Is Herbal Essences good or bad for your hair?

Today there are a lot of hair care products that include natural extracts in their formulations to appeal to more conscious consumers. Herbal Essences is one of such brands that centres around including botanicals in their shampoos and conditioners to help take care of various hair concerns.

However, are these claims always truthful? Are Herbel Essence products good for your hair? Or, do they cause hair loss? In this review, you will find out whether Herbal Essences products are good or bad for your hair.

Herbal Essences shampoos

Table of Contents

What are the ingredients in Herbal Essences shampoos?

Herbal Essence shampoos stand out, particularly because they are infused with plant extracts meant to nourish the hair better than regular shampoos.

However, the products are not considered as organic as they contain other ingredients that are synthetic in nature.

Below is a breakdown of the common ingredients found in Herbal Essences shampoos, their primary purposes, and any potential side effects to be aware of.

IngredientPurposePotential Side Effects
Surfactants (e.g., Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Lauramidopropyl Betaine, and Sodium Xylenesulfonate)Loosen dirt and oil particles on hair and scalp.Can be drying for the scalp, might cause irritations on sensitive scalps.
Antistatic Agents (e.g., Polyquaternium-10 and Polyquaternium-6)Prevent hair from flying away by reducing electrical charge.Generally safe, but always advisable to patch-test any new product.
Conditioning Agents (e.g., Trihydroxystearin and Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium)Soften and smoothen hair texture.Generally considered safe.
Botanical Extracts (e.g., Argan Oil, Coconut Oil, Aloe Vera juice, Sea Kelp Extract and Passionflower Extract)Nourish, soothe and condition the hair and scalp.Mostly safe, but some individuals might have allergies to specific botanicals.
Preservatives (e.g., Sodium Benzoate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, and Sodium Salicylate)Prevent bacterial growth in products.Some can cause allergic reactions or irritations.
Fragrances – Synthetic & Natural (e.g., Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool and Coumarin)Provide a pleasant scent to the product.Known allergens; can cause skin irritations in some individuals.

Are Herbal Essences Shampoos bad for your hair?

Herbal Essences, as a brand, produces shampoos that are generally not harmful to hair. However, certain ingredients in some products might not be suitable for everyone, especially those with sensitive scalps or specific hair types.

While many users praise the brand, some reviews indicate that certain products can cause dryness to the hair and scalp.

Potentially harmful ingredients in Herbal Essences Shampoos

While Herbal Essences prioritizes product safety and ingredient toxicity assessments, it’s crucial for consumers to be aware of certain ingredients that might cause adverse reactions. This is particularly the case for individuals with sensitive hair and scalp, curly hair, or dry hair.

So, before you grab your next bottle here is what you should look out for:

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate & Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: These surfactants can be harsh on the skin. They strip away essential lipids, potentially leading to scalp dryness and hair breakage over time.
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MIT): In 2013, MIT was named “Allergen of the Year” by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. Initially used as a paraben replacement, its harmful effects led to tightened European regulations, resulting in a ban from non-rinse products since February 2017. While MIT is a common preservative, it’s also known to cause allergic reactions and may have neurotoxic effects.
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCIT): Often used alongside MIT, MCIT is a potent allergen. The combination of MCIT and MIT has been prohibited in leave-on products in Europe since April 2016. Even for rinse-off products, it’s advisable to avoid this allergen.
  • Fragrances: Herbal Essences products are known for their exotic fragrant blends. However, certain fragrances, like Coumarin, Linalool, Hexyl Cinnamal, and Limonene, are considered skin irritants by the European Commission Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety.

What about ingredients in other Herbal Essences products?

Herbal Essences offers a diverse range of hair care products, from conditioners to hair oils, masks, and styling products. These products, like their shampoos, combine botanical extracts with synthetic ingredients. Here’s a quick breakdown of the common ingredients you’ll find:

  • Solvents (e.g., Water, Isododecane, Isopropyl Alcohol): Used to dissolve other ingredients.
  • Conditioning Agents (e.g., Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine): Soften and smoothen hair.
  • Botanical Extracts (e.g., Natural oils, Aloe Vera juice): Nourish and condition hair.
  • Surfactants/Emulsifiers (e.g., Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetyl Alcohol): Stabilize products and provide hair conditioning.
  • Fragrance: All Herbal Essences products contain ingredients that give them their signature scents.
  • Preservatives (e.g., Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, DMDM Hydantoin, Cetrimonium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate): Extend product shelf life by preventing bacterial growth.
  • Silicones (e.g., Bis-aminopropyl Dimethicone): Enhance hair shine by creating a protective layer on strands.

Is Herbal Essence conditioner good for your hair?

Herbal Essences conditioners overall are not bad for the hair. The brand has a wide range of conditioners and deep conditioners which they claim can revitalize the hair.

The brand offers various formulas for various hair needs which include repair, hydration, deep moisture, daily cleansing, frizz control, hair detox, and purification, hair volume-boosting, curl definition, hair strengthening, scalp balance, and so much more. 

The brand’s conditioners are also infused with natural extracts, however, Herbal Essences conditioners do contain certain ingredients that may call for concern.


