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The Best Vegan Shampoo and Conditioners To Keep Your Locks Soft, Shiny, and Manageable

by Suka Junin

Jul 1, 2022

Contrary to what you might think, not all cruelty-free shampoos and conditioners are vegan. Certain shampoos and conditioners may not have been tested on animals, but they still may contain animal by-products in the ingredients list. (Think honey and beeswax for instance.)

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If using vegan shampoos and conditioners is a priority for you, good news: we’ve rounded up some of the best ones below. There are plenty of animal-friendly alternatives that are just as, if not more, effective. In fact, you’re pretty spoilt for choice.

What are vegan shampoos and conditioners?

Simply put, vegan shampoos and conditioners contain zero animal ingredients or animal by-products. If you think there aren’t any animal-derived ingredients in hair care, you’ll be surprised. Many shampoos and conditioners contain beeswax, lanolin, gelatin, and keratin, all of which come from animals.

Fortunately, many of these have vegan counterparts. For example, candelilla wax or soy wax can replace beeswax. Beeswax prevents the oil and liquid components in a product from separating, but its alternatives can do the same. Lanolin, a sheep-derived waxy, moisturizing ingredient, is easily replaced with shea or coconut butter.

Why should we use vegan shampoos and conditioners?

One of the biggest reasons people go for vegan shampoo and conditioner is personal preference.

If someone is a dietary vegan, for example, they may also avoid using beauty products that use animal-related ingredients. But you don’t have to live a vegan lifestyle to use vegan haircare. More consumers are becoming aware of what goes into products, and this has a direct impact on what they buy. In recent years, this has resulted in consumers opting for more plant-based products.

Some avoid non-vegan shampoo and conditioner because they’re sensitive to animal products. Chemical-filled shampoos have the potential to cause rashes and itchy skin. Non-vegan ingredients like keratin (makes hair stronger), for example, and animal-based hyaluronic acid (adds moisture and manageability to lackluster hair) can cause sensitivities.

Benefits of using vegan shampoos and conditioners

Zero nasties. Many vegan hair care products do not contain chemicals like parabens, silicones, and phthalates. Encourage better hair growth by exposing your hair less to these harsh ingredients.

Natural ingredients. Vegan shampoos and conditioners are more likely to use naturally-derived ingredients, such as butter extracts and essential oils. These are much better for your hair, and will often smell so much nicer!

Environmentally friendly. In addition to including biodegradable and ethically-sourced ingredients, many (but not all) vegan haircare brands are going sans plastic. (If there is plastic in the packaging, it’s often post-consumer recycled plastic or PET 1.)

In addition to being vegan, the list below includes several shampoos and conditioners from brands that prioritize sustainability. We’ve added options that are low-waste and plastic-free, such as conditioner bars and multi-use products.

Best vegan shampoos and conditioners

With key ingredients argan oil and pumpkin, hydration is what you’ll get with this vegan shampoo from Acure. Whether your hair is dry, damaged, or color-treated, the Ultra Hydrating Shampoo will leave hair feeling soft and manageable.

Even for dry hair, it doesn’t further dry out the hair or scalp due to its gentle cleansing. The shampoo won't strip natural oils and your hair will feel nourished after rinsing. Plus, the packaging features 70 percent recycled materials and soy-based inks.

When you expose your hair constantly to heat, environmental exposure, and chemical processes, it needs some strong TLC. Luckily, Pacifica’s Coconut Power Strong and Long Moisturizing Shampoo can be the solution to all of that.

Made without sulfates, this shampoo still has a mild foam that leaves your whole head hydrated. Thanks to super fruits and coconuts, you’ll get noticeably stronger hair and feel your locks rejuvenated. Its pretty bottle design also features post-consumer recycled plastic.

If you wash your hair every day, gentle cleansing shampoo is best for your regime. Attitude’s Super Leaves Daily Moisturizer Shampoo is great for daily use. The formula contains natural plant and mineral-based ingredients like green tea extract, which protects the hair thanks to its antioxidant properties.

Other ingredients include watercress and Indian cress super leaves, which is great for strengthening the hair. This vegan and hypoallergenic formula also lathers well with no build-up from heavy silicone. In terms of scent, you’ll be walking around with a subtle, delectable aroma of apple blossom.

Ethique has such an eclectic range of shampoo and conditioner bars, it’s hard not to grab them all. And, given that one of their bars is equivalent to three bottles of shampoo, why wouldn’t you?

