Did you know that the word “shampoo” comes from Indian and actually means head massage with natural vegetable oils? What today is understood by the term shampoo often has little to do with the actual term. Because conventional manufacturers market the product shampoo as a cosmetic product, which serves the simple cleaning of the hair and scalp. We at PAKAHI would like to reassess the meaning of the original term and rely on the power of nature. But what advantages does an organic shampoo really have for me as a consumer and for the environment? And are there any disadvantages, if so, what are they? We clarify.
Surfactants: where’s the foam?
Probably the most important ingredient of shampoos are surfactants, which primarily serve to free the hair of sebum and dirt residues. After water (aqua), the proportion of surfactants is the highest in a shampoo. To put it simply, surfactants consist of a water-loving part and a fat-loving part and can bind dirt and fat through this special property so that they can be rinsed out with water. There are many surfactants on the market which differ in their washing power, foam formation and aggressiveness.
Pro: Surfactants for organic shampoos
Many surfactants such as sodium laureth sulphate or sodium lauryl sulphate are not permitted in an organic shampoo and in natural cosmetics in general, as they are produced with a hard chemical process or from a non-renewable raw material (such as crude oil) and pollute the environment. In addition, aggressive surfactants, such as those used in cleaning products, irritate the scalp and dry the head and hair, which is often noticeable under scalp itching, dandruff, split ends and brittle hair.
An organic shampoo, on the other hand, uses mild surfactants from renewable raw materials such as coconut or sugar beet, which are completely biodegradable. They possess so-called linear carbon chains, which are easily converted by microorganisms and can be broken down correspondingly quickly. Most petrochemical surfactants are “difficult to digest” for microorganisms due to their branched structure. This means that they are more difficult to degrade than surfactants from renewable raw materials and therefore remain longer in the water.
In addition, surfactants of renewable origin protect the balance of the scalp and do not deprive skin and hair of the required moisture. In our shampoos we therefore only use surfactants from renewable raw materials such as sugar beet.
Contra: Surfactants in organic shampoos
Surfactants in conventional shampoos are often buried in synthetic foam boosters, which is why they foam particularly strongly and suggest a high degree of cleanliness to the user. As a rule, surfactants in organic shampoos do not contain artificial foam enhancers and therefore foam less. As the foam formation, contrary to what is often assumed, is in no way related to the cleansing effect, the hair is cleaned just as thoroughly even without whole mountains of foam. Only the application is somewhat unusual in the beginning.
Tip: With a little more water, surfactants in organic shampoos can be foamed up more easily and the shampoo distributed better.
The exposure time should also be considered: whereas conventional shampoos clean the hair within a few seconds after application (too much), organic shampoos should work a little longer so that no unpleasant film remains on the hair. Despite its mildness, the cleansing effect of an organic shampoo unfolds just as well – but a little slower.
Without oil and silicones: how effective are organic ingredients?
Since a shampoo today has to do more than “just” clean, additional care substances are used to improve combability, moisture or shine. A good shampoo therefore consists of a healthy balance of cleansing surfactants and caring substances. Depending on the type of hair and scalp, the needs and wishes for a shampoo can vary.
Pro: Organic ingredients
With an organic shampoo, the strictest care is taken to ensure that a large proportion of the additional ingredients come from controlled organic cultivation. For this, cold-pressed oils or high-quality plant extracts are used. Unfortunately, it is true that many conventional shampoos contain cheaply produced paraffins or silicones that imitate the active complexes of natural ingredients. These chemical compounds can not only damage the environment and health, they also have a long-term negative effect on the scalp and hair. Silicones, for example, ensure good compatibility, but are poorly biodegradable and seal hair and scalp (build-up effect). PEGs make the skin permeable to harmful substances and the parabens used as preservatives interfere with the hormone balance. Such substances have no place in an organic shampoo. Here the original natural active substances are used in their pure form. These have no hormonal effect and are particularly effective in the long term due to their high active ingredient content. That is why we exclusively use natural care ingredients from controlled organic cultivation for our products.
Contra: Organic ingredients
Natural ingredients from controlled organic cultivation have a much higher raw material price than synthetically reproducible mass-produced goods. In fact, one litre of organic oil can already have the value of a small car. The higher raw material price is then also reflected in a higher shampoo price. An organic shampoo also requires more patience: similar to a change in diet, hair and scalp have to adapt to natural care. Depending on the type of hair, the structural change can last from a few days to several weeks. However, the results achieved are of a long-term nature and do not disappear with the next wash.
Nothing gets under your skin: no preservatives in organic shampoos
Since a shampoo naturally has a very high water content, it offers an optimal breeding ground for germs and bacteria. For this reason, shampoos usually need to be preserved. This is possible both chemically and naturally.
Pro: natural preservation
Synthetic preservatives such as formaldehydes or parabens ensure a long shelf life in conventional shampoos. Although they are known to irritate the mucous membranes and cause cancer, they can still be used in conventional shampoos. The standards for natural cosmetics prohibit this. Here, essential oils, sorbitol, glycerine and other (e.g. antioxidant) substances are used as natural preservatives. This is also how our organic shampoos are preserved. Product packaging also plays a not inconsiderable role in preservation. Our practical airless dispenser, for example, is ideal for natural cosmetics because its vacuum keeps additional germs away from the outside. In contrast to conventional packaging solutions, where the product is removed with the fingers, preservatives must be dosed in such a high dosage that even potentially newly introduced germs can be killed.
Contra: natural preservation
Most organic shampoos have a shorter shelf life than conventionally produced shampoos with chemical preservatives due to the gentler preservation. Instead of an almost unlimited shelf life for conventional shampoos, organic shampoos usually only last a few months to years. But let’s be honest, who has a shampoo for life?
A shorter expiration date can be a quality feature of a good shampoo, but it must also be used up more quickly.
Allowed or not? Organic shampoo and animal testing
Animal testing has been officially banned throughout the EU since 2013, but many manufacturers use some loopholes. For example, individual ingredients can be tested on animals or production can be relocated abroad, where animal testing is often still permitted.
Pro: Shampoos without animal testing
Animal experiments with organic shampoos are also not excluded per se, but rather rare. However, PAKAHI and animal testing are guaranteed never to be associated. We, the founders, serve as test subjects ourselves and that works surprisingly well. Our organic shampoos and our ingredients are never tested on animals. Not only do we promise this to you, but the world-renowned animal welfare organisation PETA also confirms this and has included PAKAHI in its list of animal-free and vegan cosmetics.
Contra: Shampoos without animal testing
It may certainly exist for others, but it does not exist for us!
An organic shampoo is less about a short-term superficial effect than about the lasting effect of the natural ingredients on your hair. An organic shampoo scores with particularly intensive and pure active ingredients that improve your hair structure in the long term. Harmful ingredients and artificial preservatives are not used, so organic shampoos are particularly mild and usually excellently tolerated by the scalp. Animal testing is also a no-go.
But an organic shampoo is much more expensive, needs getting used to (less foam), has a shorter shelf life and a longer exposure time.