Ethical consumption is on the rise and people across the world are demanding products not only good for themselves, but for the planet and all other creatures on it. The food industry may be at the center of this movement, but it goes far beyond what you put in your body. What you put on it matters just as much!
We believe that regardless of what your diet is (vegan, vegetarian or omnivore) none of your cosmetic and body care products need to contain animal ingredients. Hence the search for vegan hair products!
First, what exactly is vegan? Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you already know, but just in case, we’ll clear up any confusion. VEGAN means the product contains no animal by-products, or ingredients that came from an animal. It’s not always easy stuff like milk, eggs, and cheese, either. Sometimes, they’re less obvious, such as honey, beeswax, gelatin, and yogurt.
Now vegan does not necessarily mean cruelty-free, which means neither products NOR ingredients were tested on animals at any stage in development. While referring to two totally different parts of sourcing and production, the two are not so dissimilar at their core philosophy of protecting animal rights.
Despite that, every once in a while there arises an ethical gap between the two principals in which you’ll find products that tick one, but strangely not the other. For instance:
- Cruelty-free products, while not tested on animals, may still contain animal ingredients or by-products which would have necessitated the death of an animal. This, of course, begs the question – are these products truly cruelty-free?
- Vegan products, while they don’t contain any animal ingredients, may still be tested on animals, which is surely not in the spirit of veganism?
We go much deeper into how to avoid some common pitfalls into this gap in another article, so let’s move on to hair. While this list focuses on vegan products, we believe to be truly vegan at the core, it must also be cruelty free, so we’ve aimed to hit both points, as you should, too!
Setting aside the face that SO MANY hair companies (even common salon) test their products on animals, hair products are full of tricky things most of us don’t even know are animal byproducts. Here are some sneaky animal byproducts commonly found in hair products, courtesy of The Vegan Woman:
- Biotin (hair creams and conditioners): Vitamin-B enriched texturizer that comes from milk or yeast. Instead look for Vitamin-B derived from carrots, berries, and members of the lettuce family.
- Cetyl Alcohol (shampoo): A waxy substance from the head cavity (“spermaceti”) of whales and dolphins. It can be replaced by plant derived cetyl alcohol – althought ideally look for coconut derived as cetyl alcohol can also be derived from palm oil – a whole other issue…
- Gelatin (hair gels): Derived from boiled animals carcasses (ethical reasons aside, why would anyone want that in their hair?!). Can be replaced by certain mosses (like Irish moss) or seaweed and kelp.
- Hyaluronic Acid (“moisturizing” hair products): Made from umbilical cords and synovial joint fluid. Again, ew. Soy and vegetables are natural sources of it, so a healthy diet can actually mitigate all need for such products!
- Keratin (hair masks and restorative products): Harvested from skin, hooves, horns, hair, and feathers. Plenty of herbs and natural oils provide the same restorative benefits.
- Stearic Acid (hairspray and conditioner): Comes from animal fat (horrifically often from euthanized pets and slaughtered farm animals). Can be replaced by cocoa and shea butters but again can also be made from palm oil, which has terrible environmental implications.
For more, check out PETA’s complete list of animal-derived ingredients. Now we know that reading labels can get tedious (and lots of smaller companies just don’t have the money to get the big badge easily labeling them as vegan or cruelty-free even if they are), so we’ve put together a list of some vegan hair products that we hope will be helpful.
If this is your first time visiting, our approach to sustainable beauty is to look for brands and products that are vegan, cruelty-free, organic / natural, palm oil free, have ethical ingredient sourcing policies and use thoughtful packaging (compostable, ideally). We know, that’s a tall order but we try to find brands that tick as many of these boxes as possible!
Ethique Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
Plaine Products Liquid Shampoo
Allpa Botanicals Hair Oils
Acure Organics Dry Shampoo
Andrea’s Organic Market Hair Masks
Yarok Hair “Feed Your Sunshine” Hair Serum
Dirty Hippie Cosmetics’s Best-Selling Leave-In Conditioner & GMO-Free Dry Shampoo
Friendly Soap Shampoo Bars
Evolvh Ultimate Syling Lotion
Dr. Jon’s soap co. “damn fine” pomade
Tints Of Nature Hair Dye
Rahua Voluminous Hair Spray
Apple Cider Vinegar
Ethique Vegan Hair Products: We LOVE bars because they can safely and securely be wrapped in recyclable paper or not wrapped at all! If you travel a lot, say goodbye to TSA liquid restrictions, because bars are a breeze at the airport.
