Natural Hair Uganda Blog

Resource for natural hair care, maintenance and growth in Uganda



January 2016



FAQ: Tell us about Ingredients in Hair Products

Written by , Posted in Hair Knowledge

Ingredients in hair products

If you have dry, hard hair then you need look for humectants in your ingredients list. Below are a list of the various humectants that are added to your hair products;

  • Diols and Triols- hexanetriol Butylene Glycol Dipropylene glycol Hexylene Glycol Glycerin Triethylene glycol Erythritol Capryl glycol Phytantriol Hexanediol or -triol beeswax
  • Humectants of biological origin-Panthenol Sodium PCA Hyaluronic acid Inositol Glycogen
  • Sugars and modified sugars-Sorbitol Polyglyceryl sorbitol Glucose Fructose Xylitol
  • Hydrolyzed proteins-Elastin, Collagen Silk Keratin
  • Ethers-Isoceteth-x, Isolaureth-x, Laneth-x, Laureth-x, Steareth-x PEG-x (polyethylene glycol)Silicone copolyols
  • Vegetable Humectants – aloe vera, vegetable glycerine
  • OTHER Humectants– Honey

Other Great Ingredients to Look For

-Water/aqua (great for dry hair)

-Natural oils and butters(emollient properties and keeps hair soft, conditioned, possess healing and soothing properties , give slip for detangling and locks in moisture etc). Make sure that coconut, olive or avocado oils are at the top of the list because these are deeply penetrating oils to carry moisture and nutrients to the core of the strand

-Essential oils- these offer so many great properties to hair like healing, growth, moisturization, conditioning etc

-Aloe Vera – moisturising, soothing, anti – inflammatory, boosts growth, provides an optimal scalp PH

-Hydrolysed proteins or silk –for damaged hair that needs repair

Ingredients to Avoid

Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS) — is a detergent used in most shampoos, shaving creams, and bubble baths for its cleansing and foaming properties. Like most harsh detergents found in your shampoo, SLS strips the hair of its natural oils — often leaving it dry and brittle. SLS may also cause eye irritation, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, skin rashes, and other allergic reactions.

Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA) — these ingredients are used to stabalize the pH of most personal care products. Depending on the individual, DEA and TEA may cause allergic reactions and eye irritation, as well as dry hair and skin.Iif either of these compounds interact with nitrites – often present as contaminants in personal care products, a chemical reaction may result, which can lead to the creation of cancer-causing nitrosamines.

Parabens (Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl) — parabens are the most commonly used preservative in shampoos, conditioners, and other styling products. The antimicrobial properties of these chemicals help to extend the shelf life of most cosmetics and personal care products by two to three years. Parabens have long been considered safe — but a few recent studies have suggested that these chemicals may actually lead to breast cancer. The validity of these studies have been challenged due to the lack of experimental evidence, but such alarming claims continue to be the subject of further investigation.

Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea — after parabens, ureas are the most commonly used preservative in cosmetics and personal care products. Under certain circumstances, exposure to ureas may cause contact dermatitis.

Lanolin, Petroleum and Mineral Oil — these cheap ingredients are widely used in pomades formulated for black hair and offer no real moisturizing benefits. In fact, these ingredients often weigh the hair down and prevent the natural oils produced by the scalp from being absorbed by the hair shaft. Opt for natural oils for their conditioning properties.

Propylene Glycol — this humectant is commonly found in shampoos, lotions, deoderants, mouthwashes, and toothpastes to give a product “glide” or “slip.”  This chemical is an active ingredient in brake and hydraulic fluid.  Recent findings indicate that propylene glycol may cause allergic reactions, dermatitis, dry skin, hives, and eczema. Because it is easily absorbed by the skin, workers are required to wear protective gloves, clothing, and goggles when handling it. Beware of PEG (polyethylene glycol) or PPG (polypropylene glycol)—they are related synthetics.

Synthetic Colors — artificial colors are used widely in hair care products for aesthetic purposes. These ingredients frequently appear as FD&C or D&C followed by a color and a number (e.g. FD&C Red No. 6 / D&C Green No. 6). Color pigments may cause skin sensitivity and irritation. The safety of these ingredients is also questionable — because they are derived primarily from coal tar, a known carcinogen.

Formaldehyde  this cheap preservative is used in hair care products containing water to prevent the growth of bacteria. Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen and may cause skin reactions, trigger heart palpitations, or lead to joint pain, allergies, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, and dizziness. Some preservatives are called formaldehyde donors because when they are broken down by our bodies one of the components is formaldehyde.

Coal Tar  many shampoos designed to treat dandruff contain coal tar — although it’s frequently absent from the product’s list of ingredients.  Protect yourself and be on the lookout for this compound, which is disguised in many forms (e.g. “Stantar”, “Clinitar”, “Medi-Tar” and “Polytar”). It should be noted that that coal tar is a carcinogen under certain conditions though many anti-dandruff products include it in their ingredients. Still, in addition to being a cancer hazard, coal tar has been found to cause allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, fatigue, nervousness, and lack of concentration.


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