Personally, I am a fan of making as many of my own hair products as possible. Aside from the fact that it can be so much cheaper to go that route, DIY recipes mean that I am in total control of what I am putting onto my hair and, into my system (since our scalp is able to absorb what we put onto it; sometimes, we forget that).

That doesn’t mean that I don’t get the convenience that can come from purchasing already-made hair products. Matter of fact, a line that I semi-recently became aware of—and actually like a lot—is Canvas Beauty. One reason why I’m a fan is it’s a Black-owned company. Another reason is because a lot of the ingredients are natural. Not only that, but you’d be hard pressed to find the kind of things in this line that you shouldn’t have in your hair. You know, things like mineral oil, petroleum, sulfates, parabens, isopropyl alcohol, synthetic foaming agents like Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA), or even a ton of artificial colors.

If you personally are fonder of products than DIY recipes, this article is just for you. So, here’s the thing—if you see a hair product that particularly piques your interest, when you turn it around the skim over the label of ingredients, now that you know what you should avoid, perhaps you are curious about what a product needs to have in it. If so, I’ve got you covered. As you’re reading through all of this, just remember that, the more a beauty product has the following things in it, the better off your hair—and overall health and well-being—will be.

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1. Water

Since our bodies are made up of between 60-65 percent water, it would make sense that water needs to be not only an ingredient but hopefully the top ingredient in all of our hair products. Water hydrates. Water moisturizes. Water is also the key component that our hair needs in order to remain healthy, retain length and ultimately thrive. If a product that you’re considering doesn’t list water first, I would pass if I were you.

2. Vitamins

Although the hair that we actually see and style is dead (which is why you can cut it and it doesn’t hurt), our hair follicles aren’t. Therefore, they need to be nourished as much as possible. Vitamin A is great for cell growth and renewal. B-vitamins trigger hair growth as they strengthen your strands. Vitamin C contains antioxidants that fight off free radicals. Vitamin D is able to aid in creating new hair follicles. Vitamin E is a wonderful moisturizer and collagen booster. Zinc aids in tissue growth and repair; it can also help to prevent hair loss. Collagen is a protein that can build up your hair strands (since your hair is also a protein; it’s made up of keratin). So yes, if you see a product that contains any—or all—of these vitamins, that is a product that is definitely worth investing in.

3. Extracts

Basically, an extract is something that is pulled out from another source. And yes, there are certain extracts that are really good for our hair. Some that you should be on the lookout for include—chamomile (it nourishes your scalp); horsetail (it stimulates hair growth); marigold (it treats over-processed hair); burdock root (it balances out sebum production); rosemary (it slows down premature greying); Aloe vera (it’s great for moisturizing and adding volume); ginseng (it stimulates your hair follicles); henna (it softens your locks and helps your hair to keep color without damaging it in the process); alma (it softens hair and aids in length retention), and nettle (it fights off dandruff).

4. Humectants

If you’re always struggling with having dry hair, make sure you get the type of hair products that contain humectants. Humectants are good for you because they are able to pull moisture out of the air and into your hair. As a bonus, humectants are also able to reduce frizzy hair (which is something all of us curly girls want). Honey is a humectant. So is vegetable glycerin, coenzyme q10, hydrolyzed collagen, algae extract and mango butter.

5. Certain Oils

Remember how I mentioned that there are two types of oils that you should avoid—mineral oil and petroleum? The reasons why are because mineral oil can lead to scalp irritation and, if used too often, it can actually lead to dryness. As far as petroleum goes, it can clog up your hair follicles. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some oils that are good for your hair and scalp. Some of those include light and nourishing oils like avocado oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, macadamia oil, argan oil and, if you’re looking for the kind of oil that will really boost your hair growth, a more uncommon oil is baobab oil. (Keep in mind that if a hair product doesn’t have these, you can always purchase the oils separately and then add some of it into the product itself.)

6. Essential Oils

Essential oils are therapeutic. Essential oils are soothing. Essential oils smell absolutely wonderful. At this point, most of the hair products that I make or own have some jasmine, cinnamon, citrus, patchouli or something in them—if for no other reason than the scents alone. So yeah, if you see on the back of a label that there are some essential oils listed in the ingredients, that is a “perk” that you should definitely take advantage of. If you’re wondering which oils are the most beneficial for your hair and scalp, no worries. Several months back, I penned a piece on that very topic—" 8 Essential Oils That Are Great for Curly Hair”.

Now that you know what is a label ally and what is a label “enemy”, hopefully, you feel more confident about what product to pick up and what to leave on the shelf. Bottom line, if the things I just shared are there, you’re in pretty good hands. Shop on.

What are some other ingredients you like to look for in your products? Share with us in the comments below!