Raise your hand if you’ve ever been infuriated by a hair-product commercial. The shine? Ridiculous. The bounce? Unheard of. And for men, the way every beard hair is just so—and not a cowlick in sight. The improbability of the average person achieving commercial-worthy hair is enough to, well, make you pull your hair out. And while the perfect do might not be possible every day, there are plenty of ways to achieve healthier hair you can feel confident about, starting with what you put in it.
It’s not just important that your hair looks good; it should feel good, too. High-quality, naturally derived, and environmentally safe ingredients in your hair products can contribute to better, stronger, healthier hair in the long run. So dig a little deeper into your bathroom cabinet—you might be surprised at what you find in your hair care staples.
The Problem with Mainstream
When you look at the back of most shampoo, conditioner, and other haircare product packaging, the list of ingredients is incredibly long, containing words with a hefty character count. These ingredients can strip hair’s natural oils and can leave it more brittle over time. Here are some of the most commonly used ingredients to avoid:
- Sulfates: Chemicals that contribute to the foaming lather in shampoos but can add to dryness and create a dull appearance.
- Parabens: Preservatives used to maintain the integrity and shelf life of hair products. Some research has shown that they may disrupt hormone function in the body.
- Silicones: Synthetic chemicals that create a protective glossy layer over the hair’s cuticle; however, they only provide a temporary solution for dryness.
- Formaldehyde: A chemical often used as a cleansing agent that can even be combined with other ingredients, making it harder to spot. It is currently banned for use in cosmetics in Canada and could cause irritation.
Although not all mainstream brands include these ingredients, they are prominent in many, and it’s wise to avoid them when possible. Luckily, there are plenty of other brands out there that focus on simpler ingredients (the easily recognizable kind) and provide a natural alternative with better results.
Proof in the Potion
As consumers have become more invested in the ingredients in their personal-care products, a large number of companies have taken notice. The realm of hair care is now full of natural options that place an emphasis on consumer safety, from plant-based shampoos to coconut oil beard balms. Just look at the examples below for proof.
This company’s founder, Nancy Twine, has a long history of DIYing her hair care. As a child, she helped her grandmother formulate homemade products for other women in their neighborhood, and it was this early passion for natural hair care that helped her launch the Briogeo brand. According to its website, Briogeo “takes it back to basics,” with products that are formulated for high performance. It’s 6-free clean methodology is based on natural oils, vitamins, and antioxidants to tackle common hair care issues at the source, with lines formulated specifically for fighting frizz, boosting volume, improving hydration, and more. The company even has a line made from superfoods like avocado, coconut, and quinoa.
Love Beauty and Planet
This popular brand can be found in big-box retailers like Walmart and Target, and it actively works to avoid ingredients that could potentially harm consumers, as well as the Earth. Love Beauty and Planet is certified cruelty-free and vegan, and its shampoos, conditioners, and other hair care products are formulated with powerful and naturally derived ingredients such as coconut water, tea tree oil, and argan oil. According to its website, all shampoos are made from 92 percent naturally derived ingredients, while its conditioners are 97 percent naturally derived, and the company even offers vegan hair and nail supplements!
Art Naturals was founded on the principle that consumers shouldn’t have to search high and low for naturally derived personal care products. Its broad range of offerings includes shampoos, conditioners, beard conditioners and balms, and shaving creams, all of which are cruelty-free, sustainable, and contain no preservatives or chemicals. The company has a wide variety of hair care options for women, but it also has one of the largest varieties of natural hair care products for men. It offers a beard wash formulated with antibacterial jojoba oil to cleanse and argan oil to moisturize facial hair, including the skin below it. Even Art Natural’s aftershave is created with natural ingredients like tea tree oil and aloe vera for a soothing experience.
This brand has quickly risen to the top of the lists of most-recommended natural beauty brands—and for good reason. Rahua’s tagline, “rainforest grown beauty,” is appropriate, with its key ingredient and namesake, rahua, having been used by Amazonians for centuries. The natural oil in rahua can penetrate deep into hair follicles, moisturizing and improving pigmentation. The brand also incorporates other Amazon-derived ingredients such as cassava (also known as tapioca), an oil absorber; and carnauba, a wax to give hair a natural hold. Fabian Lliguin, one of Rahua’s founders, was born and raised in Ecuador and spent a lot of time exploring the Amazon with his family. For this reason, the brand is always looking for new ways to incorporate Amazonian culture into its products, making them with formulations rooted in time-honored traditions.
Trusting the Power of Nature
Anything you put on your body can contribute to its function (or dysfunction), and, therefore, it’s critical to seek out ingredients that are going to work the way you want while not having any negative effect on your health—or the health of the planet. The brands above are only a starting point to help you take steps in the right direction. If you’re ready to learn more and make a change in the products you use, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website allows consumers to search for specific products and their potential health effects, as well as find recommendations for EWG-certified products.
For more info, visit ewg.org/skindeep.