You’ve probably heard the term “paraben-free” tossed around in relation to beauty and grooming products. And if you have, you know it’s a good thing since people are touting it left, right and center. You might still be wondering, though: What are parabens, and why should I care about them?
Parabens—methylparaben, propylparaben, isoparaben and butylparaben, as they appear on the ingredient label—are one of the most widely used preservatives in beauty products, and can be found in everything from moisturizers to makeup. While the Food and Drug Administration, which largely does not regulate cosmetic ingredients, does not believe that there is a need for consumers to be concerned about parabens in grooming products, some studies have shown that these chemicals may disrupt normal hormone function and increase the risk of breast cancer. We’d rather not take the chance—how about you? Here are five of our favorite paraben-free shampoos that offer up lots of other great hair benefits, too.
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Product: Organix Luxurious Moroccan Argan Crème Shampoo, $7.99, available at major retailers nationwide
The Deets: Blondes especially will love this velvety formula that hydrates dried-out hair with Moroccan argan oil. The nourishing shampoo is said to smooth the outer cuticle, leaving hair silky and shiny. Plus, it’s sulfate-free and isn’t tested on our furry friends.
Tester Comment: “I didn’t realize it was sulfate-free because it still worked up some nice suds, which I liked. It has an earthy, exotic fragrance to it.”
Product: Sebamed Everyday Shampoo, $13.49, available at drugstores nationwide
The Deets: Not only is this plant-based shampoo 100-percent paraben-free, it is soap-free (less likely to irritate sensitive skin), gluten-free and biodegradable. Win, win and more wins. The mild formula gently washes your hair and scalp while maintaining a 5.5 pH that works for normal, sensitive and problematic scalp conditions.
Tester Comment: “First of all, this product smells amazing, and I loved how it made my hair feel. Really clean yet moisturized—it didn’t make my ends feel dry after washing it out like other shampoos I’ve used.”
Product: Aveeno Pure Renewal Dry Shampoo, $7.49-$7.99, available at national food, drug and mass merchandisers
The Deets: Need to extend your blowout by a day? This lightly fragranced, sulfate-free dry shampoo removes excess oil between washes, and can be used as a styling aid to add volume at your roots. Plus, it’s safe for colored hair.
Tester Comment: “This totally saved me when I didn’t have time to wash and blow-dry my hair! Unlike other dry shampoos, this one didn’t leave behind a white powdery residue.”
Product: Ouidad Curl Co Wash Low Foaming Cleansing Conditioner, $30, available at Ulta stores, select salons and ouidad.com
The Deets: Curly hair alert! This super-gentle, sulfate-free, low-lather cleanser is formulated with a concentrated blend of conditioners for healthy and defined curls. The very fragrant wash uses rosemary and sage oils to refresh and balance the scalp and make hair shiny; black cumin seed oil and Jamaican black oil to deeply condition and tame; and a coconut-derived cleanser to remove buildup without drying.
Tester Comment: “I have curly hair that tends to get pretty frizzy and found this conditioning shampoo helped define my curls. The scent was a bit much for me, though.”
Product: Miss Jessie’s Super Slip Sudsy Shampoo, $14, available at select Target and CVS stores or missjessies.com
The Deets: Unlike other shampoos that you apply just a dime-sized amount of, the directions call for distributing a palm-full of this green apple-scented detangler to deep clean your hair and scalp. And deep-clean it does: The concentrated, non-sulfate formula adds shine to normal, parched, chemically treated or naturally curly or wavy hair. Plus, it even aids in weave-glue removal!
Tester Comment: “I get insanely tangled hair and this helped me work out all the kinks!”