A Hairy Situation: How I Cleaned Up My Act- Part 2

Happy Thursday Everyone!

As a follow-up to last weeks post, I actually decided to create a three part series on hair. Now all of us deal with hair on our head and else where, which unfortunately means we spend a great deal of time, money, and effort into grooming said tresses. What does this mean to the environment? Well, there are two issues with many hair care products such as shampoo and conditioner, the focus of this blog post, is that they are not only unhealthy for humans, but also the environment by causing ecological degradation from their production and from their waste. So I am going to try to explain this without putting you all to sleep.

A Hairy Situation (1).png

There are two sides of the equation which matter : how are hair products like shampoo made and what happens to them after we wash them down the drain? The Gist will outline the essentials

The Gist:

  • In 2016, the global hair care market is estimated to be worth about 83.36 billion U.S. dollars. So there really isn’t any shortage of money to make improvements right? Right.
  • Surfactants are linked to hormone disruption according to numerous studies, including those conducted by the Canadian Government. Endocrine disruptors basically confuse the body by mimicking the bodies natural hormones leading to infertility, thyroid diseases, interfere with insulin production, cause issues with development and growth of children including their behavior.
  • Surfactants created through the rendering of industrial agricultural meat waste (the boiling of animal fat and bones), recycling of deep fryer grease and through extraction of vegetable oil such as palm oil. This oil product is then combined with caustic solutions like lye (aka liquid metal hydroxide which is rendered originally from ash or alkaline metal waste.)
  • Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. To put that in perspective: 91% of the Amazon’s deforestation is the result of land clearing for animal agriculture.

  • “Oil palm plantations currently cover more than 27 million hectares of the Earth’s surface” which is roughly the size of New Zealand. This land clearing occurs primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia where there are now “biodiversity deserts” where very little native species live or occur anymore due to habitat destruction and monoculture of palm oil plantations.

  • Bioaccumulation of harmful chemicals in marine and terrestrial animals. This is from surfactants, fragrances and preservatives which we wash down the drain daily. What are “safe” levels of chemical exposures for humans are not for zooplankton, amphibians and so on and so forth.

Want to hear a fun fact? There are over 22 different names for palm oil in your products. Check out the Rainforest Action Network blog for the complete list.

Wow. That sucks hey? Sure does… Not only are we harming the environment but ourselves! So let’s not be defeatists about this or stop washing our hair all together, let’s just use our brains for a bit and figure out a solution.

Step 1:  Recognize your level of comfort with your particular sustainability goals and personal hair needs. For example, if you have chemically treated hair, look for a sustainable hair product that addresses that, they are out there! Also if you are looking to completely cut chemical shampoos from your life, then you may want to join the “no-poo” movement. No-Poo means that you only cleanse your hair with baking soda and condition with apple cider vinegar. Here is a common combination from The Paleo Mom.

no-poo infographic

I am not going to lie, this takes a level of commitment that I have yet to reach. I tried it for several months only to have dry yet stringy hair which smelled vaguely pickle-like. However, I have also heard amazing results from others, so I am guessing it is about personal chemistry.

Step 2: Find a budget or price point you are comfortable with. If you have been buying no-name or walmart brand shampoo for 15 years, you’re likely to experience sticker shock if you look at some of the primo sustainable brands out there. So pick a price point you are comfortable with and stick with it. This goes along with step 3.

Step 3: Look for alternatives where you already shop. This is a BIG DEAL. Because, let’s be honest, if you aren’t a big online shopper, then its not likely that you will buy shampoo online consistently and therefore this is not habit forming. So head over to the “natural” isle in your commercial grocery store or pharmacy and see what they have! Brands you are likely to come across in those kinds of stores are:


Alba Botanica
Live Clean


All of  these companies are awesome entry-level green products, with Andalou pulling ahead of the group on its overall level of sustainability. Live Green products border greenwashing due to their vague descriptions about the origins of their products and their use of palm oil. I have a bottle of it set aside in my guest bathroom for the occasional use, but after learning that it wasn’t meeting my goals, I moved on. However all three of these are vegan/vegetarian, cruelty free and come in either PC packaging or packaging which is recyclable, so if you are just starting your foray into the green products world, these might be the place to start. Cost wise, these products will run you $5.99-12.99 per bottle, but I have ALWAYS seen the Alba products on sale at Save On Foods in Canada here.

Step 4: Try, Try, Try. Don’t try one product and give up if you don’t like it. There are literally HUNDREDS of sustainable shampoo brands out there and you just need to try them. Keep reading because I will list off some great options, what I use now and reveal which brand I am going to try next.

If you are a savvy shopper like myself or frequent natural food markets like Pomme Natural Market or Whole Foods, you are likely to come across a much wider selection of products. Between Pomme and Winners (my favorite secret place to get discount sustainable personal care products) I am able to strike the right balance between sustainability and my budget.

