Hi There! So I have decided I want to start doing an occasional (biweekly, perhaps?) round up post of some of my favorite clean beauty products. For myself, the transition to non-toxic beauty and self care products has been a rollercoaster of trial and error. What works for some doesn’t always work for yourself, but getting the opinions of others has still been so helpful in making decisions. For a while I often impulsively tried a product I hadn’t heard of before and had “meh” results with, then looked up reviews and saw that other people experienced a similar result. For this reason, I want to start reviewing/discussing some of the awesome products I love using in hopes that maybe I can help some of you. Quick FYI: As of now, none of these posts are affiliated or sponsored in any way.
In the future, each round up post may or may not have a theme. Today, for example, I’m going to focus on hair care, but some posts may just be a mixed bag of things I’m loving at the moment.
Now, before we dive into the goods, here is a bit of background information for your reading pleasure:
I’ve had naturally curly hair my entire life. Which I mostly love, but at times it can be the bane of my existence. My haircare routine has drastically changed over the years. I used to shampoo, condition, apply leave-in conditioner, cover with gel, and then hairspray — I’m cringing as I type this. I used to do all these things in attempt to ward off the “frizzies” — Also cringing at the word “frizzies.” After some research I started to realize that none of these were going to stop frizz since alcohol was what caused frizz and alcohol was in all of them. So I switched to alcohol free products and though that would cure all. Again, I was wrong. It turns out parabens and sulfates were also drying and frizz inducing ingredients — later also learning of their toxicity and endocrine disrupting properties.
So what on earth was I supposed to put in my hair?! Cue a long lasting trial and error period of different natural hair care products with every result imaginable. I’ve thrown away more products than I’ll ever admit to, and have thrown fits over the discontinuation of a product I loved. Yeah, I cried once because I could longer for the life of me find the mousse I had been using for years. Truly, not one of my finest moments.
Over the past year and a half or so I’ve been transitioning my different beauty products to natural and non toxic products after learning a lot about the harmful ingredients found in so many commercial items. I started to think, “if I don’t want to put chemicals on my skin, should I be putting them on my hair and scalp either?” One would think not. So I did some research on nontoxic but effective curl care products and made the switch.
Let. Me. Tell. You.
Changing to all natural non toxic products has done MIRACLES for the health of my curls. It turns out that all the chemical laden products meant to get rid of frizz were in fact just drying my hair and making it brittle and frizzier and just all around no bueno. Which brings me to the point of this post: where I tell you about the three hair products I swear by, and would literally curse the heavens if ever taken out of production.
So, with out further adieu, my favorites:
Favorite Conditioner: Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Conditioner
I could probably construct a 5 page list of all of the conditioners I have tried in pursuit of frizz free curls. Conclusion: most of them didn’t work. The main reason many of them didn’t work was because of the pretty extensive ingredient list of chemicals and by-products. When I finally learned that alcohol and sulfates and parabens were all terrible for your hair (and body in general), I was determined to find the perfect conditioner that wasn’t going to cost me 2 hours of my salary. After consulting so many curl care websites and product reviews, I decided to check out Shea Moisture. I originally started with their Coconut & Hibiscus Curl and Shine Conditioner and had decent results (better than most products, but nothing outstanding); but about 6 months ago I decided to try the Raw Shea Butter Conditioner after seeing it at Target and was floored by how moisturized my hair became in seemingly no time at all. This ultra effective conditioner is made with plant based ingredients and is free of parabens, sulfates, propylene glycol, artificial fragrance, artificial ingredients, phthalates, formaldehyde, or DEA. Thats a long list of things no person should want in their conditioner, but is found in many. The combination of Shea Butter with Jojoba Oil, Sea Kelp, Argan Oil, and Coconut Oil makes for luxurious moisture and frizz reduction. Whether you have a curly hair or not, this conditioner is a life saver if you struggle with dry hair. This product has an EWG rating of 2, making it non-toxic and very safe for use.
