Finding ingredients to avoid in black hair care products can be challenging because toxic products are rampant, and manufacturers are often negligent about protecting consumer health.
You’ll discover many harmful hair care ingredients within black hair care products if you study the back of the bottle. But often, a manufacturer will try to fool you with clever marketing tactics on the front label. This makes your research confusing, and you may even forget to read the back label altogether.
In this article, you’ll find out which ingredients to avoid and you’ll discover an easy way to quickly research the best products for your natural hair.
Why Avoid Toxic Hair Care Ingredients?
Many chemicals found in everyday beauty products can harm your body. Certain chemicals can cause allergies and damage the chemical make up of your body when the product is absorbed into the skin and hair.
The skin is the largest organ in the body, and it can absorb chemicals. This means your scalp can easily absorb toxic ingredients when they touch your skin.
Even if you never allow the harmful ingredients to touch your scalp, you will still inhale them, and the inhalation will damage other bodily systems.
The nose has a straight path to the brain, and inhaling chemicals can cause nervous system damage. The nose also has a passage to the lungs and your entire respiratory system.
Your lungs are responsible for taking in oxygen and dispersing it to your blood cells. Breathing in chemicals will hinder your lungs’ performance and may even disperse the unwanted chemicals into your body through your blood.
Below you’ll find a list of specific hair care ingredients to avoid.
Hair Care Ingredients to Avoid/ Worst Hair Care Ingredients
Many ingredients found in black hair care products are toxic, and you may have bottles containing these ingredients in your bathroom cabinet right now.
Here are seven toxic ingredients to avoid in everyday black hair care products:
Fragrance has 3,163 toxic chemicals hide behind the word, “fragrance”, according to EWG (Environmental Working Group).
Fragrance can single-handedly destroy any beauty product that could have otherwise been deemed safe. If you must have a scent in your product, look for natural ingredients instead, like a healing essential oil.
Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Releasers. Formaldehyde and its releasers lurk in most anti-frizz products and relaxers. The FDA does not regulate how much formaldehyde a manufacturer can place in a product.
Many black manufacturers routinely place this ingredient in their products to make curly hair more manageable, without concern for endangering the lives of their customers.
Formaldehyde releasers include DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol), 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane, and Hydroxymethylglycinate.
Scan the label of styling products, and make sure they do not contain any of the above formaldehyde releasers. Instead, choose natural smoothing ingredients and stretching methods for manageability.
Parabens. Manufacturers use parabens to preserve shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. Parabens are known to mimic estrogen and can increase your risk of breast cancer.
It is one of the major hair care ingredients to avoid during pregnancy because of the carcinogenic effect on the reproductive and other systems.
Sulfates. Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate is irritating to the skin and has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory mice. Besides scalp irritation and cancer, you can also expect sulfates to dry out your hair and cause breakage and poor manageability.
Many black haircare companies are skipping the sulfates these days, and it is becoming easier to find sulfate-free products that feature quality hair care ingredients instead.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG). PEG is a known carcinogen and skin irritant because of its high levels of dioxin. Most PEG listings have numbers attached to them that specify how small the molecule is.
The smaller numbers are worse because the tiny PEG molecules can fit through your skin pores and do more damage. For example, PEG-2 and PEG-4 do greater harm than PEG-100 because they penetrate the scalp more. Scan your conditioner ingredients to make sure there is no PEG listed.
Dimethicone. Silicones like dimethicone are not as toxic as some of the other ingredients on this list. However, dimethicone can trap bacteria and fungi on the scalp and make it difficult for you to cleanse your skin. This is one of the many reasons I stress clarifying your hair on a monthly basis to remove build up.
Silicones also create a big barrier over your hair and make it almost impossible for water and conditioning ingredients to get through. Try using Butta Butta Cream, which will give you a protective barrier without being difficult to wash away.
Petroleum. Mineral oil (aka petroleum, paraffin, petrolatum, and hair grease) work much like silicones do. They are not inherently toxic, but they do place a barrier over the skin and hair.
Having the barrier may look and feel great in the beginning but continuing to use these products will inhibit water and other beneficial ingredients from reaching the scalp and hair shaft. The result is dryer hair and clogged pores which can lead to scalp acne.
Helpful Resource for Researching Toxic Ingredients
When in doubt, use EWG’s Skin Deep Database. You will find listings of harmful hair care ingredients and ratings on specific items. It will help to make your shopping decisions much faster and easier. They even have an EWG ( Environmental Working Group) Verified stamp they place on non-toxic products so you can quickly find quality items.
It’s best to always scan labels and research ingredient lists from home before you go shopping. That will help you avoid the temptation to place toxic beauty items in your cart when you’re at the store.
Spend time searching for black products that help your health instead of hindering it. Also, aim to arrive well-prepared with a list of ingredients to avoid in black hair care products before you hit the aisles.
By: Patrina Haupt
Hey Curl Friend, I’m Patrina Haupt the creator and author of Natural Hair Queen. I hope you find my healthy hair care tips helpful in your hair journey. Healthy hair care practices are definitely, what helped me to achieve waist length hair.