We all use shampoos but ….. do you know how a shampoo is made? and a natural herbal shampoo?


Cleaning the body and hair has ancient origins: already Pliny remembers how the Gauls used a substance called “sapo Gallicorum” for cleaning the body and hair. It is necessary to reach the 1930s to find on the market a product specifically dedicated to hair cleaning. Today, shampoos have undergone a remarkable evolution thanks to the development of cosmetic science in the second half of the twentieth century.

Shampoo: its components and their functions

All shampoos have one primary function: to clean the hair. To do this they must contain a cleaning agent. However, today shampoo is no longer the simple soap of the past but a complex set of different substances, which give the product not only cleansing but also pleasantness and ease of use. In fact, a good shampoo is not only made from the detergent base but also from additives or emulsifiers, responsible for particular actions: favoring the right viscosity of the compound, foam stabilizers, buffers (to adjust the pH), antistatic, sebum-reducing, keratolytic, superfatting agents ( for dry hair), humectants of the scalp, film-forming substances, etc.

In general, the composition of a shampoo can be summarized as follows:
  • surfactants: the primary surfactants (from 9 to 15%) which form the base of the shampoo and the secondary surfactants (from 0 to 5%) generally introduced in order to reduce aggression, improve the appearance and the amount of foam, improve the skin feeling. The most aggressive and cheapest surfactants are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES);
  • viscosity control agents (from 1 to 5%): they must reduce the fluidity of the product to obtain shampoos that can be easily collected in the palm of the hand. Among the viscosifying agents we recommend avoiding shampoos containing acrylates and PEGs (eg Propylen glycol, Butylen glycol, Polypropylene glycol);
  • foam stabilizers pH regulator (from 0 to 2%): they make the foam persist. In order to regulate the pH of the formulation, some acids are used, such as citric acid and lactic acid, often associated with their salts. The pH must be brought to the most physiological values ​​(5.5 ÷ 6.5);
  • preservatives (from 0.05 to 1%): they ensure a low level of microbiological contamination, as the shampoo is made up of a lot of water and is an excellent development medium for bacteria and molds. Preservatives in shampoos are usually the first suspects in case of irritation, dermatitis and allergies, so beware of the label! To avoid: formaldehyde removers, parabens, Triclosan and phthalates.
    fragrance (from 0.1 to 2%): it does not perform a real function, but is often the reason for the choice;
  • functional agents (from 0 to 1%): these are substances that give the shampoo other qualities beyond cleansing. Among these substances we remember opacifiers, anti-irritants, sunscreens, anti-dandruff agents, proteins (with the function of giving shine, of having an anti-irritating effect, and / or a conditioning activity), vitamins etc. .

Plant extracts in herbal shampoo

Often substances of vegetable origin are introduced in the shampoos with the aim of giving the product a beneficial effect and to remedy abnormal situations of the hair and scalp (anti-dandruff, anti-hair loss, etc.).
Considering that cleansers remain on the skin for a very short time, it is evident that they cannot perform an effect similar to that exerted by preparations such as lotions and nourishing serums. Here are the most used plants:

  • stimulating the scalp: yarrow, capsicum, coclearia, fenugreek, ginseng, horse chestnut, hops, nasturtium, rosemary, thyme;
  • rebalancing the sebaceous secretion: yarrow, burdock, ivy, lavender, nettle, walnut, rhatany, rosemary;
  • purifying: burdock, birch, rhatany, rosemary, sage;
  • soothing: chamomile, helichrysum, marshmallow, mallow, aloe.

Best Natural Shampoo: the characteristics to must have

A modern natural shampoo must be multifunctional and meet the following characteristics. First of all it should have a gentle cleansing effect and also ensure a good conditioning capacity of the hair, but it must also have a pleasant appearance and pleasant use.

A natural shampoo should also respect some principles:

  • it should be free of dangerous substances such as ethoxylates, nitrosamines, formaldehyde,
  • containing plant extracts and surfactants of plant origin and completely natural additives, with particular attention to preservatives.
  • Finally, the pH of the shampoo affects the characteristics of the hair; it must be between 4 and 6. In order to minimize eye aggression, a pH of 5.5 is recommended.
  • The use of natural conditioners allows you to obtain a product that improves combability and at the same time the resistance of the hair without being aggressive towards the skin and the hair itself.

There are several raw materials that make it possible to obtain a “natural” product: it is up to the skilled professional to choose the most suitable formulation for the purpose that his shampoo must have and for the result it must give on the hair.

Natural herbal shampoo: the advice of the herbalist technicians of Erboristeria Como

Among the Made in Italy organic shampoos selected for INCI and high quality Made in Italy by the herbal technicians of Erboristeria Como there are:

  • Phitofilos eco organic shampoos are made with the enzymatic bioliquefaction technique developed in collaboration with the University of Rome, to guarantee products that are as vegetable as possible, including surfactants;
  • the Domus Olea Undici organic shampoos: they are cosmeceutical and micellar, developed in collaboration with the University of Florence. We offer you all highly professional products with ingredients chosen and selected by us for your safety.


Among the cosmetic products, the category of hair cleaners is probably the one subject to the greatest competition among companies, with consequent placing on the market of a myriad of preparations that boast the most diverse effects. But one shampoo is not worth the other! the shampoo at the lowest price in the supermarket is often of a simpler and poorer formulation, therefore more aggressive. Furthermore, the natural at all costs, however, is not always a guarantee of safety. It will be necessary to focus on products with better characteristics and with a pH around 5.5 or such as that of the scalp and hair (5-6 or slightly acidic). Look at our proposals!

Dr. Laura Comollo

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The information contained in this site is presented for informational purposes only, in no case can they constitute the formulation of a diagnosis or the prescription of a treatment, and do not intend and must not in any way replace the direct doctor-patient relationship or the specialist visit. . It is recommended that you always seek the advice of your doctor and / or specialists regarding any indication reported.

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