definition of natural means that the cleansing agents used in the formulation of our bases are gentle on the hair, scalp, and skin. Conventional synthetic shampoos are more likely to expose the hair and the skin to harsh chemical ingredients that can potentially have harmful long-term effects, including skin irritation, dryness, a reduction in the size or deterioration of the hair follicles, premature graying, and even hair loss. Natural shampoos can be used without the concern of these potential side effects.

While many shampoos and conditioners that claim to be natural may still contain botanical materials that can potentially have harsh effects on some skin types.

  • Aqua = Water
  • Sodium Cocoamphoacetate = a mild surfactant, foam booster/stabilizer, and conditioner derived from Coconut Oil
  • Glycerine = a transparent, colorless, and unscented viscous liquid derived from the oils of plants such as Coconut, Palm, or Soy. This ingredient cleanses, moisturizes, and soothes the skin.
  • Lauryl Glucoside = a surfactant composed of Coconut/Palm Oil and Corn Glucose. This ingredient promotes easy cleaning and rinsing.
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate = an Amino Acid surfactant, cleansing agent, and foaming agent obtained from Coconut Oil and fermented sugar.
  • Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate = derived from sugar. This surfactant functions as a stabilizing and emulsifying agent.
  • Coco Glucoside = a foaming, cleansing, conditioning, and thickening agent designed for sensitive skin
  • Glyceryl Oleate = a result of the esterification of Glycerin and Oleic Acid; Oleic Acid occurs naturally in oils such as Olive Oil. This ingredient functions as an emulsifier and a conditioning agent.
  • Propanediol = naturally derived from corn. This hydrating ingredient helps to improve the skin’s absorption of ingredients while leaving a smoothing effect on the skin and promoting a dewy look.
  • Dicaprylyl Ether = derived from a fatty acid that occurs naturally in Coconut and Palm Kernel oils. This emollient functions as a skin conditioner.
  • Decyl glucoside = a gentle surfactant derived from plants. This environmentally-friendly ingredient functions as a cleansing agent that is suitable for sensitive skin types, including baby skin.
  • Sodium Levulinate = a plant-derived sodium salt that is obtained from Levulinic Acid found in GMO-free corn. This ingredient functions as a skin conditioning agent as well as a preservative.
  • Potassium Sorbate = a gentle preservative that serves as a substitute for parabens. This ingredient helps to inhibit or slow the growth of harmful bacteria that can spoil the quality and effectiveness of a product.
  • Citric Acid = an organic acid that is naturally occurring in Citrus fruits. This ingredient helps to reduce the pH level of a product. It may also help to improve the function of a preservative.
  • Cetearyl Glucoside = a surfactant and emulsifier that is obtained from Coconut as well as GMO-free corn. It helps to prevent moisture loss from the skin and hair, and it contributes a velvety, non-greasy sensation.
  • Cetearyl Alcohol = a combination of vegetable-based Cetyl and Stearyl alcohols. This ingredient is an emulsifier, thickener, and foam-enhancing agent that also has smoothing and stabilizing effects on a formulation.
  • Glyceryl Stearate = a wax-like fatty acid that is derived from vegetable oil, Soy Oil, or Palm Kernel Oil and that is also naturally occurring in the human body. This ingredient is used in formulations for its emulsifying properties.
  • Butyrospermum Parkii Butter = also known as Shea Butter, this creamy vegetable fat is derived from the kernels of the Shea tree’s fruits. This ingredient has exceptional moisturizing and softening properties.
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride = an oily liquid derived from Coconut Oil and Glycerin. This ingredient is a solvent, an emollient, and it helps to promote the even dispersal of non-soluble liquids and powders in a formulation. It also helps prolong a product’s shelf life and contributes a silky texture.
  • Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil = also called Argan Oil, this hydrating, conditioning, soothing, and softening agent is derived from the kernels of the Argan Tree.
  • Xanthan Gum = a polysaccharide derived from fermented sugar. This ingredient functions as a thickener and stabilizer.



Although conventional shampoos undeniably clean the hair, they are known to cleanse sometimes to the point of eliminating the hair’s and the scalp’s vital natural oils, causing them to dry out, leading to itchiness. Also, those with skin sensitivities or easily irritated skin may find that synthetic shampoos aggravate these conditions. When hair is introduced to the chemical-free ingredients in natural shampoos, although it may feel, unlike the way conventional shampoos cause it to feel as the hair continues to hold onto its natural oils, with regular use natural shampoos can help the hair to feel softer and smoother while enhancing its natural luster.


