A complete guide to cruelty-free shampoo

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Is Your Hair Washing Routine Vegan?

While we all want the best for our hair, there are guilt-free and simple ways to achieve to achieve this without harming animals in the process and it’s by using cruelty-free shampoo.

Are Shampoos Vegan?

Cruelty-free shampoos have no connection to animals in their making and avoid harmful chemicals that regular shampoos contain. As a result, vegan shampoos may not only be better for your hair, but while providing “the same quality as non-vegan ones”, it can also benefit the environment. 

Since they are now easy to find on many online and high-street stores, and cater to different hair types, is there really a reason to not switch to vegan shampoo?


Regular shampoo is commercialised, easily accessible and has perhaps been the norm for many people; non-vegan brands like TRESemmé and Head & Shoulders are among the best-selling shampoo brands in the UK.

However, some may not be aware that though regular shampoos claim to be healthy and generally provide benefits like moisture and shine to your hair, they also contain many harmful ingredients that most may wish to avoid after discovering the effects of such chemicals. 

Are Sulfates Vegan?

One of these crucial harmful chemical ingredients are Sulfates which can “irritate eyes, skin, and lungs”. This ingredient also may be toxic to animals as they go down the drain and can contribute to damaging rainforests.

Unfortunately, those including Sulfate are also not cruelty-free shampoos as they are often tested on animals in attempts to “measure the level of irritation to peoples skin, lungs and eyes”

Moreover, when you wash regular shampoo which includes sulfates, the sulfates work to strip your hair of its natural moisture and leave you with drier and frizz-prone hair which many consumers generally work to avoid. 

Is Foam a Good Thing?

It is also a common thought that without the foaming up of the shampoo, you may not feel like the shampoo is actually cleaning your hair. However, this is not the case – the foam is also caused by sulfates and it is only providing an illusion to make consumers think the foam means your hair is getting cleaner than it would be without the foam. 

Are Shampoos Vegan?

Though you may think your hair is simply getting cleaned, those sulfates are also harming your hair follicles and as a result, thinning your hair and encouraging hair loss. 

Another crucial ingredient to be weary of are called Parabens. Though parabens are generally used to prevent bacterial growth in products, it has been argued that parabens have a link to breast cancer – parabens can cause a weak oestrogen effect, and this can contribute to an increased growth of breast cancer cells. 

Although, there are many different research results which argue both for and against this concept and no substantial scientific results.

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review says it can be safe if such ingredients are rinsed properly off the skin. However, knowing that parabens have the potential to cause such adverse effects, there may be compelling reasons to avoid the risk by switching to vegan shampoos. 

The synthetic fragrances put in regular shampoos can also have similar, adverse effects as the label of a ‘fragrance’ hides some harsh chemicals behind it. It has been argued that these fragrances can interfere with women’s breast milk and can have some links to cancer. 


Vegan shampoos are free from any animal ingredients and therefore only contain natural and organic ingredients – naturally, this is bound to be good for your hair as those harsh chemicals like sulfate (which strips the moisture from your hair) are absent. 

This may also make cruelty-free shampoos a good option for children – arguably, regular shampoos can contribute to damaging children’s eyes due to their sulfate content.

Natural Ingredients

Instead, vegan shampoo brings many elements of goodness and beneficial ingredients to nourish your hair using ingredients like coconut oil which moisturises and strengthens your hair and scalp. Also, natural ingredients like Aloe Vera can prevent hair loss by stimulating your hair follicles and. Those argan oil infused vegan shampoos can restore your hairs natural moisture. 

Crulety-free shampoos also use natural fragrances and. Thus do not hide harsh chemicals in the making of fragrances, rather, they can provide a gentle, harmless scent. 

Therefore, rather than stripping your hair. Vegan shampoos add minerals and natural oils to your scalp and. Hair to promote healthy growth and a natural shine to your hair. 

A Difference to Your Hair?

In our interview vegan hair brand Zero Waste Path, the owner, Bianca told The Vegan Review that since she “started to simplify my routine and use better ingredients, I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my hair, which feel overall healthier.” 

Are Shampoos Vegan?

