Are natural Hair Care Products truly natural?
'Natural' hair care products are extremely popular. The bottles show lovely herbs and flowers and the products smell beautiful! And they're natural, so these have to be better for your hair, right?
Well, it very much depends on just how natural and organic these products really are. How do you know? Let's take a look...
What does 'natural' mean?
A hair care product can advertise that it is natural but this may only mean that it avoids unnecessary chemicals – it doesn't have to mean that it is free of them. 'Natural' may also mean that the company is environmentally friendly and uses only plant and herbal additives.
The only way to be absolutely sure of what you are buying is to read the labels and check the list of ingredients.
What ingredients should I check for?
Sometimes the chemical ingredients are fairly obvious. If the product is very brightly colored or has a strong fragrance, the chances are that chemicals are the reason. There are some chemicals that are common to most hair care products – even those advertised as natural!
To be really sure, you need to look for the following words:
- Paraben preservatives
Or petrochemical detergents such as
- Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)
- Cocamidopropyl betaine
- Olefin sulfonate
If the product contains any of these then it is not 100% chemical-free.
Some products are labelled as containing an ingredient but the reality is that the ingredient is a synthetic version. Jojoba is a good example of this – the jojoba in the product is very often 'man-made' and not real jojoba oil.
Aloe Vera is often said to be included, but again, it's commonly a synthetic version.
We want bubbles!
The most commonly added chemicals are agents to make shampoo foam up well - and preservatives. In-depth market research has shown that buyers just don't like shampoo that doesn't lather well. They consider it an inferior product and don't 'trust' it or enjoy the hair shampooing experience as much as they would with a sudsy one!
For this reasons, even the most vehemently labelled 'natural' hair care products contain sodium laural sulphate or SLS – a petrochemical derivative that makes suds.
Will it last?
Consumers also demand a decent length of shelf-life time for their products. Without the addition of preservatives, many products would only last a few weeks. Products made with no preservatives have to be made in small batches in a sterile environment to avoid any bacterial contamination. This makes the process time consuming and expensive.
Most big companies make batches of thousands of products at a time and they need a shelf life of two to three years!
Unfortunately, the harsh truth is that selling hair care products is an extremely competitive business and simply in order to survive - let alone compete - companies have to bow to what the consumer demands. The compromise is that many of these companies strive to use the bare minimum of chemicals, additives and fragrances.
They also work very hard to protect the environment and to help the communities who are involved with the making of their products. Aveda, Phyto, and the Body Shop are all great examples of this.
Other companies that try hard to keep their products as natural as possible are Origins, Kiehl, Nexxus, Perlier, Sebastian and Yves Rocher. There are many more – just remember to check the ingredients!
So how can I get 100% natural products?
Aubrey Organics products are natural. This company is owned by Aubrey Hampton, who is very concerned about the use of chemicals in hair care and skin products. His mother was an herbalist and over 35 years ago, he founded his company, using skills that he had learned from her, to make natural products for consumers.
Aubrey Organics products have no synthetic chemicals – relying instead on herbs, essential oils and natural vitamins. You can buy these online or in health food shops.
If you're interested in learning more about natural versus chemical hair and make up products, Aubrey has written three books on the subject.
Make your own!
The only other way to be sure of getting 100% chemical and additive free hair care products is to make your own! That way, you'll know exactly what's gone into them. Be sure to read the labels on the ingredients that you use. Make small batches as they won't keep very long and refrigerate them once opened.
For some ideas, see our article on home made hair masks!