Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Haircare Ingredients- is 'natural' always better?

There has been a lot of interest recently in potentially harmful ingredients in haircare so I decided to do some research online and of course test out a new product on my hair.

What I really wanted to know was if these 'bad' ingredients are really harmful, or if the hype was just another way of making us buy new products by scaring us into believing that 'natural' is better. Though come to think of it, everything is natural as it comes from nature. It wasn't just created by alchemy (as Wayne- gossmakeupartist always reminds us)!

First of all I am going to quickly go through some of the ingredients that have been the cause of much heated discussion.

Parabens- These are used as preservatives that attack any bacteria that may form in toiletries. Although they are made synthetically for use in commercial products they occur naturally in blueberries, prunes and cinnamon. The main issue with these is that they can imitate the effects of oestrogen on a very weak basis (breast cancer risk), though studies have been inconclusive.

Petrochemicals- eg. mineral oil and silicone. These act as smoothing agents, but repeated use can lead to build up causing blocked pores and lank hair. More importantly petrochemicals can be absorbed through the skin and scalp, and then human organs and tissues. In high quantities over time these chemical agents can lead to nerve, liver and brain damage, birth defects, acute asthma, and even cancer.
SLS- eg. sodium lauryl/ laureth sulphate. This is used to make toiletries foam and create a 'nice lather'. However, as it is a harsh detergent for some it may be an irritant and aggravate conditions such as eczema.

Some frightening stuff, though we have to be careful to keep our fears in proportion. These ingredients are all FDA approved and so far no serious harm has been found to be caused by the small amounts added to our toiletries. Most results have been inconclusive, but it is always sensible to be aware of potential dangers.

So with this in mind a few weeks ago I switched to the 97% natural (really don't like that term) NAKED haircare brand sold in Boots. At £3.91 e
ach for shampoo and conditioner I wanted to see how an affordable 'harmful ingredient free' range would compare to haircare I had previously used such as Pantene, John Frieda, Head and Shoulders etc.

I used the Naked Rescue shampoo and conditioner for two weeks (which may already tell you something). Originally I had very high hopes for this line. The smell of the products was lovely and the blurb on the back really did make me feel as if I was treating my hair to something special. I was also happy that they did not test their products 'on Lassy, Skippy or Bambi' :).

The shampoo did not lather well, as was expected, but I did not find it a problem. However, after rinsing it out I felt that my hair was literally squeaky clean. I am not even joking, it squeaked! The conditioner was too thin and I did not feel t
hat my hair was at all nourished. Since my hair is long and wavy it is a nightmare to detangle and these products made it so much worse. It was a big, knotted, dry mess and I had to rip the brush through or else put in lots of leave-in conditioner (which sort of defeats the point as the line is meant to be gentle on hair!). After two weeks of dandruff, frizz, breakage, split ends and painful brushing I gave up.

Sorry NAKED I really wanted to love you but it just did not work for me :(. However, I think that someone with greasy hair may like this product.

At the moment I have started to repair the damage with Body Shop's olive shampoo for normal/ dry hair which does contain sodium laureth sulphate (more gentle than lauryl), but is making my hair look shiny and healthy again!

If you have found any paraben etc. free haircare lines that have worked wonders do let me know lovelies!


  1. i switched recently to organic shampoo and feel the same as you, the shampoos are fine but the conditioner is useless! looking forward to trying my olive shampoo, i have heard good things about it! x

  2. I am using a range from Superdug called "organic care" ultra hydrating shampoo and conditioner for dry hair. I really like it and the conditioner is good on my hair. I have very thick, coloured hair with dry ends but this has left my hair smooth and soft. It only costs £2.93 buy 1 get 1 free so you could try that too if you want to try more chemical-free hair products xxx

  3. Interesting...I bought that Naked stuff yesterday (I probably wouldn't have if I'd seen this first)...but I used it this morning and was impressed. My hair was soft and shiny, I thought the conditioner was fine, others are actually too thick and weigh my hair down...but obviously this is only after one use, so I'll do a more detailed review after about a week. x x x

  4. i cannot use organic shampoos for the life of me. it's the only kind my boyfriend uses and i have to bring over my own every time - and i bring the worst kind possible - matrix sleek look with silicone in it haha

    oh and I totally bought some babyliss pro hot rollers because of your video on volumized hair - did you get the 12 rollers or the 20 rollers? mine has 12 and it might not be enough!

