5 Ways to Green Your Hair Care

Jenna Sims

It’s no secret that the beauty industry hasn’t always been environmentally friendly. For one, many beauty companies rely heavily on plastic for their packaging. And many of our favorite hair-care products contain chemicals that are harmful to our bodies. 

The good news? Today’s beauty industry is shifting to increasingly offer more eco-friendly options, from zero-waste shampoo bars to leave-in conditioners with plant-based ingredients. We’ve compiled a list of five ways to make your hair-care routine greener. 

Always read the label


Many hair-care products rely on chemicals and preservatives that can cause more damage than good to your hair and body. Some of the most harmful ingredients to avoid are:

  • Sulfates: strong detergents that create lather and foam but can seep into your scalp and dry out your hair.
  • Parabens: preservatives used to help prevent bacteria growth but are known to mimic estrogen and disrupt the body’s hormone system
  • Formaldehyde: another preservative that is a known carcinogen and can absorb into the skin, sometimes causing allergic reactions
  • Phthalates: chemicals used as solvents in many beauty products (especially hair sprays); studies have shown that these are linked to many health issues  

 Buy low- or zero-waste products


Support beauty companies that are focused on sustainability. Opt for shampoo and conditioner bars rather than liquid varieties, which often come in excessive plastic packaging. Shampoo bars are formulated for all hair types and designed to both clean your locks and help them shine. In addition to bars, there are many eco-friendly options for conditioners and styling products that are free from harmful ingredients (see #1). 

Wash (and dry) your hair less


Save on water and electricity by cutting down on your wash days. For those with hair that is not overly dry or oily, experts recommend washing your hair twice per week. If you need help cutting down on your hair’s natural oils between washings, try an eco-friendly dry shampoo. Cutting down on blow dryer, straightener, and curling iron use is also just as beneficial for the environment as it is for your hair—excessive heat can break down and even permanently damage the protein bonds in your hair. 

Go vegan and cruelty free


Some may be surprised at the extensive amount of vegan-friendly (which don’t contain animal-derived ingredients) and cruelty-free (which aren’t tested on animals) hair-care brands on the market. Most vegan products contain plant-based or synthetic ingredients, and many are just as affordable as the alternative. 

Recycle


Don’t forget to check the bottom of your shampoo and other hair-care bottles to see if they’re recyclable so they can avoid a trip to the landfill. Plus, as more and more beauty companies are pushing for low-waste or eco-friendly packaging, consumers will likely see new product packaging made out of recycled materials.  

As you start making more eco-friendly adjustments to your hair-care routine, remember to keep it simple: simple ingredients, less packaging, and fewer washes. You may also consider adding a little DIY: Try this three-ingredient hair mask that will leave your locks shiny and soft.