Finding organic baby shampoos that actually live up to their claims can be a challenge. When I became a Mom, I knew I wanted to protect my little one’s head from harsh cleansers and drying compounds. However, the personal care industry didn’t make it easy on me.
Greenwashing is rampant in the world of baby products, as brands know parents will gravitate towards any product that claims to be healthier for their child. Unfortunately, nature-inspired logos, meaningless “certifications,” and green color schemes can camouflage the fact that many of these bathing products aren’t nearly as eco-friendly or good for your skin as they imply.
In this article, I’ve done the hard work for you by researching popular baby shampoo brands and finding the best ones for your child. The products that make this list earn points for natural ingredients, gentle formulas, and stellar customer reviews.
Regardless of whether your baby came out with luscious locks or stayed bald until age two, these organic baby shampoos and bath washes will keep your little one clean and safe. Also be sure to check out our article on the best diapers and wipes.
What To Look for In Organic Baby Shampoo
Before we dive into specifics, let’s get one thing straight—certified organic shampoos are few and far between. That’s because personal care products, unlike vegetables, usually contain some ingredients that don’t come from living things and technically can’t be produced to organic standards.
Some brands still qualify for organic certification by ensuring their formulas consist of at least 95% organic ingredients, while others opt to seek out organic certification for key plant-based ingredients. Most of the products on this list fall into the latter category.
So, short of certification, what should you look for when buying baby shampoo? Here are three important considerations.
- What’s the fragrance? Added fragrances may smell nice in your own shampoo, but they’re often too harsh for a baby’s delicate skin and could dry it out. Many brands opt for natural fragrances from essential oils and botanical extracts, but even these can irritate a newborn scalp. Seek out fragrance-free products when you can, or apply only tiny amounts to your baby’s head until you learn how her skin reacts.
- What are the cleansing agents? Adult shampoos contain a host of preservatives and cleansing agents like parabens, phthalates, and sulfates that are too strong for newborn skin. Avoid these compounds so your child doesn’t suffer from skin irritation. Better yet, look for products that claim to have tear-free formulas.
- What is the EWG rating? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an American activist group focused on sharing the facts about the ingredients in our personal care products. EWG researchers rigorously assess and rate these products in the Skin Deep Database and assign them a ranking from 1 to 10 based on their overall health risks. The lower the number, the safer the product’s ingredients.
Here’s a closer look at five organic baby shampoos that passed our scrutiny and are safe to use on your baby.
- EWG Skin Deep Database Ranking: 1
- Ingredients: water, organic coconut oil, potassium hydroxide, organic olive oil, organic fair deal hemp oil, organic jojoba oil, citric acid, tocopherol
This classic soap isn’t technically targeted towards babies, but its ultra-gentle formula makes it ideal for newborns. Castile soap is traditionally made from olive oil instead of animal fats. Dr. Bronner’s versions contain 90% organic and 70% certified-fair trade ingredients, including organic, fair-trade hemp oil sourced from the US.
The soap’s formula is up to three times more concentrated than conventional cleaners and is 100% biodegradable, meaning you aren’t paying for water weight or other filler ingredients. Even better, it’s packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle.
Don’t be thrown off by its thin consistency—this soap is free of foaming agents so it won’t lather up like you’re used to with soap.
Beyond cleaning your child, this castile soap can be put to a wide range of other household uses, including laundry, mopping, washing dishes, and other general cleaning purposes. It’s the Dr. Bronner brand’s goal to replace the majority of your home’s cleaners with a single soap bottle.
Customer reviews on Amazon indicate that a small number of users find this soap too drying for regular use, and others noted that the formula wasn’t tear-free and really burned when they got some in their cuts. However, most had a more positive experience and shared the soap made a perfect baby shampoo once they diluted it.
- EWG Skin Deep Database Ranking: 1
- Ingredients: filtered aqua, potassium cocoate (saponified organic cocos nucifera / coconut oil), glycerin (vegetable), pinus banksiana (pine) extract, magnesium chloride (magnesium oil), organic olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, organic matricaria chamomilla (chamomile) flower extract, organic urtica dioca (nettle) leaf extract, organic taraxacum officinale (dandelion) leaf extract, organic trifolium pratense (clover) flower extract, organic acetic acid (apple cider vinegar), organic cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil, lathyrus odoratus (sweet pea) flower extract.
This gentle, tear-free baby shampoo contains a wide range of certified organic plant extracts and oils. It’s a low-lather formula, which means you can rinse it off your baby’s scalp easily without worrying about any lingering residue.
The company offers both a scented and unscented version, meaning you can strip this shampoo down to its basics if your baby has extra sensitive skin that might not respond well to fragrances, even if they are derived from natural ingredients. Another plus? Carina’s ingredients are 100% biodegradable, meaning you can use the shampoo in natural areas without worry about polluting the water system.
Just two ingredients should give you a brief pause: glycerin and chamomile flower extract both ranked at a two on the EWG database. That’s because glycerin can dehydrate the skin when used in high concentrations, and chamomile extract can trigger allergic reactions in some people like itchy skin and burning eyes. Overall, though, Carina’s ingredients earn a stellar rating from us.
While customer reviews on Amazon are overwhelmingly positive for this baby shampoo, some noted that it triggered rashes and other forms of skin irritation. These parents didn’t have the same experience with other organic soap brands.
