Routine is a high-end shampoo brand that claims their formulation is “safe,” “simple” and “effective.” Their products are very expensive, and at a price point of around $25 per bottle we would expect a superior formulation.
But is Routine Shampoo and Conditioner really a better quality product than the average drugstore shampoo, or are these just marketing claims? Does Routine contain research-backed ingredients? Does it contain any questionable added ingredients? And how do real users rate and describe its effects on their hair quality?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze the ingredients in Routine Shampoo and Routine Conditioner based on medical studies to give our take on whether they're likely to improve hair quality, or if they're a waste of money.
We'll also feature unsponsored customer reviews.
Routine Shampoo Ingredient Analysis
The ingredients in Routine Shampoo are shown above.
There are a number of research-backed ingredients in this shampoo for improving hair quality.
Argan oil was shown in a clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology to reduce damage to hair follicles, and also may be effective for reducing breakage due to its hydrating nature.
Saw palmetto extract was found in a 2018 clinical trial to promote hair regeneration and helped repair damaged hair in mice. This compound appears to decrease inflammation of hair follicles.
Caffeine has been clinically shown to reduce hair loss in both men and women.
As we documented in our review Better Not Younger hair serum, topical caffeine use increases the duration of the anagen phase of the hair cycle, which is when hair follicles are generated and grow.
Coconut oil is one of the plant oils with the most clinically-proven benefit to the skin and scalp. A 2003 medical review reported that coconut oil has been shown to prevent hair damage “remarkably,” because it’s able to penetrate inside the hair shaft and reduce protein loss.
Aloe vera is another good choice for a shampoo formulation because this plant-based gel can help moisturize both skin and hair. Its ability to lock in moisture can prevent hair breakage.
Clearly, Routine Shampoo contains a number of research-backed ingredients. However, it also contains one ingredient that may be questionable from a health perspective.
Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative shown to be toxic to human cells in a 2020 clinical trial. This was a test tube study, which is a weaker standard of evidence than a trial with human participants, but we still believe this is worth noting to potential consumers.
There is only one ingredient list published for all four scents of Routine Shampoo, although there is an "unscented, fragrance-free version." This suggests that the other versions contain fragrance, although this is not included in the ingredient list.
We urge Routine to immediately clarify whether their scented formulations contain fragrance, because fragranced consumer products were described as posing a "serious risk" to human health in a 2016 medical review.
Overall, we consider Routine Shampoo likely to improve hair quality and from an effectiveness perspective, consider it one of the better shampoo formulations we've reviewed on Illuminate Health.
We don't currently recommend this shampoo due to the inclusion of phenoxyethanol and our concerns over the fragrance ingredient disclosure.
Before analyzing the ingredients in Routine's conditioner, we'll share some real, unsponsored user reviews of the brand.
Real User Reviews
A YouTube creator named Alexandra Martinez reviewed both Routine Shampoo and Routine Conditioner after a full year of use, sharing her thoughts about the best way to use the products and whether they're effective for someone with an oily scalp:
A TikTok creator named Callie Nou Lee shared two progress updates about the effects of Routine shampoo and conditioner on her hair and scalp after two weeks of use:
@calliehang Tracking my progress using Routine Wellness Shampoo and Conditioner. Week one. #shampoo #hairloss #routinewellness ♬ Here Comes the Sun - HERDIANSYAH
Routine Conditioner Ingredient Analysis
The ingredients in Routine's conditioner are shown above.
This is a very similar formulation to the brand's shampoo.
Routine Conditioner contains every single ingredient we reviewed in the previous ingredient analysis section, including coconut oil, aloe vera, caffeine, saw palmetto extract, argan oil and phenoxyethanol.
Jojoba seed oil is an ingredient that's unique to the conditioner, and use of jojoba oil on hair was shown to improve hair fiber, protect hair thread, and improve breakage resistance in a medical review of the cosmetic benefits of jojoba published in the Polymers journal.
Tea tree oil is naturally effective against dandruff, as we documented in our Hair Food reviews article on another brand containing this ingredient.
Like the shampoo sold by the brand, we consider Routine Conditioner likely to be effective for improving hair quality, protecting hair from breakage and improving the aesthetic appearance of hair due to its many research-backed ingredients.
We don't currently recommend Routine Conditioner due to the inclusion of phenoxyethanol.
But where's the best place for consumers to buy Routine products? We'll discuss in the next section.
Where to Buy Routine Shampoo
Unlike many shampoo and conditioner brands, Routine does not appear to sell their products on popular retailers like Amazon, Walmart or Ulta.
At the time of updating this article, the only place where consumers can buy Routine shampoo and conditioner appears to be the brand's website, accessible at this link.
It's unfortunate that Routine isn't sold on Amazon, because that's the best place to find objective user reviews of products in our opinion, but we recommend that consumers intent on purchasing from this brand do so on the official manufacturer website linked above.
Our Clean Shampoo Pick
Acure Vivacious Volume Shampoo is our top shampoo pick.
This shampoo is formulated with effective and non-toxic plant-based compounds like aloe vera juice and argan oil and rosemary leaf oil (which was shown in a 2013 clinical trial to promote hair growth).
Most importantly, this shampoo is entirely free of fragrance and questionable additives.
Interested consumers can check out Acure Vivacious Volume Shampoo at this link to the product's official Amazon listing, where it currently retails for only $9.99.
Carina Organics Citrus Daily Light Conditioner is our top conditioner pick.
This product is entirely free of questionable additives and uses botanical ingredients like coconut oil and tangerine oil to naturally condition hair.
Interested consumers can check out Carina Organics Citrus Daily Light Conditioner at this link to the product's official Amazon listing, where it currently retails for only $15.53.
Pros and Cons of Routine Shampoo
Here are the pros and cons of the Routine hair products in our opinion.
- Many research-backed ingredients
- Likely to improve hair health
- Likely to improve scalp health
- Likely to protect hair from damage
- Likely to improve aesthetic appearance of hair
- Offers fragrance-free versions
- Free shipping on US orders
- Contains phenoxyethanol
- Brand makes it unclear whether scented versions contains fragrance