A lot of these types of ingredients can be good and bad for your relaxed or natural hair. So which are which?
Ingredients to try and avoidAlcohols
Particularly what are called short chain alcohols. They have small molecules and quickly evaporate which can result in dry and frizzy hair. The alcohols with "prop" in the name tend to be the most drying and should be avoided by those with relaxed hair and hair that tends to be naturally dry.
Here are names of some alcohols to avoid:
- SD-alcohol 40
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Propyl alcohol
Yep. Not all conditioners are good for your hair. The ones to avoid are those that are non water-soluble silicones because they cause buildup on hair strands and block the penetration of moisture.
Related post: The Healthy Ingredients in a Good Hair Conditioner
The not so good oils are ones derived from crude oil. They tend to suffocate the hair by coating and blocking any oxygen or moisture from getting in or out of the strands. Not so good oils include:
- Miner oil
The not so good preservatives are parabens and include propyl, methyl, butyl and ethyl.
Surfactants or sulfates
While there are some surfactants that are mild there are several that are harsher. The harsher surfactants can cause over drying of the hair and can irritate the scalp and skin. Some of these harsher surfactants include:
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
- Ammonium lauryl sulfate
- Ammonium laureth sulfate
- Ammonium xylene sulfonate
Ingredients to try and useAlcohols
Yes, there are good alcohols. These are fatty alcohols that are emollients. They help condition the hair and provide the much desired slip. The names of these types of alcohols typically start with a 'C' or 'S'. Such as
- Cetyl or ceterayl alcohol which is a non-sticky and non-greasy ingredient. It's typically used in conditioners for dry hair. This alcohol makes the conditioner creamy and thick. It's made from vegetable oils such as coconut and palm oils.
- Stearyl alcohol is an emollient made from stearic acid (animal fat), cocoa or shea butters.
These conditioners help to close the hair cuticles. This helps with eliminating frizz and tangles. It also adds shine to strands. These types of conditioners include:
- Water which is the best, most natural moisturizer out there.
- Glyceryl stearate an emollient that makes hair products smooth and creamy. It also helps with locking in moisture.
- Behentrimonium methosulfate is a hair detangling ingredient that is gentle in nature and doesn't coat the outside of the hair shaft, but penetrates it.
They absorb moisture from the air. Some humectants include are glycerin, vegetable gylcerin, honey and panthenol.
Natural oils are the best type to use because they are the most beneficial. They also have multiple uses not just for the hair, but also for skin and cooking. Here is a short list of natural oils that are commonly listed in hair product ingredients.
- Coconut oil penetrates the cortex making it a unique oil because it can help with moisturizing and strengthening strands from the inside out.
- Jojoba oil is unique in that it closely resembles the sebum the scalp produces.
- Arian oil moisturizes and has antioxidants that are beneficial for weakened hair. It helps fight frizz and provides shine.
- Avocado oil is a nourishing oil that helps with the softness, smoothness and ultimately health of the hair.
Related post: Natural Oils for Chemically-treated Hair
If you choose to skip the paragons, here are some more natural alternatives.
- Potassium sorbate is a natural preservative that can be found in may foods.
- Cedric acid which provides short term preservation.
- Tea tree oil which can preserve products for a short time.
They help to repair the structure of the hair strand and thereby strengthen it. Proteins can be strong/heavy or gentle.
- Strong proteins include keratin which strengthens the hair shaft reducing breakage and collagen which increases hair elasticity.
- Commonly used gently proteins are hydrolyzed wheat protein, silk amino acids, hydrolyzed silk protein.
While surfactants can overly dry out your hair it's not necessary to stay completely away from surfactants. Ones to look for are mild or subtle cleansers that don't overly dry the hair. Some of the milder surfactants are
- Sodium lactate
- Sodium PCA (this is also a humectant)
- Sodium cocoyl isethionate
- Dissoduim laureth sulfosuccinate
- Soiudm lauryl sulfoacetate
- Sodium methyl cocoyl taurate
What ingredients do you make sure are/aren't listed in your hair products?
References: http://blackhair.about.com/od/products/tp/bestingredientsforblackhair.htm, http://blackhair.about.com/od/products/tp/10-Great-Oils-for-Black-Hair.htm, http://www.ehow.com/facts_5851771_difference-stearyl-cetyl-alcohol-conditioners_.html