These days, deciphering the ingredient lists of your favorite beauty products can be so frustrating because it’s difficult to tell what all those chemicals actually mean.
Here’s an example you might find on your shampoo bottle: sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS. It’s a foaming agent that creates lather, but research has linked SLS to skin irritation, environmental pollution, and even organ system toxicity. According to the Environmental Working Group, more than 300 shampoos, from drugstore to luxury brands, contain this ingredient.
There’s also propylparaben, a preservative that could cause allergic reactions and even disrupt the delicate endocrine system. But fragrance might be the most mysterious ingredient of all. Under U.S. regulations, companies can slap the term “fragrance” on product label, but aren’t required to disclose the specific chemicals and scents that comprise it. That means it’s almost impossible to know everything that’s inside.
So, what’s a conscious consumer to do? Start by making small changes, like replacing bottles of your favorite lotions and potions with better-for-you alternatives once you run out.
I started doing this a few years ago with everything from body wash to mascara. Although I’ve struggled to find an organic shampoo and conditioner that works well with my hair, I signed on to swap out my go-to products for all-natural versions for two weeks, and here’s what happened.
Before I get to the products, here’s what I’m dealing with: My hair is fine, long, and naturally wavy, which is a nice way of saying if I leave it to air-dry without any styling products, I end up with a curly, frizzy mess. Most of the damage comes from heat styling several times a week—first a hair dryer, followed by a straightening iron or curling iron—so I was excited to get my hands on Juice Organics Repairing Shampoo and Conditioner, which promise to both strengthen and hydrate.
The bottle highlighted some of the key ingredients like coconut oil (to strengthen), aloe juice (to hydrate), and borage seed (to enhance shine). Knowing the products are formulated without parabens, petroleum-based ingredients, SLS, artificial dyes, or synthetic fragrances made me feel optimistic even before getting into the shower.
Without SLS, I was curious if the shampoo would lather when I massaged my scalp. It did! (Instead of sulfates, Juice Organics uses coconut-derived sudsers, so you get the same satisfying foam without harsh chemicals.) I’ve tried other natural shampoos that didn’t lather and give my hair that “squeaky clean” feeling, but this one definitely delivered. As the conditioner rinsed away, my hair felt smooth and soft, and the subtle coconut scent kept my vacation fantasy alive.
After blow-drying, did my hair magically transform into the effortless style of my dreams? Unfortunately, I’ll still need to rely on some styling products for that, but with my hair type, I never expect my shampoo and conditioner alone to do it all. What I did end up with was significantly softer and more manageable hair, plus a little extra shine, too. Overall: This shampoo and conditioner combo is a great introduction to the world of organic beauty!
I also love how Juice Organics is committed to avoiding conventionally farmed, genetically modified, and pesticide-sprayed ingredients, so I’m excited to add these products to my routine.
Have you made the switch to healthier beauty products? Share your story in the comments!
Photo credit: Ella Ciamacco