Ingredients to Avoid in Natural Hair Products

Since NaturAll Club is still developing a shampoo, daily conditioner, and styling product of our own, we are commonly asked what other products we recommend apart from our Deep Conditioners and Growth Serum.

Everyone's hair is different and will respond differently to certain products, but there are certain ingredients you should be sure to avoid. We have put together a list of toxic and harmful ingredients commonly used in hair and beauty products, which we will update periodically. We encourage everyone to be as informed as possible about their hair and beauty products, so read those labels!

Note: natural hair has an oval-shaped cuticle (this is what makes your hair curly!), tends to have a looser cuticle layer, and has more trouble retaining moisture than other hair types. The result is that some of these ingredients are especially harmful to naturally curly hair while they may not damage straight or wavy hair. But other ingredients on the list are toxic and potentially carcinogenic, making them hazardous to use on any hair type.

So which ingredients should you definitely avoid?

  • Diethanolamine (DEA) Triethanolamine (TEA) stabilize the pH of hair products, and are common allergens and eye irritants.
  • Formaldehyde is another preservative and extremely irritating to the skin and eyes. It is a known animal carcinogen, and may increase cancer risk for humans as well.
  • Fragrance is a catch-all ingredient. If the manufacturer put this on the bottle, it means they don’t want to tell you what else is in the product (and Fragrance is often a term used to hide Phthalates as an ingredient.) Note: at NaturAll Club we only scent our hair products with natural essential oils.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol does its job of stripping away oils from your scalp a little too well, leaving your hair dry and brittle. Ethanol Alcohol, Ethyl Alcohol, Isopropanol Alcohol, Propyl Alcohol, and SD Alcohol are also known to do this.
  • Mineral Oil and petroleum are petroleum products that coat your hair and scalp so effectively, they suffocate them! These ingredients can cause acne, hindered skin respiration, imbalanced oil levels in your scalp, and skin irritation.
  • Parabens are xenoestrogens, included in shampoos as a preservative. They can disrupt hormones and even pose a cancer risk.
  • Phthalates were banned from use in toy manufacturing in California, 2009, because of links between them and cancer. However, they are still often used in hair products.
  • Polyethylene Glycol dissolves oil and is commonly used in oven cleaners! Trust us, you don’t want this on your hair or skin. It strips away moisture and nutrients and is also a possible carcinogen.
  • Propylene Glycol is used to break down protein and cellular structure and is able to quickly penetrate the skin. It’s an active ingredient in antifreeze and the EPA requires people to use protective gloves when working with it. Enough should not go directly on your hair or scalp.
  • Retinol is very common in skin and beauty products, but has potential associations with developmental and reproductive toxicity. While it is usually safe to use, it might not be safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Silicones are included in a lot of conditioners and are not water soluble. They make your hair look and feel conditioned by coating the shaft, but they just sit on the shaft, not penetrating the inside with moisture. They can also be difficult to wash out.
  • Sulfates strip oil and dirt out of your hair so well, they deplete the naturally produced sebum that moisturizes your hair. While sulfates can be beneficial for hair that gets oily quickly or has looser curls, they're usually a no-no for naturally curly hair. Common sulfates: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate

    Contrary to so many other hair products and brands on the market, NaturAll Club is fully committed to using only natural ingredients, and we never include any chemicals or ingredients that are even potentially harmful or toxic. It's good to have a hair product you can trust, right? Click here to review our ingredients, and here to browse our natural hair products.

    Come back to this post from time to time to check for updates!


    • kanma

      thanks for this, but do you have a list of natural hair conditioner products without this list cos my VO5 and Tresseme has fragrance

    • Della Chism Johnson

      Information is very helpful..

    • NaturAll Club

      @Nicelady, thank you for catching that mistake in our article! You’re right, lanolin is not a petroleum product. It is often grouped with petroleum products because it can weigh down your hair with grease in a similar way to petroleum products, and many avoid lanolin in hair products because it’s a common skin irritant. We’ve removed it from the article to avoid confusion.

    • Nicelady

      Lanolin is a wax secreted by sheep. It’s not a byproduct of the petroleum industry. I’m allergic to lanolin.

    • Lakeisha

      I’ve been needing to find an article like this for a while!! I think we all needed this

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