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Ecological rating of hand soaps, body washes & shampoos

Published in October 2020.

What is this article about?

Find out the eco-friendliness of dozens of brands of hand soaps, body washes, shampoos and conditioners. The rating includes sustainable palm oil policy, the presence of aquatoxic chemicals, the use of recycled packaging, and the company's overall environmental ethos.

This page is an annex to the article: Choosing healthy and eco-friendly personal care and home care products, where you will find our methodology to rate the eco-friendliness of home and personal care manufacturers, as well as a list of toxic chemicals often found in cleaning products.

Contents

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How are products rated?

Brand Ethos includes the company's ecological values and its commitment to sustainability beyond other factors rated in other columns. Ecological brands that are carbon neutral (or even better carbon positive), have a reforestation programme, an efficient waste reduction system, or donate part of their profits to environmental charities (e.g. 1% for the Planet) obtained an A grade.

The company's palm oil policy is one of the most important factors in the global environmental impact. Vast palm plantations in Southeast Asia have caused untold ecological devastation, destroying the tropical rainforest and its biodiversity. According to ASAP 235 animal species are on the brink of extinction in Southeast Asia, including the Javan and Sumatran rhinos, the Sumatran tiger, and 80% of primates in the region, such as the Bornean Orangutan. This is why it can make a real difference to use products that do not contain palm oil derivatives (ideally) or at least choose sustainable palm oil. Companies can source their palm oil responsibly in part thanks to the criteria established by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Companies that use unsustainable palm oil did not get a A rating even if all other categories were outstanding.

Aquatoxic substances were rated from A (safe) to G (most toxic). Only chemicals rated D and above are listed, as those from A to C are considered reasonably safe. Sodium Laureth Sulfate is abbreviated as SLES.

The health hazard column consists mostly of allergens and skin irritants, although some of the most noxious chemicals have also been linked to general body toxicity, endocrine disruption and cancer. In addition to being an allergn, Butylphenyl Methylpropional (aka Lilial) is toxic, an endocrine disruptor with suspected of damaging fertility, and accumulates in the body over time. Bronopol and DMDM Hydantoin are both formaldehyde releasers with potential carcinogenic effects. They can cause respiratory irritation, asthma and allergic skin reaction.

Isothiazolinones are the most common allergens. They are also biocides and therefore toxic to the environment. The most aquatoxic are Benzisothiazolinone (BIT) and Octylisothiazolinone (OIT). They are listed only in that category to avoid listing it it in both columns. Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT) and Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) are less toxic to water life but more allergenic and are consequently listed under health hazard. All four are listed by their acronyms. Alpha-isomethyl ionone is another allergn that is also toxic both to the enviornment and to human health, although less in known about it.


Ecological ratings of hand soaps

Best value A-rated hand soap

Frosch 500 ml bag

Bio-D (5L bottle)

Sodasan (5L recharge)

Product Brand Ethos Recycled bottle Palm oil Aquatoxic substances Health hazard RATING
Dr Bronner's Organic Sugar Soap A+ mostly organic - - A+
Neal's Yard Remedies Hand Wash A+ mostly 0% - - A+
Odylique Hand & Body Wash
(Essential Care)
A+ 100% 0% - - A+
SANTE Liquid Soap A+ 100% minimal and RSPO - - A+
Sodasan Liquid Soap A+ 100% RSPO - - A+
Green People Hand Wash A+ no, but carbon neutral organic - - A
Bio-D Sanitising Hand Wash B 100% RSPO Cocamide DEA, Sodium Laureth Sulphate - A-
Ecover Hand Soap
(S.C. Johnson & Son)
A 100% RSPO Sodium lauryl sulfate - A-
Frosch (Rainett) Creme Soap A 100% 0% Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES - A-
Savon Le Naturel Extra Pur de Marseille
(L'Oréal)
B no 0% - A-
Attitude Liquid Hand Soap A no, but
carbon neutral
not RSPO - - B+
Avril Liquid Hand Soap B no RSPO - - B+
Bentley Organics Handwash B no no, but sustainable - - B+
Coslys Marseille Liquid Soap B 100% RSPO - Benzyl alcohol B+
Coslys Hand Wash B 100% RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine Benzyl alcohol B+
Dr Organic Hand Wash A no 0% Cocamidopropyl Betaine - B+
Love Beauty and Planet Liquid Hand Wash
(Unilever)
A- 100% sustainable Cocamide DEA Benzyl Salicylate, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate B+
Sonett Hand Soap B no organic - - B+
L'Arbre Vert Hand Washing Cream A no RSPO SLES - B
Natessance
(Léa Nature)
A+ no minimal and sustainable Cocamidopropyl Betaine Benzyl alcohol B
Faith in Nature Hand Wash B 100% not RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine - B-
Urtekram Hand Wash B no not RSPO - - B-
Ecoleaf Liquid Hand Soap
Suma
B 100% RSPO BIT, SLES - C+
Method Hand Wash (all types)
S.C. Johnson & Son
A 100% not RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine CMIT, MIT C
Palmolive Aquarium
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium C12-13 Pareth Sulfate, SLES - D+
Carex Hand Wash
(PZ Cussons)
B 30% not
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Laureth-4, SLES Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate D
Dove Cream Hand Wash
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Alpha-isomethyl ionone, Benzyl alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Lilial D
Pears Liquid Hand Wash
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Benzophenone-4, Benzyl Salicylate D
Baylis & Harding Liquid Hand Wash (most types)
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no not
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES - D-
Fa Liquid Hand Soap
(Henkel)
C no partly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Benzophenone-4, Benzyl Alcohol D-
Le Chat Liquid Hand Wash
(Henkel)
C no partly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Laureth-4, SLES Benzyl Alcohol D-
Palmolive Milk & Almond
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Lilial D-
Palmolive Milk & Honey
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Laureth-4, SLES Benzyl Salicylate D-
Palmolive Hygiene Plus
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Laureth-4, Sodium C12-13 Pareth Sulfate, SLES Benzyl Salicylate, Lilial D-
Palmolive Hygiene Plus Family
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Benzyl Salicylate, Lilial, Cocamide MEA D-
Baylis & Harding Liquid Hand Wash (English Lavender)
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no not
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Laureth-4, SLES - E+
Dettol Liquid Hand Wash
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some
RSPO
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, SLES Cocamide MEA, CMIT, MIT E+
Modere Hand Wash D- no not RSPO Benzyl Benzoate Benzyl Benzoate E

