Ethical consumption is going mainstream and people across the world are demanding products that are not only good for themselves, but for the planet.
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 our search for the best sustainable and eco friendly hair products and brands that are also vegan!
In fact, finding truly ethical haircare brands is a bit like washing your hair after camping for a week… it takes a few rounds of scrubbing to see through the grease and grime.
Fortunately, our sustainable beauty criteria helps enormously, which you can read more about after the brand list.
It’s important to bear in mind that vegan does not necessarily mean cruelty-free (and vice versa). This is worth remembering if we hope to become truly ethical and sustainable consumers. Click here to jump to all the info.
And for you five minute power showerers, here are our favorite sustainable brands that create environmentally friendly hair products: Ethique shampoo bars work super well and come with absolutely minimal packaging. Andreas Organic Market offers a wider range of hair care while still ticking each criteria and Yarok is great for more nourishing treatments and specialized products.
About Ethique Sustainable 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 full line of zero waste shampoo bars are vegan, palm oil free, non-toxic and cruelty free. There are also a number to choose from based on your ethical hair care needs (from oily to frizzy to excess dandruff, 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.
We’d comfortably say they create some of the best vegan, sustainable hair products around.
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, landing a place on our best zero waste beauty brands list.
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!
2. PLAINE PRODUCTS
About Plaine Products Environmentally Friendly Hair Care Products
If you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to traditional liquid shampoo and conditioner, Plaine offers traditional forms of all-natural vegan and cruelty free 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 grade seach time it is recycled until eventually, it must be condemned to the landfill.
3. ALLPA BOTANICALS
About Allpa Botanicals Vegan Sustainable Hair Oils
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.
4. ACURE ORGANICS
About Acure Organics Sustainable Dry Shampoo
Acure Organics haircare range is simple but thorough.
They have a limited range of hair care products but the focus in this article is their sustainable 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 colored 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.
About 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.
5. ANDREA’S ORGANIC MARKET
About Andrea’s Organic Market Eco Friendly Hair Care Masks
Andrea’s Organic Market creates handcrafted ethical hair products (in both liquid and bar form) including, shampoos, conditioners, cleansing hair rinses, and split end serums, as well as 4 different restorative hair masks.
These treatments are 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!).
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 brand specializes in 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 many 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!
About Yarok “Feed Your Sunshine” Hair Serum
Yarok, meaning “green” in Hebrew, makes all sorts of hair products that “feed your” hair in some way.
For instance, the Feed Your Sunshine Serum is designed for outdoor lovers, as it protects your hair and scalp from sun damage and harmful elements.
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 sustainable 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 purchase directly to the Pachamama Alliance, a group dedicated to protecting over 10 million acres of the Amazon.
Their packaging is not zero waste but it is reusable and recyclable.
7. DIRTY HIPPIE COSMETICS
*Note: Dirty Hippie has announced that one of their suppliers no longer guarantees certain ingredients to be palm oil free. While they search for a new supplier, see below for some of the products to avoid.
About Dirty Hippie’s Organic and Eco Friendly Hair Products
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 organic sustainable Dry Shampoo is extra impressive as it can be ordered in either a light or dark color 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 hair care 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 and vegan friendly brand. They try to operate palm-oil free as well, but unfortunately their Olive and Coconut oil supplier “no longer guarantees them to be palm oil free”. While searching for a new supplier, this impacts the Hydrating Hempseed and Red Raspberry Facial Primer moisturizing creams, cruelty-free cream concealers, eyeliners, and zero waste mascaras.
When it comes to sourcing they either purchase through fair trade channels, buy local or grow their own raw ingredients!
As for packaging, they haven’t skipped a beat, their lip balms, sunscreens, deodorants and small and large eco friendly 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!
8. FRIENDLY SOAP
About Friendly Soap Ethical Haircare Products
Friendly Soap sells two vegan and eco friendly shampoo bars: Lavender & Geranium and Lavender & Tea Tree.
When we were living in London, we’ve tried both and can highly recommend them.
They’re 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.
They’re foamy, effective, don’t dry out hair and last for ages (be sure though to keep it in a dry spot though – and that goes with all shampoo and conditioner bars).
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 winningUK 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.
You can read more about their story here.
*Note: We have attempted to confirm these policies directly with this brand
About EVOLVh Ultimate Eco Friendly Hair Styling Lotion
This medium strength style lotion 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 marigold but do contain some naturally derived chemicals.
EVOLVh (“The ‘h’ is silent and stands for Happy Healthy Hair!’) is a U.S. based hair and body company that uses herbal formulas for healthy skin and body.
With minimal environmental 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 than your regular styling gel.
They produce everything in the U.S. and use recyclable packaging and packing materials.
10. TINTS OF NATURE
Tints of Nature Environmentally Friendly Hair Dye
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 eco-friendly 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 thought completely chemical, earning an average of 4-5 stars in 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’re 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.
Noticing some of Tints of Nature’s products contain possible palm oil derivatives, we reached out to directly confirm their policy. We were told:
“None of the Tints of Nature products directly contain palm oil. However, there may be a downstream raw material manufacture that uses palm oil in the production of certain vegetable fats used in conditioners etc. We only purchase our raw materials from companies who belong to RSPO and all of our vegetable fats are also ECOCERT approved.”
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 Voluminous Sustainable Hair Spray
Rahua makes a handful of ethical hair products (shampoo, conditioner, etc.) all enriched with rahua oil, including their Voluminous Hair Spray, though spritzer is more accurate.
Unlike traditional 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.
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 non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free, vegan, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and gluten-free.
While Rahua does not use palm oil directly, a few of their ingredients are palm derived. When we reached out to confirm this with Rahua, they noted that “we make sure it is harvested from a sustainable source.” What exactly that means (i.e. RSPO certified, no slasha dn burn policies, etc.) they don’t say.
As with Yarok, this product is not plastic-free.
12. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
About Apple Cider Vinegar
Surprisingly enough, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a sustainable 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.
“VEGAN HAIRCARE BRANDS” vs “CRUELTY FREE HAIRCARE BRANDS”
Before we get into the detail, we thought we’d just be clear on what the vegan label actually means.
Please do skip ahead if this is old news. 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 the easy to spot 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 the cruelty free / vegan gap here, so let’s move on to hair.
While this list focuses on vegan and eco friendly har 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!
NON-VEGAN INGREDIENTS TO BE AWARE OF
Setting aside the fact 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:
- 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.
FINDING ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY HAIRCARE BRANDS
If this is your first time visiting, our approach to sustainable beauty is to look for brands and products that are
- 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!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SUSTAINABLE HAIR PRODUCTS AND BRANDS
Ethical consumption is starting to become wonderfully prolific.
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.
And that’s our goal, to show you how many sustainable and ethical vegan hair products and brands there are.
We hope you’ve found some useful suggestions that will satisfy not only vegans, but in many cases, those who are trying to live a more zero waste lifestyle. Which we highly recommend!
If we missed a product that you love or just want to give us a shout, leave a comment below.