Ethique’s bars are palm oil free, vegan, natural and cruelty free and there are a number to choose from based on your hair needs (from oily to frizzy to dandruffy, they have a very impressive range!). They’re also way more concentrated than regular products so it’s designed to last up to six times longer! Their Conditioning Wonderbar, for instance, is the equivalent of five bottles of conditioner. Huge bang for your buck and five less plastic bottles in landfills!
About Ethique: Ethique is a fairly new brand (2015) from New Zealand, Christchurch. They specialize in all things bar related, from facial cleansers to scrubs to natural deodorants. Besides the very impressive response to their product range they’re also super sustainable and tick each and every one of our boxes!
As mentioned above, they’re not only certified cruelty free and vegan, but also palm oil free, plastic free and use minimal, sustainable and biodegradable (make sure you toss this in your compost!) packaging for everything. They’re a certified B-Corp and are among a rare percentage of zero-waste companies certified as climate neutral AND donate either 2% of revenue or 20% of profit (whichever is higher) to charity. How good is that?! Check out their story here for more info!
Plaine Products Vegan Hair Products: If you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to traditional liquid shampoo and conditioner, Plaine offers traditional forms of all-natural shampoo and conditioner in 100% recyclable and refillable aluminum bottles. They even have travel sizes!
What really makes Plaine unique, however, is their attentiveness to being zero-waste, both in terms of the products themselves (which are refillable) but even in product shipping. It’s one thing to offer a zero-waste product, and another to send it all over the world achieving the same thing.
About Plaine Products: Plaine Products is a sister-owned company, founded by Lindsey and Alison Delaplaine, that specializes in vegan, cruelty-free, palm oil free, chemical-free, and biodegradable hair and body products. Since the company started with the dream of having less plastic in the world, their entire production model is completely plastic free. Not only do the sisters personally try all products on themselves and their families before approving them, but they also run every ingredient through the Environmental Working Group database to ensure every single one is non-toxic!
While their intent is to refill your empties, if you choose not to refill your Plaine order or are unable to send them back, you can recycle the aluminum bottles yourself, a process that requires less energy than original production! Aluminum is great because it can be recycled indefinitely with no loss in quality, unlike plastic which is “down-cycled” to lower grades each time it is recycled until eventually, it must be condemned to the landfill.
Allpa Botanicals Vegan Hair Products: Allpa are all about oils so their haircare range includes luxury hair oils like Argan oil, Jojoba oil, Castor oil, Turmeric oil, Eucalyptus oil, Grapeseed oil, etc. Each have slightly different attributes which promote healthy hair in different ways, for example, Argan oil is great for reducing frizz, repairing dry brittle hair, softness and shine and Intensive hydration.
About Allpa Botanicals: Based in Miami and founded by Eileen and Kevin Ebner, Allpa is an “ingredient-focused brand dedicated to creating all natural and effective hair+skin care” They source all their oils in small batches from Ecuador and each is “ethically sourced, harvested and handpicked by local Ecuadorian farmers from crops all over the Andean region, empowering local communities and showcasing all that their land has to offer”. Given their products are made of single ingredient, luxury oils from plants, all their products are vegan and palm oil free. They are also ethically sourced, natural, organic and of course, cruelty-free.
Acure Organics Vegan Hair Products: Acure organics is one of our favourites and their haircare range is simple but thorough. They have a range of great shampoos and conditioners but the focus in this article is their dry shampoo.
Dry shampoo is one of those super tricky products to get right and reading through reviews form multiple other dry shampoo options, people either love them or hate them. Those who hate them tend to not like the light coloured powder in dark hair because the product typically takes longer to absorb and can make darker hair look like it’s just had white powder applied – clearly not ideal. Acure has attempted to resolve this as they now also have dry shampoo for brunette to dark hair as well as their original dry shampoo
About Acure Organics: Based in the USA, Acure Organics is a family owned business specializing in skincare, hair care and body care products. Their products are cruelty-free, vegan, palm oil free. Many of the ingredients they use are USDA certified organic. They also source ingredients from fair trade suppliers where possible and support charities. Unfortunately their packaging is not plastic free but it is made from recycled plastic and is recyclable.
Andrea’s Organic Market Vegan Hair Products: Andrea’s Organic Market creates handcrafted organic shampoos and conditions (in both liquid and bar form), cleansing hair rinses, and split end serums, as well as 4 different restorative hair masks.
We’re focusing specifically on their banana and avocado vegan hair masks as pure and simple ways to give your hair a deep conditioning treatment that de-frizzes, shines, and helps your hair maintain moisture by targeting the follicles themselves (therefore decreasing your need for regular conditioner!).
Note, not all Andrea’s hair products are vegan, so be sure to double check before you order.
