Natural. Organic. Cruelty Free. Sustainable. All of the terms jump out at us from product labels lining the shelves each time we peruse the aisles of a commercial store. These keywords help us make decisions depending on our own personal goals; I want to reduce my carbon footprint, I buy sustainable “green” products. I want to lower my exposure to chemical agents, so I buy organic products. I want to make sure my products aren't animal tested, so I use cruelty free. You get the point, but beyond the overarching question of why we’re buying specific products comes another; what exactly are they, and do they really work?
Let’s start with the basics.
Harmful chemicals commonly found in hair products
When it comes to hair care products, there is a lot out there to choose from depending on your buying preferences, hair composition and budget. Advertising and marketing efforts also push strong messages around the benefits of their products, but not often do they highlight what’s really in them, and sometimes it can be surprising.
While not all chemically created ingredients are harmful, there are a few additives that provide short term results at a long term cost. The chemicals most commonly found in hair products are sulfates, glycols, silicones and parabens.
Sulfates are responsible for the lather you see in most shampoos to remove dirt and oil, and depending on the type of sulfate and how often you’re washing they can be incredibly harsh on your hair. Just like carbs, not all sulfates are made the same. Some sulfates are stronger and more harsh (often found in cleaning agents) and can strip the hair of natural oils and colors. Others are less harsh and incredibly helpful to remove buildup, dirt, microbials and product to create a healthy environment for your hair to grow.
Depending on your hair type and how much moisture you need, sulfates may or may not be a necessity in your hair products - especially if you already have a dry, sensitive scalp.
Glycols, like Polyethylene and Propylene Glycol for example, can be found in a lot of hair products and colors. This additive is used to help combine oil based and water based ingredients in hair products, but when used in excess it can break down your hair strands causing them to be weak and brittle, resulting in frizz and breakage. This ingredient isn’t considered harmful, but be wary of high volumes of glycols (usually found in drug store alternatives) or if your hair starts feeling brittle after using products with glycols as a key ingredient.
Next on the list is silicones. While silicones are commonly used in beauty products, they function like a bandaid for dry hair but only mask the problem beneath. Popular for their ability to smooth and shine hair, silicones coat each strand in a waxy substance that adds weight and the appearance of shine and builds up over time. This comes at a cost though, as the silicone will essentially suffocate the hair underneath, causing damage to the hair bond leaving the hair brittle and dry.
Last but not least are parabens, which are commonly used as preservatives in a lot of hair products. Recent studies have shown indicators that these ingredients could disrupt our natural hormone balance and are even believed to mimic estrogen. This is dangerous particularly for women as it can cause tumor growth and increase risk for breast cancer and reproductive growth.
Fortunately, many of the Tease Hair Boutique product lines have found ways to create products that have little to no harsh chemicals while still performing to meet your hair care needs.
What is an organic product?
Organic, as a term, is defined as something that is relating to or deriving from living matter. The FDA defines an organic item as something that is produced without chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides or other artificial agents. While the FDA does not include cosmetics or hair products in this description, the hair industry describes organic products as those free of synthetic additives and no genetic engineering.
Feeling confused? Same. Fortunately, organic hair products will contain the USDA organic seal, which means that at least 95% of the ingredients of that product are organic. Given these incredibly strict guidelines for this certification, few product lines reach the level of being listed as organic.
What is a natural product?
Organic and natural may seem interchangeable, but there is a big difference as few products meet the USDA organic requirements. If a product is defined as natural, it simply means at least 50% of the ingredients were produced by nature, but this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily organic.
So natural products are defined as products that are 50 - 70% chemical free. Natural products are much more common and many lines strive to meet this standard to uphold their status as a predominantly natural product.
What other things should I consider when purchasing products?
Beyond ingredients included in your hair products, a lot of people make buying decisions based on the factor of if a product is cruelty free or sustainable. About 55% of hair products on the market are considered cruelty free, meaning no animals were tested upon or harmed in the making of the product. A sustainable product is defined as a product that is created with little to no negative impact on the environment or the community.
Beyond that, it’s important to understand how different chemicals react with your specific hair type and lifestyle needs when selecting a product line. Factors like hair composition, allergies, and whether you're pregnant can affect the decision around what products to use. Your Tease Hair Boutique Hair Stylist will be able to make a recommendation based on your specific hair needs.
The DL on Tease Hair Boutique Product Lines
Now that we’ve covered what makes a product organic, natural, sustainable and cruelty free, we’ll give an overview on where the products at Tease Hair Boutique fit so you can make a decision that’s right for you.
Kérastase offers products made of natural and sustainable ingredients that can meet performance and luxury hair care needs. With a large range of products made of up to 98% natural origin ingredients, these products deliver the results they promise while using natural ingredients.
Kérastase is considered a natural product that offers lines that are paraben free, sulfate free, and silicone free. This line is dedicated to using sustainable materials to lower carbon footprint. They’re also cruelty free, having stopped any animal testing in the 1980s.
Shu Uemura is focused on modernizing Japanese agricultural practices to make specifically-raised ingredients for beauty products that are better for you and the environment. Offering high end products that work wonders, Shu Uemura is considered a natural hair care line and is cruelty free, paraben free, silicone free, and ranks highly for sustainability.
Caviar Collection by Alterna
The Caviar Collection by Alterna offers a variety of products with anti-aging properties and essential nutrients and antioxidants to strengthen and protect hair from the signs of aging. Made of natural ingredients like marine actives, Caviar products are eco-certified and considered a natural hair product. They’re also free of sulfates and parabens, and are a cruelty-free hair care line.
Combining the power of nature with performance, Redken has prioritized producing a line of nature + science products that are made with 83% naturally derived ingredients. This line of products are created with sustainability in mind and are cruelty free as well as free of sulfates, parabens and silicone.
Leaf and Flower
Using the natural power of CBD, Leaf and Flower offers natural hair care and topical products that are cruelty free and use the power of plants to stimulate hair growth and repair hair bonds. Not to be confused with THC, CBD is a chemical found in marijuana that does not have psychological changes (aka, won’t get you high) while providing natural benefits for things like hair growth, pain relief and more. While there is not information available on their sustainability and use of certain chemicals, Leaf & Flower products are FDA approved and include other natural ingredients like oats, barley, shea butter and more.
When considering which hair products are right for you, it’s important to understand the line’s ingredients and sustainability and manufacturing processes. Fortunately the lines sold at Tease Hair Boutique are all considered natural products, free of harsh chemicals that could cause hair breakage or build up and considered sustainable and cruelty free.
If you have more questions about which hair care products are right for you, consult your Tease Hair Boutique stylist during your next hair care appointment!