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. Here is a list of the most common ingredients found in Herbal Essence shampoos:


These are chemical detergents that help loosen dirt and oil particles present on hair strands and the scalp. They include sodium lauryl sulfate, lauramidopropyl betaine, and Sodium Xylenesulfonate

Antistatic agents

These are chemicals used in hair products to prevent hair from flying away by reducing the build-up of electrical charge caused by friction. Common examples found in Herbal Essences shampoos include Polyquaternium-10 and Polyquaternium-6.

Conditioning agents

Herbal Essences shampoos are formulated with hair conditioning ingredients that help soften and smoothen hair texture. These include chemicals like Trihydroxystearin and Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium.

Botanical extracts

Herbal Essences shampoos contain botanical extracts that have nourishing properties for the hair. These include extracts like argan oil, coconut oil, aloe vera juice, sea kelp extract and passionflower extract. These have numerous properties ranging from conditioning, to soothing and moisturizing the hair and scalp to promote healthy hair growth.


Common preservatives used to prevent bacterial growth in Herbal Essence shampoos are sodium benzoate, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and sodium salicylate.

Preservatives help prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria in hair products that are likely to come in contact with water.


The Herbal Essence shampoos are made with a blend of both synthetic fragrance and natural fragrance ingredients. Some of which include Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool and Coumarin.

Are Herbal Essences Shampoos bad for your hair?

This brand in general does not produce shampoos that are proven to be bad for the hair. However, certain products do contain ingredients that may be harmful or which people may react to.

A quick peek at reviews in forums online revealed that although Herbal Essences is an all-around great brand, some of the products may cause the hair and scalp to dry out. 

Potentially harmful ingredients in Herbal Essences Shampoos

Herbal Essences is a haircare brand known to pay particular attention to product safety, ingredient toxicity assessments, and other precautionary measures when developing its products.

However, their products still contain a few ingredients that may cause adverse reactions in some people. 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

Surfactants like Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) tend to be very harsh on the skin reason why they are not recommended. SLS tends to be too stripping on the skin and gets rid of all the lipids necessary to maintain the skin barrier function.

Using shampoos that contain this cleansing agent will result in scalp dryness and hair breakage over time.

Sodium lauryl sulfate

Just like the previous surfactant, sodium lauryl sulfate is used as a cleansing ingredient in most Herbal Essence shampoos. Although less harsh than Sodium Laureth Sulfate, it has a moderate irritation potential to the skin, eyes, and lungs. For sensitive scalps, this might pose a problem.


This chemical is a widely used preservative in the personal care industry. However, it is known to cause allergic reactions and studies suggest this chemical may be neurotoxic to humans.


As it is commonly known, all fragrances and perfumes used in cosmetic products are a combination of several chemicals. Most of these fragrances are known to be potent allergens that cause mild to severe forms of reactions when in contact with the skin.

Herbal Essences products are known for their rather exotic fragrant blends, however, the downside to this is the risk of potential irritation or sensitization of the scalp over time.

Fragrances like Coumarin, Linalool, Hexyl Cinnamal, and Limonene are considered by the European Commission Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety as notable skin irritants.

What about ingredients in other Herbal Essences products?

Aside from shampoos, Herbal Essences also produces conditioners, hair oils, masks, and other hair styling products. And just like their shampoos, these products are made up of a blend of botanical extracts and synthetic ingredients. The most common ingredients found in Herbal Essences products include: 


Common solvents found in Herbal Essence products include water, isododecane, isopropyl alcohol

Conditioning agents

Conditioning agents are regularly used in hair care products to soften and smoothen the hair. The most commonly used in Herbal Essence products is Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine.

Botanical Extracts

Herbal Essence products contain botanical extracts such as natural oils and aloe vera juice.


Herbal Essences conditioners contain surfactants that also have hair conditioning properties as well as contribute to stabilizing the emulsified nature of the products. These include Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Cetyl Alcohol.


All Herbal Essences products contain fragrance ingredients that give them pleasing scents.


Herbal Essences products contain preservatives like Methylchloroisothiazolinone/ Methylisothiazolinone, DMDM Hydantoin, Cetrimonium Chloride, and  Sodium Benzoate to kill off bacteria and prolong the shelf life of the products.


Herbal Essences products are made with silicones that help create a protective film on hair strands and maintain their shine. An example is Bis-aminopropyl Dimethicone.

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. 

Why is Herbal Essence facing a lawsuit?

You might have heard of the pending lawsuit against Herbal Essence and may be wondering why they are facing one if their products are good. But it should be noted that this class action was filed against the brand for false advertising claims or misrepresentation. 

This lawsuit puts in question the representation of the Herbal Essences Bio: Renew Vanilla Honey & Vitamin B Shampoo. The plaintiffs alleged that Herbal Essences is purposely misleading its buyers to think that this product line is made of complete natural plant extracts that have not undergone any form of chemical processing.

This comes as a fact that the brand uses the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew seal on its products as a certification of the authenticity of its botanical extracts.  Thus, leading consumers to believe that Herbal Essences products are assessed and certified by this institution. 

However, the complaints revealed that Herbal Essences essentially made several payments to get this prestigious seal added to their label without making this information available to the public, therefore, the misrepresentation.

Also, the plaintiffs point out that the name of the product line itself “ Bio: Renew…” suggests to consumers, a natural or organic product when in fact, an analysis of this product line revealed a long list of synthetic ingredients used as the main ingredients as opposed to the ratio of botanicals present in the product.

This recent lawsuit follows a similar one in 2018 where consumers led a class action against the brand for negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and breach of the warranty in the sales of the Herbal Essence Wild Naturals product line.


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.