How I Use it: After throughly rinsing my hair (I don’t shampoo… like, ever), I work 5 pumps of the conditioner through my hair for a couple of minutes. I leave it in my hair for at least 5 minutes, while I do my other shower things, then I rinse well. I then reapply 1 or 2 more pumps as a leave-in before styling.
Where to Get It: Here, or you can also find it for 10-12 dollars at Target, Walmart, and Ulta.
Favorite Curl Cream: Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie
Another goodie from Shea Moisture is their Curl Enhancing Smoothie. Its a pretty thick and heavy leave-in/styling cream. A small handful goes a very long way. For years I tried gels and mousses and it seemed no matter how much I used, my hair would just dry up and get that crispy look — You know what I’m talking about: like if someone stepped on your curls it would sound like they were stepping on dried leaves in October. NO ONE wants their hair to be that texture, but it seemed like that was the result I was going to be doomed with for ever. After reading advice on a curl care website, I was shocked to see the kind of results people got from taking a “less is more” approach. It seemed that perhaps mousse and gel weren’t the right answer and rather I should be using a creamier product.
Many curl websites praised the Shea Moisture Curl enhancing smoothie, and at 12 dollars per container (much cheaper than most other curl products), I decided it was worth a try. The smell is okay, like its trying to be a good smell but it’s not amazing. But as far as efficacy goes, it works like a charm. I never would’ve even dreamed that a simple curl cream would be enough to keep my curls on lock, but this one certainly is. I also rest easy knowing that it has an EWG rating of 1, meaning its non toxic and extremely safe to use.
How I Use It: After applying a small pump of conditioner as a leave in, I apply a palmful of the curl smoothie to my curls while still soaking wet. Then I scrunch my curls upward and squeeze out the excess water. Next I lightly wrap my hair into a microfiber towel to remove a little more water before letting air dry or diffusing with a blowdryer.
Where to Get It: Here, or at Target, Walmart, Ulta, and More.
Favorite Gel/Styler: DevaCurl Light Defining Gel
Now I know I just somewhat bashed gels and mousses in the previous segment, but I’ve learned that not all gels are created equal and there is one and only one that I trust. I keep a bottle of the DevaCurl Light Defining Gel in my bathroom cabinet for those days where I need my curls to look a bit more refined and polished, or those days when the humidity is just on some next level sh!#. For years, I boycotted the DevaCurl products because of their price tag. I was fresh out of college and the idea of paying 22 dollars for a bottle of Gel seemed a bit blasphemous. After asking so many people with beautiful curls, “what product do you use?” and getting the related response of “DevaCurl!” I knew I had to check it out. So I caved and gave it a try. I’ll admit, it does work reeeeaaally well, but it also requires that you use quite bit for a good result. When I was using this as a primary product I was flying through a bottle in less than 2 weeks, which just didn’t seem worth the 22 dollars. It also makes my curls just the tiniest bit TOO held together, as I prefer to have a softer and more natural look. That being said, its a great backup product for humid summer days, or for when you’re going to a fancy event and don’t want your hair to have the Wild & Free look.
Aside from the price, another kicker to this product is the slight increase in EWG rating (old formulation was 4, but some ingredients have since been removed). While its still free of sulfates, parabens, propylene glycol among other things, it does still have some artificial ingredients. These ingredients, however, are shown to pose a very low risk and for that reason I still use it on occasion. In comparison with most other gels, its much safer and cleaner, so its a good product to have on hand when you simply need the magical workings of a gel.
How I Use it: After applying leave in conditioner, I work small handfuls at a time through my curls then scrunch upwards to squeeze out excess water. I then let my hair air dry or I blow dry with a diffuser. Once dry, “shake” curls lightly to release the crunchiness of the gel.
Where to Get It: Here, Ulta, most Salons, some Target Locations.
So there you have it! The first of many clean beauty round ups! I hope you enjoyed reading this and learned about new products. If you’ve ever used any of these or you decide to give them a try, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts! Also feel free to share any other curl products you love!