Now that we’ve covered some of the ingredients that work well for natural hair let’s look at the flip side-the worst product ingredients for natural hair. Here’s a brief rundown of ingredients that naturalistas should approach with caution.
Hair products with short chain alcohols like ethanol and isopropyl varieties reduce drying time by evaporating quickly, taking oil and moisture along with it. The last thing natural hair needs is exposure to agents that will leave the cuticle more prone to dryness and frizz! Instead look for products with fatty alcohols like Cetyl and Stearyl alcohols. These tend to be slicker in nature and help the hair retain precious moisture.
Sulfates are commonly used in shampoos as a suds producing cleansing agent, but in high concentrations they can strip fragile strands and irritate the skin. As with alcohols, not all sulfates are created equal. For example, sodium lauryl sulfate is stronger and therefore more drying, while sodium myreth sulfate is on the milder end of the spectrum. For a gentle yet effective cleanse try Milani Supreme Oil Sulfate Free Moisturizing Shampoo that works without the use of sulfates.
Silicone often lands on the no-no list because it causes build-up, requiring clarifying shampoos containing drying sulfates to remove them. However, there are silicone types that are water soluble and slower to leave deposits on the hair. These are easier to rinse out and are less likely to disrupt the curl pattern while still providing the conditioning results that naturals love. If you still want to avoid using silicone altogether, products like DevaCurl’s No-Poo Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser are “cone” free.
The vote is split on the use of mineral oil for natural hair. Some naturals swear by mineral oil as a detangler or sealant that leaves hair super soft. Other curlies have reported less than stellar results with mineral oil including itchy flaky scalp and limp hair. Due to mineral oil’s chemical makeup it’s also thought to interfere with the scalp’s natural oil production. The final verdict is to use what works best for your hair, but it never hurts to be aware of the outcome that others are experiencing.
What hair product ingredients are on your “worst” list?