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 harmful added ingredients? And how do real users respond to its use?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review the ingredients in both Routine shampoo and Routine conditioner based on medical studies to give our take on whether the products are worth the money. We'll also share a real user review of both products.
Routine Shampoo Ingredient Review
Routine Shampoo has a large number of ingredients. One of the most important is argan oil which is extracted from a tree native to Morocco.
Argan oil is proven in medical research to reduce damage to hair follicles, and also may be effective for reducing breakage due to its hydrating nature. This is a great ingredient for a shampoo formulation.
Saw palmetto extract is another likely effective ingredient. A clinical trial published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences found that saw palmetto extract promotes hair regeneration and helped repair damaged hair in mice. This botanical ingredient appears to be effective because it can decrease inflammation of the follicles.
We like the inclusion of caffeine in this formulation as well. As we noted in our review of Better Not Younger hair serum, topical application of caffeine has been shown in medical trials to potentially limit hair loss in both men and women, primarily by increasing the duration of the anagen phase of the hair cycle, which is when hair follicles are generated and grow.
Another effective ingredient in Routine Shampoo is coconut oil, which is one of the plant oils with the most proven benefit to the skin and scalp. In clinical trials, coconut oil has been shown to prevent hair damage “remarkably,” because it’s able to penetrate inside the hair shaft and reduces protein loss.
Aloe vera is another good choice for a shampoo formulation because this plant can help moisturize both skin and hair. Its ability to lock in moisture can prevent hair breakage and damage over time.
Clearly Routine Shampoo contains a number of effective ingredients. We do believe this product is likely to be effective for improving hair quality and reducing breakage.
Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative shown to be toxic to human cells in a clinical trial. Ethylhexylglycerin is another preservative (one that we consider a better choice), but we recommend using shampoo free of preservatives.
We do not recommend Routine Shampoo due to the inclusion of two synthetic preservative compounds, but we do consider it likely to improve hair quality and to be better-formulated than most shampoos we review on Illuminate Health.
For consumers set on purchasing this product, we recommend the fragrance-free version, because there are documented toxicity concerns related to fragranced consumer products.
Routine Conditioner Ingredient Review
Routine’s conditioner has a very similar formulation to their shampoo.
Routine Conditioner contains every single ingredient we reviewed in the previous section, including coconut oil, aloe vera, caffeine, saw palmetto extract, argan oil and the two preservatives.
At the time of writing this article, a full 76% of the ingredients in the conditioner are also in the shampoo. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because many of these ingredients are proven to be effective, but it does seem to suggest that buying both products may be a waste of money because there’s so much overlap.
One ingredient unique to the conditioner is jojoba seed oil, which is one of the best botanical ingredients for hair care products. An extensive medical review of the cosmetic benefits of jojoba oil, published in the Polymers journal, found that topical application of jojoba oil to hair improved hair fiber, protected hair thread, and improved breakage resistance.
This is the only ingredient of note that’s different between the two products in our opinion.
Given that the conditioner contains jojoba seed oil, we would recommend Routine Conditioner (fragrance-free version) over Routine Shampoo to consumers who are set on purchasing from this brand.
However, we do not recommend either product because of the preservatives included.
Routine Shampoo and Conditioner Real User Review
A YouTube user 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:
Our Non-Toxic Shampoo Recommendation
The shampoo we recommend is Acure Vivacious Volume Shampoo.
This shampoo is formulated with effective and non-toxic plant-based compounds like aloe vera juice and argan oil. It also contains rosemary leaf oil which was shown in a clinical trial published in the Phytotherapy Research journal to promote hair growth.
Most importantly, this shampoo contains no questionable additive ingredients like fragrance or synthetic preservatives. It’s less than half of the price of Routine shampoo, costing only $9.99 at the time of updating this article.
Interested consumers can check out Acure Vivacious Volume Shampoo at this Amazon link.
Where to Buy Routine Shampoo and Conditioner
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.
Routine Shampoo Pros and Cons
Here are the pros and cons of the Routine brand in our opinion.
- Many research-backed ingredients
- Likely to improve hair quality
- Offers fragrance-free versions
- Contains synthetic preservatives
- Not available for sale on popular third-party platforms