Are you searching for an eco friendly solution to your hair care? Do you worry that switching to more eco friendly products won’t give you the same results as your usual brand of choice?
I’ve put together some tips for choosing eco friendly hair care products. With a bit of patience, I can assure you that you can achieve an eco friendly, healthy and beautiful solution to your hair care as well as for the planet.
What’s wrong with my hair care?
Many hair care products are harmful to the environment and possibly also harmful for your health. This is especially true for the more mainstream brands found in supermarkets and hair salons, but unfortunately its also true for a lot of boutique brands as well.
1. Palm oil
The palm oil industry is causing mass destruction of tropical rainforests for its oil palm plantations. This amounts to animal cruelty on a terrifying scale. It is also destroying an important source of clean water, clean air, medicines and climate control.
Unsustainable palm oil is found in all shampoo and conditioners found in supermarkets and also widely in less mainstream brands.
Unfortunately palm oil is also found in many accredited cruelty free and certified organic branded hair care products as well.
You will almost never see it labelled as “palm oil” on the ingredients list, but your hair care products are very likely to contain palm oil.
Palm oil is used to make ingredients with useful properties for hair care, such as surfactants, emulsifiers, thickeners and preservatives.
Here are just some of the ingredients in your hair care products that are likely to be derived from palm oil.
- Behentrimonium methosulfate
- Caprylyl glucoside
- Caprylic/capric triglyceride
- Cetearyl alcohol
- Cetearyl olivate
- Cetyl alcohol
- Cocoamidopropyl betaine
- Coco betaine
- Coco glucoside
- Cocoamide MEA
- Cocoyl methyl glucamide
- Decyl glucoside
- Ethylhexyl glycerine
- Glyceryl caprylate
- Glycol distearate
- Sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate
- Sodium laureth sulfate
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
- Sodium lauroamphoacetate
- Sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate
- Sodium cocoisethionate
- Sodium stearate
A few of the ingredients in the above list can now be sourced from palm oil free sources. However, some ingredient manufacturers will alternate between the use of coconut, palm or other vegetable oils depending on current cost and availability. The only way you can be certain if a product doesn’t contain palm oil is if its certified palm oil free.
You can visit Palm Oil Investigations’ website for a more extensive list on alternative names for palm oil.
These silicone-based compounds are used in hair products to soften, smooth, and moisten. They make hair products dry more quickly. Siloxanes commonly found in hair products include dimethicone and cyclomethicone.
The use of siloxanes has been restricted in Canada due to concerns about environmental and health hazards. Siloxanes have been shown to bioaccumulate in aquatic organisms and they may impair human fertility.
3. Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate
Commonly found in hair products, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are desirable for their high-foaming properties. They are derived from either palm oil or petroleum, therefore resulting in a negative environmental impact. They also may be harmful to your health. They are known skin, lung and eye irritants. They can also react with other chemicals to form carcinogens.
4. Synthetic fragrances
One of the defining characteristics of shampoo, its smell, is having potentially damaging effects on the environment and human health. Synthetic fragrances, such as synthetic musk, end up in lakes and rivers after wastewater effluent has been treated. These synthetic fragrances also end up in human breast milk, having as yet unknown effects on infants. Phthalate esters, which are commonly used to make synthetic fragrances, have been associated with several human diseases.
5. Synthetic preservatives
Synthetic preservatives are commonly made from palm oil or petroleum, therefore having a negative environmental impact. Parabens are commonly used as a preservative. These chemicals have been linked to oestrogenic effects on the body even being found in breast cancer cells.
Any packaging that is made from new materials has an environmental cost to make it. Glass is heavy and breakable, meaning it is costly to transport. Aluminium comes from mines that have an environmental impact, although it is infinitely recyclable.
Even unpackaged items such as shampoo bars require protection so they don’t get damaged during transport.
Packaging made from recycled materials has an energy cost too, but typically less than that required to make the new material, and it is also helping with the “war on waste”.
Consider also the more hair products you use, the greater the cost to the environment. Try to find versatile products that will do more than one job.
Tips for choosing eco friendly hair care
1. Buy certified palm oil free
Some brands that have advertised their products as palm oil free have been found out to be using palm oil in their products. It is quite an easy mistake to make. The best way to ensure that your products are palm oil free is to buy certified palm oil free products, for example those that are certified by Orangutan Alliance or Palm Oil Investigations.
2. Buy 100% natural
Through purchasing 100% natural products, you will avoid ingredients derived from petroleum. Beware that a product that is labelled as 99.5% natural is likely to contain synthetic colour, fragrance or preservative.
3. Buy local
The further a product – and its ingredients – have had to travel, the more carbon miles it has used, which has a negative environmental impact. Look for products made locally with locally produced ingredients.
4. Consider the packaging
Look for products that have minimal or post-consumer-recycled packaging in preference to packaging made from new materials.
5. DIY hair care
There are certainly some ancient methods for hair care that are also eco friendly. The Chinese village of Huangluo is known as ‘long hair village’ because the women have hair averaging 1.7m long. Their long locks have been attributed to washing with fermented rice water. Coconut oil is also used in many cultures, and bicarbonate soda and apple cider vinegar are very natural and eco friendly hair care solutions. However, these options are not for everyone.
6. What about shampoo bars?
Shampoo bars are attractive because they come in minimal or no packaging, therefore helping with the “war on waste”. However, for a shampoo bar to be truly eco friendly, the ingredients also need to be eco friendly. HANDY TIP: truly eco friendly shampoo bars are in composition very similar to a body bar of soap, but the ‘shampoo’ bar is often more expensive!
Two-Winged Fruit hair care
- Certified palm oil free
- 100% natural
- Accredited cruelty free
- No “nasties” for the environment or your health
- Packaged in a 100% post consumer recycled bottle
- Australian owned and made
For tips for getting great results with palm oil free hair care products, check out our blog post here.
What’s most important to you when looking for eco friendly products? I’d love to know!