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5 Warning Signs of Bad Natural Hair Products

• Dec 7, 2012

By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom

Are you planning to try a new product soon? My general ethos is that if you are curious about how a product works, you should buy it and try it. I do however think that there are some red flags about certain products that would make me question their claims or efficacy. Products that make my blacklist include:

1. Any water based conditioner which does not list water as the first ingredient

I have previously stressed that the vast majority of hair conditioners contain a large amount of water. It would not be uncommon for a conditioner to be 90–95% water.  There are exceptions for conditioners that are pastes e.g mud based blocks or washes such as Ojon, rhassoul and bentonite clay.  If a manufacturer is not honest enough to list the ingredients in the correct order, I do not trust that the product really is what they say it is or does what they claim it will do.

2. Any product with fragrance in the first five ingredients

Fragrance is sometimes used by manufacturers to disguise other ingredients in the product such as preservatives and mineral oil. My suspicion is raised further if the word fragrance appears towards the top of the ingredient list because most genuine fragrances based on citrus extracts or essential oils tend to be added in tiny amounts. As an example, perfumes for use in hair products are often dissolved in mineral oil bases with a small amount of preservative. If only a little is used this would not be a worry or concern to me but if the word fragrance appears in the first five ingredients, I would be suspicious as perhaps the mineral oil content of the perfume is actually a major ingredient.

3. Any shampoo which does not contain an oil or silicone

Shampoos can be very drying as a result of their ability to strip oil. In order to mitigate the drying effect most commercial store bought shampoos will contain a silicone of some sort (sometimes water soluble -identifiable by amine or amo within the name). If you are avoiding silicones, some natural hair soap bars and shampoos will instead contain a small fraction of a natural oil or butter.  This small addition of oil changes the shampoo from a potentially super drying formula to one which cleanses but does not become overly dry.

4. Any product which is not a leave-in and contains mineral oil in the first five ingredients

Mineral oil is much maligned in the natural world but it is very effective to help ‘seal’ in moisture and block humidity. It is therefore quite appropriate as a leave in product or as a post-styling product for straightened hair. I would however say that there are more useful and potent oils that work better in shampoo and conditioners. I would not select a shampoo or conditioner that contained mineral oil in general but the big red flag is mineral oil in the first five ingredients. My preference is for ingredients that would perform a major function such as penetration for repair and moisture, additional slip for combing and creating a permeable barrier for moisture. For these functions a natural oil or butter or water soluble silicone is best.

5. Any product with an ingredient list that is missing or incomplete or too short

With the exception of traditionally made soap, all hair products need to have an ingredient list. Soap which has added ingredients for a function e.g oil, glycerin, fragrance or colour needs to have an ingredient list. Any product sold without clearly stating the ingredients is not worth a purchase. You have no clue as to what is in the bottle or whatever is claimed by the manufacturer is really true. If you are looking to purchase a shampoo or conditioner and the product claims to contain a particular ingredient but you cannot see it on the list, just avoid purchasing it. If a water based conditioner has fewer than 5 ingredients listed, be really careful before purchasing as this is an exceptionally short list.

Ladies, what do you try to avoid in products?

About The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

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17 Comments on "5 Warning Signs of Bad Natural Hair Products"

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Very informative article! I will keep all this in mind. Regarding number 5: There’s a particular hair product line geared towards naturals that has been out for YEARS but still don’t have any ingredient information listed ont heir website or on their products. I emailed them a couple of years ago to ask about it and they said they’d be adding it on their website soon…till this day nothing! I don’t get how they expect anyone (especially a very informed natural hair community) to just slap their product on their head while not knowing what is in it and hoping… Read more »

Dr Miracle. That bullshi I believe that was the last perm i bought shortly thereafter my hair was coming out of my head in clumps. I still have residual loss.


Agreed, very informative article.

Qhemet Biologics doesn’t have ingredients for their products listed on the website, but you can find it pretty easily. I don’t care how popular a brand is, I need to know what is in it.


Qhemet’s ingredients are listed on their labels and on a bunch of websites. The author was referring to products that don’t list ingredients on the website or the labels.


Never seen a product like number 2 but lemme add for my 4b/c.…

1 any so called deep conditioner that is made up primarily of butters and oils.

2. Any product geared towards curls or with an emphasis on curls.

3 products containing glycerine and deep cons containing aloe — no detangling properties in the latter and wrong climate for the former.

4 any product containing too many oils ie pomades are a miss.

5. Any product with a cloying smell — I’m not a fan of Oyins citrus scent (smells like flintstones vitamins) or Hairvedas sitrinillah.


Agree with your #1 for every hair texture/type/porosity and #5 for me.

Any conditioner worth its weight needs to have conditioning agents and an emulsifier.

I also hate strong lingering smells. They follow you around all day and just irritate my senses after sometime. I wish some companies would tone down the amount of fragrance they use.


I totally agree with you on the fragrance! Some products contain such a high content of fragrance that it can be nauseating at times.


I like that JC mentioned that these can be red flags, although the best way is to try out the product for yourself. I only say that because the products I use on my hair would send some naturals flying…but they leave me with awesome results.


Yall are gonna kill me but i use Kera care conditioner for colored hair which in th 1st 5 ingredients has mineral oil! and although my hair hates mineral oil my hair seems to love Kera care for colored hair. Other then h ichy scalp im still retaining length.

Although i must say since im transitioning kERA care has not been as effective in moisturizing. so i started washing my hair with aubry organics huny suckle rose


It is interesting that you mention that you are transitioning. This list is intended for people with natural hair, if your hair is relaxed you may find that mineral oil actually works well as a conditioner. Relaxed hair does not hold moisture as well as natural untreated hair will. Products that coat hair and do not penetrate like mineral oil are great for relaxed hair in a conditioner as they will help towards protecting moisture from escaping.


I used Keracare when I transitioned and loved it.…it became less effective once I BC. Now I mainly use Aubrey Organic products.


There are a lot of natural hair products out there that claim to be natural but really or not.


I agree with everything except a portion of #5. A short ingredients list is not necessarily a red flag particularly in lines created by small businesses. When it comes to my hair products I believe less is more. If the first five ingredients are the most important how many more should there be?


[…] to Black Girl Long Hair, you should blacklist any products that lists fragrance as one of its first five […]

Leigh-Ann Carey

Thank you for this article. I know it’s pretty old. I like how realistic it is, example “Any water based conditioner which does not list water as the first ingredient”. Some articles put us off products all together and not all “all natural” ingredients work for my hair and I have tried a few of them.

Reader and follower from South Africa.

helen black

Pure natural products usually are horrible. Layoff


So it is okay to use products witj fragrance in them

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