Here's some tips on ingredients that will help you sort through your cupboard to find out what's best for your hair. You can even print this list use it to take shopping with you. Here are my best tips to keep in mind when you are choosing products and looking at labels.
1. Avoid sulfates in your shampoos
Sulfates are harsh foaming detergents that are found in many commercial shampoos and dish detergents. They can be extremely drying for curly hair, so choose sulfate-free shampoos. Sulfates contain “sulfate” somewhere in the ingredient name (usually). Also, keep in mind that there are some cleansers that are as harsh as sulfates but are not sulfates. If you decide to use a shampoo, avoiding sulfates is best. Sulfates are also difficult to remove off the scalp, so remember you need to scrub to clean your scalp, but also scrub while rinsing your hair to help remove them fully from the hair. Just rinsing out your shampoo isn’t enough.
Here is a list of sulfates to avoid:
Ammonium laureth sulfate
Sodium cocoyl sarcosinate
Sodium lauryl sulfate
Sodium myreth sulfate
Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate
Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate
Ethyl PEG-15 cocamine sulfate
Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
Sodium laureth sulfate
Sodium C14-16 Olefin
Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate
Ammonium lauryl sulfate
Instead, look for these gentle cleansing ingredients:
Sodium cocoyl isethionate
2. Avoid silicones, waves, non-natural oils or any other non water soluble ingredients in your conditioners and styling products
This is key to making sure your products do not build up on your hair. Without shampoo, many of the following ingredients will build up in your hair over time. Remember that a silicone is any ingredient that ends with the suffixes -one, -conol, or -xane.
Waxes are easily identified because they have “wax” in the ingredient name (usually). They act as a barrier to water, or a repellent of sorts. Water is our moisture, so if your hair is feeling dry then likely water is having a hard time getting into the hair and it could be due to some of these ingredients in your haircare product.
Here is a list of silicones to avoid:
Here is a list of waxes and non-natural oils to avoid:
Waxes: bees wax, candelia wax,
Mineral oil (parrifidium liquidium) etc
Here’s a list of ingredients that look like silicones, or are water-soluble silicones. These are exceptions that are OK:
Lauryl methicone copolyol (water soluble) Lauryl PEG/PPG-18/18 Methicone
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane (water soluble)
Dimethicone Copolyol (water soluble)
PEG-Dimethicone, or any other ‘cone with “PEG-” suffix (water soluble)
Emulsifying Wax PEG-Hydrogenated Castor Oil
Natural oils: Avocado oil, Olive oil, Coconut oil, etc.
Benzophenone-2, ( or 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) – sunscreen
Methychloroisothiazolinone – preservative
Methylisothiazolinone – preservative
3. Avoid drying alcohols, if at all possible, in your conditioners and stylers
Drying alcohols are commonly found in conditioners, leave in conditioners, gels, mousses, and hairspray as fillers.
For products that you are going to rinse out, this is not as big of a deal, but for products that are going to sit in your hair all day, or for several days, they should not contain drying alcohols.
There are also moisturizing or fatty alcohols however, that sound similar, so be sure not to confuse those with drying alcohols.
Here is a list of drying alcohols to avoid:
Denatured alcohol SD alcohol 40
Witch hazel Isopropanol
Ethanol SD alcohol
Propanol Propyl alcohol
Instead look for these more moisturizing alcohols:
4. Consider the effect proteins in your hair products may have on your hair
Most hair needs some amount of protein in its diet, especially damaged hair.
However, healthy hair does not need large doses of protein all the time.
If your normally healthy hair feels stiff or dry, then your hair may be getting too much protein.
Which protein you need to avoid, depends on the condition and properties of your hair. You can watch a webinar here that will teach you more about protein as an ingredient.
Here is a list of common proteins:
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed casein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed collagen
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed hair keratin
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed keratin
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed rice protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed silk
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed soy protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed wheat protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl silk amino acids
Cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen Cocoyl hydrolyzed keratin
Hydrolyzed keratin Hydrolyzed oat flour
Hydrolyzed silk Hydrolyzed silk protein
Hydrolyzed soy protein Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Hydrolyzed wheat protein Keratin
Potassium cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein
Remember, sulfates are ingredients that contain “sulfate” or “sulfonate”; silicones end in -one, -conol, or -xane. PEG modified silicones are acceptable but may still build up on the hair over time. I suggest using a clarifying shampoo about once a month as a reboot, just in case! Also, a reminder that waxes contain the word “wax”; and drying alcohols often contain propyl, prop, eth, or denatured in the name. Have fun shopping! Remember, some shelters will take unopened products, so donate when you can. Always call ahead first to find out their policy on accepting personal care products.
Note: I am in no way a scientist so I cannot answer any further on this information shared, but I do know how ingredients in products can either help or harm your hair. My goal for you is healthy hair and this is a great place to start.
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