When we look for ways to get or maintain healthy hair, products usually are the first thing we look at. And while there are more ways to take good care of your hair, the products we use play a very important role in hair health!
But how do we select the best products for healthy hair? The sheer selection at the drugstore is overwhelming. There are products for dry hair, curly hair, natural products, organic products, professional products… How do we know which products will really make a positive difference for our locks? When can we call them healthy hair products?
Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
What makes hair products good
My preferred method to find answers to such questions is usually science. Which ingredients have been studied? Which ones are actually bad for us? And which ones help us get those luscious locks we want?
I know that is a lot of effort to go through. So I wrote down my findings here, so that you don’t have to! Convenient, huh?
Let’s see what I’ve found!
Shampoos to get healthy hair
To pick the best shampoo for your hair, you first need to be aware of one thing. Hair is dead material.
Think of it like your wooden table. You can take good care of it by using mild cleaning substances and oiling it regularly. But you cannot change old, broken wood back to young and elastic wood. Not even by using the most expensive product in the world.
So the most important criteria for a good shampoo is that it doesn’t damage your hair. This means staying away from aggressive cleaning substances such as strong tensides.
What tensides do to your hair
Tensides are used for cleaning stuff. Fair enough, we do want to clean our hair with a shampoo. But for the organic material that hair is, most tensides are way too strong. They strip away all the natural oils from our strands. This leaves our hair without protection. And as a result, it gets damaged much easier.
The stripping away of all oils also means that our scalp thinks it has to produce more sebum. Which in turn forces you to wash more often. Washing more often means more stress for your hair.
Related: How often should you wash your hair?
Tensides are also really bad for our environment. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that anything that’s bad for nature is bad for me, too. After all, I am part of nature. And my hair is, too.
How to recognize aggressive tensides
So how do you recognize and successfully avoid aggressive tensides? Well, first of all, you need to know what they are called. Check out the list below and pin it for later so that you can keep checking your products!
What about silicones in shampoos?
Silicones are another ingredient with a bad rep. A lot of conventional shampoos contain them, but hair lovers all around the world started avoiding them. But what do silicones actually do?
The role of silicones in hair care
Silicones fulfill a few different roles in a shampoo. You can basically imagine them as attaching to your hair, filling little holes.
They can make your hair look much healthier and shinier than it actually is. They can also make your hair feel softer and more supple.
Sounds perfect, right? So why don’t people like silicones?
Reasons to avoid silicones
Well, there are two main reasons for that.
One is that silicones keep attaching to your hair, building many layers over time. This reverses the original effect they had. Instead of looking shiny and healthy, your hair starts looking dull.
The second one is that those layers prevent any other hair care from reaching the hair shaft. While you think your hair is doing perfectly fine, it actually really isn’t, under the surface.
Many people who stop using silicones are surprised and disappointed by the real condition of their hair when the silicones are stripped off.
Criteria for a good shampoo:
- no aggressive tensides
- no silicones
Shampoo brands that fit these criteria
There are a few natural shampoo brands that fit these criteria for healthy hair shampoos.
Shampoos by Dessert Essence* are free from aggressive chemicals. The companies mission is to “create only the most responsible products”. So they make sure to use natural ingredients and avoid anything harmful.
Aubrey Organics* also bets on using natural ingredients in their products. They avoid harsh chemicals and regularly get rave reviews.
Especially curly girls love Shea Moisture shampoos*. Like the name says, these shampoos are designed to keep moisture in your hair. Perfect for rather dry curly hair structures! They also have short and friendly ingredient lists on their shampoos.
Khadi Natural* has a lot of shampoos with mild washing substances and without silicones. Make sure to check the labels though. Sometimes different manufacturers use different formulas and some of them might contain silicones. And the name “Khadi” is ambiguous, as various brands are using it.
Other hair cleansers for healthy hair
Shampoos are not the only way to clean your hair. In fact, there are some other hair cleansing products and methods that gained quite a bit of popularity among long hair aficionados. Let’s have a look at some of these alternative hair cleansers!
Something that I was surprised to learn about is hair soap. No, that’s not a fancy name for shampoos. This actually means a piece of soap. Just for hair. (Not to be confused with shampoo bars! Same look, different chemicals!)
Many people use the so-called Aleppo soap* to wash their hair, for example.
