Hair Food Review: Is Plant-Based Shampoo Better?

Hair Food Review: Is Plant-Based Shampoo Better?


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Hair Food is a shampoo brand made from natural ingredients. The brand uses exotic ingredients like “avocado and argan oil,” and claims that “what you put on your hair is as important as what you eat.”

But does Hair Food contain research-backed ingredients for improving hair quality, or are these just marketing claims? Does it contain any unhealthy additive ingredients? What retailer has it for the best price? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of Hair Food shampoo?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze the ingredients in Hair Food based on medical studies to give our take on whether the shampoo is likely to improve hair quality and even promote hair growth, or if it’s a waste of money.

We’ll also document which retailer has it for the best price and share Hair Food customer reviews.

Ingredient Analysis

Hair Food ingredients

The ingredients in Hair Food Coconut Milk & Nourishing Chai Spice are shown above. The product does have coconut, but doesn’t appear to have any chai.

Coconut fruit extract is a strange ingredient choice in our opinion, given that coconut oil is so well-studied and effective for hair quality. A medical review published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that coconut oil prevented hair damage. We’re unsure why the brand would choose an extract which may not have the same benefits.

Panthenol is clinically shown to hydrate the skin as we documented in our review of Prose hair products, so it may be effective for scalp health. 

Salicylic acid is an effective exfoliator and was shown to have anti-dandruff properties in a clinical trial.

Glycerin was found to have a hair conditioning effect in a 2019 medical review.

Clearly Hair Food shampoo has some potentially effective ingredients, but it also has several ingredients that health-conscious consumers may wish to avoid.

Fragrance was analyzed in a 2016 meta-review, and the study authors concluded the following: “Results of this study provide compelling evidence that everyday fragranced products can impose serious risks to human health.”

Sodium benzoate and phenoxyethanol are synthetic preservatives, the latter of which was shown in a 2020 clinical trial to be toxic to human cells.

There are some questionable additives in this shampoo, but are any Hair Food shampoos free of such additives? We’ll answer in the next section.

Which Hair Food Shampoo is Best?

We reviewed the ingredients in all seven Hair Food shampoos.

Unfortunately all of them contain fragrance, but Hair Food Tea Tree Oil and Lavender Water Purifying Shampoo is free of phenoxyethanol. It does contain the other preservative sodium benzoate but we believe this is a healthier preservative choice based on toxicity studies.

This shampoo also contains tea tree leaf oil, which was shown in a clinical trial published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology to be highly effective against dandruff. Trial participants in the tea tree shampoo group experienced a 41% improvement in measures of scaliness, itchiness and greasiness.

We want to be clear that we do not currently recommend any Hair Food products, but for consumers intent on purchasing from the brand, this is the product we think is the best option.

Real People Try Hair Food

A YouTube creator named “faceovermatter” reviewed Hair Food including a live product demonstration:

A TikTok user named “livingmygreatlife2” claims that Hair Food is a great option for natural hair:

@livingmygreatlife2 Today, I’m reviewing some new hair products. You will definitely want to grab these #naturalhairtiktok #hairfoodshampoo #naturalhair #selfcare #naturalhairproductsthatwork ♬ original sound - Self Care Advocate

Where to Find Hair Food for the Best Price

Hair Food shampoo is sold on a wide variety of online retailers. Here’s a price breakdown for their tea tree shampoo at the time of publishing this article:

Target: Currently out-of-stock

Walmart: $12.43 (and smaller size)

Amazon: $11.99 (link to official Amazon listing)

The product is listed as $0.20 cheaper on Target but is not available for purchase at the time of writing this article. Consumers interested in this product may benefit from checking the price on Target to see if it’s available again.

Why Was Hair Food Sued?

In 2022, Hair Food was one of a number of brands facing a lawsuit due to contamination of one of their dry shampoo products.

According to ClassAction.org, benzene contamination was the consumer health risk that prompted the lawsuit, and benzene is a carcinogen, meaning it can cause cancer.

The FDA recall notice regarding this contamination reported the offending product to be Hair Food Coconut Dry Shampoo. Given that the product has already been recalled, there is no indication that this product will have similar issues moving forward, but it may be logical to be wary about all dry shampoos sold by this brand.

Procter & Gamble, the company that owns Hair Food, only allowed refunds for customers who had purchased six or more contaminated products according to the lawsuit.

Real Customers Review Hair Food

Amazon is a more objective resource for customer reviews than a brand’s website in our opinion. Hair Food’s most-reviewed shampoo on Amazon is their argan oil and avocado shampoo which has been reviewed over 6,000 times with an average review rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named “Bamb” who gives the product a 4-star rating and claims it’s helped with hair loss:

“Had to use this for awhile to see its effectiveness, but less hair falls out. I also take apple cider vinegar gummies every day so maybe combination of both is working to strengthen hair - which is a good thing.”

The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named “bigfatcat” who claims the shampoo is non-ideal for thick hair:

“I have thick, course hair, I almost never brush my hair before I take a shower. My hair is extremely tangled when I use this shampoo, and I get massive amount of fall out! This shampoo is not smooth at all, I HAD TO wash my hair 4x (FOUR TIMES), and it’s still not smooth! I noticed there was remaining shampoo left in the roots several times while I was blowing drying my hair.”

Our Clean Hair Care Picks

Ingreendients Daily Shampoo is our top shampoo pick.

It's formulated 100% from plants and contains research-backed active ingredients like acetic acid, derived from apple cider vinegar (ACV), which researchers suggest "can condition hair making it softer, silkier, shinier."

Happy Head Topical is our top premium hair growth solution.

This formulation uses FDA-approved hair loss ingredients like minoxidil which is clinically shown to increase hair count by 11%.

Momentous Zinc is our top value hair growth solution.

A 2022 medical review on the use of zinc in dermatology concluded that "This review has found evidence to support the use of zinc...in hair loss disorders."

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients we consider to be unhealthy.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

We do not recommend any Hair Food shampoos. All such products contain fragrance which may be harmful to human health, and also contain at least one synthetic preservative. The brand has also been sued due to contamination of one shampoo product with a carcinogen.

In 2022, Hair Food was sued due to benzene contamination in one of their dry shampoos.

For consumers intent on purchasing Hair Food, the tea tree shampoo is the healthiest pick in our opinion because it’s free of phenoxyethanol and tea tree can improve hair and scalp health.

Customer reviews of this brand are relatively positive, and for those intent on purchasing it, Amazon currently appears to be the most cost-effective way to do so.