Ecological ratings of body washes

Best value A or B-rated body washes

Avril 500ml

L'Arbre Vert 250ml

SANTE 950ml

Product Brand Ethos Recycled bottle Palm oil Aquatoxic substances Health hazard RATING
Caudalie Shower Gel (all types) A+ 100% RSPO - - A+
Conscious Skincare (most types) A 100% 0% - - A+
Dr Bronner's Organic Sugar Soap A+ mostly organic - - A+
Neal's Yard Remedies Shower Gel (most types) A+ mostly 0% - - A+
Odylique Body Wash (all types)
(Essential Care)
A+ 100% 0% - - A+
SANTE Shower Gel (all types) A+ 100% minimal and RSPO - - A+
Alter/native Body Wash (all types)
Suma
B 100% RSPO - - A
Conscious Skincare Body Wash for Men A 100% 0% - Phenoxyethanol A
Green People (Daily Aloe, Scent-free) A+ no, but carbon neutral organic Cocamidopropyl Betaine - A
Neal's Yard Remedies Shower Gel (Bee Lovely, Geranium & Orange, Rose & Geranium, Rosemary & Elderflower) A+ mostly 0% Cocamidopropyl Betaine - A
Coslys Shower Gel Sensitive Skin B 100% RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine - A-
Green People (For Men, Moisturising, Quinoa & Calendula) A+ no, but carbon neutral organic Cocamidopropyl Betaine Benzyl alcohol A-
Love Beauty and Planet (all types)
(Unilever)
A- 100% sustainable Cocamidopropyl Betaine - A-
Weleda Body Wash (all types) A+ no RSPO - - A-
Attitude Shower Gel (all types) A no, but
carbon neutral
not RSPO - - B+
Bentley Organics Bodywash B no no, but sustainable - - B+
Dr Organic Cocoa Butter Body Wash A no RSPO - Benzyl alcohol B+
Faith in Nature Body Wash (most types) B 100% not RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine - B+
Garnier Ultra Doux (Oat & Almond)
(L'Oréal)
B 30% mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES - B+
Natessance Shower Gel & Shower Cream
(Léa Nature)
A+ no minimal and sustainable Cocamidopropyl Betaine Benzyl Salicylate B+
Bentley Organics Shower Gel B no no, but sustainable Cocamidopropyl Betaine - B
Coslys Shower Gel (most types) B 100% RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine Benzyl alcohol B
L'Arbre Vert Shower Cream (all types) A no RSPO SLES - B
Avril Shower Gel (all types) B no RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine Benzyl alcohol B-
Dr Organic Body Wash (most types) A no RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine Benzyl alcohol B-
Garnier Ultra Doux (most types)
(L'Oréal)
B 30% mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Benzyl alcohol, (Benzyl Salicylate) B-
Urtekram Shower Gel B no not RSPO - - B-
Tahiti Monoi Oil Shower Gel
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium C12-13 Pareth Sulfate, SLES - C+
Cattier-Paris Shower Gel B+ no organic Cocoamidopropyl betaine Benzyl Alcohol C+
Method Body Wash (all types)
S.C. Johnson & Son
A 100% not RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine Phenoxyethanol C+
Nivea Fresh Blends
(Unilever)
C 100% partly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Laureth-4, SLS, Trideceth-9 Phenoxyethanol C+
Sanex Atopiderm
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES - C+
Sanex Zero %
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine - C+
Sanex Dermo Sensitive
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES - C+
Faith in Nature (Coconut) B 100% not RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine, Laureth-4 Benzyl alcohol C
Nivea Fresh Pure
(Unilever)
C no partly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLS - C
Tahiti Vanilla Shower Gel
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Laureth-4, Sodium C12-13 Pareth Sulfate, SLES - C
Ushuaïa Shower Gel
(L'Oréal)
B no not RSPO Coco-betaine, SLES - C
Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash
(Johnson & Johnson)
C no some
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES - D
Cadum Shower Gel
(L'Oréal)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Alpha-isomethyl ionone, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Lilial D
Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine Alpha-isomethyl ionone, Benzyl alcohol D
Fa Pure Paradise
(Henkel)
C no partly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLS/td> Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate D
Modere Shower gel D- no not RSPO - Phenoxyethanol D
Dove Sensitive Skin Sulfate-Free Body Wash
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine DMDM Hydantoin, MIT D-
Le Petit Marseillais (most types)
S.C. Johnson & Son
C no some
RSPO
Cocoamidopropyl betaine, SLES - D
Neutrogena Rain Shower Gel Ocean Mist
(Johnson & Johnson)
C no some
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES - D-
Nivea Crème Care
(Unilever)
C no partly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLS Alpha-isomethyl ionone, Benzyl alcohol D-
Olay Body Wash
(Procter & Gamble)
C no partly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine Petrolatum, CMIT, MIT D-
Old Spice Body Wash
(Procter & Gamble)
C no partly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES CMIT, MIT D-
Tahiti Coconut Shower Gel
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Laureth-4, Sodium C12-13 Pareth Sulfate, SLES Benzyl salicylate, Lilial D-
Tahiti Orchid Shower Gel
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Laureth-4, Sodium C12-13 Pareth Sulfate, SLES Benzyl salicylate, Lilial D-