For neutral hair (not too dry or not too oily), we recommend the Pinkalicious Shampoo Bar. Packed in a compact bar, it has all the properties of an anti-frizz bottled shampoo. It also lathers well like traditional liquid shampoo and you’ll get a whiff of those delicious pink grapefruit and vanilla notes.

Fair trade coconut oil and cocoa butter also appear on the ingredients list, making it safe for color-treated hair.

Despite IGK’s clever play on words, you won’t get 30,000 feet of volume on your hair. But all is not lost: this shampoo clarifies well and doesn’t weigh hair down.

If you have thin, fine, or flat hair, the weightless formula aims to give more body and fullness. The shampoo is infused with proteins that reduce static and give some bounce to your hair. Don’t expect too many suds as this one is sulfate-free, which adds to the weightlessness of this product.

You can’t get more sustainable than having a minimal beauty regime. And Dr. Bronners’ Pure Castile Liquid Soap can help you with just that. Not only can you wash your hair with this, but you can also clean laundry, dishes, and even the floor!

Just remember that a little goes a long way with this product. You'll only need a small amount mixed with water to lather. Because the soap is quite concentrated, it will last for ages. You can choose from various scents, but the brand's most popular option is peppermint (which can also help cool the skin).

In addition to its organic contents, the bottle features 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials.

For those who enjoy a foamy lather, consider Desert Essence's hair products. They act the same way as traditional shampoos and conditioners, but they're made with natural ingredients.

Due to its light formula, this conditioner is great for fine hair, as it doesn't weigh your locks down. As well as a to-die-for fruity scent, green apple and ginger have revitalizing properties that help soothe the scalp.

As the name of this conditioner suggests, it’s formulated to encourage new hair growth. Designed to lessen shedding and detangle, with this product, you'll find it easier to brush your hair after a shower.

With vitamins and botanicals, you’ll also get a deep clean feel that’s gentle and easy on the scalp. A lightweight and sulfate-free formula, this condition is safe even for color-treated hair. Plus, there's a fresh minty scent, which will linger nicely after washing.

Just like our personalities, our hair is also unique. Function of Beauty has gained a following for its personalized formulas and aesthetically pleasing branding. After asking you to take a simple quiz on your hair (they'll ask about hair type, texture, and even scalp condition), the brand generates your own formula.

You can also choose your hair goals, such as fixing split ends, volumizing, rejuvenating, and having anti-frizz. To top it off, you can select the scent from a collection of fragrances like mango, peach, and lavender.

Function of Beauty’s shampoos are free from sulfates, parabens, phthalates, or gluten. They can also be silicone-free, dye-free, or fragrance-free if your preference calls for it.  

Apart from its detangling and softening qualities, this conditioner bar is super friendly to the environment. How? Since there’s no bottle or caps involved, it has a lesser waste footprint than traditional conditioners. Plus, the paper box is also compostable.

Contents-wise, the combination of omega-rich plant oils and lavender makes for a nourishing conditioner for the scalp and hair. When not used as a conditioner, use it as a co-wash, a leave-in conditioning cream, or shaving cream.

Tired of the frizz? You'll see less of it if you use Anomaly's Smoothing Conditioner, thanks to the addition of argan oil. You’ll also deal with fewer flyaways because of another key ingredient: quinoa. This superfood strengthens and protects the hair, leaving it with a silky and hydrated feel for days.

This budget-friendly conditioner has a rich formula, so there’s no need to apply a lot at a time. Made from 100 percent plastic trash, Anomaly's packaging is as thin as possible to reduce landfill waste.

It can often be difficult to find a vegan product that works wonders for curly or thick hair. However, Bread Beauty has filled a gap in the market with its Gentle Milky Hair Cleanser. Unlike traditional, foamy shampoos, this one is semi-sudsy for a gentle wash. It’s important to keep natural oils in for curly or textured hair.

Infused with aloe vera, this cleanser cleans both scalp and strands without stripping them dry. Curls become super manageable (even tightly coiled ones are still combable). If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll also enjoy the Fruit Loops-esque cereal milky scent!

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About The Author

Suka Junin

Suka is a writer with a passion for creating content around all things makeup, beauty, and skincare. With one article at a time, she’s keen in making a difference through her writing by promoting clean and sustainable living.

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