Are Natural Hair Care Products Really Better?

July 19, 2009

I’ve been searching for more “natural” and “organic” hair products for the last month. And the more I learn about ingredients, the more I wonder does it even matter. I love Aubrey Organics GPB, but I wonder why they don’t choose to label Cetyl Alcohol (an emulsifier and emollient… which is far from drying) what it is… instead of some faux natural name they came up with like “Coconut Fatty Acid Cream”. I noticed that many other natural hair care lines do the exact same thing… making up whimsical names because they sound better than the more scientific ones, and it comes across as a little misleading to me.

More research lead me to find out that there is no legal definition for beauty products that tout themselves as “natural”. A product can claim to be natural even if it has one natural ingredient in it. And when we start talking about organic hair care products, it can be even sketchier. Why? Because the FDA and the USDA do not monitor or regulate the word “organic”… so it’s pretty hard to verify if most companies are even telling the truth.

I’ve used a ton of natural hair care products in the last month and I can’t say that my hair is better off because of it. I’m pretty sure that I’m just going to keep incorporating kitchen products into my regimen and just try to reduce my usage of all commercial products. Olive Oil, Eggs, Mayo, Apple Cider Vinegar, and many other products I can find in my own house have provided the best results when it comes to doing my hair. So my goal right now is to limit my list of commercial staples to under 10 products for the remainder of my transition. That means I’m not buying anything new outside of what I already have anytime soon. Hopefully getting rid of my excess hair products will allow me to post more product reviews.

If this post sounds like it’s all over the place… I’m sorry… it’s a little after 3am and I need to get some sleep. I might proof it later in the morning and add the other three paragraphs that I can’t fully formulate right now :)

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

ShayG July 19, 2009 at 9:59 am

I don’t believe that natural products are better. My lesson was learned very early in my hair journey when I purchased some conditioner and “oils” from a well known natural hair company. Both had mold in them within 3 months. That lead me to researching preservatives and other ingredients like you. If something works well for me now I’m able to pinpoint what ingredient likely had the effect. I use whatever works. Some are natural and some are not.

Dr. Ali Syed July 19, 2009 at 9:59 am

Good post HM. Unfortunetly natural is becoming a big business in and of itself. Functionality of natural ingredients is what really counts.

HauteHairGurl July 19, 2009 at 5:04 pm

That sucks. The reason I prefer more natural and household products is to help me more easily determine what works for my hair (which so far = NOTHING!). I wish everyone would stop being so “creative” and just be honest. What happened to that? If your product is good, people will buy it. No need for all the extra.

CurlyTru July 24, 2009 at 12:26 am

I completely understand your frustration; beauty products can be misleading.
I took a course in cosmetics/make-up in Fall ’08 and we were taught to pay attention to ingredients on labels, not the fancy writing on the product. I started doing some research on my own and, as you also discovered, there is absolutely NO regulation on beauty products. Sulfates, for example, are still being used in shampoos that are supposed to “cleanse and moisturize” but in actuality they strip the hair of natural oils, leaving it brittle. I’ve always been the type to research products before I use them just because I’ve seen so many products, especially for black hair, that claim to be great for our hair, but are actually 100% terrible, like hair “grease.”
As for the ingredient description, it’s a lot easier to understand what “Coconut Fatty Acid Cream” than “Cetyl Alcohol.” They both mean the exact same thing. I personally would rather read the former just because the scientific names are SO much harder to remember when I’m shopping lol

As for buying natural hair products, I go to a holistic Health Food store, because they actually take the time to assure that the products they sell are completely organic and/or use only natural ingredients (as opposed to chemically mixed). They also sell the ingredients themselves, which is very helpful in making your own hair elixirs; they usually have both carrier and essential oils, good quality ones that aren’t “watered down”. (cuz i’m sure you don’t have a rosemary tree in your backyard LOL).

I hope you continue to share and inform us of hair health!! :-) Good luck on your journey.

Dani August 4, 2009 at 10:00 pm

@ ShayG – I’m sorry to hear about your experience and I’m still on the fence if most of them are better.

@ Dr. Ali Syed – Thanks for stopping by again. Your blog actually inspired me to learn about ingredients and the science behind hair care.

I agree, “Natural” and “Organic” have been the buzz words for a few years and will continue to be because there is definitely money to be made in marketing them. I’m not against it… just hoping, the post and comments will challenge people to research before they buy.

@ Haute Hair Girl – I’m still searching for holy grail products and I’ve found three in my own house, olive oil, eggs, and water (lol). I don’t mind them being creative, just make a product that actually works better and is truly beneficial.

@ CurlyTru – Thanks for your comment. This post was actually supposed to be much longer, but I was getting sleepy that night.

I agree, with many of your statements and hope that others will start paying attention to product labels. I brought up the point about AO because I’m not sure that many of their customers would still buy their GPB if the ingredient was labeled by the scientific name instead… especially when it’s listed as the first ingredient. Without knowledge of ingredients most people would not think that cetyl alcohol is “natural”. But I definitely see your point :)

I’m hoping by the time I finish my transition… that I’ll be making my own products for my personal use as well. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

amanady August 26, 2009 at 4:52 am

It’s been noted that most people prefer Natural products rather than choosing conventional products. They think that natural products provide quicker and positive results and it’s true.

Anna September 9, 2010 at 1:46 am

I truly think they are better and I feel that I’m being eco friendly when purchasing them and helping the environment. I found this great website that sells all natural hair care and also gives 1 dollar from every order to charity.

It’s where I buy all my hair care products. I love it!

Nicola Brown April 2, 2011 at 5:19 am

I there, I love your site. I have a question? I am a new business owner I work from home and I make ALL NATURAL PRODUCTS. I have nothing in my products that have n e big words that we all can’t pronounce :) . Most if not all of the product I use are organic and the ingredients are very simple. I don’t pack a lot of stuff in my products. Here is the question for you. I am in the making of my own shampoo, conditioner, leave in, and a hair cream. Do you know what I can use to thicken up the products so that they are creamy and not so runny? Because I don’t use shea butter or any cones, there are not as thick as products on the market. Please help :)

Vashti February 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Do you know anything about Shea Moisture products? Can you do a product review on that hair line?

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