The most noticeable difference one can see when beginning to use a natural shampoo is that it will not produce as much lather as a conventional shampoo, due to the absence of synthetic foaming agents. This is not an indication that the hair is not being thoroughly cleansed, rather it indicates that the hair’s natural oils are not being washed out. It is recommended that hair be washed twice when using a natural shampoo, as the second wash will produce slightly more lather. This is because there is less buildup – dirt, oil, dry skin – to eliminate in the second wash. Furthermore, when the strands hold more water in the second wash, it increases the shampoo’s ability to produce more lather.


Both highly acidic and highly alkaline products can be extremely damaging to the hair cuticle. For this reason, it is important to use a pH-balanced shampoo that is neither too alkaline nor too acidic. NDA’s natural shampoo base is formulated with a pH range of 4.5-5.5.


NDA’s natural shampoo and natural conditioner bases are fully formulated and can be used unscented. Alternatively, Fragrance Oils or Essential Oils can be added to suit individual preferences.


Natural ingredients in hair products can gently yet effectively help to impart vitamins, minerals, oils, and botanical extracts to the scalp and the hair follicles. They can also gently stimulate the growth of new hair, help hair retain its natural moisture, and enhance the overall texture and appearance of the hair. The most common natural hair care oils that are known to be rich in Vitamin content include Almond, Ginseng, Jojoba, Lavender, Lemongrass, and Prickly Pear oils. These ingredients are also known to emit pleasant natural scents.


Natural shampoos and conditioners are often enriched with pure and nourishing moisturizers, including gels, oils, and butters that may be obtained from leaves, nuts, seeds, or kernels. Aloe Vera, Coconut Oil, and butters such as Cocoa are among the popular moisturizers that are found in natural shampoos and conditioners.


The hair benefits of using natural shampoos and conditioners also extend to the health of the environment, as ecologically-friendly ingredients replace the harsh synthetic chemicals, which pollute sewer systems and rivers, poison aquatic species and micro-organisms, and ultimately harm or destroy the ecosystem. Natural, biodegradable shampoos and conditioners simply disintegrate into non-toxic constituents that do not pollute or cause damage to ecosystems.


The pure ingredients in natural shampoos and conditioners contribute to the hypo-allergenic compositions and make these products suitable for all skin types, including sensitive or allergy-prone types. Their softer natural fragrances also make natural shampoos and conditioners gentler on the senses, benefitting those with smell sensitivities.


Natural shampoos and conditioners are suitable for all hair types and are ideal options for those with dyed or permed hair, as they clean without stripping hair color and texture, thus helping to extend the freshness of the color and the style.


There is a wide variety of natural hair care products that are tailored to individual skin and hair needs, offering a range of benefits that target particular areas of concern for unique hair qualities. Natural shampoos and conditioners are available for those who struggle with conditions such as dandruff and dryness as well as hair types ranging from normal to oily hair.


Natural shampoos and conditioners are applied in the same manner as conventional varieties. While conventional products offer the option of repeating the cleansing process, this step is highly recommended for natural products. This is because the first wash removes the surface buildup of synthetic ingredients and impurities such as pollution, excess natural oil, and styling products, while the second wash cleans, brings out the shine, and enhances the texture.


When beginning to use natural shampoos and conditioners, the hair’s transition period of adjustment from synthetic to natural can take a few days, a couple of weeks or a couple of months before the hair no longer feels more greasy, waxy, tacky, or weighty than it did when using conventional shampoos. This is the body’s over-production of natural oils as it aims to compensate for the natural oils that were stripped when previously using conventional synthetic shampoos, which often leave behind residue. This period of adjustment varies for each individual user. To reduce this discomfort, it helps to rinse the hair thoroughly to prevent natural shampoo residue from causing the hair to feel weighed down. This feeling is likely to go away once the scalp is purged of all synthetic ingredient buildup and after it adjusts to the new natural product, which will leave the hair with balanced moisture as well as a healthier, shinier, more voluminous appearance. With continued use of natural shampoos, the scalp is reputed to produce less oil, as the absence of synthetic cleaning agents prevents the scalp from drying out. When the scalp no longer produces excess oil to compensate for the dryness, this is when natural shampoo users can begin to go longer periods without washing the hair. For some, this can range from days to weeks.

During the adjustment period, it can be tempting to return to conventional shampoos; however, there are natural methods that can help to not only suppress this urge but to also promote and preserve the hair’s nourishment, natural luster, and overall health:

  • Diluting Apple Cider Vinegar in a spray bottle of water creates a natural hairspray that can be sprayed onto cleaned hair then rinsed out with cool water; afterward, the hair can be left to air dry
  • Brushing the hair thoroughly from root to tip will help to evenly distribute the hair’s natural oils
  • If it is necessary to use a conditioner, use a natural conditioner; avoid mixing natural products with synthetic ones


If Essential Oils are used to customize a natural shampoo or conditioner, it is important to note that, Essential Oils are for external use only. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using these oils for therapeutic purposes. Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use Essential Oils without the medical advice of a physician, as they may have effects on certain hormone secretions and it is unclear whether these effects are transferable to babies at these stages of development. These oils should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of 7.

