Is Raw shampoo good for your hair?

Raw shampoo has become an increasingly popular hair care choice in recent years. Proponents claim that raw shampoo is better for your hair because it contains natural ingredients and lacks harsh chemicals found in mainstream shampoos. But is raw shampoo actually beneficial for your hair, or is it all hype?

What is raw shampoo?

Raw shampoo refers to shampoo that is formulated using all natural, unprocessed ingredients. The main components are oils, butters, herbs, clays and plant extracts. Common raw shampoo ingredients include:

  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Shea butter
  • Cocoa butter
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Tea tree oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Clays like bentonite or rhassoul
  • Herbs like nettle, horsetail or chamomile

Raw shampoos do not contain any synthetic detergents, preservatives, fragrances or other chemicals. They rely entirely on natural ingredients to cleanse and condition hair.

How is raw shampoo different from regular shampoo?

There are a few key differences between raw shampoo and regular shampoo:

  • Ingredients: As mentioned, raw shampoos contain only natural, unprocessed ingredients. Regular shampoos contain synthetic detergents like sulfates, preservatives, artificial fragrances and other lab-created chemicals.
  • pH level: Raw shampoos have a neutral or slightly acidic pH level, similar to that of human hair and skin. Regular shampoos tend to be very alkaline with a pH level around 10.
  • Lather: Raw shampoos usually have less lather compared to regular shampoos since they don’t contain harsh sulfates.
  • Cleansing method: Raw shampoos cleanse hair gently with natural oils and clays. Regular shampoos use detergents that can strip the hair of natural oils.

Are the ingredients in raw shampoo better for your hair?

Advocates of raw shampoo claim that the natural, gentle ingredients provide benefits for all hair types, while the chemicals in regular shampoos can damage hair. Let’s analyze the common raw shampoo ingredients:


Oils like coconut, olive, avocado and jojoba are extremely conditioning for hair. They help moisturize dry hair, tame frizz, add shine, protect against heat damage and prevent protein loss. However, oils can build up on the hair shaft over time if not washed away properly. Oils work best for dry, frizzy or damaged hair in moderation.


Rich butters like shea and cocoa are excellent emollients that soften and smooth the hair cuticle. Butters impart moisture, flexibility and shine to dry, brittle hair. However, they can leave a waxy coating on fine or oily hair.


Clays like bentonite and rhassoul gently absorb dirt, oil and product residue from the hair and scalp. They are ideal for oily hair and dandruff-prone scalps. However, clays can be drying if overused on dry hair.


Herbal extracts like nettle, chamomile, horsetail and hibiscus provide vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants to nourish hair follicles and remedy various hair issues. Not all herbs are suitable for all hair types though.


Acetic acid in apple cider vinegar helps remove buildup, clarifies hair, balances pH levels and adds shine. However, vinegar can be irritating and drying if not diluted properly in the shampoo.

Overall, raw shampoo ingredients like oils, butters, clays and herbs can provide targeted benefits for hair health. However, each ingredient must be used carefully based on your hair type and needs.

Do raw shampoos clean hair effectively?

This is a major concern with raw shampoos – do they actually clean your hair and scalp, or leave behind oil and dirt? Here are some points to consider:

  • Raw shampoos use mild cleansers like plant-based soaps, essential fatty acids and clays to lift dirt and oils from hair gently. However, they may not deep cleanse as effectively as regular shampoos.
  • The cleansing ability also depends on your hair type – raw shampoos work best for normal to oily hair. Dry or very thick hair may need stronger cleansing from sulfates.
  • Some plant oils can leave residues on the hair shaft over time. So raw shampoos should be alternated with an occasional sulfate-free clarifying shampoo.
  • Using raw shampoo less frequently (1-2 times a week) ensures your hair gets cleaned without over-stripping.
  • Rinsing hair thoroughly after raw shampooing is important to remove all traces of oil and clay.

With the right technique, raw shampoos can effectively clean most hair types and scalps. However, each person may require some trial and error to find what works for their unique hair needs.

The Potential Benefits of Raw Shampoo

Here are some of the touted benefits of using raw, natural shampoos:

Cleaner Ingredients

Raw shampoos are free of harsh chemicals like the sulfates sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, which can strip hair of moisture, lead to frizz and dullness, and irritate the scalp. They also omit silicon, parabens, phthalates and synthetic fragrances.

