Best Phthalate-Free Shampoos (2021 UK)

Washing hair with natural shampoo bar

If you haven’t heard of this group of chemicals before, then you might be surprised to learn that they are present in hundreds of household, beauty and other plastic and manufactured goods that you come into contact with.

Phthalates (pronounced thal-ates) are used in plastics to soften them but are also present in many artificially scented products we use, including shampoo.

There are many things you are told to avoid when choosing what you wash your hair with, so what is the particular reason for avoiding phthalates?

Phthalates are known to affect the endocrine system in the body, which is basically the system that controls hormones that affect fertility, growth and metabolism.

Anything that has an effect on these vital systems could be extremely detrimental to your health as well as other animals, especially marine life if and when our waste products reach the sea.

The best way to avoid these phthalates is to buy scentless products from natural and organic brands.

Listed below are some of the best phthalate shampoos in the UK to get you started.

Best Phthalate-Free Shampoos in the UK

1. Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo

Shea Moisture is a brand developed by a mother of four back in 1912. They focus on creating products with raw shea butter handcrafted by women in Africa.

Their products are natural and made without parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, petroleum or formaldehyde. The brand practices fair trade and also never tests on animals.

This hydrating shampoo powered with coconut oil and hibiscus flower is great for thick and curly hair. It tames frizz and leaves your hair bouncy and healthy. Although, it is a bit pricey compared to the other shampoos reviewed here.

This shampoo has a gentle and wonderful smell that leaves you feeling fresh.

 

2. Faith In Nature Natural Coconut and Shea Butter Shampoo Bar


Faith in Nature makes vegan and cruelty-free natural products in the UK. This brand’s aim is to reconnect people with nature and make natural products affordable.

If you want to reduce your plastic waste, a shampoo bar is perfect for you. Shampoo bars are simple to use, cost-effective, time-saving, and easy to travel with. Moreover, in association with TreeSisters, a tree is planted for every order you place.

This nourishing coconut and shea butter shampoo is also paraben and SLS-free. It has a 100% natural fragrance.

To wash hair, first lather the bar in your hands and then massage the foam into wet hair. Leave your bar on a dry surface after use to make it last the longest.

Faith in Nature also has other options for shampoo bars such as Dragon Fruit, Lavender and Geranium, and Shea and Argan.

Check out this post for more shampoo bars.

 

3. Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and Wash

This next brand, known for its natural moisturisers, have also created a natural baby shampoo that is phthalate-free.

Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and Wash is available at a more reasonable price and has a natural scent.

Unlike the Green People shampoo, it is also tear-free for those who have sensitive eyes as well as skin.

It contains soy proteins for cleansing and is also free of parabens, petrolatum and SLS, with mainly natural ingredients listed.

Although the shampoo is non-irritant, it is not an anti-dandruff shampoo, so it may have no effect on a badly affected scalp.

Despite being listed as baby shampoo, this shampoo is suitable for older children and grown-ups too!

Reducing children’s exposure to phthalates is particularly important, as phthalates have been shown to affect children’s development, so this is a good, safe shampoo for kids.

 

4. Green People Neutral Scent Free Shampoo


This Green People shampoo is suitable for the whole family to use and is beneficial for those with sensitive skin or a sensitive scalp.

It only contains natural ingredients and is free of chemicals like phthalates, parabens and alcohol.

The active ingredients include organic Aloe Vera, green tea, yucca and pineapple and the other listed ingredients are quite recognisable as more natural than chemical which is good for those who are looking for an all-natural brand or often react badly to chemicals.

The downside to this product is definitely it being a little on the pricey side in terms of what you would pay normally for shampoo, but it should be no surprise that natural ingredients and quality come at a price.

Green People also has a shampoo for children which is free from SLS/SLES, parabens, phthalates, and artificial fragrances.

 

5. Green People Daily Aloe Shampoo


Another product from Green People, this shampoo is actually scented as well as has natural foaming properties, meaning there is also no SLS.

Daily Aloe Shampoo also comes with a rather large price tag, although the brand claim that it lasts up to 3 times longer than other shampoos.

The ingredients are both organic and fairly traded, making this an ethical buy as well as a healthy one.

The only complaints seem to be that it can leave your hair feeling dry, but Green People also offer hair serums on their website to combat this.

 

6. Every Man Jack 2-in-1 Citrus Daily Shampoo and Conditioner


Every Man Jack makes quality grooming products for men in the US from 96% naturally derived ingredients.

The shampoo is certified cruelty-free, vegan, gluten-free, fragrance-free, phthalate-free, and paraben-free. Moreover, the shampoo bottles are made with 50% recycled plastic.

The shampoo has coconut extracts to clean hair properly and shea butter to soften it making it ideal for daily use.

Although this shampoo and conditioner is suited for all hair types, we do not recommend it for dry hair as it may make your hair drier. Every Man Jack also has other variants like tea tree for thinning hair and sandalwood.

 

7. Jason Dandruff Relief 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner


This Jason shampoo is available on the high street in Holland and Barrett but does not quite have your usual high street shampoo price.