Ecological ratings of shampoos

Best value A or B-rated shampoos

Coslys 5L bottle

Timotei Pure 300ml

SANTE 950ml

Product Brand Ethos Recycled bottle Palm oil Aquatoxic substances Health hazard RATING
Dr Bronner's Organic Hair Crème A+ mostly 0% - - A+
Neal's Yard Remedies Shampoo (Invigorating Seaweed, Nourishing Lavender) A+ mostly 0% - - A+
Odylique Herb Shampoo
(Essential Care)
A+ 100% 0% - - A+
SANTE (all types) A+ 100% minimal and RSPO - - A+
Conscious Skincare (all types) A 100% 0% - Phenoxyethanol A
Coslys Hypoallergenic Shampoo B 100% RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine - A-
Neal's Yard Remedies Shampoo (Nurturing Rose, Orange Flower, Rejuvenating Geranium) A+ mostly 0% Cocamidopropyl Betaine - A
Alter/native
Suma
B 100% RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine - A-
Love Beauty and Planet (all types)
(Unilever)
A- 100% sustainable Cocamidopropyl Betaine - A-
Timotei Pure
(Unilever)
B 100% mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLS - A-
Weleda (all types) A+ no RSPO - - A-
Attitude (all types) A no, but
carbon neutral
not RSPO - - B+
Bentley Organics (all types) B no no, but sustainable - - B+
Cattier-Paris (colour; fine hair volume) B+ no organic - - B+
Dr Organic Tea Tree Shampoo A no RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine - B+
Dr Organic Cocoa Butter Shampoo A no RSPO - Benzyl alcohol B+
Caudalie Gentle Conditioning Shampoo A+ 100% RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Dimethicone Lilial B
Biolage ColorLast Purple Shampoo A 95% sustainable Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Benzyl Alcohol B
Green People (all types) A+ no, but carbon neutral organic Cocamidopropyl Betaine Benzyl alcohol B
L'Arbre Vert (all types) A no RSPO SLES - B
Natessance
(Léa Nature)
A+ no minimal and sustainable Cocamidopropyl Betaine Benzyl Salicylate B
Avril (all types) B no RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine Benzyl alcohol B-
Biolage FiberStrong Shampoo A 95% sustainable Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, CMIT, MIT B-
Biolage HydraSource Shampoo A 95% sustainable Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Benzyl Alcohol, Lilial B-
Biolage KeratinDose Shampoo A 95% sustainable Cocamidopropyl Betaine Benzyl Alcohol, Lilial B-
Cattier-Paris (daily use; dry hair; oily scalp) B+ no organic Cocamidopropyl Betaine - B-
Coslys (most types) B 100% RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine Benzyl alcohol B-
DOP 2-in-1 Shea Butter Shampoo
(L'Oréal)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES - B-
Dr Organic Aloe Vera Shampoo A no RSPO - Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate B-
Faith in Nature (all types) B 100% not RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine Benzyl alcohol B-
Garnier Ultimate Blends (Almond Milk)
(L'Oréal)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES - B-
Head & Shoulders (Derma & Pure formula - EU)
(Procter & Gamble)
C 25% partly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Dimethicone, SLES - B-
Urtekram (all types) B no not RSPO - - B-
Alberto Balsam Tea Tree
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Benzophenone-4 C+
Dr Organic Calendula Shampoo A no RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine Benzyl alcohol C+
Dr Organic Manuka Honey A no RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate C+
Dr Organic Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo A no RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate C+
Garnier Fructis
(L'Oréal)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Benzyl Alcohol C