Those with the following health conditions are especially recommended to be advised by a physician: cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders or allergies, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy. Individuals that are taking prescription drugs, undergoing major surgery, or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, or atherosclerosis are also advised to seek medical consultation prior to use.

Prior to using any Essential Oil, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the Essential Oil in 4 drops of a Carrier Oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of skin that is not sensitive. Essential Oils must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. Potential side effects of Essential Oils include redness, rash, hives, burning, bleeding disorders, decreased speed of healing, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, convulsions, and rapid heartbeat. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.

Beauty From the Roots

Roots are an essential part of plant growth. They help plants absorb water and nutrients from the soil, and they act as an anchor, keeping them in place. We know them as staple ingredients in the kitchen, with vegetables such as beets, turnips, carrots, and radishes often making an appearance as side dishes, and herbs like burdock, ginger, or turmeric flavoring hearty stews and curries.

And while these roots benefit our bodies, including skin and hair, as a source of food, they also work wonders when applied topically. Turmeric and ginger in the bath provide those same anti-inflammatory properties as they do when consumed, and fresh carrots and radishes help revive and renew dull, dry complexions. The thick mucilage of marshmallow root produces a hydrating, soothing texture to many commercial and homemade cosmetic products.

You may use these useful plant parts in several ways. Fresh and finely grated, they can be added to facial mask recipes or bath soaks. Dried and ground into a powder, roots can give a beauty boost to body powders and skin scrubs. If made into an infusion or tea, these roots help treat a variety of skin issues, from insect bites to dandruff. Finally, a simple application of some plant roots can even help fade scars or soothe sore muscles. Here are a few recipes for you to try at home.

Carrot-Turmeric Mask

We know consuming carrots provides an excellent source of beta-carotene, which is essential for healthy skin from the inside out. Applied topically, freshly grated carrots hydrate the skin and help to clean and clear away dead skin cells. The turmeric in this recipe reduces inflammation and also brightens a dull complexion. All skin types can use this mask weekly.

2 Tbls white kaolin clay

1/4 cup fresh carrot, finely grated

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric root

1/2 Tbls distilled water {as needed}

In a small dish mix together all ingredients until you have a smooth mixture. You may need to adjust the amount of water depending on the moisture content of your carrots.

To Use: Spread onto clean face and neck and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and moisturize with a natural oil or favorite face cream.

Yield: 2 ounces.

Anti-Aging Fresh Ginger Mask

This spicy root rejuvenates dull skin by stimulating your circulation for a radiant effect. It also deep cleans your pores to retain more moisture.

2 Tbls oatmeal or oat flour, finely ground

2 Tbls strong chamomile tea

1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger or 1/8 tsp dried ground ginger

In a small dish mix together all ingredients and stir well, until you have a smooth mixture.

To Use:  Spread onto clean face and neck and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry.

Yield: 2 ounces.

Energizing Ginger Root Soak

In the bath, ginger’s circulation-boosting power has a rejuvenating and detoxifying effect on the body, which is especially great for sore muscles. This is a good bath recipe for the morning or after exercising.

1 Tbls finely grated fresh ginger root or 1 tsp dried ginger

1 cup baking soda

1 cup Epsom salts

2-3 drops essential oil of rosemary

In a clean bowl mix together all ingredients.

To Use: Pour into your bath as you fill your tub with warm water. Stir well to distribute and dissolve all the salts. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

Yield: 16 ounces.

Soothing Burdock Root Soak

If you want to promote rest, this bath recipe combines muscle-soothing Epsom salts with the aromatherapy of lavender for the ultimate night-time soak. The creamy roots of burdock target dry skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. {A tea made from the roots offers antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.} Find dried burdock root at most natural food shops.

2 cups strong burdock tea

1/4 cup baking soda

1 cup Epsom salts

2-3 drops essential oil of lavender {optional}

In a small container mix together all ingredients and stir until the salts dissolve.

To Use: Pour into the bath as you fill your tub with warm water. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

Yield: 16 ounces.

Orris Root Dry Shampoo

The root of white iris {Iris florentina} has been used for centuries as a fixative in perfumes and powders. The dried root has a light, violet scent. In this recipe, it works as a dry shampoo, when washing your hair may not be an option.

