Organic hair products have been trending for several years now. With our society growing more health and environmentally conscious, there is no wonder why there has been a move toward using organic products including hair care.
Organic products are generally considered healthier and better for us. You might already choose to buy organic fruit and veggies. But what about hair care products?
Here is everything you need to know about organic hair products and whether you should make the switch.
What are Organic Hair Care Products?
An organic product means that all the ingredients are grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, sewage sludge, ionising radiation or genetically modified organisms.
Organic hair products, therefore, are theoretically free of the nasties that can be associated with those things.
Your scalp is a part of your skin which is the largest organ in your body. What we put on our hair and scalp can get absorbed into our bloodstream.
So it is good to be mindful of what you are putting on your hair and scalp. That is true whether you choose to go completely organic or not.
What is the Difference Between Organic and Vegan Products?
The terms "organic" and "vegan" are not interchangeable. While they may have similar benefits, vegan means that the formula is free of any animal-derived ingredients or ingredients from manufacturing processes that involve animals in any way.
Organic products may still contain animal products, but from organic sources only.
What About Organic Hair Care Products?
Organic products are the right choice for you if you are concerned about the use of synthetic ingredients in your hair care. Organic shampoos and conditioners are generally considered to be gentler and safer on the hair and scalp, which is most beneficial for those with sensitive skin.
Most non-organic hair shampoos and conditioners contain SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) which can cause skin, eye and scalp irritation on sensitive skin.
Sodium is a surfactant that makes shampoos lather up and it is also cheap, so many companies use it. Many companies also use other synthetic ingredients such as silicones that may make hair feel squeaky clean and tidy but can dry out hair.
Natural and earth-made ingredients such as sunflower and calendula have natural healing properties that can be nourishing for your skin and scalp.
Is Organic Better for the Environment?
Organic products are typically considered to be better for the environment. That's because organic farming eliminates the use of synthetic chemicals and fertilisers that can be destructive to water and soil.
On the flip side though, organic farming requires more space to produce a harvest because of an increase in weeds and insects impacting yield size.
The top 5 benefits of Organic Hair Products
1. It is nourishing on your hair
Organic products don't give you the illusion of healthier hair like regular shampoos and conditioners. While some products packed with silicones and sulphates may feel like they are working wonders for the first few weeks, they will eventually make your hair dull and lifeless because of the harsh chemicals.
Natural and organic hair products are greatly beneficial for your hair because it is gentler and will not strip your hair of its protective oils. You may not see it immediately, but over time the organic products will repair your hair and provide it with sustained nourishment.
2. It is free from irritants and synthetics
Why do most companies use paraben in their products? It gives it a longer shelf life. Anything designed to live long on the shelf cannot be good for your health. Parabens can also be absorbed by the body and can sometimes cause skin or eye irritation if an allergy exists.
Sulphates are surfactant that creates the foaming on your shampoo. However, it also strips your hair of its natural oils in order to clean it. Organic products will not foam up in the same way, so it feels like it isn't working as well.
Silicones used in conditioners create a silky layer over the hair to restore moisture after it is stripped by harsh shampoo. A build-up of silicone however can leave hair feeling greasy and heavy by the end of the day. The only way to remove a silicone buildup is by removing it with sulphate and thus begins a horrible cycle.
Organic shampoo won't foam up like sulphate-based shampoos, which might make you feel like it isn't working. You can rest assured that it is still doing its job without the suds. Organic conditioners are rich in natural ingredients like coconut oil and vitamin E which will benefit your hair in the long run.
3. It is safer for your skin
As mentioned in the previous point, heavy chemicals such as sulphates can strip hair of its natural oils. In effect, this can be quite drying on the scalp. If you are prone to sensitive skin or skin conditions such as psoriasis, organic products will be better for your hair. The ingredients have fewer irritants, which means it is gentler on the scalp and prevents allergies.
An example of a natural ingredient is tea tree oil is a great anti-fungal for eliminating dandruff. This type of organic ingredient is much safer for your scalp and skin.
4. Achieve a better result
Over the long run, organic products are better for your hair. It may not foam and lather the way sulphate-based products do, but the end result will be worth it.
Organic products will not strip colour from your hair and will provide nourishment with their natural ingredients. The result is healthy and luscious locks.
5. You are helping the environment
Organically grown goods eliminate the use of synthetic chemicals and fertilisers which is damaging to water and soil. They also reduce the use of harmful GMOs.
