Au Naturel:
Going organic with your haircare
By:  Marianne Dabir
Yoga, reusable grocery bags, local health food co-ops, veganism… once considered part of an “alternative” lifestyle, natural living has become part of the mainstream as people have become more aware of their health and environment. With more products made from natural and organic ingredients on the market than ever, beauty-conscious fashionistas are no different. Eco-friendly, naturally derived cosmetics and skincare can now be found in department stores, boutiques and drugstores alike; some are even sold in stylish biodegradable packaging. With all the fuss over organic food and makeup, we’re left to wonder about our hair. What is the difference between regular and organic hair care?

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Natural and organic products cleanse and fortify follicles with natural minerals, herbal extracts and oils. While regular shampoos often use essential oils and natural extracts to supplement their formulas, they are stabilized by synthetic ingredients. Organic shampoos tend to have simpler formulas containing “purpose-driven” ingredients. For example, organic shea butter is often used to moisturize dry hair while tea tree oil can help fight dandruff and scalp irritation. Other popular ingredients include aloe vera, which soothes and stimulates hair growth, citrus, for deep cleansing and to add shine, and honey, which conditions and fortifies hair.

Organic shampoo is also free of sulfates and parabens, two synthetic ingredients that have recently been scrutinized by hair care professionals. While not all sulfate-free shampoos have to be organic or natural, all of them are free of sodium lauryl sulfate, a cleansing agent that can be found in everything from body wash to dish soap. As a harsh chemical, it has been known to cause scalp irritation and dry, brittle hair. There are also claims that it causes premature hair thinning in women, although this has not yet been scientifically proven. Despite this, sulfates are often the main cleansing component of many regular shampoos.

As salon and drugstore brands have started offering sulfate-free and all-natural options, organic shampoos have become a popular choice for those who want to take care of their hair without any synthetic chemical ingredients. Those with sensitive scalps and dry hair benefit from gentler, natural ingredients, while those who want to go green can rest assured that only biodegradable substances are going down the shower drain.

Want to go organic, but don’t know where to start? Aveda’s Shampure Shampoo is a great daily shampoo that cleanses and fortifies with 25 pure flower and plant essences. For healthy shine and an irresistible violet fragrance, Daddy-O by Lush delivers with lemon, lime and seaweed infusion. Organix, a brand that’s most likely available at a drugstore near you, has an array of formulas and scents to suit any head of hair at an affordable price.