By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom
Are you planning to try a new product soon? My general ethos is that if you are curious about how a product works, you should buy it and try it. I do however think that there are some red flags about certain products that would make me question their claims or efficacy. Products that make my blacklist include:
1. Any water based conditioner which does not list water as the first ingredient
I have previously stressed that the vast majority of hair conditioners contain a large amount of water. It would not be uncommon for a conditioner to be 90–95% water. There are exceptions for conditioners that are pastes e.g mud based blocks or washes such as Ojon, rhassoul and bentonite clay. If a manufacturer is not honest enough to list the ingredients in the correct order, I do not trust that the product really is what they say it is or does what they claim it will do.
2. Any product with fragrance in the first five ingredients
Fragrance is sometimes used by manufacturers to disguise other ingredients in the product such as preservatives and mineral oil. My suspicion is raised further if the word fragrance appears towards the top of the ingredient list because most genuine fragrances based on citrus extracts or essential oils tend to be added in tiny amounts. As an example, perfumes for use in hair products are often dissolved in mineral oil bases with a small amount of preservative. If only a little is used this would not be a worry or concern to me but if the word fragrance appears in the first five ingredients, I would be suspicious as perhaps the mineral oil content of the perfume is actually a major ingredient.
3. Any shampoo which does not contain an oil or silicone
Shampoos can be very drying as a result of their ability to strip oil. In order to mitigate the drying effect most commercial store bought shampoos will contain a silicone of some sort (sometimes water soluble ‑identifiable by amine or amo within the name). If you are avoiding silicones, some natural hair soap bars and shampoos will instead contain a small fraction of a natural oil or butter. This small addition of oil changes the shampoo from a potentially super drying formula to one which cleanses but does not become overly dry.
4. Any product which is not a leave-in and contains mineral oil in the first five ingredients
Mineral oil is much maligned in the natural world but it is very effective to help ‘seal’ in moisture and block humidity. It is therefore quite appropriate as a leave in product or as a post-styling product for straightened hair. I would however say that there are more useful and potent oils that work better in shampoo and conditioners. I would not select a shampoo or conditioner that contained mineral oil in general but the big red flag is mineral oil in the first five ingredients. My preference is for ingredients that would perform a major function such as penetration for repair and moisture, additional slip for combing and creating a permeable barrier for moisture. For these functions a natural oil or butter or water soluble silicone is best.
5. Any product with an ingredient list that is missing or incomplete or too short
With the exception of traditionally made soap, all hair products need to have an ingredient list. Soap which has added ingredients for a function e.g oil, glycerin, fragrance or colour needs to have an ingredient list. Any product sold without clearly stating the ingredients is not worth a purchase. You have no clue as to what is in the bottle or whatever is claimed by the manufacturer is really true. If you are looking to purchase a shampoo or conditioner and the product claims to contain a particular ingredient but you cannot see it on the list, just avoid purchasing it. If a water based conditioner has fewer than 5 ingredients listed, be really careful before purchasing as this is an exceptionally short list.
Ladies, what do you try to avoid in products?