Have you ever stood in the hair care aisle of a store frantically reading ingredient lists trying to find the perfect product for your hair, or wondered why a product that seems like it should be great for your hair seems not-so-great?! Our scientists have read and analyzed hundreds of ingredient lists to help solve these mysteries!
Step One: Choose your product types!
Product Types: The first section lets you choose what kind of products you want to search through, such as shampoo, conditioner, gel, etc. The product types are listed in alphabetical order. Please know we’ve only included products that we feel are “Curly Girl Method Approved”.
*Some shampoos in our Virtual Product Aisle are clarifying shampoos and therefore not Curly Girl Approved.
Step Two: Choose your filters!
After you choose your product type(s), you can start filtering based off of ingredients you want in your products. When looking for products without certain ingredients, that product will be listed as free from that ingredient.
Film-forming Humectants: The products under this filter will be styling products that have primarily film-forming humectants such as pectin, xanthan gum, marshmallow root, and many plant extracts (they may also have other humectants in much lower concentrations). Using products with film-forming humectants is a great way to keep especially humid, or especially dry, air from affecting your style. However, humectants are only effective in products that are not washed out of your hair, such as gels, creams, and other styling products. Film-forming humectants are great for those who want to retain their hair’s moisture and keep their frizz at bay. *We did not filter shampoos or conditioners for their humectant properties or styling products that have only a negligible concentration.
Humectants: The products under this filter will be styling products that have humectants in a significant concentration. In general, humectants are a great way to moisturize your hair. Their primary purpose is to attract and retain moisture to improve your hair elasticity. The products under this filter contain ingredients like glycerin, sorbitol, and propylene glycol, all of which will increase your hair’s moisture content. *We did not filter shampoos or conditioners for their humectant properties or styling products that have only a negligible concentration.
Small Hydrolyzed Proteins: Within the category of hydrolyzed proteins, there is a wide range of sizes. Small hydrolyzed proteins are great for all porosities, but are particularly important for those who have low porosity hair. The cuticle spacing in low porosity hair is tighter and therefore, smaller proteins are needed to fill in the gaps. Choosing products with proteins will help give your hair more structure and allow it to retain moisture. This filter includes: Amino acids, Peptides, Hydrolyzed Silk, Hydrolyzed Hazelnut, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Hydrolyzed Avocado, and Hydrolyzed Keratin.
Large Hydrolyzed Proteins: Hydrolyzed proteins are proteins that are broken down into smaller pieces; some of these pieces are larger than others. This filter is for products that contain hydrolyzed proteins that are larger and less able to penetrate low porosity hair, due to the increased size. They better compliment normal to high porosity hair. This filter includes: Hydrolyzed Wheat, Hydrolyzed Oat, Hydrolyzed Soy, Hydrolyzed Corn, Hydrolyzed Vegetable, Hydrolyzed Quinoa, Hydrolyzed Lupine, Hydrolyzed Rice, Hydrolyzed Milk, Hydrolyzed Sweet Almond, Hydrolyzed Amaranth, and Hydrolyzed Jojoba.
Unhydrolyzed/Unknown Proteins: These products contain proteins that are whole (unhydrolyzed) or simply unspecified. Whole proteins help fill in the gaps on the surface of the hair to help the hair retain moisture and add shine. Proteins this size best compliment high porosity hair.
Butters: These ingredients are great for softening hair and providing definition but they are solid at room temperature and can, therefore, be heavy for some hair types. Depending on your hair type, they may work well in rinse-off products but not as well for leave-in products.
Moisturizing Oils: These ingredients are able to penetrate the cuticle layer for most people. They are more flexible since they have lower melting points than butters or waxes. People with coarse or thick hair are able to tolerate more moisturizing oils in their products; however, those with fine hair should avoid products with a lot of moisturizing oils, as they can weigh down the hair. Also, for hair that is easily over moisturized, moisturizing oils used as a pre-shampoo treatment help protect the hair from over absorbing water while washing. This filter includes: Coconut, Fractionated Coconut, Sunflower, Babassu, Olive, Avocado, and Palm Kernel Oils.
Sealing Oils: These oils do not penetrate the cuticle layer as much as moisturizing oils do, but they can be a great finishing touch when styling to prevent moisture loss, add shine, and help detangle. Oils also help protect the hair from high heat. This filter includes: Jojoba, Sunflower, Sesame, Broccoli seed, and Flaxseed oils.
Aloe Free: Aloe is a humectant, which means it delivers a high moisture content to the hair; while some hair types seem to love aloe, others seem to hate it. In general, those with coarse hair will benefit more from products containing aloe, while those with fine hair may dislike the results. We have created this filter to eliminate any products that contain aloe anywhere on the ingredients list.
Coconut Free: For some people, coconut can be too heavy of an oil for their hair due to how moisturizing it is. Additionally, it has been known to mimic the effects of protein in some hair types. It can also make hair stiff in certain weather conditions, because it is a solid below 76 degrees F. If you are experiencing any of these issues with your hair and you haven’t been sure why, try opting for products that are coconut free.
Glycerin Free: These are products that have NO glycerin (or its nearest cousins). While most people do no need to entirely avoid these, especially in rinse-off products like shampoo and conditioner, we are frequently asked about these types of products since they can cause frizz by reaching out for moisture in the air.
Common Irritant Free: These are products that do not contain any common irritants, such as Phenoxyethanol or Benzyl Alcohol. Some people with sensitive skin find that these ingredients cause itchiness, redness or bumps. However, if you are using products that contain these ingredients and you aren’t experiencing any adverse effects, feel free to continue using them! This filter includes: Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, dimethyl-dimethyl (DMDM) hydantoin, Quaternium-15, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, Sodium Humechydroxymethylglycinate, Benzyl alcohol, Methyl, Propyl, Butyl, and Ethyl Parabens, Phenoxyethanol, Methylisothiazolinone, and Methylchloroisothiazolinone.
UV Protectants: These are products that contain UV protection. Just like wearing sunscreen when you expose yourself to the sun, it’s important to protect your hair from its rays as well. Whether it’s from styling tools or UV rays, heat in all forms can be damaging to your hair. Because of this, you may want to opt for products that can protect your hair when you’re out and about in sunny weather. This filter includes: Octylmethoxycinnamate, Cinnamidopropyltrimonium chloride, Benzophenone-3, Benzophone-4, Quaternium-95, and Propanediol.
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