How To Choose The Best Natural Hair products?
Natural hair products – better for your hair and the earth by LHAA
Natural hair products – better for your hair and your planet
Have you checked what’s in your shampoo lately? How about your smoothing serum? If not, have a read of the ingredients. You’ll likely find a whole host of chemicals that you’d probably rather weren’t in your home, let alone anywhere near your hair. Ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate and phthalates, which are often used because they’re cheap and can give you short term benefits. Used long-term, they can damage your hair, leaving it dry, brittle and prone to frizz.
And it’s not just the health of your hair you need to be worried about. Some of the most common chemicals used in shampoos have been linked to skin irritation, sore eyes, and even cancer. Lynn Ladbrook, CEO of Breast Cancer UK, says, “The ever-expanding number of synthetic chemicals found in cosmetics and personal care products is a concern.”
Many of these chemicals are also harmful to the environment. Washed down the drain, they end up polluting rivers, seas, and soil.
We want to make it easier for you to do the right thing for your hair and the planet, so we’ve put this handy guide together to help you do just that. It covers some of the ingredients you might want to avoid, along with our recommendations for brands to switch to.
What to avoid
We’ve given you tips on what to eat for healthy hair, but what about the no goes for your washing routines? Ingredients are only included in a product if the authorities believe them to be safe in the quantities used. However, we often end up being exposed to a real cocktail of chemicals, through cleaning products, toiletries, makeup and so on. What’s more, chemicals seem to pass from the ‘safe’ to ‘banned’ list fairly regularly. Below is a list of some of the most common chemicals that you might want to avoid.
Most shampoos you’ll find on the high street contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). They’re cheap and effective cleansers, and produce lots of bubbles. However, they’re also very harsh. SLS is so powerful it’s used for everything from cleaning clothes to decreasing car engines. While you might want that level of cleaning power if you’ve spilled cheese sauce all down your favorite top, you don’t want it for your hair. Think of it as washing your face with Fairy liquid.
SLS strips your hair of its natural oils. You might think that’s a good thing if your hair is prone to greasiness, but it can send your hair into overdrive. So you could end up with damaged, dry brittle hair, or a greasy mess. Either way, not a good look. SLS can also irritate your eyes and skin. If you’re prone to eczema, psoriasis or any other skin complaints, cutting out SLS can make a huge difference. SLS is toxic to marine and other aquatic life, so not something you want to be rinsed down the plug hole.
Parabens are used as preservatives, to help prolong the shelf life of a product. They’ve also been linked to breast cancer and hormone problems. Several parabens have now been banned for use in cosmetics and toiletries across the EU. Common ones you might want to keep an eye out for include methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, and ethylparaben. They also sometimes go by their E numbers, so watch out for E218, E214, E216, and E209.
Phthalates are used as solvents and to make a fragrance last longer. They’ve been linked to a wide range of problems, from birth defects to asthma, cancer, and ADHD. Phthalates can be found in everything from plastic food and drink cartons to shampoo. They’re not always listed on the ingredients labels, so you might want to look out for products specifically promoted as being ‘phthalate-free’.
It’s hard to believe that the chemical used to preserve dead bodies is also used as a preservative in toiletries, but it is. Formaldehyde has been found to increase the risk of several types of cancer, but only in fairly large amounts. It can also irritate your skin and eyes and cause allergic reactions.
Isopropyl Alcohol is best avoided if you don’t want your hair to end up dry and damaged. It’s often added to shampoos to help the other ingredients to mix together properly. Like sodium lauryl sulfate, it’s just too harsh for your hair. Isopropyl Alcohol can also irritate your skin, so definitely one to avoid if you have any skin complaints.
Propylene Glycol is a popular ingredient with manufacturers as it has a multitude of uses. However, it can also irritate your skin and eyes. Propylene Glycol isn’t as toxic as many of the other ingredients we’ve mentioned, but if you have sensitive skin you might want to avoid it.
Buying natural or eco shampoos and conditioners
One of the easiest ways to avoid chemicals such as those above is to choose natural products. That can be easier said than done, however. There is little regulation on what the term ‘natural’ actually means, so there’s a lot of greenwashing out there. The brands below all have very high standards when it comes to ditching the chemicals, protecting the environment and creating products that deliver great results. They’ve found effective, natural substitutes for the synthetics.
Faith in Nature
Manchester-based Faith in Nature has been creating natural skin and hair care products for more than 30 years. The award-winning Lavender and Geranium range smells amazing and cleanses hair gently, but effectively.
British brand Green People is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2017. If your hair has been damaged by SLS and other chemicals, try Green People’s Intensive Repair shampoo to restore your locks to their former glory.
Australian brand Jason makes a wide range of shampoos and conditioners. Super Shine Apricot is a good choice if you’re looking to add shine without coating your hair.
If you ever suffer from a dry, itchy scalp or dandruff, try Avalon Organics Tea Tree Scalp Treatment. It’s very effective at calming your skin and reducing itchiness and flaking.
Organic Surge products are rich in plant extracts. The Moisture Boost range is a winner if you have dry or frizzy hair.
Weleda have been making natural products for 90 years! The Oat Replenishing shampoo contains organic jojoba oil and oat extracts to help reduce breakages and split ends.
Saach Organics products are 100% natural and based on traditional Ayurvedic recipes. The Hair Strengthening Shampoo and Nourishment Conditioner are a real treat. They’re deeply conditioning and help to add shine.