We know what we put on our bodies is as important as what we put into our bodies, and that includes what we put on our hair. But with so many companies greenwashing their product lines, how can you find the best natural hair care products? Don’t worry! We’ve found them for you!
Okay, okay. You know what you put into your body is important. You know you need to watch ingredients and know where your food comes from and what it does for your body.
And, you most likely know that what goes on your body matters too. The ingredients in lotions and potions we put on our body are super important too because the skin is our largest organ. Our organs functioning appropriately are pivotal to optimal health, and if we’re putting chemicals and dangerous ingredients on our body, that affects our overall health.
But our hair? Does what we put on our hair really matter? In a word? Yes!
Our hair IS organic material! Just like our bodies need the proper food and nourishment to not just exist but to thrive, so does our hair. If you want to have happy and healthy hair, you want to be sure you ‘feed’ it well so it lives its best life. Hair products typically get poured onto our scalp and then massaged into our hair shafts. This also means those products go into our skin and our bodies, and so we want whatever it is that we depend on to strengthen our hair and give us lustrous locks to be safe for us too. When you use an organic or natural product for your hair, you can also help keep the rate you’re losing hair (50-100 hairs a day) to a minimum!
Organic or Natural Hair Care Products? What’s The Difference?
You’re probably not asking, “Is there really a difference?” because we know that there is definitely a difference in organic products and in many ‘natural’ products. They are not made the same, and typically products have different ingredients. Organic products don’t have any ingredients that are GMO or came in contact with artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Any plant-based ingredients were farmed organically, and products that ‘contain’ organic ingredients don’t always end up being ‘organic’ so you’ll want to look for certification.
Natural products don’t necessarily mean they’re good or bad; it’s important to look at the ingredients and quality. I’d pick my local farmer down the road’s strawberries over organic strawberries from a country with ‘questionable’ organic farming practices. I know my local farmer’s practices and though he’s not USDA certified organic, he practices organic farming and his ‘natural’ strawberries are amazing!
So it’s important to think about organic and natural products in a similar way. No, natural doesn’t always mean it’s clean and good for you, and we know there’s a lot of greenwashing out there. But, don’t count the best natural hair care products out simply because they’re not organic. And remember, just because something is organic, that doesn’t always mean that it’s natural, so if that is of importance to you, take note.
What To Avoid In The Best Natural Hair Care Products
Obviously, finding the best natural hair care products takes label reading and ingredient investigation. What should you avoid in the best natural hair care products? Pay attention and avoid the following:
- Sulfates: While most natural hair-care products will proudly tell you they’re sulfate-free, not all are. Sulfates are chemical detergents. They’re GREAT for cleaning oils and dirt, but…sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing! This is one of those situations. Some, like sodium laurel sulfates, are what is used to make things nice and foamy. No-Poo shampoos typically are ‘no-poo’ because they don’t foam and it’s because they don’t have those in them. Some sulfates are possible endocrine disruptors, and some even have dioxane, which IS a known carcinogen that is also possibly a kidney function disrupted. Just say, “No.”
- Parabens:Again, most clean and green hair care products will stay away from parabens, but you’d be surprised at some that didn’t, so be careful. Parabens are hormone-disruptors and many believe lead to cancer risks. On a personal note, when my mother died of breast cancer, her oncologist told me, “Never let a paraben touch your body.” I haven’t since.
- Triclosan: This is an antibacterial agent often used in sanitizers. Well, it was until it was learned it most likely is an endocrine disruptor, and people worried about what we were doing to children when we slather that stuff on their hands. It’s also been linked to immune system issues, and you don’t need it in your hair or body.
- Propylene Glycol or Polyethelene Glycol: Often in shampoos for antiseptic qualities, but they’re endocrine disruptors and the state of California has classified Polyethelene Glycol as a developmental toxicant. That means it can interfere with human development. You don’t want it near your pregnant body, nor your growing child’s body, and really, yours at any other time either.
- Dimethicone: I have curly hair, and sadly, many typical ‘curly girl’ shampoos have dimethicone. Dimethicone is a type of silicone product that helps fight frizz, so the product marketers as. It is a protection for the surface of your hair, in a way, but more? It prevents nourishment and moisture from going in your hair. It also collects residue and dirt on your hair strand then, and can clog pores on your scalp. Dimethicone is a skin irritant, and in a ton of products, so be careful!
- Formaldehyde: Yes, this embalming chemical is used in hair care, and you’ll even find it in some that tout themselves as the best natural hair care products. Again, just say, “No.”
A word about alcohol. Obviously, we think, “Eww…” and you should for any that have ‘prop’ in their names. Isopropyl or propanol are two popular ones. They’re drying agents, and the higher on the ingredient list they are, the more drying they may be, so if you have dry hair, remember that. Some, though, like Cetearyl or Stearyl alcohols can actually help your hair strands retain moisture, so they shouldn’t be deal-breakers on an ingredient list. Just make sure you know they’re there and what they do and take note of your hair drying out.
Some other ingredients that can dry or irritate your scalp are sodium chloride (which is salt, but often used as a shampoo thickener), silicones and ammonia (yes, some natural hair care products still use ammonia!).
What Are The Benefits Of Natural Hair Care Products?
Though organic and natural hair care products may seem like they’re a bit more costly, you actually get a decent bang for your buck with most. Particularly if you use some of our eco-friendly bar finds, you’re not just getting excellent hair care products. You’re also helping save the world!
