Organic shampoo is the safest and healthiest shampoo on the market, right? Well, it depends... Is it the real thing, or is it an organic wannabe? There are a good number of pseudo-organic shampoos on the market from companies that want a piece of the organic pie, but are not willing to go the distance to produce a truly organic product. These organic imitators pretend to be organic, but when put to the test, they just don't measure up.

How do you tell whether the organic shampoo you buy is truly organic?

The first thing you need to know is that "organic" on the package or on the front of the label does not mean the shampoo is organic. The term "organic" has no official definition within the cosmetics and personal care products industry. So, manufacturers can use it however they like. Numerous companies call their shampoo organic when in fact it really isn't.

How do they get away with this?

Because they can. There are no regulations or laws to stop them.

As a result of the misuse of the term organic, a number of the truly health conscious companies producing "real" organic shampoo and other personal care products convinced the FDA to allow them to use the USDA certified organic label if their ingredients met the National Organic Program standards for food.

Not be left out of the organic ball game, a group of companies who wanted to legitimately call their products organic, but were not willing to use only real organic ingredients that met the food standards created their own organic standard with lower requirements, allowing some synthetic ingredients and chemical preservatives. This was the birth of the OASIS organic standard.

Eco-Cert, the European organic standard, known for its low standards and approving products as organic that should not be called organic is another organic certification now sometimes seen in the U.S.

So, how can you know for certain if the organic shampoo you buy is truly organic?

Your safest bet is to make sure it is USDA certified organic. You will find ingredients in other so-called certified organic shampoos that really should not be in certified organic products.

So before you buy any shampoo, organic or not, make sure you check the ingredients list on the back of the package. The truth about the health and safety of your shampoo or any personal care product you choose is in the ingredients list. It's not on the front of the package. It's not in any advertisements, celebrity endorsements, radio or TV commercials. It's not even on the company website. It's in the ingredients that are in the product.

Here are some examples of ingredients found in a number of so-called organic shampoos which really don't belong in any organic product:

  • Grapefruit Seed Extract – This alleged natural preservative has been shown in various research studies to derive its antimicrobial properties, not from grapefruit seed, but from toxic chemicals, primarily benzethonium chloride, and to a lesser extent from triclosan and parabens.
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine – It is toxic to the immune system, a skin sensitizer and can cause contact dermatitis and other allergic reactions. Proponents of its use say it's natural because it's derived from coconut. However, it is a highly processed synthetic chemical.
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein – Anything that's hydrolyzed is a hidden source of MSG. Not only is MSG harmful when you eat it, but also when you put it on your skin. It is an excitotoxin, i.e. it excites your brain cells to death. And it can be absorbed through your skin into your bloodstream.
  • PEG – Any ingredient that contains PEG in its name can be contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane. This was proven in a 2008 study in which body care products were taken from store shelves, including health food stores, and tested. A large number of these products were shown to contain 1,4-dioxane in varying amounts.

Make sure the organic shampoos you choose do not contain any of these harmful chemicals. Also remember that the above ingredients are only a few of the ones you need to watch out for. There are thousands of ingredients used in shampoos and other personal care products. Many are harmful. Most have not been adequately tested.

Author's Bio: 

(c) 2009 Christine H. Farlow, D.C. Learn more and find resources to help you choose safe and healthy shampoos in the Free Report, "The 10 Worst Chemicals In Cosmetics And Personal Care Products You Absolutely Must Stay Away From!" by Dr. Christine H. Farlow, D.C. at