Finding the right products for your naturally curly hair can be a mix of knowledge and trial and error. It’s important to have a base knowledge of what your hair needs, the kinds of products your hair hates, and how to use them. Unfortunately, many curly hair products marketed for women trying to tame or revive their hair, are laced with ingredients that end up hurting the hair rather than restoring hair health. So, even if you are well-versed in what your hair needs and doesn’t need, there can be underlying ingredients in your favorite hair products that can cause long term damage or be the reason why you do not see the results you desire.
1. SILICONES - Silicone provides slip and shine, can help smooth and straighten hair and gives hair a luxuriously conditioned feel. They are names ending in ‘cone.’ But to keep it real, Silicone is plastic, and it repels moisture and air. According to Seasoned curly hair expert and owner of Southern Curl Atlanta, Robin Sjoblom, if a curly girl wants to rock her curls, using a product with silicone in it, is coating her spiral strand with plastic and moisture can not get into the curl, this creates frizz. The only way to remove a silicone is to use a shampoo containing Sodium Lauryl Sulphate or Sulfonate. Sulfonate is detergent. SLS is found in toothpaste, laundry detergent, and toilet bowl cleaner. It is the cheapest way to cleanse. Although it strips off the silicone, it also strips out all the moisture from the curls, thus causing dry, frizzy curls! We recommend curlies to use sulfate and silicone free shampoo and cleansers for these reasons.
Silicone is not a natural ingredient, and its side effects are harmful to hair. Silicone will weigh the hair down, making it limp, lifeless, and with time, very dull. It gives the hair the illusion of shine, but it is not the shine we want—it is a fake shine from the plastic. The shine we want is when the cuticle layer is sealed, and light reflects off the hair. This effect will only happen when hair is properly hydrated and kept as healthy as possible.
2. SULFATES - This is a tough ingredient to avoid, but once you replace your current products, you will be glad you did. Sulfates are chemical detergents that create the sudsy soap like experience when you wash your hair. Most people associate that with their hair being clean when, truthfully, it’s not necessary. The sulfates are overly efficient and can wash out the good oils from your hair and scalp leaving it excessively dry, dull, and brittle.
3. ADDED FRAGRANCE - When you check out the ingredients in your favorite curly hair products, fragrance can be an easy one to glance over and shrug off. However, artificially added fragrances do not have to be broken down on the label and can honestly be an umbrella term for about any chemical under the sun.
4. BAD ALCOHOL - Naturally curly hair has a hard time staying moisturized and bouncy. Example alcohols are Ethanol Alcohol, Ethyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Isopropanol Alcohol and much more. These can found in some of your favorite commercial products and can wreck havoc on your curls.
5. PARABENS - If you have any valuable, quality curl hair product, it will likely boast that it doesn’t include parabens. The reason for this is parabens are naturally curly hair kryptonite. Parabens often show up on ingredient lists with names like methyl, propyl, butyl, or ethyl. For a long while, these elements have been used to extend the shelf life of products by a couple of years but have since are linked to causing cancer.
6. LANOLIN, PETROLEUM, MINERAL OILS - These are cheap replacements for high-quality oils and butters. Cheap replacement oils do not offer any moisturizing benefits. Because they are so heavy, they end up weighing your curls down and building up on the scalp.
7. ARTIFICIAL PIGMENTS - Artificial colors and pigments can easily are in some of your favorite hair products. The issue is that artificial colors can also cause skin sensitivity and irritation. Synthetic dyes are also linked to cancer. Most times, they appear on labels as FD&C and D&C.
8. DIETHANOLAMINE OR DEA - This is often added to products to balance the pH in your favorite curly hair products. However, it can also cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, as well as dry skin and hair.
9. PROPYLENE GLYCOL - You can easily find this ingredient in a product that offers your hair added slip or glide like a conditioner. You can also find it in products that you’d never put in your hair like anti-freeze. Consistent use can cause skin irritation, hives, or dermatitis.
10. FORMALDEHYDE - A cheap preservative used in hair products, formaldehyde is linked to cancer and can cause a laundry list of issues. From ear infections to heart palpitations, formaldehyde doesn’t belong in your favorite hair product, unless your dead already.
11. DIAZOLIDINYL UREA, IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA - Like parabens, ureas are used as cheap preservatives in hair products. In many cases, urea can cause skin irritation and dermatitis.
Yes, it can be disheartening to toss out your favorite curly hair maintenance and styling products. The good thing, though, is every one of your favorite products is replaceable by a product containing more health-conscious ingredients. Quality hair products are just as relevant to scalp and hair as quality food is to the body. Some issues you experience, like breakage, dryness and dandruff, will be alleviated when you switch products. The key is to READ!! Reading labels, knowing what's in hair products and how they affect your physiology is key. You can't afford NOT to.