20+ Eco friendly Shampoo & Conditioners for your Hair Type

by Stephanie Sanchez
[ Veteran Hair Coach and Stylists ]

Ecotourism is more popular than ever for good reason, You get to see the true beauty of a place, not just an isolated version only for tourists.  But as the word Eco suggests, we want to leave nothing behind but footprints and take nothing but photographs. 

So when you are traveling to a national park, reservation lands, camping or hiking, you not only want to pack as light as possible but also take hair care that will be good for the environment. 

Additionally,  people are becoming more aware of using natural products to promote a healthy body.   Not just what we take into our bodies, but what we put on them as well.

In this article, We will discuss:

  1. What does biodegradable conditioner and shampoo mean?​
  2. What makes a product environmentally friendly? ​
  3. And see what eco-friendly products come in travel-sized containers​

Biodegradable Shampoo and Conditioner​

What does it mean?

Biodegradable Shampoo or Conditioner means it is capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.

Shampoos and Conditioners are usually deemed biodegradable if bacteria can break them down to at least 90-percent water, CO2, and organic material within six months. 

Why does it matter?

Biodegradable Shampoo or Conditioner is NOT biodegradable when they are introduced into the  water sources. All soaps, including biodegradable ones, will contaminate our lakes, rivers, and oceans. Biodegradable soaps cannot decompose properly if they are washed directly into a body of water.

Biodegradable conditioner and shampoo will degrade over time but require soil to breakdown properly. Instead, the breakdown from bacteria and microbes occurs in the soil. They should be used at least 200 feet from any water source, including storm drains.

Conventional Shampoo ​

Phosphorus occurs naturally in the soil and is an important nutrient. Phosphates, however, are refined phosphorus commonly used in soaps, detergents, and fertilizers. Phosphates enable the soap to work, removing films, sweat, or grease, allowing you to get yourself or your dishes clean.

While algae and aquatic plants need naturally-occurring phosphorus, it is possible to have too much. Excess quantities generate significantly more algae and aquatic plants. 

Too many phosphates can harm water quality, clog up waterways with excessive vegetation, and create oxygen-deprived dead zones. Over time, this change creates dirtier water and reduces aquatic wildlife. The very things that clean the water.

These simple steps will ensure you aren’t adding any unnecessary contamination to the land and waterways while you are out there enjoying them.

  1. Use phosphate-free and biodegradable soaps on the trail.
  2. Less is more!
  3. Employ the 200-foot rule

Be environmentally responsible, do your washing at least 200 feet away from a water source. Then, try to dump wastewater into a hole a few inches deep, which can be covered when finished. This way, nature can work its magic and break the soap down before it washes into the stream.

Sources:Go East & Occleancan

Phosphate-free and Biodegradable Products​

Dr. Bronner’s 2 Ounce Sampler​
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Sea to Summit Trek and Travel Liquid Soap​
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Environmentally Friendly Shampoo and Conditioner​

What does that mean?

Environmentally friendly or environment-friendly, (also referred to as eco-friendly, nature-friendly, and green) are sustainability and marketing terms referring to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies that claim reduced, minimal, or no harm upon ecosystems or the environment.-Wikipedia 

So while dumping biodegradable soap in the river or ocean isn’t environmentally friendly 

Using biodegradable soap and disposing of the residue water properly, is environmentally friendly.

The more natural products we use on our hair is better for us  and makes less impact on the environment.

Here are other earth-friendly concerns people have:

  • Cruelty-free (means that no animals were tested on)
  • Vegan (means 100% plant-based no Tallow a common ingredient in soap making )
  • Organic (besides being 100%natural they ingredients that are pesticide-free, and no GMOs )
  • No GMOs  ( no ingredients have been genetically modified or engineered)
  • Nontoxic  (synonyms: non-poisonous, innocuous, harmless, benign, safe, non-irritating, hypoallergenic)

So while traveling recently, we were basically living out of a suitcase for 6-weeks. 

When we first arrived, my husband couldn't find the bar soap or shampoo.  But I had packed some 3-In-1 Soap, it's great smelling citrus it worked in a pinch as shampoo. My husband loves it as a shaving gel. And of course, it's a great body wash.  I'm not usually impressed by products that say they can be used as more than one thing, but this one does. So try some if you can't find the bar soap or your shampoo, or if you want to simplify packing.

Fun Fact: In the US, soap has fewer restrictions on its production than shampoo and conditioner (which are considered a cosmetic and thus governed by the FDA) So body soap can’t be marketed as a shampoo even if it works as one.

What to expect from Natural Eco Friendly conditioner and other Hair care Products​?

Remember that natural hair care products don't work exactly the same way as chemically enhanced and altered hair products do

  1. They suds up less ( that's a good thing since that means they are free of harmful ingredients like- sodium lauryl sulfate) doesn't mean you need more.  For best results use a coin-sized amount and wash a second time if need be. But focus more on your scalp NOT your ends (for Shampoo)
  2. The product may feel thinner (means no Sodium chloride as a thickening agent)
  3. The conditioner may not seem to work as well or may feel waxy ( that's because they are silicone-free) No need to use more, that could actually weigh down your hair. Just leave them on longer or try using a heat cap to penetrate the hair shaft more deeply.  