The shape is not the only difference between hair soap and shampoo though. There is another reason hair soap might be better for your hair.
Why hair soap might be healthier for your hair than a shampoo
Soap’s washing active substances are much milder than tensides. But still strong enough to clean your hair.
Because your scalp doesn’t get completely stripped of all the natural oils, you also need to wash your hair less often.
I’ve personally used hair soaps for quite some time and my hair loved it. It was strong, shiny and way less prone to breakage or split ends.
Why am I speaking of hair soap in the past tense though? Well, there are also a couple of downsides to hair soap.
The downsides of hair soap
Using hair soap is a serious time commitment! To get the cleaning effect you need to create foam. To create foam, you need to run the piece of soap over your hair multiple times. The longer your hair, the longer the washing procedure.
Another difficulty is chalk. Soap and hard water in combination create limescale. So if you have hard water at home, you might get some kind of limescale on your hair. Not pretty!
The workaround for this is to rinse your hair after washing with something acidic. For example with strongly diluted vinegar or even more diluted citric acid.
It works and it can be really good for your hair. But you need to be willing to invest some time.
Hair washing herbs
Herbs. They can really do everything, can’t they? From balancing our hormones naturally to spicing up our meals to cleaning our hair. Yes, really. You can wash your hair with herbs! Crazy, right?
But indeed, some plants have washing active substances. Prepared in the right way, they will become something like a muddy hair mask. If you’ve ever seen someone dye their hair with henna, you know what it looks like.
Herbs for healthy hair
Very common herbs to wash your hair with are amla, shikakai, and reetha. Amla* has a super high level of vitamin c, can protect your hair from early grays and regenerates your hair. Shikakai* has more of a conditioning effect. It is very nourishing and makes your hair shiny. And reetha* has the strongest washing effect of the three. If you use it on its own, it might even be a little drying.
With herbs, you basically get the positive effects of silicones without the silicones. And the washing substances are mild enough to not overstress your hair.
To get a good wash, you would usually mix all three herbs. For convenience, I used the prepared mix by Khadi*. And my hair loved it! But, as you probably already guessed, there are not only advantages to washing your hair with herbs.
The downsides of washing your hair with herbs
First of all, where I live those hair washing herbs are quite expensive. So to use them regularly I would need to spend significantly more than for a shampoo or hair soap. My hair being quite long at this point doesn’t help. I probably need bigger amounts than other people.
Second of all, washing the herb mix out of your hair takes foreeeeeever! The consistency is kind of crumbly, which means little pieces get stuck in your hair all the time.
Like hair soap, you might also need to use a slightly acidic rinse after washing your hair. At least if your water is hard.
And last but not least, the milder way of cleaning also means that you won’t be able to wash out “serious” dirt. So if you like to do heavy oiling before washing, this might not be for you.
In summary: I loved the effect it had when I washed my hair with herbs. But for time reasons I’d rather use herbal shampoos like the ones from Khadi*. They can still give me some of the positive effects of washing with herbs but are much easier to use.
Rye flour for hair washing
This is a hair washing method that I personally haven’t tried yet. But it has gotten quite popular, so I want to share it here as well.
How to wash your hair with rye flour
As I said, I haven’t personally used this method. So I will let someone else do the explanation of this method. Lights, camera, action!
Downsides to using rye flour for hair cleansing
Almost all downsides of hair washing herbs also apply to washing your hair with rye flour. Like with the hair washing herbs, washing out rye flour can take quite some time and effort.
Also, the cleansing strength is not enough to wash out oil treatments and things like that.
Styling products for healthy hair
Probably the best way to maintain healthy hair is to stay away from too many styling products. Yes, I said it. I think generally, anything that means changing the natural way your hair behaves could potentially mean trouble.
But there are exceptions to the rule. And not every styling product is meant to change your hair structure in combination with heat or other vigorous methods.
Sometimes you might just want to smoothen some frizz. For that, hair oils might be a good idea, see below.
As a rule of thumb, you want to avoid any products that dry out your hair. This means pretty much all products with drying alcohol.
I personally prefer making my own hair gel, because this way I definitely know what’s in there. But there are definitely also good products out there.
Oh, now we come to one of my favorite healthy hair products! Haircare oil!