1/4 cup orris root powder

1 Tbls rice flour or corn flour

1 tsp baking soda

Mix together all ingredients.

To Use: Sprinkle a teaspoon or two of the powder between your hands and rub directly into your scalp and through your hair. Leave the dry shampoo on for 10 to 15 minutes. Then brush out all of the powder.

Yield: 2.5 ounces.


Beetroot Lip Balm

Most natural food stores sell beetroot powder, which is often used in place of sugar as a natural sweetener. It also has a lovely purple-red color that’s perfect for tinting lip balms for a bit of natural color. You can also use fresh beetroot juice in this recipe; experiment with the amount depending on how deep you’d like your color.

2 Tbls almond oil

1 Tbls grated raw beeswax

1/8 to 1 tsp fresh beetroot juice or beetroot powder

Mix together the oil and wax and heat gently on a stovetop or in the microwave to melt the wax. Add the beet juice or powder slowly and stir well, until you have the shade you desire. Do not worry if the mixture seems to separate; it will stay together when cooled. Place in a small, clean container or lip balm tube.

To Use: Apply to your lips with a clean finger or small lip brush.

Yield: 1 ounce

Fresh Radish Skin Scrub

Rich in vitamins, minerals, and folic acid, radishes also have a high water content, helping to keep your skin moisturized. In this exfoliating scrub, they target flaky, dry skin and reduce inflammation.

2 Tbls fresh radishes, finely grated or chopped

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Mix together all ingredients and spoon into a clean container.

To Use: Massage scrub into damp skin; pat skin dry.

Yield: 2 ounces.

Do You Know What’s in Your Shampoo?

Most people use shampoo, at least, a few times a week. But do you know what’s actually in it? A list of shampoo ingredients from the website Good may give you something to think about when choosing your next one:

  • woman using shampooSurfactants: Surfactants are necessary for the lathering, cleaning, and degreasing effects of a shampoo. Conventional surfactants such as sodium lauryl or Laureth sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, cocamide DEA, and ammonium xylene sulfonate have the potential for harshness, stripping away fatty acids.Natural surfactants such as decyl glucoside, sucrose cocoate, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, and sodium lauroamphoacetate may not foam like a conventional product, but your hair will still be just as clean.
  • Preservatives: The main function of preservatives is to ensure a long shelf life. None is truly benign. A conventional preservative such as isopropenyl butyl carbamate, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and parabens tend to be stronger, with more allergenic and irritant potential.Natural preservatives such as potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and alcohol are milder.
  • Color: In basic shampoos, color is added for decorative purposes only. Conventional colorants are often added but are not necessary for a shampoo to function at all. Most natural brands do not even use colorants at all!
  • It takes just a minute or two to give your hair a thorough washing, but when you multiply that by every day, or at least a few times a week, for a lifetime, it adds up to many minutes — and loads of exposure to the chemicals in your shampoo.

    During that time, you want to be sure that the shampoo you’re putting onto your scalp is safe and non-toxic for your body, and this will take a bit of due diligence on your part because the majority of shampoos on the market are actually quite toxic.

    There are no federal regulations for beauty products, including shampoo, so it’s really a buyer beware market.

    Just what might you find in your favorite brand?

    5 Common — and Toxic — Shampoo Ingredients

    1. Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS/SLES): Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant, detergent and emulsifier used in thousands of cosmetic products, as well as in industrial cleaners. It is present in nearly all shampoos, scalp treatments, hair color and bleaching agents, toothpastes, body washes and cleansers, make-up foundations, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents and bath oils/bath salts.Although SLS originates from coconuts, the chemical is anything but natural.The real problem with SLES/SLS is that the manufacturing process (ethoxylation) results in SLES/SLS being contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a carcinogenic byproduct.SLS is the sodium salt of lauryl sulfate, and is classified by the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database as a “denaturant, surfactant cleansing agent, emulsifier and foamer,” rated as a “moderate hazard.”

      Research studies on SLS have shown links to:

      • Irritation of the skin and eyes
      • Organ toxicity
      • Developmental/reproductive toxicity
      • Neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes
      • Possible mutations and cancer
    2. Dioxane: 1,4 dioxane, a byproduct of ethylene oxide, received a “high hazard” rating from EWG’s Skin Deep, and it is commonly found in shampoo and other personal care products. Even baby shampoo often contains this cancer-causing toxin.On the CDC site, 1,4 dioxane is described as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” toxic to the brain and central nervous system, kidneys and liver. It is also a leading groundwater contaminant.
    3. Diethanolamine or DEA: In a recent FDA report, approximately 42% of all cosmetics were contaminated with NDEA, with shampoos having the highest concentrations. DEA also readily reacts with nitrite preservatives and contaminants to create nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA), a known and potent carcinogen.This is a big problem because DEA seems to block absorption of the nutrient choline, which is vital to brain development. Pregnant women actually require extra choline so they can pass it on to their fetus.An associate dean for research at the UNC School of Public Health mentioned that choline is necessary to help provide proper nutrients for  a healthy baby; stating that, “At this point it is a caution. But it would probably be prudent to look at labels and try to limit exposure until we know more.”
    4. Propylene Glycol: This active ingredient is found in engine coolants and antifreeze, airplane de-icers, tire sealants, rubber cleaners, polyurethane cushions, paints, adhesives, enamels and varnishes, and in many products as a solvent or surfactant.And guess what? Despite the fact the material safety data sheet warns users to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol as it is a strong skin irritant and can also cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage, it’s more than likely in your shampoo.
    5. Parabens: Parabens, which are used as preservatives, may be listed on the label as methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, propyl paraben, butyl paraben, isobutyl paraben or E216. They have shown particularly troubling links to cancer.Studies have shown that parabens can affect your body much like estrogens, which can lead to diminished muscle mass, extra fat storage, and male gynecomastia (breast growth). Other studies have also linked parabens to breast cancer, as researchers found traces of parabens in every sample of tissue taken from 20 different breast tumors.The EPA has linked methyl parabens in particular to metabolic, developmental, hormonal, and neurological disorders, as well as various cancers.

    Your Skin Readily Absorbs Shampoo Toxins:

    When you put shampoo or conditioner onto your scalp, the 20 blood vessels, 650 sweat glands, and 1,000 nerve endings soak in the toxins.

    The truth is, while you wouldn’t ever eat your shampoo, you may actually absorb fewer toxins when you eat something than you do when you apply it to your skin!

    According to evidence presented at 1978 Congressional hearings, the absorption of the carcinogen nitrosodiethanolamine (NDELA), which is commonly found in shampoo products, was shown to be more than 100 times greater when exposure came through your skin than via your mouth.

    The truth is, when you consume toxins in foods, such as pesticides in fruit and vegetables, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach often break them down and flush them out of your body. Food also passes through your liver and kidneys, so the toxins that make it through are detoxified to varying degrees by enzymes before they reach the remainder of your body.

    However, when toxins are absorbed through your skin, they bypass your liver and enter your bloodstream and tissues — with absolutely no protection whatsoever.

    Even “Organic” Shampoos Maybe Toxic:

    Cosmetics and their ingredients do not have to undergo any type of approval process before hitting store shelves, and the terms “natural” and “organic” have no definitions. In other words, when it comes to cosmetics labeling, it’s a free for all.

    Some products may include a few organic ingredients along with several chemical ones — and still claim to be natural or organic on the label.

    In fact, in a report released in 2008, the Organic Consumers Association found at least one toxic, cancer-linked chemical in over 40 percent of products that call themselves “natural.”

    What are Your Safer Shampoo Options?

    Daily use of ordinary, seemingly benign personal care products like shampoo, toothpaste and shower gel can easily result in exposure to thousands of chemicals, and many will make their way into your body and become “stuck” there, since you lack the means to break them down.

    So you will want to seek out pure and natural cosmetic products, and choose them carefully. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make your own personal care products using simple all-natural ingredients that you may already have in your home.

    Finding recipes for your own homemade beauty products is simple if you have access to the Internet — just Google “homemade cosmetics” for more than 400,000 pages of recipes and instructions.

    If you’d rather not make your own, the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database is an excellent resource to help you find safe natural personal care products. A newer site called Good Guide is also helpful in finding and evaluating healthful, green products — both personal care items and food.

    Finally, if you’re perusing your local health food store for some safe, natural options, here are my top guidelines to keep in mind:

    • Look for the genuine USDA Organic Seal.
    • If you can’t pronounce it, you probably don’t want to put it on your body. Ask yourself, “Would I eat this?”
    • Look for products that are fragrance-free. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds—even thousands—of chemicals, and fragrances are a major cause of allergic reactions.
    • Pay attention to the order in which the ingredients are listed. Manufacturers are required to list ingredients in descending order by volume, meaning the first few ingredients are the most prominent. If calendula extract is the last ingredient in a long list, your calendula body wash isn’t very natural.
    • Stick to the basics. Do you really need 20 products to prepare for your day? Simplify your life and rescue your bank account.
    • Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic, since chemicals can leach out of plastics and into the contents. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a serious concern; make sure any plastic container is BPA free.
    • Look for products that are made by companies that are earth-friendly, animal-friendly and green.