Which ingredients should be avoided in hair products?

These days, curly girls are in pursuit of natural hair care products that will do the least bit of harm to their hair. This focus means buying hair products that are natural. You may be wondering if natural hair care products and hair products that are natural have the same meaning or meet the same criteria. The short answer to the question buzzing in your head is ‘no.’ The label of being a natural hair care product may not mean that it is a hair product that is of natural origins.

Choosing Natural Hair Products

Let’s face it, the marketplace is saturated with hair care products that claim to be natural, but the only way to know whether or not they are natural is to check the ingredients on the label of your product. There are a set of common elements we must avoid if we are to achieve natural curl success. 

Avoid Sulfates

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a common ingredient in shampoos that enable it to create the rich lather we have come to expect from our shampoo products. Although this quality may lead you to believe that your hair is benefiting from the cleansing effect of this substance, it turns out that sulfates like SLS, ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth (SLES), sodium cocoyl isethionate, sodium lauryl taurate and others can not only strip away dirt and oil build-up but vital proteins and natural oils. Our natural oils and protein have a critical role in protecting the integrity of our hair structure and health of our scalp. Look for suffix -sulfate to identify these ingredients.

Choose Paraben-Free Products

Parabens play a vital role in preserving our products so that they have a longer shelf-life. Unfortunately, the effort to safeguard our products does not always translate to protecting our hair. Studies show that parabens may contribute to episodes of thinning hair or hair loss due in part to inflammation that sometimes accompanies usage.

Some of the key ingredients to keep an eye out for when reviewing the label includes propylparaben, benzylparaben, methylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.

DMDM Hydantoin

Dimethyl Imidazoldinedione (DMDM) hydantoin is a preservative that is commonly used in shampoos and conditioners to extend the shelf life of the product. This ingredient is dangerous because it releases formaldehyde that can be a significant concern to your health.  It can be irritating to your scalp and harmful enough to cause hair loss as a result of damage to the hair. 

Mineral Oil/Petroleum

Mineral oil and petroleum can be a bit heavy for curls as each of these solutions tend to be suffocating to hair. While some products use these ingredients because of their detangling properties, they can cause more harm than do good for your hair. Additionally, they might contribute to an imbalance of oils and pH levels at the scalp level, which can disrupt healthy hair growth.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Some products contain isopropyl alcohol. This ingredient is drying to the hair and can leave it feeling coarse to the touch and trigger unwanted frizz. Another risk? It can damage the cuticle. This result can leave hair vulnerable and lead to splitting and breakage.

Other forms of alcohol look out for in your hair products include ethanol, alcohol denat, SD alcohol, and propanol. 

Choose Natural Products with Natural Ingredients

A good rule of thumb is to choose moisturizers that are water-based and do not contain any of the ingredients already discussed.  Products that contain petrolatum, lanolin, or mineral oil are not the best options for our hair. Instead, you want to select those items that contain water or aloe as their first ingredient. 

Also, products that include natural oils can aid in not only sealing in moisture but also improving the vibrancy or shine of your hair. Essential oils like olive oil, jojoba oil, castor oil or sweet almond oil can support your efforts to improve hair elasticity, which is necessary for hair growth and a reduction in hair loss. 

These are just a few tips for how to move closer to using natural hair products and away from those products that do not contain natural ingredients.