No Tears or Fears: Kid Hair Washing

It’s hard to resist the promise some baby shampoos offer of “no more tears.” I mean who wants their happy, splashing sweetheart to transform into a thrashing, screeching child when it comes time to wash their hair?

Detergent, known as surfactant, is the ingredient used in shampoos to do the dirty work, that is to get rid of the dirt in hair. In no-tears formulations, the nature of surfactants is modified to reduce eye and skin irritation. In my experience, some of these shampoos have eliminated tears, some others resulted in less tears. And, as is the case with most personal care products, these shampoos, whether they’re marketed to kids or not, contain several hazardous ingredients that we all would be better off avoiding. Here are a few:

DMDM Hydantoin: A chemical known to be toxic to the immune system, with strong evidence of being a skin toxicant as well.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): This harsh, degreasing detergent commonly found in shampoos, soaps, and even toothpaste, is a skin and eye irritant.
Fragrance: Personal care products can be found in kid-enticing fragrances such as bubble gum and razzleberry. These synthetic fragrances are petrochemical loaded concoctions, which can wreak havoc with repeated exposure. (For great info on fragrance check out this Care2 article.
Ceteareth and PEG compounds: Petrochemicals that may contain cancer-causing impurities.

Use a shampoo that is free from the aforementioned hazardous ingredients such as:

Organic Blessings Little Angel Shampoo/Body Wash or Miessence’s Desert Flower Shampoo.

A secondary tip: A third of the tears and screams come from water in the eyes, with or without irritating shampoo. Add fun to hair washing by letting your kids wear goggles. Since employing this idea, my kids now semi-look-forward to having their hair washed.

Terri Hall-Jackson lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband and two young children. In addition to writing, Terri works with public television and radio stations/networks in the area of new media, and leads workshops on authentic and empowered living.

By Terri-Hall Jackson, contributing writer to Care2's Green Living


Janet S.
Jan S8 years ago


Eirwen M.
Past Member 9 years ago

P.S. Those no more tears formulas often have numbing ingredients in them, to prevent babies from feeling the damage being done by the surfactants in their shampoos. So, not only are they damaging their eyes, you won't even know it because it prevents the kids from feeling it.

Personally, I'd rather just be super careful shampooing my child's hair (and handling any shampoo in the eyes freakouts if something DOES get in there), than not know when a toxic chemical is damaging my babie's eyes because they're using numbing chemicals.

It's sick what greed produces, no?

Eirwen M.
Past Member 9 years ago

This is the second time I've seen people asking about using essential oils, and the last one was suggesting using some to brush their teeth. It is is very very important to NEVER use essential oils, especially on children (and NEVER on cats) if you don't know much about them.

Essential oils easily penetrate the skin and are super concentrated. While wonderful to use in diluted forms, and essential to body care, whether natural or conventional, they should never be used by inexperienced persons.

Never use essential oils on children other than mandarin, lavender, and balsam of peru (and then only in a diluted form). Up to three or four drops per eight ounces is usually enough. Please just do your research before using essential oils. They can be your best friend if you use them right.

For children, just use castille soaps, using one part castille soap and one part water. Don't use peppermint or tea tree formulas on babies (too rough on sensitive skin).

Michelle N.
Michelle N10 years ago

I agree, California Baby Shampoo and Body Wash is the best since they are organic, don't leave a sticky film on the skin (why I hated Dr. Bronners) and are reasonably priced considering how expensive other organic products are.

Wild Wild
Wild Wild10 years ago

I have just purchased an Eco Organic Shampoo with ingredients you describe- SLS- but with a bit different name-does it suppose to trick us or are these really safe (I am not a chemist to know...)
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Lauryl Glucoside, Lauroyl Sarcosine, Alcohol, Parfume, Limonene, Linalool
and the other shampoo of the same contains another SLS name:
Sodium Coco Sulfate, Coco Glucoside, Sodium PCA, Sodium Chlorid, Sodium Lactate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate??????????????????????????Are these ingredients ok or dangerous?
And could anyone tell me, how to make natural shampoo from pharmacy bought GLYCEROLUM 85% (and perhaps H2O2 to make a foam...and Tea tree oil-I do not know the exact mixture I should make...)Many thanks

Tina Yocam
Tina Yocam10 years ago

What a great idea. I never thought to use goggles to keep the soap & water out of my boys eyes. It's amazing the things we put into soaps and lotions just to make us feel better. I try to use all natural products as much as I can. It not only helps me but it also helps the environment.

Cerridwen W.
gabrielle p10 years ago

My Son is 9 months old and I still do not use soap or shampoo. Plain old water works perfectly.

If you ever have any questions on the safety of product ingredients,

is essential to ensuring that you know exactly what is being put into the products you're using.

Rachel Markel
Rachel Markel10 years ago

I would recommend using Dr. Bronners liquid castille soap base, everything in this product is clearly indicated on the label. If you would like to scent their soap use drops of pure and natural lavender or chamomile.

Janet Sappington
Jan S11 years ago

Another shampoo that is safe to use on children and adults can be found at

Randy Paynter
Randy Paynter11 years ago

We usually use California Baby shampoo, sunblock and other products. Too expensive, but they seem to be safe and no tears!