list any environmental or human health concerns on these ingredients. 

In addition, Pure Haven came out with new supergreens conditioners and shampoo that have these ingredients, too.  Along with the same surfactants and preservatives, they have more plant proteins, powders, and extracts beneficial for your hair. 

You can check them out on the Pure Haven website.

Conclusion about the Pure Haven safest shampoo and conditioner ingredients

In my opinion, there are no common irritants or sensitizers, and no known endocrine disruptors or carcinogens.  And I like the fact that all ingredients that can be organic are organic.  That makes it the safest shampoo among soap-free shampoos on the Shampoo Rating List

But how can you find healthy shampoo and conditioner that will work for you?

Some people report to me that they cannot use shampoos with certain ingredients or that so-called “natural” shampoos do not work for them.  That is why I have made a Shampoo and Conditioner Rating List that will help you choose the safest shampoo and conditioner for your hair, preferences, and health.  Please, check it out!

Additionally, browse my shop for options of non-toxic skincare and household items.  Also, book a consultation with me if you have any questions regarding your healthy living plan.  Finally, become a member of the community of the like-minded people in the Savvy Consumer Circle to share and gain experience living healthy at your own pace.

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47 thoughts on “The Best Safest Shampoo”

  1. Deli Body Living Hair product line appears to contain ingredients that would, overtime, darken or yellow light blonde hair.

    1. Can this shampoo be used on a baby? I don’t want to use essential oils on a baby but want to use a safe effective shampoo. Thank you

      1. Cynthia, may I suggest that Pure Haven makes a Baby shampoo!! And a Kids Shampoo! For their kids, baby and pet products, they use only Essential oils, in the proper rates, proven safe for babies and kids (and pets). I hope this helps.

    1. Hi, Netty: I know many people use it and like it. I have tried Innersense it and found it stripping/drying for my hair. I will definitely include it in the Shampoo Rating List. ~Irina

  2. Hi
    Iden, Neuma, Original Sprout. You’re thoughts??. Could you include volumizing sprays or mousses for straight hair and days with a much need for extra volume suggestions the brands above contain them and they work but safe?

  3. I would LOVE for you to check out Kogi Naturals of Canada and also Rocky Mountain Soap Company. Both product lines have almost identical ingredients (and a little birdie told me that RMSC buys their shampoo base from Kogi). Anyways, they appear to be natural and certainly claim to be so but I have a hard time believing/understanding their ingredient list as I don’t see surfactants (and they both foam very well for “natural” shampoos). I’d be SO curious (and happy!!) if they are legit!

    1. Hi, Sarah: Are you in Canada? I hope you are staying warm. Yes, these soap-based shampoos are pretty safe. Unfortunately, I can’t use soap to wash my hair. It makes my hair greasy. You are read more about that here: I am glad that you are okay with soap. Which formulation would you like me to include in the Shampoo Rating List? Do you use a conditioner or rinse with vinegar? ~Irina

  4. Thanks for the great review. Have you tried Griffin Remedy Restorative shampoo? My grocery coop sells it in bulk so no plastic waste!

    1. Hi, Maria: I am glad there are shampoos that you can buy in bulk. I looked into Griffin long time ago. They do not disclose ingredients on their website. ~Irina

  5. Hi Irina,

    Have you tried or heard about Whamisa’s Organic Seeds Hair Shampoo for Oily or Dry Scalp (pH 4.5)? If so, could provide your thoughts on this product?

        1. Hi, Crystal: Thank you so much! I also found two websites in the UK that sell these products and ship to the US. I noticed that the ingredients in the EWG Skin Deep database are a bit different from what is displayed on the websites. Could you do me a favor? Could you take a picture of the bottle and email it to me? Thank you a lot! ~Irina

  6. Hi Irina,
    This is so perfect! Just this morning I was going to write letting you and all of our list serve friends how much I LOVE Pure Haven Shampoo. Its the only one I have ever tried that did not strip the color of my hair at all. Due to allergies to hair chemicals years ago I switched to very natural, soft color that I apply at home, and only lasts about 2-3 weeks. I will be going gray now that just I finally retired- but meanwhile I’ve had to use colors that are very temporary. Pure Haven to the rescue! No color stripping. It lets me go longer between times I color and even a week or two makes a great difference. I do use the conditioner too, because I find the shampoo a little drying but with the conditioner its a perfect combination. Thanks again for telling us about this great combination. Val

    1. Hi, Val! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to provide your positive feedback. I’m so glad I was able to help you find safe products that you enjoy! It’s so rewarding to hear! ~Irina

    1. Hi, Mary: It depends on whether you are allergic to essential oils. It is scented with essential oils. The scent is very mild. ~Irina

  7. Hi Irina, thank you for this fantastic website. it’s truly a treasure chest of information and I keep on finding little gems every time I look!

    I was wondering if the Pure Haven products were safe for the environment? I hate to think that the products I am using might be poisoning the oceans and our soils! I’d rather have ugly hair than harm our beautiful earth which keeps us alive.