- EWG Skin Deep Database Ranking: 2
- Ingredients: water, decyl glucoside, lauryl glucoside, quillaja Saponaria bark extract (soap bark), vegetable glycerine usp, calendula officinalis flower extract (calendula) viola tricolor extract (pansy) yucca schidigera root extract (yucca) aloe barbadensis leaf juice (aloe vera) simmondisa chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, hydrolyzed quinoa, xanthan gum usp, panthenol (vit. B5), phytic acid (rice origin), gluconolactone, sodium benzoate.
This ultra-gentle shampoo is touted as a popular choice in hospital’s neonatal intensive care units. It boasts a 100% plant-based formula without any petroleum-based synthetic compounds. The shampoo is also free of any added fragrance (or scent-masking compounds that remove natural odors) and contains certified organic, sustainably harvested soap bark as its cleansing agent. Many other ingredients are grown on the brand’s 100-acre, certified organic farm in Santa Barbara, CA.
California Baby claims to use only purified, pasteurized water in its baby products to ensure they are entirely free of contaminants—a step many competitors don’t take. In fact, the company recommends this shampoo for pregnant women and anyone who deals with eczema, chemical sensitives, or other forms of skin irritation, no matter your age.
Each ingredient in the formula earns a top score from the EWG Cosmetics database, except for the last one on the label. Sodium benzoate is a preservative that ranks at a three for acting as a potential allergen and skin irritant for some people.
All California Baby products are manufactured at its Los Angeles headquarters in an FDA-registered, certified organic, solar-powered facility. The company has been woman-owned and family-run since its start in 1995.
Looking at customer reviews, many parents love this product and consider it their go-to shampoo for their baby long after they leave the newborn stage. Others used it on their own skin and hair and find it soothes and cleans without irritation—especially for those with known shampoo allergies. However, in a few cases, users found this soap left them itchy and made them develop small rashes.
Seek out this product if you want something ultra-gentle for your newborn, but keep in mind it might not be as cleansing as other formulas. You can also choose from product variations from the brand that offer calming scents with essential oils.
- EWG Skin Deep Database Ranking: 2
- Ingredients: Organic Aloe Leaf Juice, Organic Cucumber Fruit Extract, Organic Ginger Root Extract, Organic Parsley Extract, Organic Kiwi Extract, Organic Spinach Extract, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Lauryl Glucoside, Vegetable Glycerin, Phenethyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Organic Orange Essential Oil, Organic Grapefruit Essential Oil
This family-owned company got its start when founders and new parents Kim and Kent McCorkle struggled to find baby skincare products without questionable ingredients. Years of research and development led them to develop BareBaby Organics. The brand’s Premium Shampoo and Bodywash contains more than 95% plant-based ingredients, including 100% organic oils and extracts.
While the shampoo’s skin softeners and preservatives aren’t organic, each one is Whole Foods Premium Listed. Though the brand claims that each ingredient scores a one—the lowest possible toxicity score—on the EWG Database, a few actually have higher rankings:
- Citrus aurantium dulcis (orange oil): Potential skin irritant, can trigger allergies (5)
- Glycerin: May dry out the skin with consistent use (2)
- Ethylhexylglycerin: Potential skin irritant, can trigger allergies (2)
Though marketed towards babies, teens and adults can also use this shampoo, especially if they have sensitive skin. The only fragrances within it come from essential oils to minimize the chance of skin irritation.
Amazon customer reviews indicate that parents love this product. Many raved that it was the only shampoo that worked on their baby’s sensitive skin, and others shared that they were buying it in bulk so their whole family could use it. The subtle, citrusy scent is a hit, as parents say it is fresh without being overwhelming. Adults who used it noted that it left their hair feeling less oily than other organic shampoos without being harsh or drying.
- EWG Skin Deep Database Ranking: 4
- Ingredients: Water Coco-Glucoside Sweet Almond Oil Alcohol Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate Sesame Seed Oil Glycerin Carrageenan Extract Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate Calendula Flower Extract Xanthan Gum Lactate Fragrance 1 Limonene 1 Linalool 1
Weleda baby shampoo comes as a cream that’s purportedly gentle enough for cleaning even the youngest scalps. Calendula flowers are this product’s prized ingredient, which Weleda sources from Germany’s largest certified biodynamic farm. The company utilizes a tear-free formula free from synthetic ingredients that contain moisturizing compounds like sweet almond oil to soothe baby skin.
However, this shampoo earns a 4 from the EWG cosmetic database due to its fragrance agents and lactic acid. Young infants are extra sensitive to artificial fragrances, which can lead to skin irritation and other allergic responses.
Weleda is transparent about where it sources its ingredients, and most of its products have been NATRUE certified since 2009. This certification standard from the International Natural and Organics Cosmetics Association guarantees that Weleda products are free of artificial components and that the brand shows real evidence of being a strong advocate for sustainability measures.
It goes hard against ‘greenwashing’ by requiring independent certifiers to perform on-site inspections of production facilities to ensure the company is indeed in compliance with the standards it claims.
Parents who have used this shampoo rave about its effectiveness—both for their baby and themselves. Many loved the subtle scent, how well it suds up without stripping hair, and that the formula is gentle enough to use on kids with skin conditions like eczema and cradle cap. Though expensive per ounce, customers seem to think Weleda is well worth it.
Baby shampoo isn’t the only target of marketing campaigns and greenwashing; make sure to check out the following posts too: