Being a judge for CertClean’s Clean Beauty Awards has been a fantastic way to discover new and emerging natural brands over the years. From Korean skincare to Australian suncare and making my first foray into natural fragrance, the annual awards have introduced me to a whole array of international beauty brands. For the first time I review the natural haircare category, putting to the test liquid and solid shampoos, conditioners and a dry shampoo that won me over.

Sootsoap Detoxifying & Deodorizing Shampoo

Well this was a surprise – a pleasant one. Don’t be put off by the liquid that comes out of the bottle: thanks to the deep cleansing charcoal content it may look like tar, but it froths into a white foam to cleanse hair without stripping it. Sootsoap warn against using pale linen due to staining but I’ve not had any issues. This black colour may be disconcerting at first but you do get used to it, and in contrast it releases a fresh aloe and citrus scent. My hair felt and looked clean for a good 3 days, and crucially with no irritation to my scalp, something I find increasingly common with more aggressive or fragranced shampoos. I can see why it was the Winner of the 2021 Clean Beauty Awards. This shampoo gets a big thumbs up from me! 250ml RRP $17.95

Upfront Cosmetics Refreshing Shampoo Bar

Shampoo bars are still a niche product, although they have been gaining momentum in the last few years. Whether or not they’ll ever replace the traditional shampoo bottle remains to be seen, however recent studies show that 12% of UK women have used shampoo and conditioner bars more frequently in the last 12 months, so the appeal of this format is growing (source: Mintel Women’s Haircare UK 2022). If you haven’t tried a solid shampoo yet then this is a great place to start. Upfront’s palm-sized bar leaves hair feeling clean and refreshed thanks to its uplifting scent of lemon, rosemary and lavender. If there’s one thing that can convince you to switch to this eco-friendly format it’s this: each 65g claims to replace up to 3 bottles of liquid shampoo. 65g RRP £11.00

Lovesong Beauty Invisible Dry Shampoo Gel

If you’re UK-based (and reading this) you’ll be familiar with Batiste Dry Shampoo, THE reference for dry shampoo. That hairspray style can, the green swirly pattern, the white powder you need to work into your roots… it’s so ubiquitous I didn’t think there could be any other format – until I tried Lovesong’s Dry Shampoo Gel. The natural, vegan and cruelty-free formula comes out of the pump as a milky gel which is easy to work into roots. The liquid dries quickly so there’s no need to do anything other than tussle and go, with added volume and refreshed roots – and no powdery residue! And the pretty packaging elevates it from a simple functional product. This feels like so much more than a dry shampoo. 50ml RRP $30.00

Birch Babe Aloe Vera & Seaweed Shampoo & Body Bar

At a generous 115g this is the biggest shampoo bar I’ve come across, probably because it’s an all over bar for hair and body so you’ll work your way through it quicker. Birch Babe’s natural, vegan and cruelty-free bar provides a low lather nourishing wash suitable for sensitive skin. This wasn’t my favourite bar as it felt like there was some residue left on my hair post-wash, but with very minimal packaging it gets an extra green point. And you should get around 80 washes out of it. 115g RRP $14.00

BIBO Strengthening Conditioner Bar

What a pretty bar! The top of BIBO’s (which stands for Bars In Bottles Out) conditioner is freckled in a deep pink hue before turning into a creamy shade, making it an elegant addition to my bathroom products. This bar is suitable for frizzy, dry and processed hair – not really my hair type as I’m unfortunately prone to greasy roots, so it’s difficult to assess this conditioner fairly. The round shape makes it easy to grip and smooth along tresses, and the infusion of rose butter and broccoli seed oil nourishes dry ends. I would have loved the scent to linger a little longer under the shower for a full immersion into the benefits of the bar’s natural ingredients. As with many other solid haircare products, don’t be deceived by its compact size: as long as you don’t leave your bar sat in a pool of water and let it air dry between use, it should give you the equivalent of 2 bottles of conditioner. At a guess it’s 60g to 65g but this is a naked (packaging-free) bar so that’s a guestimate. RRP £11.00

Flourish Beauty Lab Lemongrass + Dandelion Witch Hazel Scalp Support Shampoo

Well that’s quite a mouthful of a name. Flourish shampoo’s low viscosity (yes we’re back to the classic liquid format) means it can run off your palm quite easily so no dilly dallying with this one, get it onto your scalp swiftly and massage into hair to release a refreshing scent which works well as a morning wake up call. The soothing witch hazel is a relief for sensitive scalps and hair feels clean and soft. A lovely formula but I would be even happier to see it without a pump, a piece of packaging which is notoriously difficult to recycle and doesn’t feel necessary for a shampoo. 250ml RRP $32.00

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