safe and sound hair products

i often have to deal a heartbreaking blow to new clients when it comes to hair products. after checking the ingredients of what seems like hundreds of products, the sad news is that most of them are comedogenic and will complicate acne-prone skin.  for example, that smoothing serum? the one that tames the frizz and makes your hair look awesome? it’s totally breaking you out. as are the leave-in conditioners, moroccan hair oils, and most of your styling products too.

before getting clear myself, i used to use all kinds of hair potions and serums for my curly locks. i also had cystic nodules on my jawline and acne on the sides my face where my hair would hit or from sleeping on pillows covered in hair product residue . my hair always looked on point but i was broken out all over.  i felt like i had to make a choice. do i want clear skin or good hair? i chose clear skin, obviously. but then after a while of being completely clear i started to get antsy about my hair.  and so began the search for acne-safe hair products. which, by the way, is far from over. so here you have it. the information i have gathered thus far. hope it helps!

the super basic. when i started working at sS, i poo-pood at the thought of using a shower gel as hair shampoo. i was a disbeliever, until i actually tried it. i found out that the shikai stuff works surprisingly well! i now use it about once a week as both a shampoo and conditioner (it has oatmeal and aloe which i find moisturizing enough for non-color-treated hair).  it’s an easy and efficient option, one product, all over.

environmentally approved.  we also carry earth science fragrance free shampoo.  it’s a nice, unscented shampoo for normal to oily hair that will not break you out.  also safe and quite similar is john masters organics “bare” shampoo. in fact, they are almost the same product. so if you’re out shopping somewhere and they don’t have the earth science, try the john masters. these shampoos work well with our skinSALVATION brand conditioner.

salon style.  for those of us who need a little more care in the shower, we have been offering acne-safe selections from the AG Hair Cosmetics line. these are salon-quality products that will leave your hair feeling smooth and conditioned. fast food shampoo is sulfate-free and works well with either the ultramoist conditioner or the colour savour conditioner for color-treated hair.

we did a test run of these last year and had zero breakouts, which means the fragrances are a-ok here.

others to try.  nature’s gate makes a variety of shampoos and conditioners, most of which seems to be acne-safe. the sS jury is still out, but i do have a bunch of clients using them months in and no breakouts so far. they are available at whole foods, natural stores and i think even walgreen’s, at a very decent price point. the feedback i’ve got from clients is that you have to leave the conditioner in for at least 5 minutes to get a nice and smooth result if you have dry hair.

another winning combo can be found at trader joe’s. the tea tree tingle shampoo and conditioner are both acne-safe, and great if you have oily hair. the tea tree will give you a little zing!

if you’re battling with dry scalp or dandruff, you should know that the beloved head and shoulders is cloggy. try instead using selsun blue or aveeno nourish + dandruff control shampoo. our clients have tested these to be safe.

a word about fragrance. it’s such a tricky thing. unfortunately, the beauty industry, by law, does not need to disclose the ingredients belonging to a fragrance – and “fragrance” is in almost everything. it’s considered a trade secret in the united states and most companies do not provide information to the consumer as to what in fact a particular fragrance contains. that means we can’t exactly trust products to be acne-safe, or non-toxic for that matter, when the word fragrance is included in their ingredients list.  often times our clients will experiment with products in hopes that the fragrance doesn’t break them out and often times they are disappointed. proceed with caution if you choose to try products that contain an unchecked fragrance. and if you’re still trying to get clear it’s probably best to not use anything questionable for now.  you can read our blog post about it here.

to poo or not to poo. for some folks, going the no poo route is the best option. now, not everyone will have good luck with this kind of hair management or lack thereof (ahem, kim’s blog post ), but for the true minimalist it can be a saving grace.

honorable mention to the dry shampoos we have experimented with, and have thus far passed our standards.  l’oreal new ever style, garnier fructis volume extend, and oscar blandi’s pronto dry (the powder version, not the cloggy + sticky spray!).

styling products are the hardest to come by for sSers, but we do have a few standbys to recommend trying. i’m still on a quest to find a smoothing serum, but there is a calendula and green tea conditioning mist from john masters organics that can help with dryness and frizz. another safe product from john masters is his sweet orange & silk protein styling gel. if you have short hair and have been using pomade or gel, try switching to giovanni wicked wax. it has a light texture and hold but adds definition.

some of our more crafty clients have made their own products. one even made this recipe for flax-seed gel.  if you’re looking for texture or a summertime look, you can do one one savvy client did and diy a seaweed-free salt spray (but be sure not to add coconut oil, ever!). 

and let’s not forget the importance of using a high quality flat iron or heat styling tool, which can make all the difference.  with using one of these, it’s likely you won’t need any product at all!

this is by no means a comprehensive list but, it’s what we’ve come up with so far.  if any of you dear clients have been using a product for some time that doesn’t break you out, please do share with us so that we may pass it on to others.  🙂