  5. What you said about the shampoo/conditioner is exactly why I never recommend sulfate free shampoo's to any clients. They're harder to work through the hair, thus meaning more tugging/pulling at the hair, which in return means more breakage and potential hair loss. We used to stock Alterna products and their Caviar range is sulfate free & it's like trying to put concrete through your hair!

  6. Right Now I'm into Aussie Products, I think it de-frizzes like magic, but not too sure if it's natural?

  7. I have some mini bottles of the Olive Body Shop shampoo and conditioner - it is divine! Shame the Natural line didn't work out as well as you'd hoped.

    Btw, are you a professional make up artist? Love you videos and blog xx

  8. Oh I tried Naked early last year and the stuff was TERRIBLE! Didn't lather, didn't leave my hair feeling clean and in general was a horrible range. ERUGH!

    I've just started buying stuff from the Dr Organic range at Holland & Barrett...they ahve shampoo and conditioner there perhaps worth checking out?

  9. I used the NAKED hair mask/treatment thing, which claimed to repair even the most broken hair (or something to that effect). I found that extremely good! I don't know if it actually did any repairing/protecting, but it certainly made my hair FEEL much healthier and softer!

  10. I have tried using WEN by Chaz Dean and havent had much luck. I have thin, fine hair that tends to get really oily and the product claimed that it would cut down on the amount of times that you would have to wash your hair. I have not found that to be true, it seems to dull my hair and it hasnt done anything for the oilyness of my hair. I would love to know what you or anyone thinks of this product. It is pricey, but since your not suppose to use it as much it should equal out. I really wanted to love this product, but cant!

  11. You might want to check out Fresh Line... Its a Greek company which produces all kinds of natural products for the face, body or hair, although I m pretty sure it doesn't have a franchise shop in London yet, but either way they have an e-shop. I currently use their henna solid shampoo and their herbal conditioner and I m quite satisfied:) I hope it helps and that I don t sound like an advertisement :)))

  12. The best organic products won't be found in the high street I'm afraid - thats full of cheap and cheerful stuff. My absolute fav is Burts Bees which do a great range and their conditioners are fab and smell great too.

  13. Great review :)
    I've just heard of a brand called Weleda which sells lauryl/laureth sulphate free shampoos and conditioners. I haven't tried them out myself, but I might. They also have a bunch of natural skincare products. Here's the link if you want to check it out:

  14. Hey,

    If you want gentle, effective and caring haircare you should go to Lush and get a hair consultation from them. They will point you to the right products for your hair type, which all contain gorgeous essential oils which will do wonders for your hair. Also, they try and make as many as their products solid, as that means they do not need to put preservatives in them. Basically bottle = synthetic preservatives. They use SLS as the foaming agent, but it is such a small amount it is nothing to be worried about, and it isnt nearly as harmful as it is made out to be. If you ask nicely they'll give you some samples.

    You said your hair isnt greasy, so Im guessing it's normal, and its also quite long. For your hair I would advise:
    Liquid: Daddy-o or I love Juicy Shampoo and American Cream conditioner.
    Solid: Seanick or Ultrashine shampoo and Jungle conditioner (which is the only solid conditioner)

    The solids can be a little difficult to get the hang of, but I assure you once you do you'll never go back! They say that 1 gram = 1 wash for lush haircare so its well worth the money even if it seems expensive.

    Let me know how you get on if you do decide to try :) Or if you wanted I could send you some samples from what I have lying around?

    :) Rebecca x

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  16. Oooh I just wrote about this! I listed my fav SLS/Paraben free shampoos - I agree with you, Naked is too drying :/



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