Luscious locks: Your guide to vegan and cruelty-free haircare

Author: Sara Colohan

Read Time:   |  2nd July 2018

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Treat yourself to the best vegan haircare that doesn’t mistreat animals in the making. Sara Colohan is your guide...


As all vegans know, animal-derived parts and ingredients can be found in all kinds of places you would never think to look. Along with toothpaste, perfume and fabric softener, there are many hair products including shampoos and conditioners that are not vegan.

According to PETA’s list of chemicals that contain animal products, there are over 20 potential animal-derived chemicals that can be found in your shampoo or conditioner.

Unfortunately, many of those chemicals can be derived from either plants or animals, making it difficult to determine exactly what you are buying. Keratin, for example, is a newer trend on the hair-care front.

This chemical can be derived from hooves, animal hair, horns, scales and other keratinized animal parts.

Your safest bet when shopping for shampoo and conditioner is to choose cruelty-free products. We’ve taken a look at what shampoos and conditioners are available both on the high street and online that you can rely on as animal-friendly.

What to buy


Maybe as well as going vegan, you are determined to cut back on your plastic waste? Lush offer highly-concentrated solid shampoo bars, packed with powerful natural ingredients and essential oils, and claim they do the job of three 250g (9oz) bottles of liquid shampoo without a bit of plastic in sight.

vegan hair-care

Small, but perfectly formed, these bars could be the answer to your zero waste prayers. They are ideal for travelling too. The long-lasting, light little bundles are concentrated, so no need to get mini bottles out at airport security! Lush claim a single bar could last 80 washes, but of course you don’t need to be on holiday to test that theory out!

Lush tell us “You create a smaller carbon footprint when washing with these compact shampoo bars; one lorry full of solid shampoo bars holds roughly the same number of washes as 15 lorries filled with liquid shampoo!”

OrganicHead by Daniel Galvin Jr

OH! is a range by organic hair pioneer, Daniel Galvin Jr. “A concern over animal welfare, health and the environment has prompted the shift, which is having a knock-on effect within the beauty industry too, with sales of organic and vegan products on the rise.”

Rich in hair-healthy essential oils, including aloe vera, orange oil, argan oil and wheat proteins, the OH! collection includes everyday shampoos and conditioners for blondes, brunettes and over-processed hair. It has been tried-and-tested by Daniel’s A-list clients at his Belgravia salon, including Kelly Brook and Amanda Holden.

vegan hair-care

Clients claim that OrganicHead hair-care products increased colour longevity for up to 25% longer. Free from parabens, sodium lauryl sulfates, mineral oils and animal ingredients, it’s the only salon professional and organic brand registered with The Vegan Society.

Available to buy (from £7) from,

COCO-LICIOUS by Phil Smith

The winner of a plethora of awards, Phil Smith’s (formally with Toni and Guy) latest achievement is the launch of his signature award-winning, cruelty-free hair care line, available exclusively to Sainsbury’s nationwide.

The Be Gorgeous hair-care range has succeeded in partnering with Cruelty Free International, the global organisation dedicated to ending animal testing for personal care and other consumer products worldwide.

vegan hair-care

CFI also certifies companies under the ‘Leaping Bunny’ programme, giving consumers piece of mind that products associated with this logo comply with the most rigorous international cruelty-free standards. Phil Smith Be Gorgeous is one of very few high street hair-care brands to be awarded with the Leaping Bunny recognition.

Be Gorgeous costs from £3.50/350ml, exclusive to Sainsbury’s stores


Going to a vegan salon

Finding cruelty free hair-care products like shampoos, conditioners, masques and shine sprays can be tricky. It may sound obvious to suggest simply calling ahead and asking your salon which brands they use, and asking if they are cruelty-free and free from animal derivatives.

Just questioning the salon about vegan options may cause them to rethink their product line and encourage more cruelty-free ranges in our salons.

Karine Jackson

Karine Jackson salon in the West End is offering deluxe high-end vegan services, meaning vegans can enjoy high-end hairdressing with everything from the colour and products to the cookies and drinks (almond milk is available for tea and coffee).

Karine is a former London Hairdresser of the Year and excels at colour, whether it’s an ice-white blonde, a lived-in balayage, a bright pink or a denim blue.

vegan hair-care

With stunning vegan stars including Natalie Portman, Kate and Rooney Mara, Jessica Chastain, Ellen Page, Ariana Grande, Ellie Goulding, Lea Michele and Alicia Silverstone, there’s a growing demand for salons using animal-free products.

