MAKING ALL-NATURAL SHAMPOOS: A BEGINNER'S GUIDE
- As consumer trends shift towards cleaner, safer, sustainable, and more natural products, all-natural hair care products are being embraced by modern cosmetic and personal care businesses.
- All-natural shampoos are formulated using natural and naturally-derived raw materials. To meet consumer demands, an all-natural shampoo should meet multiple criteria; this includes having mild, non-toxic ingredients that cleanse effectively, display conditioning benefits, and offer pleasant aesthetic characteristics.
- Creating high-performing all-natural shampoos can be a challenging task because the options available for formulating are drastically reduced. Furthermore, all-natural ingredients can often be tricky to work with.
- NDA's All-Natural Premium Shampoo Base is a high-quality, robust, easily customizable cosmetic base that allows cosmetic and personal care businesses to create luxurious all-natural shampoos and cater successfully to these industry trends.
THE RISING DEMAND FOR ALL-NATURAL SHAMPOOS
All-natural hair care products are in huge demand today. Returning back to nature and natural origins is becoming a powerful trend that many hair care formulators and businesses are having to embrace, driven by an increased consumer awareness of the possible risks of synthetic ingredients on both one's health and environment. Hair is also a primary contributor to one's appearance and self-identity, signaling good health, beauty, and even confidence. Given all this, it is hardly surprising that consumers are willing to go the extra mile for hair care products that truly satisfy their needs.
Shampoos are not only one of the most frequently purchased hair care products, they are also one of the most popular personal care products used overall by both women and men. Conventional shampoos rely on cheap and strong cleansing agents that produce a lot of lather yet leave the hair feeling brittle, dry, and over-cleansed. Other traditionally used shampoo ingredients, such as parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, silicones, and DEA (diethanolamine) have been problematic due to their documented hazardous effects on the body or non-biodegradable nature.
An all-natural shampoo aims to replace these potentially toxic, hazardous, or irritating synthetic ingredients with completely natural and naturally-derived ingredients. According to consumer expectations, an all-natural shampoo should:
- Be made from ingredients that are non-toxic and safe for the hair and body
- Be made from ingredients that are renewable or environmentally sustainable
- Have pleasant aesthetic and functional characteristics (the formula lathers adequately, rinses off easily, and is not 'runny' or 'stringy')
- Cleanse the hair and scalp effectively without being too drying or damaging
- Contribute to the appearance of healthy hair by adding softness or shine
- Contribute to improved manageability of hair
As can be seen, such a shampoo must satisfy additional criteria regarding the sourcing and selection of raw materials, and yet still be effective and not compromise on performance. Thus, formulating a high-performing all-natural shampoo can be an arduous task – not only does it require careful consideration of ingredients (as the pool is vastly limited compared to synthetics), but it also requires expertise in formulation as natural and naturally-derived ingredients are often trickier to work with.
HOW TO MAKE ALL-NATURAL SHAMPOOS: A PRIMER
All shampoos work fundamentally to cleanse and freshen the scalp and hair shaft, removing dirt, dust, sweat, dead skin cells, and product build-up. However, a good shampoo does so much more than this; it supports hair conditioning and also helps maintain optimal pH levels for better hair health and manageability. A pleasant shampoo and after-shampoo experience is also a must for a product to be successful. A thick, luxurious texture, good foaming capacity, an easy rinse-off, and a soft, moisturized feel of the hair following washing are some of the key factors consumers use to assess the quality of any shampoo.
Shampoos are composed primarily of surfactants. Most of the unwanted particles on the hair are not miscible with water, and surfactants have the ability to envelope them so they can be removed easily through rinsing. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES) are cheap and popular synthetic surfactants incorporated in commercial shampoos. As anionic surfactants, they are excellent at cleaning and foaming but can be quite harsh, drying, and irritating when used. One of the main challenges faced by the formulator developing an all-natural shampoo is therefore selecting the right natural surfactants to provide an effective cleansing result and experience.
Some botanicals such as the Soapnut (Sapindus mukorossi), the Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) and Acanthophyllum root produce natural surfactants known as Saponins, which help protect the plant by fending off certain fungi, bacteria, and insects. However, these materials have very mild cleansing properties and do not foam quite as well as consumers would expect. Saponins therefore often do not meet the needs of a primary surfactant. Alkylpolyglucosides (APGs) are a category of plant-derived surfactants that are also environmentally friendly. These are made by combining fatty alcohols with sugars extracted from coconut or corn. As non-ionic surfactants, they are compatible with other surfactant types and display superior cleansing and foaming abilities. APGs are also extremely skin-friendly and easy to formulate with, making them an ideal choice for the natural hair care formulator. Examples include Coco Glucoside, Lauryl Glucoside, and Decyl Glucoside.
