If you want to switch to more natural products, hair care is an easy place to start. Natural shampoos and conditioners often act like their synthetic counterparts—without the added chemicals. They’re also gentler on your scalp and hair follicles, which will result in healthier hair over time.
What’s in Your Shampoo?
Brands like to put fruit and flowers on their bottles to make us think we’re using a natural product, but in reality, many shampoos contain harsh cleansers and questionable chemicals. Here’s some common ingredients you might want to think twice about:
Most shampoos contain sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, which is a cheap detergent. While sulfates aren’t toxic to your health, they are harsh on your hair and scalp. They strip away all your natural oils, making your hair dry and more prone to damage. This creates the need for more conditioner (I see what you did there, shampoo companies!), and can leave your scalp in a state of chronic irritation.
Commonly used as binding agents, phthalates are suspected to cause endocrine disruption and metabolic interference. Basically, they can disrupt your hormones and could even be making you gain weight. No thank you, phthalates!
Most hair products contain some kind of preservative, but not all preservatives are created equal. Many products use parabens, methylisothiazolinone, and formaldehyde-releasers. These are known to cause hormone disruption (some actually mimic estrogen in the body) and skin irritations. Formaldehyde-releasers also carry risks of toxic exposure to carcinogens.
The great news is that you don’t need any of these to keep your hair clean and soft! Here are the natural hair products I’ve tried and loved.
If you’re environmentally-conscious, shampoo bars are a great natural option because they don’t use any plastic packaging. Plus, if you travel a lot, they’re super easy to throw in a tin and can often be used for body wash too.
When I first switched over, I really liked Lush’s Brazilliant shampoo bar, but I was a little disappointed to see that it contained sodium lauryl sulfate. Recently, I’ve been using Meow Meow Tweet’s Rosemary Avocado Shampoo Bar, and I absolutely love it. It’s super rich and smells like my dream kitchen. My hair barely needs any conditioner when I use it, so it’s basically like a 2-in-1 product. I also sometimes use it to wash my face in the shower because I’m lazy like that, but it actually works great!
Although shampoo bars look a lot smaller than a bottle of shampoo, they actually last a long time. It takes my husband and I about 3-4 months to go through one bar.
Acure Organics Shampoo & Conditioner
When I’m not using a shampoo bar, I use Acure’s Mega Moisture Argan Oil & Pumpkin Shampoo and Conditioner. It actually doesn’t smell like pumpkin at all; it has a nice almond scent (which comes from the actual almond extract in it, rather than a perfume). I barely need any shampoo to get a great lather, and although the conditioner seems kind of watery, I also find myself using less of it than normal. They’re both very moisturizing, but leave my hair feeling clean and fresh.
My husband also likes this shampoo, and I think he was relieved that it didn’t leave him smelling like a pumpkin spice latte. His man card remains intact.
Natural Styling Products
Besides switching to natural shampoo, one of the best natural things you can do for your hair is simply wash it less. I used to wash mine every day because I’m a morning shower girl, and it just seemed like the thing to do while I was in there. Once I cut back on washes, it took my scalp a week or so to readjust and produce less oil. But I noticed my hair was much less damaged over time. Now, instead of relying on a wash and blow-dry to style my pixie cut, I either use dry shampoo or a little pomade.
I recently read the ingredients in my dry shampoo, and I was horrified to see aluminum in there. If you read my post on natural deodorant, you know that aluminum is NOT your friend. It’s a neurotoxin that shouldn’t be in your life. So I will be switching to Acure’s Organic Dry Shampoo, and I’ll keep you guys updated on how I like it.
When my cowlicks are acting up and my hair just doesn’t want to lay properly, I use Lush’s Queen Bee Hair Honey to smooth it down. I actually bought it as a styling pomade for my husband, but it smells and feels so nice that I like to steal a bit. We bought it at a Lush store forever ago (where we bought by weight, which made me feel like I was buying fancy cheese), and it’s still going strong. It’s also a plastic-free product, and though it gets a little melty in the summer, we just keep it wrapped in paper.
Overall, I’ve been really impressed with all the natural hair products I’ve tried. Whether you’re concerned about your health, the environment, or just want better hair, I think natural hair care is the way to go!
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Photo: © Elizabeth Steere