Herbal Essences markets itself as an herbal haircare line, but this can be misleading if you don't read product labels. While it does contain some herbal or natural ingredients, it also contains ingredients standard to many other hair care brands. While Herbal Essences is not appropriate for anyone looking for an all-natural shampoo, it is comparable to many other mainstream products.
The first five or six ingredients on a label are typically the most active ingredients or the ones that make up the largest percentage of the product. Herbal Essences shampoo lists water as the first ingredient for all of its shampoos. Sodium chloride, or table salt, is another natural ingredient in Herbal Essences. Each type of Herbal Essences shampoo varies in herbal or natural ingredients and each blend contains a certain flower, fruit or herb extract. These extracts largely determine the scent of the product as well as the hair type it is formulated for.
Lathering and Antistatic Agents
Most supermarket shampoos contain a lathering agent called sodium lauryl sulfate or its relative, sodium laureth sulfate. The luxurious lather that accompanies washing with these shampoos is due to these ingredients. According to the Natural Health Information Centre, these lathering agents may be harsh, as opposed to nourising, for the hair or scalp. Antistatic agents, which prevent fly-aways and static, are also used in most drugstore shampoos. Herbal Essences contain cocamidopropyl betaine or stearamidopropyl dimethylamine. According to Sci-Toys, these ingredients add thickness to the shampoo and also help to cleanse oils from the hair.
Citric Acid and Sodium Citrate
Herbal Essences shampoo contains citric acid, a natural ingredient that is often found in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons. Citric acid balances the pH of the shampoo to about 5.5. Most shampoos, including Herbal Essences, are kept at a slightly acidic pH level because hair lies smoother and appears shinier when it is slightly acidic. Citric acid also acts as a preservative by preventing bacterial growth inside the shampoo bottle. Sodium citrate, which is also an Herbal Essences ingredient, achieves the same result as citric acid.