Reading is essential – hair care products

Hey y’all! Happy almost Thanksgiving to my Canadian folks — I’m getting ready to do some damage at the dining room table this weekend 🙂

A couple of weeks ago, I was rummaging through my mother’s bathroom cupboards looking at her hair care products and I started thinking about some of the things I used to do for my hair that, although it was common knowledge, it was doing nothing but destroying the hair on my head.

The biggest myth I’ve found is that Black hair products are better than regular drugstore brands (AKA the stuff white people use in their hair). For years and years, I had been using products that were made specifically for Black hair and not really noticing what was in them. I’d slap some Dax, Let’s Jam or whatever product that was available into my hair. Now, I’ve taken to reading the ingredients of everything that I haven’t personally made. And what have I noticed? A whole lot of crap is in Black hair care products.

For example, Motions After Shampoo Moisture Plus Conditioner (about $9.99 CDN). Read the ingredients:

Water, Mineral oil, Polyquaterium 32, Glycerin, Quaternium 80, Dimethicone Copolyol Isostereate, Dimethicone, Panthenol, DMDM hydantoin, Fragrance

Not all of it’s bad, but (and it’s a big but) the second ingredient is mineral oil. We all know that mineral oil, as well as dimethicone, is bad because it’s a barrier between moisture and your hair. You know that feeling: your hair is greasy, but it feels dry? That would be the work of mineral oil. I don’t know much about DMDM hydantoin, but I read that it’s a preservative that contains formaldehyde, which can be an irritant.

Now, let’s look at the ingredients of  Kiss My Face Whenever Conditioner ($7.99 CDN):

Certified Organic Floral Waters of Lavender, Hibiscus, Lemongrass, Water, Infusion of Certified Organic Herbs of Horsetail, Rose Hips, Lemon, Red Raspberry, Thyme, Certified Organic Aloe Vera, *Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Glycerin, Stearalkonium Chloride, Certified Organic Jojoba Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth 20, Lavender Oil, Green Tea Extract, Certified Organic Sunflower Oil, Wheat Protein, Wheat Amino Acids, Tocopherol, Lecithin, Panthenol, Lime Oil, Caprylic Acid, Glycine, Guar, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid

*There is some discussion in the comments about behentrimonium methosulfate. This isn’t a sulfate, but it is a surfactant that can irritate sensitive skin. Check out the comments for more info.

Which one would you want to use?

I think what’s most important is not assuming that because a product is geared towards a Black consumer that it is good for your hair. Reading ingredients and making an informed decision about what you will put on your body is what’s necessary.

Now, not all hair care products aimed at Black consumers are bad for you — there are a number of products that will work and don’t have ingredients that will do more harm than good. I’ve found, unfortunately, that those products aren’t available at my local Shoppers Drug Mart. I can find some interesting things at my local Black hair store, but a lot of that stuff, when I start reading the label, makes me shudder, put the product down and leave. Manufacturers like Kinky Curly, Blended Beauty, Oyin Handmade and AfroVeda make products that seem to be good for curly hair, but their price can be limiting to ladies who don’t have oodles of dough to spend on products.

So, my ladies who are looking to be kinder to your hair, READ THE LABELS BEFORE YOU BUY!! (Yes, I’m yelling at you.) Do some research on what are good products that will encourage healthy hair and a healthy scalp rather than assuming because a sister is on the packaging that it’s good.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. urbansista says:

    BTW, curly ladies, behentrimonium methosulfate is not a sulfate. I know, it does have ‘sulfate’ in the name. SMH. Anhow, read some details I found at Behentrimonium methosulfate is the mildest hair-detangling ingredient available. It is made from non-genetically modified rapeseed oil. This scientifically sophisticated ingredient is renowned for its superior detangling ability, without causing build-up on the hair. Unlike other hair detanglers, which are known for their irritancy, behentrimonium methosulfate is extremely mild, being recommended for use in baby products which are left on the skin. It is superior in effectiveness and mildness to its commonly used cheaper cousin, behentrimonium chloride. It is not a sulfate.

  2. dalia says:

    behentrimonium sulfate IS a surfactant, which is what is an irritant for me. sulfates, sulfites, sulfur, sulfa – all of those in their incarnates (whether they are used for lathering, preserving, moisturizing, cleansing, drying or other purposes – are irritating to some people.

    i try to stay away from most of them – and by the way, if you use mascara, read your ingredients list… quite a few companies put SLS in mascara as well.

    1. urbansista says:

      Yes, it’s a surfactant — not a sulfate. Surfactants, for anyone out there who doesn’t know, lift dirt from your hair. They aren’t as harsh as SLS or SLES, but, like Dalia, there are people who find it irritating. Find more information from No-poo Jillipoo here:

      The long and short is: get to know your hair and find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Just ’cause everyone loves a particular product doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you.

  3. glittergirl says:

    You say that ‘Behentrimonium methosulfate is the mildest hair-detangling ingredient available. It is made from non-genetically modified rapeseed oil’

    so is it possible to purchase non gentically modified rapeseed oil and just apply that to your hair or is rapeseed oil only available in the conola brand.
    I’ve read that conola oil is a lethal substance that should not be used at all.

    1. urbansista says:

      Sorry for the delay responding, but I have no idea! Check some of your local health food or natural food stores to see if they have what you’re looking for.

  4. Nordia says:

    I am so happy that I found your article. My hair is curly and I was using this Canadian product called blended beauty. It was doing wonders for my hair, but then I started reading that sulfates if bad for your hair. With that said I have been trying all kinds of new thing, now I find my hair getting dry and brittle. Now I know this about Behentrimonium Methosulfate I am going back to what made my hair feel and look best. Thanks

  5. crofty says:

    The information here is not wide enough to determine or convince ME that it is not a sulfate – especially as it contains it in its name. Why does it have sulfate if it is not one????? Another question is what about the behentrimomium does this have ammonia – is this good for you??

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