Guide to Our Best Natural Hair ProductsJanuary 21st, 2016
Every now and then you might get lost in the eye-catching graphics and clever copy on shampoo and conditioner bottles promising the shiniest, healthiest hair ever. Guess what? They’re meant to distract from the ingredients list.
Glycol distearate? It’s just there to give shampoo that opaque and shimmery look in the bottle, but it doesn’t necessarily help hair. Phthalates? They help fragrances last longer, but are also suspected carcinogens. Basically, ingredients like these are the chemical equivalent of smoke and mirrors—you don’t need any of them to get clean, shiny hair.
And there are a few more chemicals in your typical drugstore hair products that you might not want so close to your head. Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, also known as SLS, are known irritants. And 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol is a preservative that releases formaldehyde. Methylisothiazolinone, another preservative, has been found to cause allergic reactions and possibly neurotoxicity.
If you’re interested in opting out of chemical-laden formulas, Thrive Market has some of the best natural hair care products on the market. Why are our products amazing? Many of them are:
- Certified Organic
- Non toxic
- Cruelty free
- Alcohol free
- Made with essential oils
- Free of sulfites
- Paraben free
- Phthalate free
- SLS free
- Fair trade
And they’re all definitely GMO free—no scary genetically modified ingredients. Here’s the definitive list of our best hair products to clean, treat, and style all types of tresses.
Hair products for extra volume
No need to settle for flat hair. To volumize thin strands and give hair extra oomph, try either one of these dynamic duos.
• Jason Natural Thin-to-Thick Volume Shampoo and Conditioner:
This cruelty-free, body-building shampoo and conditioner adds weightless volume to fine hair with strengthening panthenol and biotin, along with fortifying vitamins A, C, and E to smooth the shaft. The result: full and shiny hair.
• Acure Pure Mint + Echinacea Stem Cell Shampoo and Conditioner:
This duo is a bestseller! Pump up the volume without stripping the hair’s natural oils. In this formula, quinoa protein extract boosts keratin and babassu oil moisturizes the scalp and roots for health at the base of the shaft. We love Acure because it’s vegan, paraben-free, phthalate-free, preservative-free, made with essential oils, and contains no artificial ingredients.
Moisturizing hair products
The most widespread hair issue? Dry hair that breaks, gets frizzy, and looks dull. These shampoo-and-conditioner combos, along with a couple of leave-in treatments, hydrate thirsty locks like crazy.
• Desert Essence Coconut Shampoo and Conditioner:
World-famous coconut oil is the key ingredient in these two bestsellers, but don’t overlook their ultra-moisturizing jojoba and olive oils, which help turn dry or over-processed hair soft and silky. And it’s vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, and SLS-free.
• Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Shampoo and Conditioner:
The light floral honeysuckle scent of this vegan-friendly shampoo and conditioner is to die for. But botanicals like rose hip seed oil are what really make Aubrey’s products shine.
• Alba Botanica Hawaiian Drink It Up Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner:
Fatty acids and protein from coconut milk gives dehydrated locks a much needed drink. Aloe and calendula make an appearance to de-stress hair as well.
• Alba Botanica Hawaiian Deep Conditioning Minute Mask:
Break out the big guns and don’t forget to use a deep-conditioning mask as part of your routine at least once a week. Rich in argan oil, cocoa butter, and keratin, this restorative mask locks in moisture for ultra-soft, super-smooth locks. Just apply and leave it in for five to 10 minutes, or overnight, then rinse.
Products to treat damaged hair
Need a heavy moisture boost to repair hair damaged by coloring and heat styling? This one’s for you.
• Acure Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner
Argan oil plus argan stem cells and omega 7–rich sea buckthorn oil comprise Acure’s patent-pending Triple Moisture System. Don’t forget about pumpkin seed oil, which is high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, giving hair lustrous shine. Bonus: Hence the name, all of it is totally organic.
• Giovanni Avocado and Olive Oil Shampoo and Conditioner:
A vegan and cruelty-free combo that’s beloved by lots of animal-loving beauty addicts. And it’s SLS-free. It’s the perfect go-to for a vitamin-rich moisture fix.
• Giovanni Protective Moisture Leave-In Treatment:
This reparative treatment infuses hair with protein-enriched botanicals to help rebuild damaged strands. Use it to protect hair from heat styling, or just to give it some TLC on bad hair days.
Hair products for frizz control
Those days when you just can’t tame flyaways and split ends? No problem! These frizz-fighting formulas will help get hair on its best behavior.
• Giovanni Ultra-Sleek Shampoo and Conditioner:
Want smooth, glossy hair without spending loads on a blowout? Try this shampoo and conditioner with phyto-keratin and argan oil.