About Andreas Organic Market: This Oklahoma-based woman-owned business specializes all manner of hair and body care, using only “pure, raw, and natural ingredients for clean living”. She started the company after becoming a “label reader” and realizing many “natural” products are not actually natural at all. She sought to change that.
We love that her masks include only a few ingredients and they’re all natural, non-GMO, palm-oil free, cold-pressed (in the case of oils) and best yet, recognizable words! Andrea also uses organic ingredients where available and her ingredients are sourced ethically, from small businesses like herself, where possible.Not all products she creates are vegan (some utilize egg yolk and honey), but she offers tons of vegan options, all clearly labeled, and everything is cruelty-free.
Andrea offers container returns for refills and refill pouches for dry products in biodegradable cello bags. As for shipping, everything comes in compostable or recyclable packaging; absolutely no plastic! She also donates all blemished products to her local Blessing Box and has an on-site office compost bin!
Yarok Vegan Hair Products: Yarok, meaning “green” in Hebrew, makes all sorts of hair products that “feed your” hair in some way. The Feed Your Sunshine Serum is designed for outdoor lovers, as it protects your hair and scalp from sun damage and harmful elements.
Love sunbathing? Your hair needs UV protection just as much as your skin! Spend a lot of time at the pool? This protects your hair from damaging chlorine. Not only that, it helps alleviate dandruff and rejuvenates colored or over-processed hair. Best of all, you only need to use it once a week. It’s all-natural and vegan, made with organic aloe vera and blackcurrant seed oil.
About Yarok Hair: The brainchild of New York stylist Mordechai Alvow, this luxury haircare brand consciously creates all vegan, natural formulas to nourish hair from its core using only responsibly harvested ingredients.
They are gluten-free, certified cruelty-free, and palm oil-free. Plus they donate 3% of every pruchase directly to the Pachamama Alliance, a group dedicated ot protecting over 10 million acres of the Amazon. Their packaging is not zero waste but it is reusable and recyclable.
Dirty Hippie’s Vegan Hair Products: Dirty Hippie makes a nice range of sustainable haircare products but their best sellers (according to Etsy) are their Nourishing Leave-in Conditioner and their GMO-free Dry Shampoo.
Their Nourishing leave-in conditioner is made from Rose Hydrosol, Aloe Vera, Argan Oil, Rose and Jasmine Pure Essential Oils and is designed to “provide your hair with protecting nourishment to help repair the damage that everyday life throws its way”. Dirty Hippie has now also made this product available in aluminum capped refills for those living a zero waste lifestyle or anyone trying to cut down on their plastic consumption.
Their GMO-free Dry Shampoo is extra impressive as it can be ordered in either a light or dark colour and a range of sizes, including refills (in post-consumer recycled paper envelopes) and a travel size. Both the normal and travel sizes come in a recycled paper shaker container which can be re-used or composted.
About Dirty Hippie: Hailing from Bywong, Australia, Dirty Hippie Cosmetics are one of the most sustainable brands we’ve had the pleasure of covering. They create handmade, organic and clearly top quality products (based on hundreds of super reviews).
They’re a 100% cruelty-free, palm oil free and vegan friendly brand. When it comes to sourcing they’ve covered all bases, either purchasing through fair trade channels, buying local or growing their own raw ingredients!
As for packaging, they haven’t skipped a beat, their lip balms, sunscreens, deodorants and small and large eco tubs are made using recycled paper (which can be composted!), otherwise they use tins and glass bottles which can be recycled or reused of course!
Their labels are printed with refillable veg-ink and their operations (which currently have a 50% carbon offset) will be powered with solar when they move into their new HQ. They are based in a zero waste community (read more about it here).
Their lab also makes use of naturally collected rain water! Finally, they’re involved in a number of charitable initiatives and projects from raising awareness for suicide prevention to animal rescue to support for cancer sufferers. Truly inspirational!
Friendly Soap Vegan Hair Products: Friendly Soap sells two shampoo bars: Lavender & Geranium and Lavender & Tea Tree. Both are cruelty-free, palm oil free, vegan and 100% natural (free of parabens, sulphates, triclosan and phthalates), and made with only a handful of ingredients: Castor Oil, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils, water.
We’ve tried the Lavender and Tea Tree and can thoroughly recommend it! It’s super foamy, does a great job of cleaning, doesn’t dry out hair, and lasts for ages (be sure though to keep it in a dry spot). Long lasting and compact means less waste, after all! P.S. They also offer some great tips about the transition process to natural shampoo.
About Friendly Soap: Friendly Soap is an award winning UK soap maker. All products are cruelty-free, 100% natural, vegan and palm oil free, and the company holds a “Best” rating with Ethical Consumer. Their products are made using the old school ZERO by-products cold process method.