    Thanks in advance. I appreciate you so much!

  8. Hi Irina,

    I bought purehaven earlier this year and it was about $30 for both shampoo and conditioner (16oz bottles), now its over $40 for 8oz. Do you know what happened to their pricing?

    1. I have been a loyal Pure Haven shampoo and conditioner user for 10 years but they did recently decreased their bottle size By half but kept the price almost the same :/. They told me the reason was because a smaller size allows the ingredients to maintain their integrity in a humid environment of a shower/bath. I refuse to pay that much for it and I’m struggling to find something comparable that is more affordable. Any suggestions ?

  9. Hello,
    I am interested in buying this shampoo and conditioner, but there are 2 types. Sweet Orange and Supergreens. Which one are you recommending? If both are good, what are the differences? The website doesn’t explain much.


    1. Hi, June: thank you for asking. It depends on what kinds of hair you have. If you have healthy hair, Sweet Orange products are fine. But if you have dry and especially chemically processed hair, you might want to go for Supergreens. Does it make sense? ~Irina

      1. Thank you for the quick response. I will take that in consideration. 🙂
        Can’t wait to use it! Thank you for all your information on the website. It is very educating.

        1. Hello, I decided to buy both and tried both. Both are very stripping to my hair. I tried each shampoo/conditioner set for 2 weeks each to make sure that my hair gets accustomed to it, but both results are the same and did not improve. At least the conditioner really fix that by moisturizing my scalp. So I know you said the soap didn’t work for you, is it similar for me that these shampoos are too harsh for me?

          1. Hi, June: thank you for your honest feedback. Everyone’s hair is so different. May I ask what shampoo and conditioner did you switch from? Could you please describe your hair also? By the way, you can return the products within 60 days of the purchase. Shampoo-based shampoos leave greasy residue in my hair. ~Irina

  10. Maria T Newcomer

    Awesome website! I was wondering, which Pure Haven shampoo and conditioner do you use and recommend? How often do you shampoo? One lather or two? I am 54 years old with very thick wavy long hair and seborrheic dermatitis on my scalp. My scalp is very sensitive, has always been oily, and I used to have to shampoo every other day. Now if I shampoo too often, my scalp starts to get very itchy and bothers me so I suspect due to my age, I not only have SD but dry scalp too. I also made my scalp worse, by trying and using too many different shampoos and shampoo soaps in the past. I need to stick to one product and have been trying to do that. Do you think Pure Haven would help me? Also, do you brush your hair? What kind of brush do you use? Thank you so much! Hope to hear from you!

    1. Hi, Maria: I’m sorry to hear that you have to deal with seborrheic dermatitis. Have you seen a dermatologist for it? What do they suggest? Pure Haven hair products are not designed to treat seborrheic dermatitis; however, I believe shampoos with allergens may cause or contribute to dermatitis, and thus switching to a safer shampoo may help. I shampoo my hair twice a week. ~Irina

  11. Hi! Thank you for all the valuable information! Are you able to recommend a substitute for dandruff shampoo like Head and Shoulders? Thanks so much!

  12. Hi there: I’m looking for a shampoo that’s clear, gel like; has no coconut in it, fragrance free if possible no sodium chloride or SLS etc. could you recommend anything?

  13. Firstly, thank you for the guides! Appreciate all the information and work. You have other Alaffia products rated and was wondering what you thought of the African Black Soap Unscented by them? EWG gave it a 1 I believe.

    The ingredients are: Ocimum canum (African Mint) Aqueous Extract, Saponified Butyrospermum parkii (Shea) Butter* and Elaeis guineensis (Palm Kernel) Oil*, Lauryl Glucoside. Fair for Life Fair Trade certified ingredient. †ORANGUTAN SAFE.

  14. Hi Irina! I just discovered your blog a few days ago during one of my late-night sessions (yet another…lol) in hopes to find safe cosmetic products! I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 4 years ago and researching the disease opened my eyes to the vast number of nasty ingredients in many foods and cosmetics. I literally lose track of time as I research hours on end but love doing it and I can value your hard work and effort so… thank you.

    I would appreciate your opinion concerning the ingredient “aloe barbadensis (organic aloe vera) leaf juice” due to the fact that I have read a couple articles about how controversial it is in cosmetics. I can’t find the first article I read but it stated that even if it’s organic, the way it’s processed can make it carcinogenic. I have not come across one product that provides information about the process so I added it to my personal list of ingredients to avoid but seeing that it is in the shampoo you highly reccommend, made me want to investigate it more in depth. I honestly have to continue doing my homework on the matter but would love your thoughts! Here is one of the articles I just started reading.
    Thanks again!

    1. Hi, Jay: On this blog, we offer balanced and practical solutions. Have a had a chance to read the study you linked? What it says is that the aloe vera plant has many components including anthraquinones, which is what is linked to carcinogenicity when animals were fed big quantities of whole aloe vera extracts. However, when they removed it and used decolorized aloe vera leaf extract, it was non-toxic. ~Irina

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