When it comes to hair oils, the main criterion is quite simple. You want to make sure that your hair oil consists of oil. Pure oil. 100% oil.
Obviously, hair product manufacturers quickly noticed the trend of oiling your hair. Unfortunately, many of them started selling chemical mixes with some oil in them as hair care oils.
Your best bet is to stick with natural hair care and simply get pure oils. Depending on which type of oil your hair likes, you could even get it from the supermarket!
Which type of hair care oil should I pick?
Now that we know that pure oils are our best choice we have another question. Which hair oil is the best for my hair?
While I can give you a few pointers, this can be highly individual.
Coconut oil for hair
Some people swear on coconut oil* for hair care.
For me personally though, coconut oil can have a slightly drying effect. And I have heard others have the same problem.
The only coconut oil that works for me is this Monoi Tiaré oil*. This one again works perfectly and it smells heavenly, too. (My husband always tells me I smell like cookies when I use it. Perfect!)
I don’t know what makes the difference between this one and pure coconut oil. But for my hair, there seems to be one.
Either way, you will need to test if coconut oil works for you or not.
Argan oil for hair care
I simply LOVE the effects argan oil* has on my hair! If it wouldn’t be rather expensive, I might only use argan oil. Okay, strike that, I also love changing things up.
But argan oil makes my hair soft and supple, without the oily effect. You know, this feeling when you took a little too much hair oil? This simply doesn’t happen to me when I use argan oil.
Apparently, some people had problems with the smell before. My argan oil was always odorless. So make sure you get a good quality, organic product*.
Using jojoba oil for hair
Jojoba oil is another one of my favorite hair oils. Chemically, jojoba is a wax and super close to the sebum our scalp produces. So naturally, this is stuff that our hair really likes!
Like argan oil, jojoba oil is a little more expensive than I would like. But whenever I got a bottle*, I didn’t regret it. My hair simply loves it!
And because of the composition, yours should, too!
Other hair care oils
Your hair might need specific things. So various other oils could also be the healthy hair product you need right now.
If your hair is very dry, use heavier oils as pre-wash treatments or even as leave-in for the tips. Think olive oil, avocado, macadamia et cetera. (Oh, macadamia oil* was also one of my favorites! It felt so luxurious!)
If you have finer hair or your hair get’s greasy very quickly, stick with some lighter hair oils. Good examples are almond oil or camellia seed oil*.
Camellia seed oil can be super expensive. But I can tell you a hack for that!
Camellia seed oil is also used to take care of swords and stuff. And even though they contain exactly the same thing, those are much cheaper! Simply look for “food grade blade oil” and check the ingredient to be 100% camellia oil. Or simply get it here*.
Homemade hair treatments
When it comes to hair masks and other hair care treatments, you can easily make those at home. This way you can make sure that whatever you use fits what your hair needs.
If your hair is really dry for example, you would use ingredients that are moisturizing. (See my favorite hair mask for dry hair here!)
Either way, with homemade hair treatments you are in full control. You don’t need to worry about drying alcohols in your products. Or any other chemicals that might have undesirable side effects.
Where to buy healthy hair products online
Alright. This was a lot of information. But now it’s time to take action and actually get those healthy hair products!
So we need to figure out where to buy these products. To make it easy for you, we will only look at online sources.
Healthy hair brands that you can buy online
First, let’s look at a few brands that offer their products directly on their own website.
You can buy Aubrey Organics products in many online stores. But they also sell their products directly on their own website. It might not be perfectly optimized, but it exists.
The online shop of Dessert Essence looks a little more user-friendly. There filtering options and they even have an easily findable store locator. This way you can go and buy their products in a shop near you. If you prefer that to online shopping for whichever reason. Who doesn’t love online shopping?
Khadi Natural offers the possibility to shop directly on their page. And if you are in India, it might make sense to use this option. For anyone else, online shops in their own country will be better. If only for the delivery time.
Shea Moisture definitely has the most professional online shop among these brands. They offer a lot of filters and the shop is quick and easy to use.
They also offer a store locator so that you can buy their hair products in a store close to you.
Where else to buy healthy hair products online
Other than the brand pages, you can find all of these hair brands also on Amazon*. Here you will probably get the best delivery times and easiest return options. If you are in a country where Amazon operates, that is.
But then again, who would want to return their perfect healthy hair products?
*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.