As well as this, people often do not realise that what they put down the drain can also have an effect on the environment. Heavy chemicals and microbeads can pollute waterways and harm marine life.
Organic products are more environmentally conscious and are often made with biodegradable or recycled packaging. Your choice to go organic will make a tremendous difference, not only for your own health but also for the environment.
How to Choose Organic Hair Care Products
If you make the choice to go organic with your hair care, here is a list of ingredients you will need to try and avoid:
- Sodium laureth sulphate
- Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)
- Ammonium lauryl sulphate
- Diethanolamine (DEA)
- Triethanolamine (TEA)
- Polyethelyne glycol
- Alcohol (if listed as one of the first four ingredients)
- Synthetic Fragrance/Parfum
- Propylene Glycol (aka anti-freeze)
- Siloxanes (ending in -siloxane or -methicone)
Common Non-Organic Hair Care Ingredients
Organic products are free of the following ingredients:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
Sulphate is a surfactant used in many shampoos to create a rich lather effect. While this gives you the feeling of a good clean, it is also removing all the natural oils.
Silicone is a plastic-type polymer commonly used in conditioners to give the illusion of healthy hair as it fills the porosity and gives hair a shiny coating. Ideally, you want the shine to come from within the cuticle layer and for the light to be reflected from your healthy hair, not synthetic plastic. Over-use of silicone can also cause a build-up and the only way to remove it is by using a sulphate, thus creating a cycle that theoretically can work but you may want to avoid.
Parabens are a preservative that is used in products to prolong their shelf life. Though there has been no evidence that parabens can cause cancer, they are able to penetrate the skin and stay in the tissue. Parabens have been known to disrupt hormone function by mimicking estrogen.
Are Organic Hair Care Products Really Better for You?
While there is no proof that organic products are better, everything is better in moderation. The more you expose your body to chemicals, the more your body may experience long-term effects. One option you might want to try is mixing up your routine by switching between organic and non-organic products.
With its gentle formula, organic hair care can be beneficial for those with sensitive skin because it can reduce irritation for those who are allergy prone.
Are Organic Hair Care Products Worth the Price?
Organic products tend to be a bit more expensive. The good news is that more and more companies are realising the benefits of organic ingredients and the demand, so it is becoming more available and affordable.
Going organic is a big habit shift as you have to start making more conscious decisions about what you put into your shopping basket and what you can fit into your budget. While there is no proof as yet of the long-term benefits, organic products should be something you consider if you care about holistic health.
If cutting pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics out of your routine or caring for the environment is important to you, then it is worth the investment. It all comes down to what your values are and what works best for your hair and skin.
Thankfully, more organisations are aware of this and more organic products are being released into the market, making it more affordable in the future.
Looking for Organic Shampoo or Conditioner?
Perhaps the most budget-friendly option for organic shampoo is to make your own.
Whether you make your own or you would rather buy something ready-made, here are some things to expect or look out for with organic hair products:
- Ingredients to avoid. Parabens and sulphates are common ingredients to avoid. A more complete list is found earlier in this article.
- A pH-balanced formula. The pH value of the best organic shampoos should be between 3.5 and 5.5. With a pH value below 6.0, the cuticle layer shrinks because the product is less acidic than the natural hair pH value.
- Top ingredients. Some organic ingredients can be rich in nutrients, such as Jojoba Extract, Almond Oil, Chamomile Extract, Argan Oil, and even Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Also search for Kakadu Plum Extract, Tea Tree Oil, Avocado Oil, Honey, Aloe Vera, Shea Butter, Vegetable Glycerin, and Vitamins A and E!
- Nutrients that moisturise. Genuine oils extracted from plant seeds and kernels are gel-like and buttery, leaving hair with a silky, hydrated feel that doesn't look heavy.
- Environmental sustainability. Fewer chemicals in shampoos may seem beneficial to the environment but that doesn't always tell the full story of sustainable practices. Check the sustainability values of each company to ensure what they do in all areas matches your expectations.
Something to Expect if You Go Organic
If you are used to a lot of lather, that will likely change. Organic ingredients tend to result in the hair follicles retaining more water and as such, washing produces less lather.
Not all shampoos and treatments are created the same or give the same results to everyone. So it might take some experimenting to find the right product for you. If you are considering the switch to organic products you can shop AMR's organic hair care products here.