• Giovanni Frizz Be Gone Hair Serum:
The name says it all! Perfect for humid days, this serum detangles, conditions, and improves elasticity to prevent breakage. It’s especially kind to color-treated hair.
• Desert Essence Coconut Hair Defrizzer and Heat Protector:
Complement the Desert Essence coconut shampoo and conditioner with this frizz-controlling elixir that functions like a leave-in conditioner.
• Zatik Natural Hair Food:
Try this Certified Organic oil blend to treat uncooperative, frizzy locks.
Hair care for itchy, flaky scalp
Powerful botanicals give natural products the strength to fight pesky dandruff and other scalp issues as well as medicated, chemical-laden brands.
• Jason Natural Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo:
This medicated shampoo also boasts nourishing rosemary, olive, and jojoba essential oils. The latter in particular is excellent for adding moisture to the scalp, since it’s similar in composition to the sebum naturally produced by the body.
• Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Shampoo and Conditioner:
Your head may tingle with this shampoo and conditioner, but that’s a good thing—that’s tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary oils doing their job to clarify and increase circulation in the scalp. Who needs lauryl and laureth sulfate, anyhow?
Clarifying hair products
Our lungs, skin, and bodies aren’t the only victims of environmental pollutants—hair suffers, too. And excess product build-up can weigh hair down and leave it looking dull. That’s what a clarifying shampoo is for—to deeply cleanse and rejuvenate locks. Try these natural options.
• Giovanni 50:50 Balanced Hydrating-Clarifying Shampoo:
Cleanses while also adding moisture and protection. And it’s so gentle that it won’t strip hair of the good stuff like its own natural oils.
• Acure Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo and Conditioner:
One of our bestsellers, this pair is also gentle enough for everyday use. It clarifies with lemongrass and promotes keratin and follicle health with argan oil and argan stem cells to keep hair strong.
Styling with natural hair products
Whether you’re looking for a light hold, strong sculpting abilities, moisture on-the-go, or high texture, we’ve got tons of styling products made from nature.
• Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Organic Hair Creme:
Non-GMO, vegan, Certified Organic, cruelty-free—this list of values reads like the famously verbose bottles of Dr. Bronner’s. With no synthetic chemicals whatsoever, this leave-in conditioner doubles as a styling creme packed with coconut, hemp, and jojoba oils. The hold is light, and so is the yummy peppermint scent.
• Alba Botanica Leave-In Conditioning Mist:
Spray this on hands and work through hair to detangle and hydrate with coconut milk and argan oil. Keratin provides protection from heat styling, so don’t be shy with this if you’re going to blow out or straighten hair. It’s also perfect for smoothing out curls. Did we mention it smells like an island dream?
• Giovanni Hold Hair Spritz:
Ditch conventional hair sprays and try this natural alternative. The hold is truly amazing—spritz it on and not a single hair will move out of place. But instead of a matte look that most hairsprays impart, this one gives high shine.
• Giovanni Natural Mousse Hair Styling Foam:
Nothing gives body and texture quite like classic mousse. For fierce volume, try Giovanni’s foamy formula.
• Giovanni Natural Styling Gel:
This gel gives extreme hold and sleek sheen—and it’s made with all-natural ingredients. No wonder it’s one of our bestsellers.
• Giovanni Wicked Texture Pomade:
Pomade is meant for style and definition, perfect for getting that piecey look. It’s especially flattering for cropped cuts.
• Giovanni Hair Styling Gel:
For even more control over style, try this. It provides amazing hold for spiking, sculpting, or shaping various hair styles and textures.
• Acure Argan Stem Cell Dry Shampoo:
Absorb oil and dirt in between washes and still maintain fresh-looking locks. This will help banish that greasy bedhead look and renew hair day in and day out. Go longer between shampoos with this in your arsenal.
Natural styling products for highly textured and curly hair
Since curly and highly textured hair tends to need extra moisture, it’s especially important to treat it with nourishing products free of harmful chemicals. Here are some of our most hydrating picks.
• Beautiful Curls Shea Butter Curl Activating Cream:
Many women with highly textured curly hair swear by shea butter. This organic and cruelty-free cream gives curls extra TLC with herbal extracts and plant gels that elongate curls for definition and bounce.
• Beautiful Curls Shea Butter Defining Gel:
Forget gel that leaves a residue—Beautiful Curls’ formula gives a soft and manageable hold to define waves and curls while fighting frizz. It works great for finger-styling, twist-outs, and braiding.
• Desert Essence Coconut Soft Curls Hair Cream:
For the most feather-light, bouncy curls, try this vegan and cruelty-free miracle cream. It’s infused with desert botanicals—meaning it’s packed with stuff made to survive heat and high stress.
Natural products for gray hair
Here are some unique products meant to give gray hair a boost—whether you decide to own it or disguise it.