The shampoo has special qualities for tackling dandruff, mild psoriasis and scalp dermatitis as well as being phthalate-free.

The new version is a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner. There are also no parabens or SLS, so any foaming is due to natural ingredients instead.

The scent, which can only be described as a little unusual, comes from the natural oils it contains which include jojoba and olive while the active ingredient pyrithione zinc prevents an irritated scalp and flakiness.

 

About Phthalates

What Are Phthalates?

Phthalates are chemical compounds that are used to make plastic more flexible and malleable.

They are used for a number of applications as they bind to the product and tend not to evaporate or move from where they have been placed. Some places you will find phthalates are:

  • Cosmetics
  • Packaging
  • Cleaning products
  • Building materials
  • Wires & cables
  • Medical devices

They are also found in many foods.

During a normal day, you will probably come into contact with phthalates more than once, due to their prevalence in so many products.

Phthalates are actually a large family of chemicals which range from high to low in grade.

High phthalates have more carbon atoms in their chemical makeup than low phthalates. These different types are used for various applications:

  • High Phthalates: PVC products, wires, cables, floor, wall and roof coverings, coated fabrics and synthetic leather.
  • Low Phthalates: General-purpose PVC products, cosmetics, medical devices, adhesives and inks.

Phthalates can be a very cost-effective material to use and can actually produce pretty high-quality finishes.

Each type of phthalate is chosen based on its suitability to be used for the product in question; they are picked due to their size, shape, strength or colour.

Are Phthalates Dangerous?

Studies on animals have found that phthalates can damage the lungs, kidneys, liver and reproductive system.

In particular, the developing male reproductive system is at risk, so pregnant women and male children should avoid phthalates as much as possible.

Studies on rats have found that exposure to di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) reduces fertility, particularly in males.

Di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) is often used in the production of medical tubing; used for medicating and even assisting a child’s breathing.

However, studies tend to look at the results of excessive exposure to the phthalates, rather than the low levels of exposure you’d get from using a shampoo that contained phthalates.

Most people aren’t exposed to a very high level of phthalates in their everyday lives.

However, there are certain situations that may pose a risk of overexposure. In particular, receiving medical care such as undergoing any sort of blood transfusions (the pipes are often made using phthalates) puts you at greater risk.

Infants in neonatal intensive care units that use PVC medical devices were found to be exposed to high levels of phthalates in a 2005 study by the Harvard School of Public Health.

Babies and children are also at greater risk of overexposure to phthalates from sucking on plastic toys, bottles and dummies, which can contain phthalates.

Other things that are speculated to be affected by exposure to phthalates include:

  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Breast cancer
  • ADHD & other behavioural problems
  • Diabetes

One phthalate, diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) is carcinogenic to rats and mice and is therefore considered a potential carcinogen in humans (source).

There are many phthalate-free products cropping up as consumers are looking to remove them from their daily routines where possible.

If you are worried about the possible effects that phthalates can have on your health, then there is definitely no harm in choosing to buy phthalate-free products over your normal choices.

Why are phthalates used in shampoo?

Phthalates are often found in shampoos as carriers for fragrances, as they help the scent linger for longer. They can also be used as gelling agents or to improve the texture of shampoo.

How do you identify phthalates in products?

Product labels aren’t required to say “contains phthalates”, so it can be hard to make sure that a shampoo is phthalate-free.

Sometimes phthalates will be hidden within fragrances, so choose a fragrance-free shampoo or one with natural fragrances such as pure essential oils.

Some phthalates you may find listed on your shampoo’s label include:

  • BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate)
  • DBP (dibutyl phthalate)
  • DCP (dibutyl phthalates)
  • DEHP (Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate)
  • DEP (diethyl phthalate)
  • DiDP (diisodecyl phthalate)
  • DiNP (diisononyl phthalate)
  • DMP (dimethyl phthalate)
  • DnHP (di-n-hexyl phthalate)
  • DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate)

How can you avoid phthalates in shampoo?

Here are some ways to make sure your shampoo doesn’t contain phthalates:

  • Choose a phthalate-free brand – These include Green People, Dr Bronner’s, Shea Moisture, Madara, A’kin, PHB Ethical Beauty, Lavera and Benecos.
  • Choose fragrance-free shampoo – Phthalates are often found hidden within fragrances, so going fragrance-free is a good way to avoid phthalates.
  • Check the ingredients list – See the list of phthalates to avoid above. Also check for ‘Fragrance’, ‘Fragrances’ or ‘Parfum’, unless the label says that fragrances are natural.

Are phthalates sulphates?

The word ‘phthalate’ ends in ‘ate’, like many sulphates. However, phthalates aren’t sulphates (sulfates in US English).

In chemical terms, phthalates are esters of phthalic acid, whereas sulphates are salts of sulphuric acid.

 

Conclusion

If we had to pick just one phthalate-free shampoo to recommend, it would be Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo. Not only is it free from phthalates, but it’s also has a hydrating effect and leaves your hair feeling fresh, bouncy and healthy.

For some more suggestions, read our guide to the best natural shampoos.

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