I want to talk about product ingredients today. I know that in the beginning it can be hard to remember to look at the back of the label on the products we purchase. The information can be very overwhelming and confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking at. Whether it is food, cleaning products, or hair products we need to start looking at that label. But, we are going to focus on hair products.
It is very important for us naturals to know what is in the products we use. Why? Because there are products that contain chemicals that are damaging to our hair and we can possibly have allergies to. If we gain an awareness of product ingredients and the effects that they have then we can make better choices in the products we use on hair and increase the health of our hair. So here is some information that can be helpful to you new naturals and transitioning naturals.
The boogey man in the natural hair game is sulfates. Sulfates are found in most shampoos; they can be harsh and remove oils from the hair. If you have issues with your hair being dry like I do, you may want to pay particular attention to products that contain sulfates. Products that have mild sulfates or that are sulfate free.
Silicones are another bad ingredient that you may want to be cautious of. You can find silicones in shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. Most of the time you will see an ingredient ending in “cone”, “col”, “conol”, or “zane” and these are silicones. The four categories of silicones are; water-soluble, slightly water-soluble, non water-soluble, non water-soluble but repels build-up, non water-soluble and build-up prone. Some of these silicones can cause your hair to no longer remain hydrated or hold moisture causing it to be dry.
Protein is our next culprit. It can be found in conditioners to maintain and strengthen hair structure, when hair is damaged or weak because of chemicals. If you use a protein treatments make sure to use a moisturizing conditioner so that your hair will have elasticity. Hair can respond in a less positive manner to protein, called “Protein Sensitivity”.
Glycerin, is a humectant found in a lot of products and can be used to attract water to the hair shaft (into it). Now, there is debate on glycerin. Some use it with water to help retain moisture. Some do not believe that glycerin is the best product to use to control moisture. But, it is up to you and what your hair reacts to positively. Glycerin can be a boon to those with porous and frizz prone hair, those with low porosity hair and those with dry hair. But, if you are a Texan, using glycerin can cause frizz and tangling in those humid months.
Alcohols have two categories basically, which are short chain drying alcohols (which are bad for hair) and long chain “fatty
alcohols (which can be good for hair). The short chain drying alcohols evaporate quickly, so they can be found in products that look to shorten the time hair takes to dry. In long chain “fatty” alcohols, they lubricate, moisturize and are “film-forming” so that moisture is locked in. Everyone should be aware of this because the long chain “fatty” alcohols have the moisturizing properties that we all look for.
Mineral Oils are used as emollients in products, to seal in moisture, block out humidity, and to enhance clumping/curl-formation. Mineral oil is not water-soluble and does not penetrate the hair shaft on its own to moisturize. It only helps to seal in water or moisture. The bad reputation that mineral has is because of its being found in products that also contain ingredients such as petrolatum and lanolin that are sticky and/or greasy. Combinations such as these can cause build up on hair and scalp, attract dust, dirt, and lint from the environment. Although some totally move away from mineral oil, cosmetic grade mineral oil can be light and non-sticky. If you follow a co-wash only/shampoo free regimen this can be important to as well as those with scalp issues. Use of mineral oil that has been combined with petrolatum, lanolin, and some vegetable oils can be sticky, greasy, and build-up on hair and clog the pores of the scalp. So a cleansing agent will be necessary to remove the build up.
Petrolatum is used to seal water, provide a barrier to heat and chemicals and give shine to the hair. It is not water-soluble, is sticky (so it will attract dust/dirt/lint. It can also cause build up on hair and clog pores of the scalp. It is found in many hair “greases”. If you follow a co-wash routine with no shampoo or have scalp issues using a product such as this would require a cleansing agent to remove the build up caused by this product.
By now you have all heard of Parabens. These are preservatives that are used to increase the shelf life of a product by keeping microorganisms from invading. The most common place to find parabens are cosmetic products and include methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. If want to use products that are 100% natural to avoid the toxicity of this product because of its hormone disrupting abilities (paraben were detected in breast tumors) then you want to avoid products containing this ingredient.
Information in this article was obtained from Curlynikki.com, “Skill Notes: Product Ingredients”.