Many of the personal care products we use include harmful, non-biodegradable ingredients that damage the environment. Pick up your shampoo or soap and look at the label. You’ll likely see parabens, phthalates, triclosan, and other synthetic ingredients that harm the environment and also aren’t great for you.
The good news is that it is getting easier to find soap, shampoo, and other personal care products without concerning chemicals. We’ve looked into how companies treat the environment and their employees, what ingredients they use, and whether they use plastic-free packaging. And we’ve identified eight sustainable brands that produce personal care products with safe ingredients that make your hair, face, and body look great — and that you can feel good about using.
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Dr. Bronner’s uses organic and Fair-Trade ingredients. Most of the company’s products are vegan and certified by the same standards as organic food. They don’t include synthetic preservatives or foaming agents commonly found in most personal care products. Dr. Bronner’s follows what it describes as “conservative capitalism,” which means they share the profits with the workers who made the product; it is a Certified B Corporation. It’s not conservative in the sense the word is commonly used; this is a company with a heart.
Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Bar Soap Variety Pack includes six bars of pure Castile soap made with organic oils and free of synthetic preservatives and detergents. The soap bars come in six scents: Almond, Lavender, Citrus, Peppermint, Rose, and Unscented. All the soaps are fully biodegradable, so they do not leave forever chemicals that pollute local water supplies and the environment.
Blueland reduces the use of single-use plastic by providing refillable liquid soap products. If you run out, just refill the bottle with water, put in a soap tablet, and start washing. The refill program eliminates the need to buy new plastic containers, reducing plastic waste. The soap tablets are made with clean, safe ingredients.
Blueland also reduces its impact with earth-friendly packaging that can be recycled or composted in many – but far from all – cities in the U.S. The kicker is that if you cannot recycle locally, you can send the packaging to Blueland for recycling. We recommend collecting a year or two’s worth of packaging before mailing to reduce the shipping emissions associated with the material. Better yet, petition your local recycling service to start processing the material.
The Blueland Hand Soap Starter Pack comes with a reusable signature glass bottle and three foaming hand soap tablets. Each tablet makes 9 ounces of liquid soap. The tablets come in Iris Agave, Lavender Eucalyptus, and Perrine Lemon scents and are free of triclosan, parabens, and phthalates. Blueland is B Corp Certified.
Ethique offers solid soap bars in recyclable cardboard containers that are free from plastic, laminates, and chlorines. The company has been carbon neutral since 2012; more recently, it became carbon negative in 2020 by offsetting more carbon emissions than it emits. Its products are sustainable, biodegradable, and free of petrochemicals, animal derivatives, and other synthetic and harmful chemicals. Ethique is B Corp Certified and supports direct trade.
Ethique Wonderbar Solid Conditioner Bar is a 100% natural, plant-based, and palm oil-free bar equivalent to 10 bottles of liquid conditioner. To use, simply slide it along clean, wet hair towards the ends, work it in, wait a couple of minutes, then rinse. The bar is rich in coconut, cocoa butter, and vitamin B5.
All Soapply products are made from natural ingredients and free of parabens, sulfates, artificial colorants, and added fragrances. Soapply adheres to sustainable packaging standards; it delivers its soap in recycled glass that can be refilled, reused, and eventually recycled. Soapply is also on a mission to ensure that everyone has access to water, sanitation, and hygiene products. Every 8-ounce Soapply purchase helps fund these efforts.
The Soapply Starter Set includes the Liquid Hand Wash, Hand Soap To Go, and a Refill so you can reuse your glass bottle over and over. The company crafts its soap using a 300-year-old method using natural ingredients like aloe, jojoba, olive, rosemary, and coconut.
Common Good provides natural, biodegradable, and refillable soaps and cleaners. Common Good offers refill stations throughout the U.S. and other countries where you can refill your reusable containers. You can also order refills online. The ingredients used by Common Good for their soaps and cleaners are approved by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for daily human use.
Common Good Clean Hands Set comes with one 34-ounce hand soap refill, two 4-ounce hand sanitizer sprays, and one 16-ounce empty glass bottle. The soap is free of sulfates, paraben, and phthalates. Choose from two scents, bergamot + grapefruit or lavender + grapefruit. The glass bottle not only looks classy but is also a step towards sustainability and reducing your use of single-use plastic.
Soap Sense works to overcome two environmental challenges in its products: single-use plastic packaging and traditional personal care products’ reliance on harmful chemicals. Instead of supplying soap solutions in single-use plastic, Soap Sense provides soap tablets that can be dissolved in water to instantly create a liquid soap; one tablet and some water are all you need to refill the reusable glass bottle.
The Soap Sense Foaming Soap Tablets come in a pack of 12 tablets that make 8 ounces of foaming soap. The hand soap is vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and contains no parabens, phthalates, or artificial colors. It’s scented with 100% essential oils. Using these foaming soap tablets reduces plastic waste compared to traditional liquid soap options.
Method uses ingredients that are safe for the human body and the environment. The company avoids using ingredients on the dirty dozen ingredients list of potentially toxic and harmful chemicals like chlorine bleach, triclosan, and phthalates. Method operates a LEED-certified platinum soap factory, featuring a wind turbine, a green roof, solar panels, and everything they need to make soap under one roof, greatly reducing its carbon footprint.
Part of the company’s Method Men line of products for men, the Sea + Surf Bar Soap is a quick-lathering, clean-rinsing bar soap made with plant-based cleansers rich in mineral-based exfoliants. The crisp and clean aroma of the soap helps you give a refreshing start to your day, and the plant-based cleansers keep your skin smooth and clean.
Attitude uses natural, hypoallergenic, biodegradable, and EWG-verified ingredients, adhering to the highest quality and environmental standards. All its products are certified vegan and cruelty-free by PETA. Attitude makes its products in an environmentally responsible factory that promotes wellness at work. By using Attitude’s eco-refill program, you can help reduce plastic waste.
Attitude’s energizing Orange Leaves Shower Gel Eco-Refill is made with moringa seed extract, which helps detoxify the skin of pollutants. Another product you may enjoy is Attitude’s Nourishing Hand Soap for sensitive skin. It’s made with a deeply hydrating blend of creamy avocado oil and rejuvenating oatmeal, leaving your skin clean and soft.
Go Green Today
Who doesn’t want healthy and good-looking hair and skin? But it doesn’t have to come at the cost of hurting the environment. By shopping from these sustainable brands, you can build a collection of sustainable personal care products that are good for both you and the environment.
So, which products are you planning to use? Drop us a line at email@example.com to share your favorite.
Originally published on April 20, 2021, this article was updated in September 2022.