This salon uses vegan-friendly brands Organic Colour Systems and Unite.

The Rabbit Hole

This vegan hair parlour salon in Shepherd’s Bush is London’s first vegan salon. They have discovered a vegan hair follicle strengthening system called Rep-Hair by Organic Colour Systems, which they’re super excited about, as similar products contain fish oil/gelatine or have been tested on animals.

“As a 100% vegan salon we carefully hand pick all the goods we use here. They need to be the best performing professional products as well as vegan. If I had to pick one that I use all the time – including my clients’ and my own hair – it would be the Argan Oil Gloss by OCS.”

vegan hair-care

Organic Colour Systems display the PETA Cruelty-Free and vegan logos and also sponsor Greenpeace. As an added bonus, Organic Colour Systems uses the lowest possible amount of PPD (the ingredient that makes hair colour permanent, necessary to cover greys, but also most associated with allergic reactions) and is free from ammonia.

The products are made in Hampshire, so boast a low carbon footprint, and the company refuses to trade with countries or businesses that insist on or endorse animal testing. 

Emma Hall Hair

Edinburgh has its first cruelty-free and organic hair studio! Owner Emma Hall told us she became passionate about fighting animal testing and cruelty around 2001.

“As a hairdresser I realised back then nobody really spoke about the ingredients in hair colour, whether or not it was tested on animals and whether the ingredients came from animals. I certainly hadn’t been told any of this in any training I received.

“When I opened my own salon in 2006 I decided to source only the best in natural ingredients, and am passionate about keeping everything in the salon cruelty-free and vegan. We try to also be as eco friendly and as organic as possible.

“All of our product companies share the same ethos, and we strive to bring the best in cruelty free and natural hairdressing to our lovely clients.”

vegan hair-care

Appointments can be made with Emma Hall Hair Design, phone 0131 557 4888 or you can book via their website.


What brush? 

While we know that certain foods, makeups, and medicines contain animal products, it isn’t as intuitive to check beauty tools for sneaky non-vegan ingredients.

We often overlook scanning our hair brushes, which are sometimes made with boar bristle (said to reduce frizz and spread sebum and oils throughout the hair).

vegan hair-care

Many brushes use bristle from shorn farm-raised boars and, though the animals aren’t killed for their bristles, there are often questions about their welfare and treatment. Synthetic brushes made with nylon bristles can keep hair just as shiny, soft and healthy, without having to take anything from animals.

It comes down to choosing the right brush for the style you need to minimize any breakage or frizz. Ecotools, Aveda and Body Shop all offer cruelty-free options.

What dye?

As for dyeing your hair, sadly, most hair dyes aren’t vegan – they’ll either have animal products in or will have been tested on animals. According to PETA, Paul Mitchell and Aveda salons offer vegan hair dyes and, of course, there’s always Lush Henna Hair Dye.

vegan hair-care

You can choose from a range of colours in Lush’s henna line. All are an amazingly effective alternative to synthetic (often damaging) dyes. The key ingredients include fair trade cocoa butter, Irish moss powder, clove bud oil and, of course, red henna.

Going greener

If you’re having trouble tracking down a vegan-friendly hairdressing salon, then Greener Beauty is a new service that can help.

Using, you can find your closest vegan-friendly hairdressers, beauty room, makeup artists, holistic therapist, spiritual therapist or tattoo studio, and easily find out information about the salon, including whether they use products containing chemicals such as parabens, sodium laurel sulphate (SLS) or any other nasties.

Greener Beauty also believe in greener organic products free of nasty chemicals and source a wide range of brands that fit this ethos, with products suitable for every budget in their online shop.

vegan hair-care

Victoria Wood, Director, says “Being able to easily find local vegan friendly salons is something that is really missing at the moment.

With veganism growing at such a huge rate this website will really help the community find salons that don’t contribute to animal testing by using products tested on animals.”

Written by

Sara Colohan

Sara is a freelance writer based in London with published features in Tatler magazine, The Times and The Independent newspapers and Sara loves discovering new and exciting options and products for anyone interested in a vegan lifestyle and owns the emerging vegan chocolate brand, London Maker.

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