Gentle Cleansing

The plant-based oils and butters in raw shampoos cleanse hair gently without disrupting the natural moisture barrier. This helps improve hydration, softness and manageability.

Ideal pH Level

Raw shampoos maintain the ideal 5.5 pH balance of hair, while commercial shampoos are alkaline. This helps the hair cuticles stay smooth and closed to retain moisture.


Nutrient-rich oils like coconut, argan, olive and avocado nourish the hair follicles for healthier, stronger and shinier hair.

Scalp Health

Plant extracts and clays create a clean environment on the scalp and can help remedy issues like dandruff, dryness and irritation.

Environmental Benefits

Raw shampoos use biodegradable ingredients and avoid synthetic chemicals that pollute waterways. They are also usually vegan and cruelty-free.


You can personalize raw shampoos at home using ingredients that target your specific hair needs like dryness, damage, thinning or oiliness.

Potential Drawbacks of Raw Shampoo

However, there are some potential drawbacks to keep in mind as well:

Residue Buildup

Heavy oils may leave residue on hair over time, causing limp locks. Some residue can only be removed by clarifying with sulfates.

Lack of Lather

Raw shampoos may not lather as much, giving the impression that hair is not getting cleaned effectively.

Short Shelf Life

The all-natural ingredients mean raw shampoos have a shorter shelf life of around 3-6 months. They may need to be refrigerated to prevent spoilage.

Not Suitable for All Hair

Very dry or oily hair types may find raw shampoo too gentle for their needs. Fine, thin hair can become easily weighed down.

Time Consuming

Making homemade raw shampoo requires gathering several ingredients, following precise measurements and mixing everything properly to create a usable texture.


Some raw shampoo ingredients like exotic butters, carrier oils and essential oils can be quite costly, especially when formulating at home.

Who Should Use Raw Shampoo?

Here are the hair types and scalp conditions that may benefit most from raw, natural shampoos:

Normal to Oily Hair

Raw shampoos help regulate excess sebum production while providing gentle cleansing for oily hair and scalps.

Dry, Damaged Hair

Nourishing oils moisturize dry, frizzy locks and improve elasticity in damaged strands without stripping.

Dandruff & Sensitive Scalps

Natural antifungals and anti-inflammatories create a healthy environment and soothe irritation and flaking.

Chemically Treated Hair

Gentle raw shampoos help preserve hair color and protect the integrity of chemically treated or heat styled hair.

Curly & Coily Hair

The right oils enhance definition and moisture retention in curly hair without buildup or frizz.

Thinning & Balding

Some raw shampoo ingredients even aid hair growth and thickness for those dealing with thinning.

Tips for Effectively Using Raw Shampoo

To get the best results from raw, natural shampoos:

  • Adjust frequency based on your hair type – use less often for finer hair.
  • Rotate with a clarifying shampoo to prevent buildup.
  • Rinse hair thoroughly with cool water to remove oils.
  • Gently massage shampoo into scalp and hair ends first before lathering up.
  • Let sit for 2-3 minutes before rinsing out – don’t pile hair on head.
  • Use an apple cider vinegar rinse after shampooing to further remove residue.
  • Follow up with a light, silicone-free conditioner or mask.
  • Use only small, nickel-sized amounts of shampoo – a little goes a long way.
  • Store homemade raw shampoos in the fridge to prevent spoiling.

The Bottom Line

Raw shampoo has definite benefits for hair health and scalp conditions when used properly on the right hair types. However, it may not suit all hair needs and requires more care to use effectively.

Raw shampoo is best for normal to oily hair that isn’t prone to buildup. Very dry, damaged and chemically treated hair also stand to benefit. It provides a gentler cleansing option for sensitive, irritated scalps.

However, raw shampoo may prove too heavy and lead to limp tresses for fine, thin hair. It also may not effectively cleanse very thick or textured hair. Figuring out the correct ingredients and frequency of use is key to making raw shampoos work for your specific hair.

The Takeaway

Raw shampoo can be a great hair care choice for many people who want to avoid harsh chemicals and utilize the nourishing benefits of natural ingredients.

However, raw shampoo is not a blanket solution for all hair types and concerns. You have to tailor the ingredients and usage to your unique hair and scalp needs. This may require some trial and error to get right.

When used properly though, raw shampoos provide an effective yet gentle cleansing and conditioning alternative for healthier, stronger and shinier hair.

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