If you’re letting the not-so-great ingredients sink into your scalp during wash day, then you’re not doing your hair any favors. Having curly, wavy, or kinky hair means that you have been called to a higher purpose and must do your due diligence to support the dreams your hair has for itself. That starts with making sure the ingredients in your hair care routine retain moisture, increase elasticity, and avoid breakage. As part of a good hair maintenance plan, you’ll need a solid shampoo and conditioner that won’t send your hair dreams right down the drain.
Before wash day, check the labels of what you’re using to cleanse and condition your hair and make sure the following ingredients are missing:
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): SLS is the chemical put in shampoos to increase the lathering effect. It is a great cleaning agent, which is why it’s the same ingredient you’ll find in your dishwashing liquid. While it does a great job of cleaning your hair, unfortunately, it goes too far. It not only strips all the oil out of your hair, but it can even dry out your scalp, cause hair loss, or make your hair dry, brittle, and frizzy. Sometimes you can look at the label and miss SLS because it may be listed under an alias. Look for: ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium dodecyl sulfate, sulfuric acid, sodium salt sulfuric acid, A12-00356, Aquarex ME, and Aquarex methyl.
- Sodium Chloride: Sodium Chloride is another way to say salt. Salt absorbs water, and it absorbs moisture. Keep in mind that moisture is the exact thing you can’t afford to lose if you have dry or curly hair. This ingredient is used as a thickening agent in shampoos and works well for women with straight and very oily hair. In other hair types, it can lead to itchy scalp, dandruff, weakened hair or even hair loss. It’s actually better to wash your hair an additional time to remove build up, instead of turning to a shampoo that has this listed among its top five ingredients.
- Methylisothiazolinone (MIT): MIT is a chemical preservative used in shampoos to increase their shelf life. It is used in household cleaning products and beauty products because it can prevent the growth of bacteria. But, like most chemicals and preservatives, it is too strong for the scalp and can cause rashes and irritation. This preservative is so toxic for the skin that it is currently banned from Canadian health and beauty products. Unfortunately, it’s not banned in the United States, so you need to read your label. Look for it listed as microcare MT, or Neolone 950 too, because it might not be listed as MIT.
- Silicone: Silicone is a mineral used in conditioners to make hair look silky and shiny. Well, it’s shiny because it's a form of plastic. This mineral creates a top layer on the hair that mimics a fake shine. Beneath that layer is your hair, slowly drying out. This ingredient can actually create build up on your scalp and dry out your hair. It is also known to make hair brittle and cause frizz. Look for this ingredient under other names as well, such as: cyclomethicone, dimethicone, methicone, amodimethicone, dimethiconol and cyclomethicone/cyclopentasiloxane.
- Parabens: Parabens are popular antibacterial and antifungal chemicals used to preserve shampoos and conditioners. Like most chemicals, it comes down to being great in products used for cleaning floors and surfaces, but these chemicals are often too strong for the hair and skin. Parabens tear down the cuticle of the hair shaft and cause rashes on the scalp. In tests, it was also revealed that once parabens are absorbed into the scalp, they can potentially affect your hormones. Parabens were also found in tumors. If that’s not scary enough to make you reach for bottles labeled “Paraben free”, I don’t know what else to tell you.
The moral of this hair story is that the less chemicals and preservatives in your shampoo and conditioner, the better. But, you have to be careful, because some “natural” or “organic” brands still have these ingredients in their products. Always read the label to give your hair a chance to live up to its full potential.