Garnier Ultimate Blends (Honey; Oat Milk; Coconut Milk; Coconut Oil)
(L'Oréal)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate C
Alberto Balsam Coconut & Lychee
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Benzyl alcohol C
Garnier Ultimate Blends (Argan Oil)
(L'Oréal)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Benzyl Salicylate, Lilial C
DOP Green Apple Shampoo
(L'Oréal)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Benzyl alcohol, Benzyl salicylate, Lilial C-
DOP Vegetal Milk Shampoo
(L'Oréal)
B no mostly
RSPO
Alpha-isomethyl ionone, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Alpha-isomethyl ionone C-
L'Oréal Elvive Total Repair
(L'Oréal)
B no mostly
RSPO
Dimethicone, SLES Alpha-isomethyl ionone, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate C-
L'Oréal Elvive Colour Protect
(L'Oréal)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Dimethicone, SLES Alpha-isomethyl ionone, Benzophenone-4, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Lilial C-
Alberto Balsam Raspberry
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Alpha-isomethyl ionone, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Benzoate, Lilial C-
Biocura
(Royal Sanders)
C no RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Laureth-4, SLES Benzyl Salicylate D
Mildeen
(McBride)
C no RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Bronopol, Methylchlorothiazolinone, MIT D
TRESemmé Shampoo (most types)
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Cocamide MEA, DMDM Hydantoin, Methylchlorothiazolinone, MIT D
Dessange Nutri-Extreme Shampoo B no not RSPO SLES Benzyl alcohol, Benzyl salicylate, Lilial D-
Dove Intensive Repair Shampoo
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Laureth-4, SLES Benzyl alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Lilial D-
Dove Daily Care Shampoo
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Laureth-4, SLES Benzyl alcohol, Lilial, DMDM Hydantoin, Methylchlorothiazolinone, MIT D-
Herbal Essences Bio. Renew
(Procter & Gamble)
C no partly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Benzyl Alcohol, CMIT, MIT D-
Herbal Essences
(Procter & Gamble)
C no partly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Cocamide MEA, CMIT, MIT D-
Head & Shoulders (US formula)
(Procter & Gamble)
C no partly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES, Zinc Carbonate Cocamide MEA, CMIT, MIT E+
Modere Shampoo D- no not RSPO Cocamidopropyl betaine Phenoxyethanol E+
Pantene Shampoo (most types)
(Procter & Gamble)
C no partly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, SLES Cocamide MEA, CMIT, MIT E+
Alberto Balsam Mango
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Dimethicone, SLES, Trideceth-9 Benzyl alcohol, Lilial, DMDM Hydantoin, CMIT, MIT E

Ecological ratings of toothpaste brands

A+ : Most sustainable and eco-friendly brands

  • Coslys
  • Dr Bronner
  • Green People
  • Kingfisher (by Austin Austin)
  • SANTE
  • Weleda

A & A- : Generally very eco-friendly brands

  • AloeDent (by Optima)
  • Avril
  • Dr Organic
  • Splat (Biomed)

B : Reasonably eco-friendly brands

  • Cattier
  • Colgate
  • Sensodyne
  • Signal
  • Urtekram

C : Below average brands

  • Oral-B

D : Avoid if possible

E : Avoid

F : Avoid absolutely



In the same report


Choosing healthy and eco-friendly personal care and home care products

Ecological rating of laundry detergents

Ecological rating of home cleaning products

Ecological rating of washing-up liquids and dishwasher tablets


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