Clean beauty has come a very long way in recent years, especially when it comes to the hair care aisles. Whereas it used to be difficult to find high-performing shampoos and stylers that could compete with conventional products, that is definitely not the case anymore.
Thanks to the growing demand for nontoxic ingredients all around, we’ve seen an abundance of plant-powered products crop up that cater to all different hair types and needs. The biggest challenge with having all these options, of course, is figuring out what to actually look for (and avoid) if you’re trying to make the switch to a cleaner routine.
What’s the difference between “natural” and “organic” hair products?
Ah, we’re so happy you asked, as it is a bit confusing. Natural is a blanket term that means the product in question has naturally derived ingredients in the formula. Organic means that some of the ingredients were grown without the use of any chemicals or pesticides.
Here’s where it gets even trickier: A product can have organic ingredients and still not be fully certified organic. Also, a natural product isn’t automatically organic. (We know, it’s enough to make your head spin.)
TL;DR: Until there’s better legislation and safety standards set in place for screening cosmetics and personal care products, the fastest way to see if a product is up to the highest organic standards is to look for the USDA-certified organic label (which means at least 70 percent of the ingredients are organic) or the COSMOS Ecocert seal (which means at least 95 percent of the ingredients within the formula are organic).
AT A MINIMUM, WHAT ARE SOME INGREDIENTS TO AVOID IN MY HAIR CARE PRODUCTS?
Some of the biggest offenders to look out for are phthalates, parabens, cyclosiloxanes, coal tar (which is often used in dandruff shampoos), ethanolamine (found in styling products) and fragrance, all of which are associated with health concerns ranging in scope from skin irritationto possible endocrine disruption.
IS USING NONORGANIC PRODUCTS GOING TO IMPACT MY HAIR NEGATIVELY?
Actually, it’s less about the hair itself and more to do with your scalp, which is said to be nearly four times more absorbent than the skin on your forearms. If you’re worried about having too much exposure to chemicals, then swapping out your hair care products (particularly the ones that sit on your hair longer, like a leave-in conditioner or treatment) is a good place to start.
With that, let’s talk about some of our favorite natural and organic hair products.
1. Best Shampoo: Innersense Hydrating Cream Hairbath
Say it once with us: hydrating cream hairbath. Doesn’t that just sound divine? And divine it is, y’all, with a buttery texture that lathers beautifully and a clean, fragrant scent that’s owed entirely to essential oils. This gentle cleanser gets rid of grease without stripping your strands dry, which is especially nice for those of us with color-treated or heat-processed hair.
2. Best Conditioner: Rahua Classic Conditioner
This hydrating conditioner is packed with omega-9 oils to detangle hair and smooth frazzled ends, so everything dries down to a silkier finish. In addition to using natural and organic ingredients, the brand is also committed to sustainability, sourcing its namesake ingredient (rahua oil) from the Amazon rain forest and its indigenous people.
3. Best Scalp Treatment: Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal and Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo
This cult-favorite hair care line features products that are free of SLS, parabens, sulfates, phthalates and silicones. Instead it relies on natural plant and fruit extracts and oils (in this case, charcoal and coconut oil) to tackle a host of hair issues. Inarguably the star of the lineup is this detoxifying scrub that gets rid of any product buildup, while clearing away existing flakes. The peppermint, spearmint and tea tree oil blend cools an itchy scalp on contact and feels instantly soothing.
4. Best Leave-In Conditioner: Yarok Leave-In-Conditioner Feed Your Ends Detangler and Heat Protector Spray
Packed with vitamins and essential oils like jojoba and primrose, this multitasker is a true triple threat that can be used to detangle knots, protect against heat styling or as a leave-in conditioner. Best of all, you get all the hair smoothing benefits without any of the greasy weight.
5. Best Hair Oil: Balmyard Beauty Siren Luster Hair Oil
This luxe formula comprises four nourishing oils: coconut, black seed, Jamaican black castor and pomegranate seed oil. Work a few drops through damp, freshly washed strands to cut down on styling time or add it as a finishing touch to tame frizz and flyaways. Bonus: The sweet floral scent lingers on your hair long after you apply it.
6. Best Dry Shampoo: Beauty by Earth Dry Shampoo and Volume Powder
Kaolin clay sops up excess grease from your scalp, while lavender oil refreshes stale odors, replacing them with a hint of floral fragrance. The targeted nozzle applicator makes it easy to apply the powder directly to your hairline and scalp (as opposed to your sweater). Choose from light or dark to better match your hair color.
7. Best All-Around: Prose
If you’re looking for a complete overhaul of your hair care routine but don’t want to shop piecemeal for each product, this custom, made-to-order line is the way to go. All you have to do is take a quick quiz to find the best formulas of shampoo, conditioner and other styling products like oil or curl cream to complement your mane. Regardless of what you’re recommended, rest assured that none of the products include parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oils or GMOs in their formulas. (Note: In full transparency, the brand lists all of its ingredients, as well as itsEWG safety scores on the site.)