And there are other benefits as well. Most importantly, if you’re using the best natural hair care products, you’re staying away from chemicals and things that may trigger poor body responses. Irritation, allergic reactions and even hair falling out (in big clumps, after I tried an uber-popular ‘natural’ hair care product line that wasn’t so natural). Great products made with quality ingredients will be better for you overall, and that’s better for your pocketbook for sure.
Don’t forget what effort toward taking care of the earth you’re exerting when you choose organic and natural hair care products. The chemicals that are used to make so many hygiene products are not just toxic for you. They’re toxic for the earth too. All those foamy, goopy, synthetically fragranced shampoos and conditioners run through your drain in the shower or bath and then what?
Those chemicals run into bodies of water or evaporate into our air and we pollute the earth in massive ways. When we use the best natural hair care products, we recognize what we’re releasing back into the earth and we’re cognizant of her sacrifice by reducing the load.
Natural hair care products are also better for your hair. They’re not as harsh on your hair and they don’t damage your hair like artificial hair care products will. They’re mild and they’re meant to be mild for a reason. They can help prevent balding, as they are designed to strengthen your hair follicles, and experts in the natural hair care products industry claim they make your hair fuller and thicker as well.
And because most natural hair care products have organic components that reduce the aging of your hair, your hair is healthier and stays healthier longer. In effect, natural hair care products are like anti-agers for your hair!
What To Look For In The Best Natural Hair Care Products
So, you know what to avoid, but what ingredients are good to look for? We asked industry experts, and they all suggested natural oils like coconut or jojoba as great ingredients. Coconut stimulates hair growth, while jojoba can calm irritated skin cells and encourage and enhance new hair cell growth. Shea Butter makes hair nice and shiny, and Vitamin E is an incredible conditioner for those with damaged or dry hair. Cold-pressed castor oil or aloe vera are great for cleaning as they’re anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory.
Many natural hair care products also have antioxidants that protect your hair and scalp too. The general rule is to look for shampoos that have fewer than nine ingredients in them. Just like food, the smaller the ingredient list, the better. Some other ingredients industry experts swear by are Beta Glucan and organic Tea Tree Oil.
Best Natural Hair Care Products
So we’ve fallen in love with shampoo and conditioner bars! We didn’t think we would, me especially as I have curly hair and wondered just how great a conditioner bar could be. Well, let me tell you…of all we tried, none disappointed! We love that HiBAR is shipped and sold without plastic packaging and the packaging that is used is recyclable and compostable paper stock. One HiBAR shampoo lasts as long as a 16oz bottle of liquid shampoo (no, really!) and has a tiny, tiny impact on the environment. Even when you order from Amazon, they’ve made it so NO plastic is used at all–envelopes and padding including. LOVE!
Another set of bars we adored was from Ethique. Vegan, clean and truly committed to making great products that help humans and help the earth! They’re sustainably and responsibly made with free-trade agreements, and they help give back to the earth with charitable donations and partnerships with other organizations committed to better for people and the planet. And YES, they work! Again, I wasn’t too optimistic about bars before we used them, but we’re sort of addicted!
We came across this incredible woman-owned company and were wowed! Started by Callee Ackland, Hippie Haven works to make the world a better place with sustainable living and empowerment for women. Callee grew up in poverty and was raised by a mother with mental illness. She suffered an abusive childhood and escaped by joining the U.S. Navy. There, she saw toxic masculinity and a greed by Americans to put resources over human lives, and she left the Navy as a conscientious objector seeking to make the world a better place. When she was 23, she started a line of eco-friendly home and beauty goods, Bestowed Essentials, and it’s grown to be the largest soap manufacturing company in South Dakota. She hosts Hippie Haven Podcast which teaches people about sustainable living and she opened Hippie Haven as a zero-waste sore and community in Rapid City, SD.
Their Coconut & Lavender shampoo cleans the scalp with natural lavender and each bar lasts for up to 50-60 hair washes. They’re clean bars and perfect for dry/damaged hair.
We talked with Nate Masterson, the CEO of Maple Holistics. Nate said that Maple Holistics is dedicated to holistic health and wellness, and to beauty products we can feel good about using. This yummy pomegranate shampoo is sustainably made, and free of icky chemicals. It’s infused with pure, organic pomegranate oil, alongside other nourishing botanicals such as lavender oil, sea buckthorn, and sunflower seed oil. It’s designed to restore and revive hair that could use some TLC.
Nate says his goal is to help consumers know that sustainable living doesn’t have to be hard, or even super expensive, and simply changing beauty products can be a great start. We tried it with both smooth and curly-haired girls and found it left our hair feeling clean, like we’d just given it a detox bath!
Andalou has always been one of our favorite brands and we love their bundle that has aloe vera juice oil, jojoba and argan to give soft and smoothing shine. There’s no icky stuff and it’s made from certified organic ingredients. Andalou utilizes Fruit Stem Cell Science to help improve follicle longevity and vitality for the health of your hair from the root to the tip.
Again, even if you’re not a curly girl, it’s nice to have moisturizing shampoos and conditioners. Noughty uses luxurious Moroccan argan oil and almond, along with hydrating sunflower seed extract to help your hair be healthy. The Almond extract doesn’t just smell great, it helps strengthen your hair too!
Natural hair care products can mean the difference between a healthy and happy head of hair AND planet or not. Do your research; read ingredients and find what combination of products work best for your hair type. And, don’t be afraid of soap bars or other products that may seem/feel different in your hair. Trust us, there are some great products out there, and we’re loving all the options!
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.