is head and shoulders cruelty-free

Is Head & Shoulders Cruelty-Free?

If you’ve been shopping for new, cruelty-free shampoo, you may ask: “Is Head & Shoulders cruelty-free?” No, Head & Shoulders is not considered cruelty-free.

Despite being an inexpensive, accessible, famous shampoo brand, Head & Shoulders has not committed to cruelty-free production methods.

Which, considering Head & Shoulders is the #1 dandruff shampoo in the world, is disappointing. In this article, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty facts behind Head & Shoulders’ history of animal testing.

While we do, we will suggest some alternatives (cruelty-free, of course). We’ll also be addressing whether or not the formula Head & Shoulders uses is even good for your hair.

To get the answers you seek, be sure to stick around, folks. Without further ado, let’s get to the bottom of our most burning, clean beauty questions!

Is Head & Shoulders Tested On Animals?

Yes, Head & Shoulders is tested on animals. Whether they have a third party test the product or they do it themselves, Head & Shoulders is a brand that is known to test on animals.

More importantly, their parent company, Procter & Gamble (P&G), has a record when it comes to animal testing. That being said, they admit to animal testing in countries where it is “required by law.”

As of 2023, the only countries speculated to require animal testing are mainland China and Russia. However, Russia had previously pledged to put an end to animal testing.

China recently passed a series of regulations regarding potential animal testing. Many companies cannot be counted as being cruelty-free until they completely phase out animal testing, including where it is required.

Is Head & Shoulders Vegan?

No, Head & Shoulders is not vegan. That being said, it is a little difficult to really speak in absolutes on the matter. According to Travis Harlan of Vegan Picker, Head & Shoulders does not “seem to contain any ingredient that is blatantly animal-derived.”

He goes on to explain that certain ingredients, like glycol distearate, can be derived from plants or animals. We further must consider that Head & Shoulders has never attempted to claim to be a vegan brand.

Since Head & Shoulders does not claim to be a vegan brand, we can only assume that they are not. Therefore, the ingredients on the Head & Shoulders label that could be plant or animal-derived are likely from animals.

Is Head & Shoulders PETA Certified?

Head & Shoulders is not PETA certified. There are numerous qualifications a brand needs to meet to get PETA certification. Those interested are also required to give proof of their cruelty-free business approach.

If any of the qualifications cannot be met by those applying for PETA certification, they are simply denied certification. There is no known history of Head & Shoulders ever attempting to get PETA certified.

Likewise, they are not certified to be cruelty-free by any other third party, such as Leaping Bunny. In a separate article, PETA explains that companies could find themselves on their “Companies That Do Test” list if they:

  • Test their final product on animals
  • Test any ingredients on animals
  • Have a third-party conduct animal tests 
  • Have yet to assure PETA that they do not conduct animal tests
  • Test on animals when it is considered “required by law”
  • Test on animals to sell their products in mainland China

As far as we know here at Clean Beauty Obsessions, Head & Shoulders meets at least two of the qualifications to get on PETA’s list of “Companies That Do Test.” By the same extension, their parent company, Procter & Gamble, does as well.

However, PETA has approved over 6,300 companies as being cruelty-free. This isn’t a means of PETA being overtly strict: Head & Shoulders not being PETA approved is based entirely on their own business practices.

Is Head & Shoulders Leaping Bunny Certified?

No, Head & Shoulders is not Leaping Bunny certified. The standards to be Leaping Bunny certified have been discussed in our other article, “Is Redken Cruelty-Free?.” One could also follow this link to their official site to learn their criteria straight from the source.

In short, Leaping Bunny has certified companies in the past whose parent company does not meet their certification requirements. Examples include Sun Bum and Burt’s Bees, whose parent companies are S.C. Johnson & Son and Clorox, respectively. 

Is Head & Shoulders Good For Your Hair?

Whether Head & Shoulders is good for your hair depends on several factors, including your individual needs, hair type, sensitivities, and scalp health.

If you have dandruff or other scalp issues like seborrheic dermatitis, Head & Shoulders can be very effective due to its active ingredients like pyrithione zinc or selenium sulfide.

These ingredients have been proven to combat fungus and inflammation, addressing the root cause of dandruff. If you have a healthy scalp without dandruff, Head & Shoulders might not be necessary.

Other, gentler shampoos might be more suitable for daily use. Overall, Head & Shoulders has no negative effect on hair, even if used daily.

There have been unsubstantiated claims in the past that overuse of the product can lead to hair loss. After extensive research, the evidence does not appear to support the claims.

Suspicions of hair loss could instead have been caused by dandruff itself rather than the shampoo attempting to treat it. In fact, Head & Shoulders actually improves hair growth in individuals with severe dandruff.

The whole of it comes down to scalp health; since Head & Shoulders is known to improve scalp health, hair grows healthier with stronger roots. However, some people find Head & Shoulders formulas drying or irritating, especially those with sensitive scalps.

Since we value clean beauty, here’s a small list of cruelty-free, vegan, anti-dandruff shampoos:

Overall, here’s a summary:

Head & Shoulders can be good for:

  • Treating dandruff and other scalp issues
  • Cleansing deeply
  • Strengthening hair (some studies show pyrithione zinc can improve hair growth)

Head & Shoulders might not be ideal for:

  • Healthy scalps without dandruff
  • Dry or sensitive scalps
  • People with chemical sensitivities

Remember, the best shampoo for you depends on your individual needs and preferences. Consider your hair type, scalp condition, and ingredient preferences when making your choice.

Final Thoughts: Is Head & Shoulders Cruelty-Free?

All in all, Head & Shoulders is not a cruelty-free, vegan brand. They lack any and all certification to suggest otherwise. Thankfully, there are accessible alternatives on the market.

Above you can find effective cruelty-free, anti-dandruff shampoo thanks to our friends over at Cruelty-Free Kitty. Head & Shoulders is not a good fit for those of us seeking out clean beauty.

However, they are good at what they do. It is unfortunate what they do comes at a great cost to our environment. Thanks a ton for sticking around, everyone! For those itching to learn more, why not check out our next article: “Is TRESemmé Cruelty-Free?