They are then packaged in recycled, completely plastic free materials that are also recyclable once you’re done with them. Rob and Geoff, the founders of Friendly Soap, view their company as more than simply manufacturing soap, but rather as a learning process on how little we can impact nature. Check out our brand guide on them here for more info!
EVOLVh Vegan Hair Products: While EVOLVh makes a large varitey of ethical hair-care products, from shampoos and conditioners, to repair masks and polishing balms, their Ultimate Syling Lotion 5-in-1 sounds pretty much sublime.
This medium hold styling product not only holds your hair, but increases shines, de-frizzes, conditions, and manages curls (though don’t think that means it can’t be used on straight hair). Plus it can be used on wet or dry hair, blown-in or just left to air dry (reducing energy consumption of blow-dryers!).
With so many uses, you’ll save money and waste by buying one product rather than many. It’s free from silicone, parabens, and gluten, and is 100% vegan. These products are non-toxic with mostly floral ingredients, like mallow, flax, and mairgold but do contain some naturally derived chemicals.
About EVOLVh: EVOLVh (“The ‘h’ is silent and stands for Happy Healthy Hair!’) is a U.S. based hair and body company that uses groundbreaking herbal formulas for healthy skin and body with minimal enirovnmental impact, a philosophy embedded right in the company name: “’Earth’ and ‘EVOLVh’ both start and end with the same letters – it’s a special connection we share with our beautiful, beloved planet and is symbolic of our values and who we are.”
As well as being vegan and cruelty-free, all products are free of sulfates, gluten, parabens, alcohol, silicones, phthalates, and propylene glycerol. Their products are not palm oil free, but they do use RSPO-certified palm oil.
And since their formulas are all super concentrated with no fillers added, you’ll need to buy less. They produce everything in the U.S., never outsourcing, and use recyclable packaging and packing materials.
Dr. Jon’s Soap Co Vegan Hair Products: We don’t want anyone to think we’re neglecting the gentleman (or ladies who need a little extra oomph to their do). Dr. Jon’s Soap Co specializes in small-batch vegan men’s products like aftershave, shaving soaps, and their “Damn Fine” Pomade, which comes in light, medium, and heavy holds.
These pomades are citrus scented using only essential oils, and are crafted using simple, all natural materials like shea butter, mango butter, soy bean oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil. Since there are no preservatives or petroleum products, like typical pomade bases, these pomades actually moisturise and nourish hair while keeping it firmly in place. They come in 4oz glass jars to reuse or recycle.
About Dr. Jon’s Soap Co: Based in Ohio, Dr. Jon’s is owned by a husband and wife team who after getting burned out working in the banking industry, decided to start something new. It all began with an interest in wet shaving and blossomed into “a way to turn a hated daily chore into a morning ritual that I started to cherish and look forward to”. We love this because all beauty routines should be like this; it is called safe care, after all.
While the company is still young, it so far has nothing but 5-star reviews, and they seem to be on the right track, stating that they are “committed to being vegan, sustainable, and recyclable”. They don’t test on animals (except themselves!) and all ingredients listed on their products are mostly natural (save for some fragrance oils in the Dr Jons line) and vegan. Their hair products are palm oil free although their vegan soaps do contain stearic acid, derived from palm oil. They are trying to find alternatives for their recipe!
All their packaging is recyclable and or reusable, mostly made from glass or aluminum, they re-use or recycle all packaging and shipping material and they use biodegradable shipping peanuts, made from starch. More broadly, the team recycles all paper and ink cartridges and are clearly massive animal lovers and passionate about their community. They regularly donate to numerous charities and the owner, Kim volunteers 30+ hours per month at the Ohio House Rabbit Rescue as a BunCare volunteer and Adoption Coordinator.
Tints of Nature Vegan Hair Products: Natural haircare doesn’t necessarily mean sticking to your natural color. We totally understand the urge to shake things up. Tints of Nature offers easy, at-home dye kits (saving you big bucks at the salon!) for both permanent and semi-permanent henna dyes designed to be gentle on your head and hair, being completely free from ammonia, parabens, sulfates, propylene glycol, and resorcinol.
While not completely 100% organic (they are currently rated around 75%, using 95% naturally derived ingredients), they are working toward that goal, and use the absolute lowest possible level of PPD (p-Phenylenediamine) and only when an alternative is not possible In fact, the dyes are even fortified with aloe and citrus to add all-natural hydration and shine to your hair.