At the moment I am using a combination of Aliffia brand Everyday Shea Shampoo and Everyday Coconut Conditioner. I also use Everyone 3 in One by EO to switch it up from time to time- it is also a great alternative to bubble bath because it cleanses your hair and body all at the same time.

Alaffia Everyday Shea and Coconut

I chose Aliffia because of their social and environmental programs which include sustainable and organic resource sourcing from certified fair trade farms, Reforestation Projects (52,125 trees planted), Maternal Care Projects (4,142 safe births funded) and Education School Supplies Projects (23,700 students) in Togo Africa (Officially the Togolese Republic). Additionally, they do not test on animals, are vegan friendly, SLS, paraben, and fragrance free. As for use it is fantastic. Great lather, safe for my coloured hair, smells like a tropical beach party and leaves my hair clean and soft. Cost wise, these 950ml bottles will run you about $9.99, which I think is a REALLY good deal.

alaffia 2

The only draw back I could find with the formula of their shampoos is that they use cocamidopropyl betaine, a derivative from coconut oil. In some reports (not from scientific journals) is that it has been known to cause irritation of the mucous membranes in some individuals. Now, I am going to say this and get some hate mail for it, but shampoo of any kind is going to irritate your eyes, so if that’s a problem for you, you might want to try the No-Poo method, just don’t get the vinegar in your eyes…

Everybody 3 in One by EO.

The EO Everyone 3 in One is by far the most sustainably produced shampoo I have used so far. As a certified B-Corporation company, it is held to an extremely high standard of quality and sustainability due to this third party auditing system. As a GMO free, vegan, leaping bunny certified, gluten free, and organic ingredient product, their 3 in One product is affordable and covers your body from head to toe in one product. This is great for the men-folk out there who are looking for a one stop shop and my husband uses this primarily (when I met him he was washing his hair with bar soap, so this is an improvement to say the least.)  Cost wise this mondo-sized 950ml bottle will run you between $9.99-12.99.

Decode for Men

Just recently I purchased a gift box of products from Decode, a Canadian sustainability personal care line for men, you can check out the other items here in my last blog post. I haven’t tried the shampoo yet, but I will let you know when the Hubs does, but so far I am extremely pleased with the quality and standards of Decode and their texture paste.

So what other brands are out there? Lots! Here are just a few that I have come across:

What am I going to try next? I am going to try the Green Beaver product line. Not only does it have a fantastic name (hee hee hee) but it is also Canadian owned, operated and produced. I reached out to the company for more information about their shampoo products and they responded almost immediately with comprehensive answers.

ECOCERT Certified The Green Beaver Company

They do not use palm oil ever, a minimum of 67% of their ingredients are certified organic, they are ECOCERT certified, biodegradable, vegan, gluten-free, gmo-free and not tested on animals. But most of all, and this is why I encouraged you all earlier to consider this, it is widely available at the stores I already shop at and they are in my budget. I know my habits, so I work with them!

If you have any questions or want to know more about ingredients in your shampoo’s and conditioners feel free to email me at cedarcoastsustainability@gmail.com or drop me a line in the comments section below.

Cheers and happy showering! Heather


12 Comments on “A Hairy Situation: How I Cleaned Up My Act- Part 2

  1. This is such an interesting and well-researched post!
    I am such a sucker for beauty products but working for Lush Cosmetics a while ago opened my eyes to a lot of the bad stuff that goes on.
    It can be really difficult to pull yourself away from your tried and true products, but some of these tips were really helpful! Especially the one about finding a shampoo where you shop locally. It isn’t something you would necessarily think of when trying to be more sustainable but it makes complete sense.
    Thank you!
    Lucy xx

    • It’s interesting when you start to do a little research and fall down the rabbit hole of knowledge and can’t stop reading! Thanks for the comment I’m glad I was helpful!

  2. This was great. I’m a curly haired girl and I have begun the curly girl method. It essentially talks about avoiding shampoos and using conditioners which are silicone free to wash as well as condition your hair.

    • Oh great idea! The other ingredient I wasn’t aware of prior to my research was copolymers, which are just basically plastic derivatives! We spend so much time avoiding things like BPA and little do we know what plastic is hiding in! Bummer! Good work though!

  3. I have super thick and curly hair so finding a good shampoo that rinses out well and isn’t filled with chemicals has been really hard for me. I’m currently looking into getting shampoos that are more organic.

    • I find the natural ones are much less drying which is great for curly hair! I recently was sent some AG product to review and they have a product called Remedy from their AG Natural line and this might be great for you!

    • For sure! Once you start looking, they are everywhere! Plus majority of natural hair products are sulfate free so you don’t have to look for colour safe ones specifically, though they do make them

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