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They promise to make your curls silky smooth and smelling great. But are the chemicals in your hair products causing more harm than good? Unfortunately for some people, the answer is yes. Even if you don’t have a specific chemical allergy, the chemicals in shampoos, conditioners, styling serums, etc. can be irritating to the sensitive skin on your scalp. Symptoms can start almost immediately, and since hair products have direct contact with skin, you could end up with a full-blown itchy, flaky scalp.

The good news? You can still get great hair without the irritation!

MORE: Hair Product Ingredients: Who Do You Trust?

1. Fragrance

Fragrance is added to many hair products, and as consumers, we don’t always know what type of chemicals are being used. Even “fragrance-free” or “unscented” products sometimes use extra chemicals to neutralize smell.

2. Preservatives and antibacterials

Preservatives and antibacterials may increase your shampoo’s shelf-life and keep out unwanted bacteria, but they can also be damaging to the skin on your scalp.

3. Formulation excipients

Formulation excipients are inactive ingredients that are often used to dissolve or dilute an active ingredient. They help to thicken, color, or lubricate your hair products.

4. Surfactants

Cocamidopropyl betaine, paraphenylenediamine and glycerol thioglycolate are common in hair products. Cocamidopropyl betaine, for example, is a surfactant, and is used as an antistatic agent in hair conditioners. These chemicals are also found in hair dyes.

MORE: Top 10 Ingredients of Natural Hair Products

You Can Still Have Great Hair!

Here are a few things to look for in a new hair product. And remember, it’s all about experimentation! If the first product you try doesn’t work for you, try, try again.

  1. Is it really fragrance-free? If you’re looking for a fragrance-free product, remember to read ingredient labels. Watch out for added “masking” chemicals.
  2. Look for “hypoallergenic” products. Hypoallergenic products claim to cause fewer allergic reactions. If you simply have sensitive skin and not a specific allergy, this might do the trick.
  3. All-natural products are a curly girl’s best friends. There are so many products out there with all-natural ingredients. You’re bound to find one that works for you!
  4. Do-it-yourself. If you can’t find anything that gives you beautiful curls and solves your allergy problem, check out our Curl Recipes! Homemade products are a great way to ensure that you know exactly what ingredients are being used.

MORE: Top 5 Do-It-Yourself Hair Products