Although silicones help soften the hair and make detangling easier, they tend to be too heavy for hair strands leading to breakage. Also, silicones may cause build-up on the hair and scalp and are difficult to rinse off.

Herbal Essences conditioners contain Bis-aminopropyl Dimethicone, a modified silicone which, although is not as heavy as regular silicones, is as difficult to wash out and can cause build-up as it is only semi-water soluble.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone/ Methylisothiazolinone

Methylchloroisothiazolinone/ Methylisothiazolinone are two preservatives commonly used in Herbal Essences conditioners. These two preservatives, however, can have a corrosive effect on the skin (scalp) and eyes. 


Herbal Essences conditioners contain fragrances that can be irritating for people with sensitive scalps. 

The Herbal Essence Lawsuit Explained

You might be wondering, “If Herbal Essence products are so popular and seemingly effective, why are they facing a lawsuit?” The central concern of this legal challenge revolves around the brand’s advertising claims, particularly for the Herbal Essences Bio: Renew Vanilla Honey & Vitamin B Shampoo.

While Herbal Essence markets this shampoo as rich in natural plant extracts, some critics argue that the product doesn’t fully live up to these claims. The products also feature a seal from the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, suggesting botanical authenticity. However, allegations have emerged that Herbal Essences made undisclosed payments to obtain this prestigious endorsement, leading to claims of misrepresentation.

And then there’s the name, “ Bio: Renew.” It suggests to consumers, a natural or organic product, yet, a detailed look reveals a heavier reliance on synthetic ingredients than on natural botanicals.

It’s also worth noting that in 2018, Herbal Essence faced a similar legal challenge. Consumers led a class action against the brand, citing negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and breach of warranty related to the sales of the Herbal Essence Wild Naturals product line. As the brand continues to garner attention in the market, it’s crucial for consumers to stay informed about these past and present concerns.


Does Herbal Essence cause hair loss?

No, Herbal Essences products do not cause hair loss. However, repeated trauma to your hair and scalp could lead to hair loss.

For example, if your hair is sensitive to sulfate-based shampoos and conditioners, it is preferable to stick to the Herbal Essences sulfate-free product line. Sulfates cause dryness and itchy scalp which in the long run could lead to hair breakage.

Does Herbal Essence have DMDM hydantoin?

Certain products like Herbal Essences mousses and hair sprays do contain DMDM hydantoin. This preservative is known to be a formaldehyde-releaser, a substance susceptible to causing cancer. 

Does Herbal Essence have sulfates?

Yes, Herbal Essences Shampoos contain sulfates such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth sulfate. These sulfate-based cleansers can have a drying effect on the scalp and may cause irritations on sensitive scalps.

However, the brand also proposes a sulfate-free product line suitable for dry and sensitive hair and scalps.

Does Herbal Essence have silicone?

Herbal Essence products do contain silicones. Silicones are great conditioning agents for soft and smooth hair. They make detangling easy and also form a protective film around hair strands.

However, on the downside, they are difficult to wash off and build up over time. This build-up prevents hair follicles from getting hydrated and results in dry hair over time.

Does Herbal Essence have formaldehyde?

Herbal Essence shampoos and conditioners do not contain formaldehyde. However, the Herbal Essence mousse contains DMDM Hydantoin, a preservative known to be a formaldehyde releaser.

Is Herbal Essence good for colored hair?

Herbal Essence Shampoos and Conditioners are formulated to be colour-safe. They contribute to keeping the hair shiny and hair colour vibrant.

Is Herbal Essence good for natural hair?

Herbal Essence is good, especially for naturally curly and straight hair. The brand also caters to oily hair types as well as dry and damaged hair, fine/flat hair, and coloured hair.

Is Herbal Essences good or bad for your hair?

So, are Herbal Essences products good for your hair? Although Herbal Essences Shampoos and conditioners are generally safe for your hair, they may contain some potentially harmful ingredients that could be bad for your hair. 

The Herbal Essences shampoos are made with sulfate-based cleansers like Sodium Laureth Sulfate that are too stripping and drying for the scalp and may cause an itchy scalp. However, the brand also has a sulfate-free range suitable for sensitive or conscious consumers.

Herbal Essences products, in general, contain preservatives, silicones, and fragrance ingredients that in the long run may be bad for your hair. Especially for people with already dry or curly hair as silicones may be too heavy for their hair to handle causing build-up and further dryness.

Silicone is bad news for curly hair because this hair type tends to dry out faster than others.

Other ingredients like preservatives and fragrance ingredients may cause allergic reactions.

Nevertheless, most consumer reviews are positive when it comes to Herbal Essences shampoos and conditioners. Although the brand does not produce 100% natural products, they do include in each of the products some nourishing botanical plant extracts that are beneficial to the hair.

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Petra Nakashian (previously Kravos) is a dedicated natural health and beauty blogger, driven by the loss of her parents to cancer, which led her to meticulously research beauty product ingredients. With over 10 years of experience, her in-depth knowledge has made her a trusted expert in the field. Founder of Be Healthy Now and Green Beauty Talk, Petra recently expanded her expertise with Beauty Insights Hub, exploring a wider range of beauty treatments. Committed to transparency and honesty, her work is a vital resource for navigating the complex world of beauty.