Other examples of natural surfactants include Cocoamidopropyl Betaine and Sodium Cocoamphoacetate. These are gentle amphoteric surfactants made from Coconut Oil that can also help thicken formulations and add conditioning properties. In terms of anionic surfactants, Potassium Cocoate derived from Coconut Oil is commonly used in natural formulations. A good blend of natural surfactants can be achieved by mixing different compatible options and testing their behaviour and stability before using them in a formulation.
Additional challenges in making an all-natural shampoo include choosing natural conditioning agents, thickeners, and preservatives. Instead of synthetic polymers and silicones, hydrolyzed vegetable proteins or carrier oils such as Jojoba Oil or Camellia Seed Oil can be added to help with shine, softness, and hydration. Plant-derived gums such as Xanthan Gum and Guar Gum may be used as thickeners, although these often tend to impart a stringy, glutinous texture to the formula. Salt can also sometimes be used slightly thicken certain natural surfactants. Any chosen natural preservative must undergo efficacy testing to ensure it demonstrates broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity.
CREATING LUXURIOUS ALL-NATURAL SHAMPOOS USING NDA'S PREMIUM SHAMPOO BASE
For those who would like to save time or do not yet have the expertise required to make their own all-natural shampoos, cosmetic bases offer an excellent solution. NDA's new Premium Shampoo Base (All-Natural) features an innovative formula that is pH-balanced, non-toxic, and suitable for all hair types. It has a thick, luxurious texture with additional hydrating and conditioning properties to leave the hair soft, nourished, and frizz-free. The base comes fully formulated and pre-preserved with an all-natural preservative, ready for easy customization.
The key ingredients of this all-natural Shampoo Base include:
- Mild, sulfate-free, plant-based surfactants to create a gentle yet effective cleansing experience – Premium Shampoo Base contains a mix of high-performing yet natural surfactants sourced primarily from Coconut Oil or Corn. These include Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, and Cocoamidopropyl Betaine along with APGs such as Coco Glucoside and Decyl Glucoside. The blend has been optimized to be suitable for all hair types and produce an ideal level of foam and cleansing power while preventing dryness.
- Natural conditioning agents sourced from Coconut and Soy to provide a rich skin feel while leaving the hair feeling truly moisturized and silky soft – Glyceryl Oleate and Dicaprylyl Ether are used as natural emollients and refatting agents made from Oleic Acid and Caprylic Acid derived from Coconut. Hydrolyzed Soy Protein is also incorporated for its intensive conditioning benefits.
- Natural thickeners derived from Vegetable Oils and Corn to create a luxuriously thick and smooth formula – along with Glyceryl Oleate, we have used a natural, non-irritant derivative of glucose (PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate) to naturally thicken the formulation without introducing any clumping or unevenness.
Like all of our All-Natural Bases, Premium Shampoo Base has been formulated to be gentle and work in harmony with our skin and hair. It is free from SLS, SLES, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, and synthetic colors.
HOW TO USE NDA'S ALL-NATURAL PREMIUM SHAMPOO BASE
NDA's Premium Shampoo Base has been designed to provide superior flexibility, ease of use, and high performance for cosmetic businesses. It is ready-to-use but can also be used to make high-quality natural shampoos tailored to an ideal demographic or hair type. It is recommended that all additives not exceed more than 1% percent of the total volume.
Essential Oils are ideal additives for all-natural shampoos because they infuse natural yet alluring scents alongside desired hair-nourishing properties such as purifying, strengthening, clarifying, or soothing. Botanical Extracts are another way to create and market unique all-natural shampoos with added hair care benefits and label appeal. Our Liquid Botanical Extracts are wonderful additions because of their ease of use – simply measure, add, and stir (there is no need for any prior dissolving). Natural colorants can also be used to enhance the aesthetics of the shampoo; these can include certain Essential Oils (such as Tansy Blue Essential Oil or Chamomile Essential Oil) or Botanical/Fruit Extracts (such as Bilberry Liquid Extract, Mango Powder, or Rosehip Botanical Extract).
All mixing must be done gently to prevent the shampoo from creating too much lather prior to use.
Explore NDA's new range of All-Natural Cosmetic Bases here.
SAFETY & POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS
As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, all products listed in this article are for external use only. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using them for therapeutic purposes. Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use any of the aforementioned skincare or haircare products without the medical advice of a physician. These products should always be stored in areas that are inaccessible to children.
Prior to using any Essential Oil, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the Essential Oil in 4 drops of a Carrier Oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of skin that is not sensitive. Essential Oils must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. Potential side effects of Essential Oils include redness, rash, hives, burning, bleeding disorders, decreased speed of healing, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, convulsions, and rapid heartbeat. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.
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