We have all been there before. Pacing the hair care aisles while we search for the perfect product to make our hair look its best. Finally, a product catches our eye, we grab it off the shelf and search the ingredients until we land on something familiar. You may see an ingredient that you are familiar with, followed by the word extract. What exactly are extracts? 

The extraction process

According to an article by Shirea L. Caroll, “Extracts come from the actual extraction of the nutrients and essential elements of the ingredient. The extraction process can vary greatly, depending on the botanical and which part of the botanical contains the essential nutrients.” It is also possible that the extraction process can take away some of the nutrition of the ingredient and that amount varies depending on the actual extraction process. Some common extracts that are found in beauty products are:

If you want the full benefits of an ingredient and prefer to use all-natural products, then read the ingredient lists on your products and research the extracts you are unfamiliar with. Some brands share their extraction processes, so you can find out exactly what you are putting on your hair.

So why do brands put them in products?

Erica Douglas, also known as Sister Scientist says, “Extracts are basically ingredients that are derived from a natural source and are usually the most active or concentrated part of the fruit or plant. Due to the fact that this is usually the most potent part of the natural source, it definitely can have functional properties. However, it is usually very hard to amass a large quantity of these extracts from one source, which is why they can be so expensive. If used at a high enough level in a product, extracts may have some functional benefits, but in many cases extracts are just used to enhance the natural ingredient story.”

Extracts may have some functional benefits, but in many cases extracts are just used to enhance the natural ingredient story.

Erica Douglas, Sister Scientist

If you like to prefer to be in control of your own formulas, then you can DIY your products by mixing varying levels of essential oils. This is a great way to experiment and see if extracts do have a functional benefit for your hair or not. They can also be used to add scents to your favorite DIY recipes.

Don’t like making your own products? We understand. Many hair brands use extracts as ingredients in our favorite products. Check out these cult favorites products that are formulated with extracts. 

Do extracts give you good hair days?