Natural Conditioner Alternatives

To see how best to use hair oil (read our article Ultimate guide for travel-sized hair care

Jojoba Oil​
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This oil imitates naturally produced sebum (human skin oil)​

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Pure Argan Oil​
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100% Raw Virgin Skinny Coconut Oil​
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I use it for everything! I use it as a pre-shampoo treatment, leave-in conditioner, wash my face with it, lip balm, make up remover, body lotion, and deodorant. so load up a travel-friendly size container and freeze or refrigerate, so it stays solid through the TSA check

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Solid Bar Shampoo and Conditioner 

Shampoo and conditioner bars are definitely easier to travel with, no mess or leaky bottles.

I think they are great for oily scalp and hair, or if you like your hair to be really clean feeling. My mom is like that, she can't stand conditioners on her hair. And she makes her own eco friendly shampoo bars with beautyberry and shea butter.

Aspen Kay Solid Shampoo Bar​
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Comes with a metal tin for easy storage and you can also get refill bars (no tin)​

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Whiff Shampoo Bar & Conditioning Bar​
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The package comes with both bars​


  • The bars are not labeled so it can be hard to tell them Aparta​
  • The shapes are a little different, the shampoo has a ridge around the center and is opaque white, the texture of the conditioner feels silky from the oils. Plus, the shampoo will start to foam when you wet it, the conditioner will not. The shampoo is the bigger one and the conditioner the smaller​
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Whiff Shampoo Bar & Conditioning Bar​
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You get to try some different options before you decide which you like. One of the best eco friendly dry shampoo!​

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Mother Dirt-(AOB)ammonia-oxidizing Bacteria

Mother Dirt Sulfate Free Shampoo​
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  • Travel size shampoo (Best for OILY scalp and hair)​
  • Shampoo pH = 5.7-6.0​
  • Most off-the-shelf products are not considered biome-friendly​
  • Mother Dirt's Shampoo, is formulated specifically to work with the live bacteria found in their AO+ Mist.​
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Mother Dirt Sulfate Free Shampoo 
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Mother Dirt Sulfate Free Shampoo(this is the key to their entire line, the only product in their  whole line with the active bacteria) 

AO+ Mist pH = 7.6 // The Mist is at this pH to stabilize the live bacteria. As soon as it hits the skin, the Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB) immediately consume skin ammonia and lower the pH to about 5.5 

As long as you thoroughly rinse the soap off your skin and dry afterward, the Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB) will be happy campers when applied after a shower, and the type of soap you're using shouldn't matter -- so long as you're regularly applying the Mist.

Conventional products containing preservatives of any kind (natural or synthetic) are not biome-friendly (so just look for preservative ingredients) 

Natural preservatives include rosemary and oregano extract, hops, salt, sugar, vinegar, alcohol, diatomaceous earth, and castor oil, vitamin C.-Wikipedia 

But so long as you thoroughly rinse any conventional soap or shampoo from your skin, these products will not adversely impact the AOB in the Mist after it is applied. You'll simply have to reapply.

Frequent hair washing makes building a colony of AOB difficult, regardless of the shampoo you're using. Frequent showering using biome-friendly products makes it more likely that you will build up AOB on your skin. Mother Dirt Shampoo is particularly gentle and allows less-frequent re-application of the Mist.

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  • Restore skin's natural balance in 4 weeks (reduce, oil, irritation, and itchiness)​
  • Can wash hair less often​
  • Fragrance-free​
  • Newly redesigned packaging​
  • Natural microbes neutralize body odors ​


  • NO Conditioner in the line​
  • Pricey ​
  • MFG suggestion: we recommend using something that is preservative-free. However, a large number of our customers share they don't feel conditioner is necessary when using our Shampoo.​


If you are concerned about not having enough conditioning  One factor not mentioned is that the PH of the spray with also help to neutralize the slightly acidic (and thus drying effect) PH of the shampoo

 Or you could opt for a different brand of shampoo and conditioner without preservatives or sulfates, then spring for the AO+ spray 

Best Eco Friendly Shampoo and Conditioner Brands We Love!​


AVEDA Invati Exfoliating Shampoo
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For Fine Hair

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Aveda Be Curly Shampoo
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For Curly Hair 

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Aveda Pure Abundance Volumizing Shampoo
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For Volume

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Aubrey Organics​

Green Tea Shampoo Aubrey Organics 2 oz Liquid​
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Aubrey Organics Nourishing Conditioner - Rosa Mosqueta
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Color Treated

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Aubrey Organics GPB Balancing Protein Conditioner​
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Normal Hair

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White Camelia Conditioner Aubrey Organics 2 oz Liquid​
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Dry Hair

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100% Pure

100% PURE Burdock & Neem Healthy Scalp Shampoo​
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(For Scalp conditions like dandruff or itchy scalp)"Cap tends to leek so turn it over"

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100% PURE Kelp & Mint Volumizing Shampoo​
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Puracy Organic Personal Care Travel Set (4-Pack)​
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4oz bottle (needs to be put in checked luggage) ​

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For links to other great travel size eco-friendly brands see our Ultimate guide to travel-sized hair care products 

*Just in case you can’t find your favorite environmentally friendly hair care products in travel sizes.

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