Since vegan shampoo is usually free of harmful chemicals found in regular shampoo. It is also a great option for those prone to allergic reactions or those with sensitive skin. 

Choosing a vegan shampoo can also provide great benefits for the planet. This is because vegan shampoos often use biodegradable ingredients unlike regular, commercial shampoos. The vegan shampoos often are made from packaging that has been recycled and therefore. Serves an ethical aspect by making the most of resources and reducing waste. 

 Since vegan shampoos contain natural ingredients. These ingredients break down easier once they reach land. And water compared to the standard chemicals which carry harmful chemicals down your drain. If you purchase a vegan shampoo, you are also purchasing a much more environmentally friendly product. 


1. Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo

This shampoo contains “argan oil, Shea Butter and mineral-rich Sea Kelp, the luxurious shampoo gently cleanses hair, whilst increasing elasticity and hydrating the scalp for long-lasting comfort” and works to “moisturize dry, damaged or over-processed hair. Perfect for transitioning chemically treated hair to natural”

  1. Garnier Fructis Curl Nourish Shampoo 

Garnier’s Fructis line is their vegan-friendly range and among. These products are their nourishing shampoo which mainly aimed at those with curly hair. This range is fortified with “coconut oil and Super Fruit mixed in a paraben-free, sulfate-free, and vegan shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in treatment. Gently cleanse and nourish your locks for stronger, well-defined, and frizz-resistant curls”. Consumers say this is one of their favourite conditioners. I love the silky feel after I apply this to my hair”

  1. Giovanni’s Smooth as Silk Shampoo

This shampoo contains no parabens, sulfate and is 100% organic. There is no animal testing or any animal by products in their ingredients. This shampoo “creates a luxurious lather upon contact with water to gently cleanse from root to tip”. One consumer has commented that their hair “hasn’t felt this soft and beautiful ever”


However, the label ‘Vegan’ on a shampoo doesn’t always mean what we would think.

Though it may have this label. Some cruelty-free shampoos can still contain animal by-products and harsh ingredients. That will still damage your hair rather than help (as you may expect from a vegan shampoo); in our interview with vegan hair brand Zero Waste Path, the owner, Bianca told The Vegan Review that “there are many harsh ingredients that are vegan so I don’t feel that simply using vegan ingredients can make a shampoo a lot better in terms of quality”

The Leaping Bunny Sign

Therefore, when shopping for vegan shampoo. It is important to look for the leaping bunny sign which is one way of assuring that. The product is indeed cruelty-free and always double-check the ingredients despite any labels.

Also, some Vegan shampoos can still be harmful and include those harmful ingredients like sulfates that are found in regular shampoos. If consumers want to opt for a healthier shampoo alongside being vegan. It may be in their best interests to check the ingredients list to avoid such chemical ingredients. 

Some consumers believe though vegan shampoos may not have these harsh chemicals. They do not provide you with the same effect as regular shampoos would. 

Some argue your hairstyle won’t last if the air is too humid” and despite many nourishing ingredients, “they don’t really make your hair softer or easier to manage, and you often feel like you need to use up half a jar or bottle to actually feel its effect on your hair!” 

However, Bianca told The Vegan Review that the only downside of using vegan shampoo can be that “it can be a little harder to find vegan and cruelty-free products but in terms of quality and results there’s no downsides!”

Does Cruelty-Free Shampoo Mean Bad Quality?

 “Using vegan ingredients definitely doesn’t mean worse quality. There are a lot of amazing plant-based and cruelty free ingredients. That can perfect ‘substitutes’ of the animal derived options,” she said. 

Though vegan means better for animals and the environment. Vegan may not always mean better for your hair. The best way to ensure you reach your hair goals are to double-check. Every label to avoid those harmful and harsh chemicals.

Gozde Elidemir 
Gozde Elidemir 
Gözde picked up Journalism as a hobby but after realising how much she learns through Journalism, she has taken up more opportunities. She is currently a Journalist at Lawbore as well as The Vegan Review and enjoys how these two very different topics take her to two different parts of the same world. While she enjoys having a busy schedule, she balances this well with some down time - aside from work, Gözde enjoys delving into video games and new beauty and self-care findings.