It’s very important to pay close attention to the ingredients you put on your hair. It can be a bit laborious at first, trying to remember what ingredients are harmful and which ones are safe to use, but you can always refer back to this list for reference. Many of these ingredients are bad because they cause the hair to become extremely dry, which always leads to breakage and/or split ends.
We chose to stick to the ingredients that are bad for the hair itself, but keep in mind that there are many ingredients that are harmful for the environment or are known to possibly have negative effects on your health.
1. Bad Alcohols: Short-Chain Alcohols.
It’s not a good idea for Type 4 naturals to use short-chain alcohols because their purpose is to evaporate rapidly, causing the hair to become dry. For tightly coiled hair, this is especially bad because our hair needs extra moisture, not less! Here’s a list of short-chain alcohols:
- Alcohol denat. (Denatured)
- Ethanol Alcohol
- Ethyl Alcohol
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Isoproponal Alcohol
- Propyl Alcohol
- SD Alcohol 40
I recently learned that my favorite conditioners by Garnier Fructis all have Isopropyl Alcohol. Because I want to have a great year of hair in 2o16, I had to reluctantly get rid of them. Even if you swear by a product, double check those ingredients to make sure it actually is good for your hair. Opt for fatty alcohols that aid in conditioning, moisturizing, and providing slip to the hair- like these:
- Behenyl Alcohol
- Cetearyl Alcohol
- Cetyl Alcohol
- Lauryl Alcohol
- Myristyl Alcohol
- Stearyl Alcohol
You may also find that Benzyl Alcohol is very popular in hair products. Although it’s not a short-chain or fatty alcohol, it’s on the okay list because it acts as a preservative and has no real effect on the hair.
2. Harsh Sulfates
- Ammonium Laurel Sulfate
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Myreth Sulfate
- Sodium Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
- Sodium Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
- TEA Lauryl Sulfate
The first three are the most common, so be aware and steer clear. These detergents are found in many of the shampoos on the market and are an absolute NO for Type 4 hair. When used, they completely strip our strands of natural oil, create frizz, and make the hair tangled and difficult to maintain.
If you primarily co-wash, it’s true that every now and then you may need a shampoo with sulfate in order to cleanse the hair of any build-up. However, it’s better to opt for a mild sulfate or a surfactant (a less drying cleansing agent) when doing so, like these:
- Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate
- Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate
- Methyl Cocoyl or Lauryl Taurate – mild, derived from coconut fatty acids
- Sodium Cocyl Isethionate
- Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
- Sodium Socoyl (or lauryl/lauroyl) Sarcosinate
- Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate or Cocoamphodipropionate
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
3. Lanolin, Mineral Oil & Petrolatum
These three ingredients made the list mainly because of how they affect the scalp. Keep in mind that whether or not you use these ingredients on your hair depends on how your hair responds to them, but using them on your scalp can clog your pores and hinder hair growth. They will prevent natural oils (like jojoba, coconut, and almond oil), from being absorbed by your scalp. None of them have moisturizing properties but are still found in many black hair products.
Of course, an all-natural hair regimen will be free of these ingredients, but otherwise, many Type 4 naturals find that they aid in taming frizz and detangling because they weigh the hair down which helps tightly coiled hair become easier to manage. If you feel hesitant about lanolin, mineral oil, and petrolatum, it’s better to stick to oils that don’t have any potentially adverse effects.
It’s easy to overlook ingredients in your hair products, especially when you’ve been using something successfully for a long time. But it’s okay to re-access your routine if the health of your hair is on the line.