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Ask G: Eco-friendly shampoo alternatives

Shampooing might be a neccesary evil, but are there eco-alternatives?

I'm a committed greenie but can't go a day without washing my hair. Are conventional shampoos really that bad and what are the alternatives?

Jess, SA

shampoo bottles

Credit: iStockphoto

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Staunch environmentalists have long argued that shampooing is an unnecessary evil. Soap dodgers will tell you that if you don't wash your hair for six weeks then your hair will clean itself with the rich oils that we usually strip out when lathering up.

But for those less keen on looking and smelling like a wet dog for six weeks, there are other options that are kind to both you and the environment, but first let's take a look at why conventional shampoos aren't quite as squeaky clean as your hair might be.

Everyday cosmetics and toiletries, including shampoos, contain a concoction of chemicals that pose a range of risks to both you and the environment. Even those products marketed as 'organic', 'herbal' or 'natural' might only contain a trace of a natural ingredient mixed in with a synthetic formula.

Many popular everyday shampoos typically include silicone (for shine), sodium lauryl sulphate (a harsh detergent used as a foaming agent), and preservative technologies such as parabens. A University of Reading, UK, study found high dosages of parabens in 18 out of 20 breast tumour cases.

Shampoos also go down our drains and pollute our waterways. A Royal Society of Chemistry report revealed a growing number of chemicals found in personal care products are ending up in the environment, including phthalates that have been linked to reproductive problems in wildlife.

So that's the bad news, but there is good news.

There are a number of established companies manufacturing shampoos minus any harmful ingredients including Weleda, Burt's Bees and Sukin among others.

Alternatively, you could go homemade and wash your locks with an egg or chamomile shampoo followed by a lemon juice rinse (for blondes) or apple cider vinegar (for brunettes). Ethical bad hair days will soon be a thing of the past.