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The Best Safest Shampoo

Today you will learn about the safest shampoo that does not contain any soap.  How do I know that it is the safest?  Well, it is a bit of a crazy story.  I compared over 112 shampoos by studying each ingredient of each shampoo and then created a rating system.  Today you will also find out what constitutes a safe 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 or cause dandruff or, even worse, contact dermatitis or hair loss.  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.

The best safest shampoo for you. A photo of a girl with shiny red hair.

What I think about soap-based shampoo

The reason I emphasized that this safest shampoo does not contain any soap is that soap does not work for everybody.  Soap-based shampoos do not work for me despite my efforts.  I’ve tried to transition three times.  Some say it took them 4 months.  Unfortunately, I did not have the patience.

I would love to use soap-based shampoo bars because I believe they are the safest shampoos.  Their simple ingredients do not have any health concerns.  In addition, we 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, the safest non-soap shampoo.  Let’s look at the ingredients in this safe 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, Vegetable Glycerin, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Xanthan Gum, Panthenol, Lactobacillus, Oryza Sativa Oil (Organic Rice Bran), Cocos Nucifera Fruit Extract (Coconut), Mentha Piperita Leaf Extract (Organic Peppermint), Equisetum Arvense Extract (Organic Horsetail), Urtica Dioica Leaf Extract (Organic Nettle), Yucca Schidigera Root Extract (Organic Yucca), Citrus Medica Limonum Oil (Organic Lemon), Citrus Sinensis Oil (Organic Sweet Orange), Sodium Phytate, Alcohol, Citric Acid (source).

The main areas of concern in foaming liquid shampoos are surfactants and preservatives.

Surfactants make shampoo foam.  And preservatives protect a water-based product from mold and bacteria contamination.  By the way, a lot of so-called natural or organic shampoos do not seem to contain any preservatives.  Others claim that they use essential oils or potassium sorbate as a broad-spectrum preservative.  Is this enough for a safe shampoo? 

I strongly believe that it is critical for a product that contains water to have a sufficient preservation system.  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.  The infections were urinary tract infection, meningitis, septicemia, and purulent conjunctivitis.  One baby died from meningitis and septicemia.  In other words, I would not call a shampoo without a sufficient preservation system a safe shampoo, even if its ingredients were safe.  In my Shampoo Rating List e-book, I mark with an asterisk a shampoo that in my opinion does not have a sufficient preservation system.

Surfactants in Pure Haven safest shampoo

As I mentioned above, surfactants are foaming agents in a shampoo.  The Pure Haven safest shampoo has coco glucoside as a foaming agent.  Before we talk about this ingredient in detail, I would like to say a few words about coconut allergy because, as its name suggests, coco glucoside is produced from coconut.

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 surfactant that is not used in this safe shampoo

A very popular surfactant in so-called non-toxic shampoos, cocamidopropyl betaine, can cause allergic skin reactions in some people.  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 involving allergic reactions, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named it the 2004 Allergen of the Year.  It’s so good that this safest shampoo does not use this ingredient.

Yes, cocamidopropyl betaine is derived from coconut fatty acids.  Now, let’s look at the fine print.  In its manufacturing process, they use two chemicals: 3,3-dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA) and amidopropyl dimethylamine (amidoamine).  DMAPA and amidoamine are both allergens.  They may also remain in cocamidopropyl betaine as residue. 

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel encourages manufacturers to minimize the amounts of these by-products in cocamidopropyl betaine.  The CIR Expert 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 a 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

Coco-glucoside belongs to the glucoside family of surfactants.  Glucosides are common in baby shampoos and other shampoos because they are gentle (perfect for colored hair) and gentle on the eyes.  The typical non-petroleum sources for them are corn, palm, potato, wheat, or coconut.  The good news is that there are no bad chemicals in the manufacture of coco glucoside, and thus there are no chemical residues.  So, is it an ideal ingredient for a safe shampoo?

Research into coco glucoside

According to a 2013 Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) report, glucoside surfactants are non-sensitizing, which is good news.  However, the CIR Expert Panel indicates that there is a potential for dermal irritation, and products should be formulated to reduce the risks of irritation.

On the other hand, Belgian dermatologists reported that only 30 people out of 11,842 (0.25%) tested 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.  However, considering the alternative surfactants, I still think it belongs in the safest shampoo.

Preservatives in Pure Haven safe shampoo

Leuconostoc/Radish root ferment filtrate

In both its shampoo and conditioner, Pure Haven uses one of the safest preservatives, leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate.  It is a unique peptide with antimicrobial and conditioning properties derived from fermented leuconostoc kimchii radishes.

Leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate is qualified to be EcoCert certified, which means that it is truly natural and plant-based.  You can read more about the radish root ferment filtrate here.

