Pine Needles
At Morrocco Method, we care a lot about ingredients; we make sure to select only natural ingredients that benefit hair, leaving out any artificial colors or perfumes.

One of our most asked about ingredients is Sodium Shale Oil Sulfonate, or Pine Shale, which is found in our eponymous Pine Shale Shampoo. Pine shale is a unique ingredient because unlike apricots or apples, which take a few weeks to ripen, pine shale takes just a little bit longer to mature. In fact, pine shale is sourced from surplus reservoirs of rich shale oil underneath the earth’s surface that form after the decomposition of large forests of ferns and evergreens millions of years ago.

Pine shale is great for the hair and scalp for a number of reasons. In Europe, pine shale has been approved as an effective dandruff treatment. When applied to skin and scalp, it has been shown to be a natural and safe skin care agent, combating both itching and inflammation. In one double-blind study, pine shale was again proven to be an excellent anti-inflammatory agent and helped in the treatment of atopic eczema.

However, there’s been a lot of mixups between sulfonated shale oil and crude shale oil, a very different ingredient. As an example, the EWG profile of Pine Shale Shampoo actually lists the wrong ingredient! MM Pine Shale actually uses PALE SULFONATED SHALE OIL, which is very, very different from the crude shale oil, a potentially harmful ingredient. We are currently working to have this rectified.

There are actually several articles addressing the safeness of sulfonted shale oil, including this one. To quote:

Sulfonated shale oil, pale was found to be very well tolerated whether administered for a short period or over a long time. There were no indications for teratogenic, mutagenic or carcinogenic effects. The
Pine Shall Shampoo
therapeutic range (ratio of the toxic dose in animals and the therapeutic human dose) for topical administration is > 30 depending on animal species, frequency of administration, dose-level employed and the toxicological question posed. The results of the toxicological studies coincide with the almost 70 years of experience that the drug is well-tolerated by man.

As our most restorative shampoo, Pine Shale Shampoo is a great option for anyone experiencing dandruff, itchy scalp or inflammation. And at millions of years in age, shale oil is just another example of how turning to the past can help us have a safer, healthier future.

*We had a few comments from our wonderful followers asking about how our Sulfonated Shale Oil is pulled from the ground. We reached out to our supplier in Germany, Ichthyol Raw Materials, for information regarding this issue. The response is below –

“First of all, I would like to confirm that ICHTHYOL PALE is a well-established substance in dermocosmetics. It is used by internationally operating cosmetic companies like Payot, Uriage, Babor, Pierre Fabre, L’Occitane, Ales Groupe, Johnson & Johnson, etc. We have been selling it to the cosmetic field for more than 20 years.

ICHTHYOL PALE is a substance of natural origin. It goes back to a deposit of special sedimentary rock in the French Jura Mountains that is unique in the world. Here our company “Les Mines d’Orbagnoux” is situated on the side of a lushly forested mountain amidst scenery shaped by wine-growing beside the river Rhone. Deep inside the mountain we obtain the beautifully layered rock which contains the reminders of a primeval, tropical lagoon. The fossil remnants of phytoplankton are made available as oil which is unique in the world with its content of up to 15 % of organically combined sulfur.

Please find attached some information on the origin of ICHTHYOL PALE. There are some pictures that give you impressions of what we do and how we do it. Especially, our activities have nothing to do with fracking. Fracking is a technique in which rock is fractured by a pressurized liquid. By fracking cracks are created in the deep-rock formations through which natural gas and petroleum flow more freely. As the rock that is cracked by fracking is shale rock the free oil available in this rock mistakenly sometimes is named shale oil. However, the correct name is tight oil.

For ICHTHYOL PALE we do not pump oil out of the earth. We operate a mine and what we get is an organic matter rich limestone. This limestone belongs to the family of sedimentary rocks known as oil shale. It is much later and above the earth that we get an oil from this rock simply by heating it. We do not use any chemicals in this process that could pollute the environment.

After a purification and distillation process the shale oil obtained is made water-soluble by a sulfonation process with subsequent neutralization. In the end we have a sulfonated shale oil as a sodium salt. For this reason, ICHTHYOL PALE’s INCI is “sodium shale oil sulfonate”.

I hope all this information is helpful. Should you have any further questions in this matter, please let us know. We would be pleased to support you in any way possible from our side.”

**If anyone is interested in receiving the attachment for more information, please e mail us at