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Start an All-Natural Hair Care Routine

Clean Hair Care Is Hard—But Not Impossible

Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by Stock Images + Provided

If you've ever thought about weeding out all of your hair products that have toxins and parabens, you have probably been overwhelmed by how many of your products are not considered "clean." Starting an organic hair care routine means finding a whole new lineup of clean products that you like and that work for your hair. Olivia Fleming at shares her expertise in her article, Clean Hair Care Is Hard—But Not Impossible. Learn all about the reasons behind your hair damage and find the products that will help you turn it around.

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Creating clean haircare is an almost Herculean prospect. A typical shampoo usually contains a mix of surfactants for cleaning, viscosity builders, solvents, chemical conditioning agents, and other components such as fragrance and, eventually, color for commercial appeal. Currently, there are only a few green chemistries that, performance-wise, make your hair feel good; and when it comes to natural ingredients in commercial products, many are derived from processed palm or coconut oil—so they’re “not really natural,” explains cosmetic chemist and Beauty Brains podcast host Perry Romanowski. Not to mention natural ingredients like talc (with its asbestos concerns) and sodium coco sulfate (molecularly similar to sodium lauryl sulfate, even though it's derived from coconuts instead of petroleum) can be toxic. “You have to chemically modify stuff from nature to get a hair product,” explains Romanowski. Indeed, commercially available herbal shampoos are still based on synthetic ingredients, boosted with “natural” raw extracts.

Still, if switching to an all-natural hair care routine seems daunting—or unappealing—there are certain ingredients in conventional hair products that you can slowly start to avoid.

As well as’s 11 ingredients to watch out for, hair products can contain things like coal tar (used in dandruff shampoos), ethanolamine (used in styling products), and benzene compounds like toluene (used in hair dyes), which are all associated with health concerns including skin and eye irritation; endocrine disruption; possible carcinogens; and developmental, reproductive, and immune toxicity.

READ MORE: Clean Hair Care Is Hard—But Not Impossible