There’s no shortage of options for clean, natural, organic (green, vegan, fair-trade, eco-friendly, cruelty-free, low-emission, hand-mixed-to-the-sounds-of-a-Phish- album… you get the point) hair products. By 2023, the organic haircare market is expected to hit about US $6.7 billion, according to Crystal Market Research. This is exciting – yet also daunting – news. Because not every lily-infused, argan-oil- based, chia-spiked formula is going to address your particular hair challenges. Certain natural ingredients are best suited to certain jobs, and it’s those specific powerhouses that you should be looking for. Whether you want to minimize dandruff, plump up thinning hair, or tame frizzy curls, we’ve found your perfect natural match. Spoiler alert: There are options beyond coconut oil. (Then again, if you have coarse or heat-damaged hair, you still want that coconut oil.)
This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia
HOW TO BATTLE THINNING HAIR
Maybe you’re getting older, maybe you went a little overboard with the chemical treatments, maybe it’s just your genetic fate – whatever the culprit, there are potential remedies for thinning hair. And yes, some of them are even natural. “Proteins that come from egg whites can help to coat your hair, which will give it a thicker appearance,” says cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer. Look for albumin or albumen extract on the ingredient list (we like Too Cool for School Egg Remedy Hair Pack). You’ll also want to strengthen your hair. For that, cosmetic chemist Ginger King suggests the protein creatine or vitamin B5, the latter of which you can find in %100 Pure Pro-Vitamin B5 Smoothing Hair Serum: “Synthetic versions are used in formulas, too, but both are also naturally occurring and help to nourish and strengthen hair.” Most exciting of all, though: A study published in Skinmed Dermatology for the Clinician found that topical application of rosemary oil twice a day for six months was just as effective at treating hair loss as minoxidil, a topical hair-growth treatment.
Ingredients: Egg-white proteins; Creatine; Vitamin b5; Rosemary oil
HOW TO TAME FRIZZY CURLS
It’s a David and Goliath tale for the curly- headed set – only replace Goliath with those big, frizzy curls you can never seem to get a handle on. It’s hard to believe that a little guy straight from nature could help you tame them. But we promise it’s true. Locust gum, from carob trees, or guar gum, extracted from guar beans, will help shape and define your curls. Both are natural biofilm formers, meaning they form a protective, humidity-proof layer over your strands, “like glue,” says King. These ingredients also have smoothing properties, so you’re getting a one-two punch of perfect style. (Try Lush’s vanilla- scented Hair Custard Hair Dressing.) And whether your hair is curly or straight or somewhere in-between, if you’re fighting frizz, Hammer recommends a hair mask with cocoa or shea butter.
Ingredients: Locust and Guar Gums; Cocoa and Shea Butters
HOW TO CLARIFY AN OILY SCALP
Peppermint extract doesn’t just give you that nice tingly feeling – it helps gently remove the sebum from your scalp, says King. (Try Acure Volume Shampoo.) And there’s another natural ingredient that you may already be using without realizing it: cornstarch. “It’s common in dry shampoos because it’s absorbent and helps soak up oil,” says Hammer. SheaMoisture’s Peace Rose Oil Complex Dry Shampoo is a great natural option that’s made with cornstarch and – bonus – doesn’t come in an aerosol can. Points for the planet!
Ingredients: Peppermint extract; Cornstarch
HOW TO ADD VOLUME TO LIMP HAIR
Barley and rice proteins will give your hair an extra boost. “Barley proteins moisturize and condition the hair, and rice proteins adhere to the strands, which in turn adds body,” says cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson. He suggests Broo hair products, which include extracts of barley, and also smell delicious.
Ingredients: Barley and Rice Proteins
HOW TO MINIMIZE ITCHY DANDRUFF
Can we all agree that no one actually likes the taste of licorice? But it does come in handy if you have an itchy, inflamed, flaky scalp. Licorice extract can treat dandruff and soothe itchiness because of its anti- inflammatory properties, says King. If you can’t even bear to smell it, there are a few other natural options you can try: “Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice help to exfoliate flakes, and tea tree oil has antifungal effects that could help prevent them in the future,” says Hammer. (Dandruff can be caused by yeast-like fungus.) Another DIY option: A study published in the European Journal of Medical Research showed that applying a honey mask to your hair every other day can reduce flakes and itch and possibly even clear up more serious scalp conditions, like seborrheic dermatitis.
Ingredients: Licorice extract; Apple cider vinegar; Lemon juice; Tea tree oil; Honey