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5 Ingredients to Avoid in Natural Hair Products

At the beginning of my natural hair journey, I was not conscious of certain ingredients that were in natural hair products. I assumed that because it was marketed for natural hair, then it must have the best ingredients. It wasn’t until this year that I became more educated on which ingredients were harmful and toxic. Research has shown that 1 out of 12 black hair care products are considered hazardous by the Environmental Work Group.

Ditching natural hair care products filled with toxic chemicals and ingredients is one of the first steps to healthy hair. Certainly, we should opt for safe products to add to our natural hair care routine. Today, I’m going to share with you 5 harmful and toxic ingredients that you should not have in your natural hair products.

Bad Alcohols

All alcohols aren’t bad for natural hair, but short-chain alcohols are very drying and can cause damage to your natural hair. Short-chain alcohols evaporate quickly and they are added into hair products for their drying capabilities. They do a great job of stripping away moisture that your hair needs. These alcohols are not as damaging to looser hair textures but can cause major breakage for tighter hair textures. Here is a list of short-chain alcohols to stay away from:

  • Alcohol denat.
  • Benzyl Alcohol
  • Ethanol Alcohol
  • Ethyl Alcohol
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Proponal
  • Propyl Alcohol
  • SD Alcohol 40

Harsh Sulfates

Sulfates are inorganic ions that are either extracted from natural sources or synthetically manufactured. These compounds are added to shampoos to make them more effective cleaners. For tighter textured hair this ingredient is very harmful. When used, sulfates completely strip our strands of its natural oils. Consequently, this creates frizz and makes hair very difficult to maintain. Harsh sulfates to stay away from include:

  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Myreth Sulfate
  • Sodium Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
  • Sodium Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
  • TEA-dodecylbenzenesulfonate
  • TEA Lauryl Sulfate

Mineral Oils

Mineral oil is derived from petroleum. It is commonly added to hair care products as a moisturizing agent because it’s so cheap to manufacture. This clear and odorless ingredient can lead to product build-up on the scalp. This can cause hair to become stiff and lifeless. In addition to weighed down air, this ingredient can cause scalp irritation and hinder hair growth.

Other names to look for: Petroleum, White Petroleum, Paraffin, Liquid Paraffin, Liquid Petrolatum, and Paraffin Wax


This ingredient is often added to hair care products as a preservative. It prolongs the shelf life of many beauty products. Adding this ingredient prevents the growth of mold and bacteria in beauty products. Sounds like a great ingredient, right? While parabens allow products to have a super long life, they can also enter your body through your scalp. According to researchers, once parabens enter the body, it interferes with the body’s hormones and is linked to chronic illnesses and certain cancers. Additionally, parabens can cause natural hair to become dry, brittle, and frizzy.

Avoid these commonly used parabens:

  • Butylparaben
  • Methylparaben 
  • Propylparaben


This ingredient is a very popular silicone added to natural hair products. It is added to products to control frizz, add slip, and it allows products to spread easily. The problem with dimethicones is it creates a water barrier and prevents absorption of water, which can essentially dry out your hair. You must use harsh sulfates to remove dimethicones from your hair.

Choosing hair products with quality ingredients is one of the keys to healthy natural hair. Next time you go to purchase a hair product, don’t forget to look at the ingredients. Make sure it is free and clear of the 5 ingredients I shared with you!

Meaghan Lindsey
Meaghan Lindsey

Meaghan Lindsey is a natural hair, beauty, and lifestyle blogger based in Louisiana. She loves experimenting with new hair care products and hairstyles. For more natural hair tips and product reviews, you can follow her @themeaghanlindsey.


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