Have you ever tried to read the ingredients on the back of your shampoo bottle? It’s probably a long list of complex chemical names that you don’t really understand!
Unfortunately, studies show that a lot of the ingredients in ordinary hair + beauty products are hazardous chemicals + toxins that can cause health issues. If you think this is unacceptable (I do!), then it’s time to consider natural hair care products.
Here are 7 things to look for when buying hair care products. Keep reading to know what to avoid + what to look for the next time you buy shampoo + conditioner.
1. Avoid Sulfates
The sulfates you usually find in shampoos + conditioners are listed as sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. These chemicals are known as detergents, meaning they are very good at removing dirt + oil from your hair.
The problem, however, is that sulfates can be harsh on your skin + your hair. They’re known to cause scalp + skin irritation. They can also strip away your hair’s natural moisture + shine.
Sulfates have also been known to contain trace amounts of the chemical dioxane, which is a carcinogen that’s also been linked to kidney problems.
Bottom line: avoid sulfates when looking for natural hair care products.
2. Avoid Parabens
Parabens are found in a variety of beauty products, but they’ve long been known to be harmful. They contain chemicals that can interact + interfere with our body’s natural hormones.
This can lead to a number of illnesses including cancer, hormone disorders, + fertility issues. Be sure to check that your hair products don’t contain this harmful chemical.
3. Be Wary of Fragrance
This one is a little bit of a grey area, because most beauty products, even natural hair care products, will have a certain smell.
But having a scent isn’t the issue. It’s the materials put into the product to make it have a smell.
If the ingredients list an essential oil, like lavender or peppermint, that’s ideal. If the ingredients simply list “fragrance” as an ingredient, then that’s something to avoid.
“Fragrance” is a general term for thousands of different chemicals that can be used to create a scent. The bad news is the term “fragrance” isn’t really regulated by the government, + they can contain extremely harmful + toxic chemicals.
One study found that chemicals listed as “fragrance” were comparable to insecticides, tar, + heavy metals. Health-wise, they can cause allergic reactions, asthma attacks, migraines, skin irritation, + inflammation.
4. Check the pH
The pH level of your shampoo indicates how acidic it is. The pH scale goes from 0-14 with 0 being the most acidic, 7 being neutral, + 14 being the most basic (alkaline- the opposite of acidic).
Your hair and scalp range between a 4-5 on the pH scale. You should look for hair products in the same range, which means they should be slightly acidic. All Get Dirty With Me products have a pH between 4-5.
You want your shampoo to be slightly acidic because it will help to close the cuticles in your scalp, which will prevent anything harmful from getting into your scalp + hair. A slightly acidic shampoo will also serve to make your hair look smooth + shiny.
Shampoos that are too acidic or too basic can cause damage.
5. Avoid Phthalates
Phthalates are often put into shampoos, conditioners, + body washes in order to help the fragrance of the product linger in your hair + on your skin. However, they are also used in plastic products, steering wheels, insect repellent, + carpet.
It doesn’t really make sense to put a chemical found in plastic directly onto your skin, does it?
These chemicals have also been linked to a number of health concerns including endocrine + hormone disruption, asthma, insulin resistance, reproductive defects, + early puberty in young girls. Phthalates are also known to be carcinogens, which means they have been linked to cancer.
6. Look for Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has a ton of health benefits. So naturally, when used in natural hair care products, it also has a bunch of great benefits.
First, aloe vera can help to promote hair growth + prevent hair loss. The molecules within aloe vera are very similar to the protein that makes up our hair called keratin. This allows aloe to help repair + strengthen hair.
It also contains proteolytic enzymes, which help to repair any dead skin cells you have on your scalp. This helps prevent itching, dry skin, + dandruff.
Aloe also has antiviral + antibacterial properties. This can help fight bacteria in the scalp that can lead to irritation, itching, inflammation, + dandruff.
7. Look for Tea Tree Oil
We mentioned that essential oils can be used in natural hair care products for fragrance, but certain essential oils (like tea tree oil) also have direct benefits for your hair. (NOTE: be careful adding your own essential oils. Make sure you check if they are safe to use directly on your skin.)
Tea tree oil is one of the best natural hair care products you can use if you have a dry, itchy scalp. Its antifungal + antibacterial properties allow it to fight fungi that can cause dandruff. It also won’t dry out your scalp any further, which also helps in the fight against dandruff.
Tea tree oil is also known to help an itchy scalp, even if you don’t have dandruff. It also works to unclog your hair follicles, which can help your hair grow thicker, longer, + healthier.
This is another of my favorite Aussie ingredients, which is why I put it in our Cleansing Powder.
Natural Hair Care Is Best for You + Your Hair
Discovering just how harmful certain beauty product ingredients can be for your hair + your health can be scary + overwhelming. It seems that most commercial beauty + hair products have harmful chemicals hidden behind seemingly innocuous words like “fragrance” + “sulfates.” Even products from “green” companies can contain these ingredients, so make sure you read the label!
The good news is that there are products out there that contain only safe + natural ingredients. By following the 7 tips we’ve gone over here, you’ll be able to find high quality, natural hair care products.
Get Dirty With Me powders contain no harmful chemicals; only high-quality, natural ingredients. If you have any other questions or want more information about purchasing products with natural ingredients, don’t hesitate to comment below!
Don’t forget your copy of the Travel Toiletries Packing List.
We love to keep our travel green!