About Tints of Nature: This U.K. based company is changing the game by offering a nearly all-natural solution to something once though completely chemical, earning an average of 4.7 out of 5 star reviews. They are not only PETA-certified vegan and Choose-certified cruelty-free, but they are also a member of the UK organization Cosmetics Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) that actively works to promote non-animal products and testing in production in the beauty industry.
In addition to animal welfare, they are proactive in minimizing their environmental impact, from sourcing (they get over 75% of ingredients right from within the UK to minimize shipping), to manufacturing (recycling everything they can and using low-carbon, energy-efficient manufacturing methods), to packaging.
Back in 2003, they started using 100% recycled cardboard for their boxes and have since saved 225,000kg of virgin cardboard. All packing chips made from 100% biodegradable, septic-safe corn.
Some of Tints of Nature’s products appear to contain palm oil derivatives – we are confirming their palm oil and ethical sourcing policies directly with them.
Note: Per the Tints of Nature Website re their new vegan status: “Previous batches of Sulfate-Free Shampoo & Scalp Treatment are still in circulation, which contain a milk derivative. Any products purchased online are guaranteed to contain the new vegan friendly formula.”
Rahua Vegan Hair Products: Rahua makes a handful of hair products (shampoo, conditioner, etc.) all enriched with rahua oil, including their Voluminous Hair Spray, though spritzer is more accurate.
Unlike traditonal hairsprays, it won’t leave hair feeling crinkly and crisp, but rather provides a soft, all-day hold that works especially well on difficult hair types, such as fine or oily hair. It’s also non-aerosol (so non-damaging to the ozone) and provides UV protection.
Unlike their Defining Hair Spray, this one is alcohol-free as well as USDA certified organic with no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, gluten, silicones, or synthetic fragrances.
About Rahua: Rahua’s company slogan is “rainforest grown beauty”. We know that doesn’t sound very eco-friendly, and we were skeptical at first, too, but after reading their full story, it all became clearer.
Pioneered by New York City’s Fabian Lliguin and his wife Anna Ayers, Rahua creates all-natural hair care products using rahua oil, which (scientifically speaking) has a smaller molecule size that allows it to penetrate strands of hair to moisture from the inside, rather than merely coating hair strands.
Unlike the many beauty products harvested unsustainably from the rainforest, Rahua works with over 500 indiginous Quechua-Shua tribes to ethically harvest this oil using the same ritualistic methods these tribes have used for centuries.
This sacred oil and these indigenous communities are handled respectfully and with great care: “We purchase direct from tribespeople who cultivate ingredients using ancient traditional methods and pay them a higher price in order to honor and sustain their work, their way of life, and the forest itself.”
For this reason, the company is certified Symbiotic (i.e. “rainforest grown (wild) in undisturbed virgin forest, harvested and prepared using indigenous knowledge by people indigenous to the virgin forest environment, and it must be purchased at a price that helps to grow and sustain these traditions, build economies, and empower the indigenous people”).
Their products are also non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free, vegan, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and gluten-free. Rahua’s full list of ingredients implies that they do use palm oil derivatives but we are confirming their policies directly with them. As with Yarok, this product is not plastic-free.
Surprisingly enough, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a vegan hair cleanser, removing any build-up or greasy residue left behind by shampoo and product, while not completely stripping its own natural oils (meaning you go longer without having to wash your hair!).
It leaves your hair silky, smooth, and tangle-free. Beyond that, ACV improves overall follicle health, by balancing the pH of the hair and scalp and removing bacteria. Say goodbye to greasy looking roots or dandruff! And no fear, we promise you won’t smell like vinegar, but for more specifics, we talk about how to make and use it in this article.
Plus it has SO many other uses around the home and kitchen. Drink it for digestive benefits, use it to clean, whatever! Nothing like a single product that does it all.
If you live a zero waste lifestyle, you can often find ACV at your local bulk foods store which is definitely the most sustainable way to buy it.
If you don’t have access to a bulk store, try to buy the largest bottle you can to minimize packaging. There are lots of brands out there, but we recommend Bragg because it comes in glass bottles and is USDA certified organic, made of non-GMO raw apples, and is unheated, unfiltered, unpasteurized .
Ethical consumption and vegan products are starting to become wonderfully prolific. Notice that by focusing on vegan products, we are able to naturally tick off many of our other sustainable beauty criteria as well.
As creators and companies are becoming more aware of their impact on people’s health (and hair!) as well as the environment, it’s becoming easier than ever to achieve multiple levels of sustainability.
We hope we’ve helped provide some useful suggestions for you that will satisfy not only vegans, but in many cases, zero-wasters as well. If we missed any product that you especially love and think belongs on our list, or just want to give us a shout by leaving a comment or sending a message.