• Aubrey Organics Swimmer’s Shampoo and Conditioner:
While it’s technically meant to prevent brittleness and fading after exposure to chlorine or saltwater, this pH-balancing formula cleanses buildup and impurities to rejuvenate light hair.
• Naturtint Permanent Hair Color:
Ammonia free, paraben free, hypoallergenic, and cruelty free, Naturtint is one of the few natural hair-color brands out there. Pick a shade, any shade, for a rich and radiant color to cover grays or give you a new look.
Natural hair care for babies
Kids’ delicate heads need the gentlest products. Try one of these paraben-free and phthalate-free formulas.
• Jason Natural Extra Gentle Shampoo:
A tear-free formula made of calming chamomile and marigold, this shampoo for little ones is the perfect mild cleanser at bath time.
• Everyday Shea Butter Baby Shampoo and Body Wash:
A two-in-one formula that’s vegan and cruelty-free (conscious moms love it!). Shea butter and coconut oil combine with soothing lemon balm, neem leaf, and lavender essential oil to clean and soften baby’s hair and skin.
• Everyday Shea Butter Baby Conditioner and Detangler:
Complement the shampoo above with a gentle conditioner to detangle hair for ouchless combing and brushing.
Organic products to promote hair growth
Getting impatient growing out hair? These products will get tresses to mermaid status faster.
• Avalon Organics Biotin B Complex Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner:
A fortified shampoo and conditioner rich with biotin, saw palmetto, wheat protein, and vitamin E. These natural ingredients nourish the entire shaft to strengthen—turning fine hair fuller, while also stimulating the scalp.
• Aura Cacia Rosemary Essential Oil:
This essential oil has been used for centuries to speed hair growth and stimulate hair follicles. Learn exactly how it works and how to use it here.
Natural hair oils
Want to keep things really simple with the most results? Sometimes all you really need is a great oil in your beauty cabinet. Any of these will work magic on hair. Bonus: Most of them are amazing for skin, too!
• Thrive Market Coconut Oil:
Coconut oil is seriously a dream-come-true when it comes to treating hair to major moisture. Try this insane deep-conditioning hair mask using avocado and coconut for the softest, silkiest hair ever. On its own, coconut oil also works beautifully to hydrate and define curly hair.
• Nourish Organic Replenishing Organic Argan Oil with Pomegranate and Rosehip:
There’s a reason why shampoos, conditioners, and treatments these days are all packed with argan oil. This liquid gold contains essential fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants. Here’s a Certified Organic and vegan-friendly oil that can seal splits ends, tame frizz, and provide overall improved shine and moisture. Bonus: It’s amazing for skin, too!
• Now Foods Pure Jojoba Oil:
We mentioned that jojoba is an ideal oil since it resembles the sebum produced by the body. Take it in its pure form for a one-ingredient deep conditioner. Simply coat hair with it and leave on for 20 minutes, or overnight, then rinse. Or, use it after your usual shampoo-conditioner routine. Leave on for a couple of minutes, then rinse thoroughly (make sure to focus on ends and avoid the roots).
Natural items for DIY hair products
Homemade hair products can be super effective, cheap, and not to mention fun to whip up! Grab these ingredients for some incredible DIYs.
- Now Foods Pure Vegetable Glycerine
- Aura Cacia Lavender Essential Oil
Create a moisturizing hair mist to perk up dry and dull hair throughout the day. Simply mix 1 teaspoon glycerine (which pulls moisture from the air) and 10 drops of lavender oil (for a relaxing, beautiful fragrance) into 1 cup of water. Funnel it into a spray bottle and spritz whenever hair needs a pick-me-up.
Shea butter conditioner
- Now Foods Natural Shea Butter
- Thrive Market Coconut Oil
- Now Foods Pure Vegetable Glycerine
- Jason Natural Vitamin E Oil
- Now Foods Lavender Essential Oil
- Now Foods Rosemary Essential Oil
To learn how to make the most sublime DIY conditioner, follow this simple recipe.
Tips for buying natural hair products
- Look at ingredients list and make sure you can pronounce most things. Choose formulas that use essential oils and other botanicals and materials from nature.
- But, not all indecipherable ingredients are bad. Check out EWG’s Skin Deep database to learn more about which chemicals are harmful and which are benign.
- Think about the values you hold dear (cruelty-free, vegan, etc.), and do a little research about brands to see if theirs align with yours. Luckily, Thrive Market makes it easy to shop for natural hair products by value.
- There’s a reason there’s a term called “playing” with your hair. Have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment to find what works best for your tresses.
Photo credits: Alicia Cho, Paul Delmont, Katherine Prendergast, and Anna Demianenko via Unsplash