What our hair wants and needs isn't always what's sold on store shelves. Ditch these top 6 most harmful ingredients and just watch how your hair will thank you!
Found in: Shine serums, conditioners, moisturizing creams, pomades
Why you don’t need it: Unlike other oils found in hair products, like olive, Argan and jojoba, mineral oil doesn’t do much to benefit the condition of the hair shaft. “The molecules that make up mineral oil are too big to penetrate the cuticle so they just sit on top of the hair and can weigh it down," says Chicago-based dermatologist and haircare expert Victoria Barbosa, MD, MPH. Since it just hangs out on the surface of your hair until your next wash, mineral oil can also lead to clogged pores and breakouts around your hairline. No thank you.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
Found in: Shampoo
Why you don’t need them: The truth about SLS and ALS has really surfaced over the years. Once used as the main staple for removing oil and dirt from hair, new knowledge tells us it's not the best solution. And yes, it's received a bad rap, according to Piradi Mirmirani, MD, a dermatologist in Vallejo, Calif., who specializes in hair. There's good reason to be wary, especially if you hair is natural. “While these detergents are safe and effective in [small] concentrations found in cosmetic products, they can be irritating to sensitive skin and scalp,” says Dr. Barbosa. Play it safe with alternative ingredients that provide the same result—with or without suds—like sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate. If your hair is natural, stick with newer products which are completely sulfate-free, which won't dry hair out.
Found in: Shampoo, conditioner, hair lotion, hairspray, scalp treatment
Why you don’t need it: Your hair doesn’t need to smell like a bed of roses to be clean. Fragrances—synthetic and botanical—can cause irritation or allergic reactions in sensitive skin/scalp. If you think your scalp is flaking due to fragrance, switch to products that are clearly labeled as “unscented.” Like smelling like a field of flowers? Do a patch test to ensure you don’t get any irritation after 24 hours.