Dermofeel PA-3

In addition, there is another preservative, whose trade name is Dermofeel PA-3, to help make the preservation system more robust.  It consists of sodium phytate, water, and alcohol.  I know what you are thinking.  After using the Pure Haven safest shampoo for a while now, I can assure you that it does not dry the hair. 

Also, Dermofeel PA-3 consists of 50% water, 1% ethanol (alcohol), and approximately 49% sodium phytate.  Notice that there is only a very small amount of alcohol.

As for sodium phytate, there is some negative anecdotal information about it on the Internet.  Despite this information, clinical studies indicated 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.  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 ingredients in Pure Haven safe shampoo

Aloe vera

I love the fact that this safest shampoo has organic aloe vera that provides healing and nutritional properties to the hair and scalp.  And it is important that it is organic so there are no pesticide residues.

Panthenol 

This is another ingredient that I like in this safe shampoo.  It helps to strengthen hair roots and alleviates itching.

Botanicals

Organic oils, extracts, and essential oils that Pure Haven contains improve the cleansing experience.

Conclusion about the Pure Haven safest shampoo ingredients

In my opinion, there are no common irritants or sensitizers, and no known endocrine disrupters 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

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, Cocos Nucifera (Organic Coconut) Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Water (Purified), Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Panthenol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Vegetable Glycerin (Kosher, Non GMO), Lactobacillus, Oryza Sativa Oil (Organic Rice Bran), Citrus Medica Limonum Oil (Organic Lemon), Citrus Sinensis Oil (Organic Sweet Orange), Cocos Nucifera Fruit Extract (Coconut), Mentha Piperita Leaf Extract (Organic Peppermint), Equisetum Arvense Extract (Organic Horsetail), Urtica Dioica Leaf Extract (Organic Nettle), Yucca Shidigera Root Extract (Organic Yucca) (source).

The botanicals are also organic.  Just as in the Pure Haven safe shampoo, there is leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate as a preservative.

A quaternary ammonium compound in the Pure Haven conditioner

After the safest shampoo, it would be only natural to use the safest conditioner.  So, how safe is the Pure Haven conditioner?

There is a quaternary ammonium compound in this conditioner called behentrimonium methosulfate.  In my Conditioner Rating List, I rated it at 4 (on a scale from 0 to 10, 0 being the safest), which is consistent with the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep database rating.  The reason I didn’t rate it lower than 4 is that I am not equipped to defend its safety due to the lack of safety data.  But let me tell you this.  I read the study that EWG uses as a source of endocrine disruption and did not see any references to behentrimonium methosulfate.  Instead, I believe the study describes other quaternary ammonium compounds that work as disinfectants.  The group of quaternary ammonium compounds is large.

Another concern EWG cites is an occupational allergen.  That means that this chemical is not good for workers who produce it. 

I have a long history of searching for safe shampoos and conditioners, and my experience shows the following.  In order for a conditioner to be effective at making your hair shiny, antistatic, free of frizz, and hydrated, it has to have at least one of the quaternary ammonium compounds.  That becomes important when you have hair damaged by hair dyes. 

I believe this quaternary ammonium compound is both light enough for fine and thin hair and moisturizing enough for dry hair.  If you are familiar with the “curly girl” method, this is one of the conditioning ingredients that the curly girl recommends.  Keep in mind that if your hair is neither damaged by hair dyes nor you have a static hair problem, you may not need to use the conditioner at all.  Just use the safest shampoo and you are good to go!

How do I like the Pure Haven shampoo and conditioner?

As for the Pure Haven safe shampoo, I like it a lot.  It lathers well, my scalp has never felt itchy, and my hair is soft and frizz-free.  The shampoo has a pleasant scent, but it is mild and not overpowering.

As for the Pure Haven conditioner, I use a little bit on the length of the hair but not the scalp.  I’ve noticed that if I use it on the scalp, my hair gets greasy sooner.  In fact, I do not always use a conditioner, only when I want to go for a sleek look.  I believe that if you do not damage your hair with chemical dyes, you can do with the Pure Haven safe shampoo only.

You can buy both of these products on the Pure Haven website only here and here.

How to find the safest shampoo and conditioner that will work for you?

Some people report to me that they can’t use shampoos with certain ingredients or that so-called “natural” shampoos do not work for them.  That’s 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!

Your Superpower To Read Ingredients

Hair color ecourse 1

Imagine looking at the ingredients of any shampoo, conditioner, lotion, or cream and in a matter of seconds being able to decide if it is safe to use!

With this easy unprecendented method, you will be able to spot potentially harmful personal care or skincare products that may cause irritation, an allergic reaction, or increase the risk of endocrine disruption or cancer.

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22 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!

  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

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