By Chere Di Boscio
Most of us worry about what’s in our shampoo, especially after learning that ubiquitous sulphates (namely sodium laureth sulphate or sodium laurel sulphate) can hurt our hair, and even our health. But few of us consider what goes into our hair conditioners.
And we should. Not only do hair conditioners often contain pig-and-cattle derived keratin as a strengthening agent (which is problematic for those who are vegan, Halal or Kosher) but there are also plenty of nasty chemicals in hair conditioners that are included in the products to keep our hair sleek and smooth.
Some to watch for are:
Behentrimonium chloride: A suspected environmental toxin and human allergen
Amodimethicone: A form of silicon. Generally considered safe, but can build up on the hair, ultimately leading to dryness
Parfum/Fragrance: Unless this is listed as being derived from natural oils it likely indicates a synthetic perfume, which can lead to skin and lunch irritation and organ toxicity, and possibly even cancer
PEG-80/ Sorbitan Laurate: Can lead to allergies or organ toxicity
Quanternium 15: This releases formaldehyde and can cause cancer, irritation of skin and eyes, and organ toxicity
Linalool: Can lead to respiratory disturbances; not vegan friendly
Even if you do find a good organic conditioner, quite frankly, they don’t often cut it: some have a weird smell, or you need tons more product to get the same effect you would with a cheap chemical conditioner, and some just don’t seem to work to remove tangles and make hair soft at all. So what to do?
You could make your own: for example, it’s easy to whip up a hair mask rich in Vitamins A and B by blending one super ripe avocado with ½ cup mayonnaise or coconut milk. Apply to hair once a week; leave on for 20 minutes and rinse off. It doesn’t last forever, though–just about a week in the fridge.
For something a bit more long-lasting, we’ve tried and tested loads of organic conditioners. You may never know about the bad ones, because we refuse to list them here. But we can promise you: anything that is listed below is there because it works! (and remember: we never accept payment for making such lists—this is just our pure opinions).
Our 9 Best Natural Hair Conditioner Brands
1. John Masters
The crème de la conditioners! John Masters has created a whole range of shampoos, conditioners and styling products that we love–not only because they’re all natural, but because they get the job done. Their Lavender and Avocado conditioner is meant to be used like a mask, but I find that it’s perfect as an everyday conditioner for very dry or colour treated hair, especially in the winter, when static can be a problem. I only really need about a pea-sized amount which I spread between my hands first and then lightly smooth through, concentrating on the ends.
This brand is gentle and has a nice scent, naturally. A favourite is the Henna & Hibiscus conditioner, which actually has a gentle cinnamon scent. Don’t be put off by the brownish hue or if there’s some separation of the natural oils in the bottle; just give it a shake, and remember: those creamy white mainstream conditioners look that way thanks to chemicals your hair and body don’t need–this one is naturally effective.
We’re not going to lie—you do need to apply more of this than you would a mainstream commercial conditioner to get the same effect. But the end result is softer hair, and over a longer term. There’s no silicon in this, so the effects that build up from using the product are genuinely healthier hair; silicon on the other hand gives the illusion of healthier hair, but builds up on the shaft, depriving it of moisture in the long term.
This is the most delicious smelling conditioner of the lot! Vanilla and Lime combine to make a hair-silkening formula that smells just like Key Lime Pie–in fact, every time I use this one, I get a bit hungry just from smelling it. Just a little does the trick to leave your hair as sweet and smooth as a creamy lemon pie, too! This also contains antioxidants and cell rejuvenators, which can actually help stop your hair from going grey.
Organic Hemp Oil is described as ‘nature’s most perfectly balanced oil’. The unique properties of this amazing oil are combined with organic plant extracts, arginine (to help hair growth) and a synergistic combination of plant actives that can stimulate hair growth and help to prevent hair loss with notable effects. Continued use of this gentle conditioner can help to restore vitality back into the follicles, improving the hair’s overall appearance and leaving it looking and feeling beautifully nourished and healthy.
A fat dab of this all natural formula is all you need to detangle your hair. Lavender and Lemon essential oils provide a refreshing scent whilst Evening Primrose Oil protects the hair shaft, resulting in a silky smooth mane. All Cowshed conditioners use Soapwort, a natural ingredient that helps to keep the PH balance of the hair.
A blend of grapefruit and geranium oils makes this smell sweetly refreshing, whilst the formula is also packed with ingredients that are good for your hair, such as Vitamin B5, olive, jojoba, borage and sunflower oils. This conditioner is especially great if you are trying to help your hair grow: there’s aloe vera (which prevents breakage) and arginine, which stimulates blood circulation, which could help hair grow as well.
A highly moisturising, repairing conditioner for normal to dry, damaged, curly hair, Acure obviously contains loads of that precious hair protector, argan oil, to help manage your locks and repair follicles. Free of all nasties, this is a reasonably priced option for those seeking an all natural conditioner.
This one’s a favourite with our Beauty Editor, who uses it with her whole family. It’s packed with organic ingredients that sound (and smell!) more like a smoothie than a beauty product, like Grape Juice, Pomegranate Juice, Aloe Vera and Olive Fruit Oil–and not a single nasty on the ingredients list. Crucially, you’ll only need a little smoothed through your hair to get the same effects you’d get from a dollop of ‘chem’ conditioner.
Dry hair gets a boost from this lightweight, silicone-free conditioner, which smooths and softens using the power of natural oils. Wheat, barley, rosemary oil, plant extracts from chamomile and calendula, as well as jojoba oils come together to give this a fresh, gentle scent. For those experiencing thinning hair and/or hair loss, Harklinikken also makes a range of customized hair regrowth products. They have had amazing success in Europe and recently launched their treatment in the U.S, along with their online consultations
Of course, we haven’t tried everything in the market, so if we’re missing a brand you know and love, share it in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!