A photo posted by Michelle T. (@naturalista86) on

Since I began my natural hair journey, I have been conscious of what ingredients are in the products that I use for my natural hair. I like to know what ingredients are in the products that I put on my skin and also my hair. I know that looking at ingredient lists can be time-consuming, but it’s well worth it. Many products have ingredients that are drying, which is something that you definitely don’t want. Here are a few ingredients that I avoid in my products.

Bad alcohols

Let’s get one thing straight, not all alcohols are bad for your hair. From research on alcohols, the following are ones are considered short chain alcohols, which are very drying on the hair.

  • SD Alcohol 40
  • Ethanol Alcohol
  • Propyl Alcohol
  • SD Alcohol
  • Propanol Alcohol
  • Isopropyl Alcohol

Some alcohols are good for your hair so don’t get them mixed up with the bad alcohols. Good alcohols are the fatty alcohols that are from animals, plants and oils. In many cases the good alcohols are used in products to help mix ingredients together. For example a good alcohol can be used to mix oil and water in a product so that it does not separate. Good alcohols are actually beneficial and help with slip and detangling. Some of the good alcohols are:

  • Cetyl alcohol
  • Stearyl alcohol
  • Myristyl alcohol
  • Lauryl alcohol
  • Behenyl alcohol
  • Cetearyl alcohol


Another ingredient that I tend to avoid in products is sulfates. Harsh sulfates can be really bad for women with textured hair, so I try to avoid them. Sulfates can dry out your hair and also create frizz. I do, however, use shampoos that contain sulfates once a month to cleanse my hair and get rid of buildup. I tend to look for shampoos that contain the gentler sulfates, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. Sulfates that you should avoid include:

  • Ammonium Laurel Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Myreth Sulfate
  • Sodium Alkybenzene Sulfonate
  • TEA dodecylbenzenesulfonate
  • TEA Luryl Sulfate

Mineral oil and petroleum

These are two ingredients that I also avoid in products. I typically avoid these two ingredients because they clog my pores and irritate my scalp. Mineral oil is a derivative of crude oil (i.e. petroleum) that is used industrially as a cutting fluid and lubricating oil. When it is used in natural hair products it undergoes a purification process it is refined into a slippery fluid, which is then ready to be used in a variety of different products on the shelves today. Petroleum weighs down my hair and coats the skin and hair just like plastic wrap, which I don’t like.

Which ingredients do you avoid in your curly hair products?

What's next?

You can find the ingredients and products Michelle does use in her hair regimen from start to finish.  

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