Ingredient Labels & Organic Haircare

Reading a Haircare Ingredient List

For most women, part of our haircare regimen involves gels, moisturizers, serums, sprays, and everything else. Why do we put our hair through this? Well a number of reasons include to combat dryness, breakage, hairloss, and to maintain beautiful locs.

Haircare Ingredients

It is a safe bet, however, that most of us don’t put much thought into what is in the products that we’re using.

So, what can we do? How can we combat environmental pollutants, the effects of the sun, and the drying effects of air? How can we be sure we’re using the very best products on our hair so it’s healthy and beautiful…root to tip?

By Reading Ingredient labels!

Did you know that by law, haircare products must include a list of ingredients?

But more importantly, do you know how to read one? Do you know what to look for when you do? Understanding these key questions can be a little confusing and too much to do while you’re standing in the product aisle.

Luckily, I’ve got you covered.

Let’s walk through some basics of how to read ingredient list & what to look for.

The Basics.

Haircare Ingredient Label

I tell my customers this all the time. “When you’re ready to purchase a new haircare product, the first thing you need to do, is flip that bad boy over, turn it upside down, whip out your reading glasses & check the ingredient list.”

I might be bold enough to say you should do this even before reading the product description. Knowing the ingredients before you purchase makes you a smarter haircare shopper.


Because you’ll know how to separate the junk from the real, better understand product safety, and not fall for the okie doke of marketing.

Before we move on, let’s get the historical, scien-cy stuff out the way.

If you’ve heard of an INCI list, (international nomenclature of cosmetic ingredients), it’s the system used for listing ingredients by their scientific name. It was first developed in the 1970’s and is used in Europe, China, Japan, and some other places. This labeling system is basically the same in every country.

The Order.

This is important to note: In the cosmetics & haircare industry, ingredients should always be listed in order of highest percentage to lowest percentage. The first 3-5 ingredients in the list make up the majority of the product, and everything listed after that is there in smaller quantities.

So you know how products claim things like “packed with natural ingredients”? Well if you take a look of the ingredient order, you’ll know if that’s true or not! Now if the ingredients being marketed are actually low on the list then you know it’s not much of it in the product.

Also, take note of this any ingredients that are less than 1% of the formula can be listed in any order, as long as they follow all of the ingredients whose percentages are higher than 1%. So it’s important to realize that once you’re at the end of an ingredient list, the order of ingredients may no longer be following the highest-to-lowest model.

Now just because it’s at 1% doesn’t mean it’s not effective. There are many ingredients that still provide great benefits at this low level.

Another rule. If an ingredient is the result of a blend, it can’t be listed as a single, combined ingredient. Each component must be listed separate, and in order based on it’s percentage.

I know all of this might be confusing at first, but as they say, practice makes progress!  You can always practice your ingredient list breakdown skills by starting with one of the products you already have in your cabinet.

It’s good to start with the basics. Glance over ingredient lists before you buy a product, check for irritants, and make sure you actually know about the product you’re purchasing before you commit to putting it in your hair.

What To Know About Organic Products

Since we’re on the subject of ingredients, let’s talk organic. With the growing concern for the potential damage that harsh chemicals can cause the body and environment, going natural is the current trend in haircare today.

That being said, women are looking for products made of natural ingredients that won’t irritate or harm their skin & hair in any way. The demand for safer beauty products has given rise to the organic trend.

The organic way of life which is usually associated with food has now extended its reach to hair and skin care products. People on the all-natural bandwagon have started opting for organic beauty to be more consistent with the type of lifestyle they chose. You can easily find these products in health and specialty stores all over the country.

Shampoos that are 95% organic or soaps made of essential oils and herbs are selling like hotcakes.

But the question still remains: are organic products really what they seem?

The answer depends on your choice of hair and beauty products. There are certain products that are quick to claim that they are made of natural ingredients but are unable to live up to this statement. On the other hand, there really are brands that offer organic options. The idea is to find out how to distinguish one from the other. Which ones are telling the truth and which ones are plain marketing hype?

Real Organic

Organic Hair Care Labels

Organic beauty products don’t contain harmful ingredients or synthetic substances. Ideally they are made of essential oils and herbs (plant extracts) found in nature. Even the sources of these ingredients are not supposed to be subjected to chemical pesticides.

Some beauty treatments made of essential oils may also have certain ingredients or additives that may not be good for the body. So, don’t confuse certain products that have a small percent of natural plant extracts as organic.

Organic products have natural components for its major ingredients.


Why Organic?

There have been a lot of reports about conventional beauty products containing carcinogenic ingredients. Because the skin is naturally pervasive, these components can easily enter the bloodstream and cause potential damage to the body. Being aware of your health is not only limited to food intake but should also be stretched out to other areas of your lifestyle as well.

Opting for products made from natural ingredients is the best way to maintain your body’s well-being and to keep the risk of contracting allergens and various health problems to a minimum. Even if these products contain only a small amount of harsh chemicals, they can still cause potential harm to your body over time.

Organic beauty products are popular because they offer benefits that conventional cosmetics do not. Continuous use of synthetic chemicals through hair & skincare can add to the accumulation of toxic substances in your body. Organic cosmetics prevent this from happening because the best ones in the market do not contain toxic chemicals normally found in conventional creams and beauty products.

Don't be Fooled

Organic Ingredients

As I said in the beginning, it's easy to fall for the marketing okie doke when you have so many choices available. Because of the rising interest in organic products, some brands try to sell off their products as organic without living up to their claims. It's important to be extra careful in making your selection because not all products that are labeled organic are exactly that. Some still contain toxic chemicals that may harm the body in the long run.

To find out if a hair or skin-care product is organic or not, the best thing that you can do is to check the label. Verify the ingredients that make up your choice and be extra cautious about certain components that you may find listed.

Most toxic chemicals are found in small amounts in certain brands so you probably find their names listed at the bottom end of the list.

It's also a good idea to go with a trusted brand. Before buying, research highly-recommended brands in the market. The Internet and various reputable beauty and fashion magazines can give you a head start.

To learn more about toxic ingredients, check out this Blog Post: Don't Make These Toxic Mistake. 

Will you start taking your ingredients more seriously? Comment below.

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