Hair is the theme for reader questions this week (and it gives us an excuse to feature Jared Leto’s locks—so pretty, right?). Sarah wrote in with a question about finding the right shampoo to treat her sensitive scalp (thanks Accutane!) and we’re certain some of you can point her in the right direction. Here’s what she has to say:
“Hi there! I need some NMDL community advice. I finished the book in November and was SO excited to begin switching out my products for clean ones. After a six-month stint of Accutane (eek, I know!) almost 2 years ago, I was left with an extremely dry, flaky and irritated scalp. I was sure dirty shampoos were not helping my problem, and clean ones would finally give me some relief. Oh girl. I had the same problem even with clean shampoos (Yarok, Acure, Avalon). It seems that coconut-derived shampoos irritate it even more! Still on the hunt for a clean, coconut-free shampoo. Has anyone else experienced this? If anyone has suggestions, they’d be much appreciated! It’s definitely no fun to have a flaky scalp. Also, I have very fine, oil-prone curly hair, so skipping washes/not washing does not work well. Thank you so much!”
We agree, it’s definitely no fun to have a flaky scalp. Help a girl out? Let Sarah know your thoughts in the comments.
Have a question for the community? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s kind of an unspoken theme among clean beauty enthusiasts: wash your hair as infrequently as possible. It’s almost like it’s a goal we aspire to, something that earns you bragging rights if you can actually manage to get your hair and scalp to a happy place while only washing every few days. Of course, I speak from the perspective of a woman with fine hair that gets oily if you look at it the wrong way. Some of you, like Alexandra, have the kind of hair that begs not to be washed. (You lucky things!)
When we wash and how we wash ultimately depends on two factors: your hair type and the products you use. One of those is completely out of your control; the other is all about trial and error. This can be a slow, frustrating, and expensive process. That’s why we cherish this community and your comments on the subject! Help a sister out, right? We got an email from Leticia, a “confused reader” who has been following the blog, reading through all the advice on cleaning up your hair routine, and has a very valid question for us all: but why? Take a look at what she has to say:
I have been following your blog for a little while now… really wanting to move all of my products to “clean” ones but do it slowly and not break the bank! So I thought I’d look through your site and see what others are using. After reading through several routines, I started noticing that people aren’t shampooing very often; or they only shampoo their scalp and condition their ends; or they only condition every couple days; and what’s with the oils I’m seeing people putting in their hair and leaving overnight?? I love reading through the routines, but I guess I am just wishing they would say WHY they do what they do, you know?
I generally shampoo and condition every other day with dirty products… does this mean it will change as I use clean ones? How will I know? Why would you only shampoo your scalp and not the rest of your hair? And why not condition all of your hair? Doesn’t the conditioner replace what you stripped out with the shampoo? Or does the “stripping” not occur with clean products? Do you have a good resource that may talk about some of the why’s behind our products, not just products themselves?
Girl, we totally understand! You’re not the first reader to seek similar advice, but the whole question about why we do the things we do could be incredibly valuable in helping someone understand which advice might be best suited to their hair type and personal needs. And who better to explain than YOU, dear readers. So let’s hash it out in the comments, shall we?
What’s your hair routine? Do you shampoo? Condition? Apply oils? Let us know WHY your routine works for you!
Sometimes having curly hair can feel like having a pet (that you never asked your parents for). It needs constant love and attention, petting, fluffing and calming, and you can’t just leave it out in the rain and expect it to behave.
Then one day you discover that, in fact, it’s not as needy as you thought. It actually wants to be independent, and if you just let it do it’s thing and don’t coddle it like a crazy person, it might actually be able to survive in the wild.
K, this is a weird metaphor. But it sort of sums up what happened to me and my curls and I went clean. The constant monitoring, treatments, and loads of leave-ins proved to be a bit moot once I just learned to let it be, not wash it much (or ever), and use a good, thick, natural conditioner. Suddenly: Nice curls, responsive to heat if I wanted to style it, and I could even sleep on them and not look like a total animal in the morning.
For a while there, I flat-out lost my taste for hair products, because it was such a revelation not to need them. But these days, I’m working my way back to the middle because—as I almost forgot—the right products can do a lot for a curl. It can make it springy and tight, or loose and lovely. And this line does it all.
Who is Jessicurl? Some quick reading on their website says it’s a brand started by a woman (Jess) who grew up fighting her curls until one day she discovered a natural and DIY approach to haircare and learned to love them. Sound familiar? Cut to: Ten years later she has her very own line with very nice people working with her. These folks were kind enough to send me their entire Rich and Radiant Collection, which I’ve now thoroughly tested.
Note: There are a few ingredients in the line that aren’t perfect. The last two ingredients in the conditioners and leave-ins get a question mark on SkinDeep (4-6), though I’ve never heard of them (have you?) and the cleansing cream contains a PEG. While that gets a low hazard score, if memory serves PEGs run the risk of being contaminated with 1,4-dioxane—which is really bad stuff. I have not emailed the folks at Jessicurl about any of this yet (feel free to post in the comments, guys), but given how clean the rest of the line I’m feeling a bit forgiving about it. Especially on the products that I’m obsessed with. :)
OK, let’s go through it!
Hair Cleansing Cream ($16.95 / 8oz): Touted as an alternative to shampoo this product foams just a little, featuring gentler surfactants. As promised in the description, your curly hair will actually look great on the same day as washing (on the rare occasions I wash, I’ve found this to be true with most good natch, and non-stripping, shampoos). Remember when your curls were absolutely destroyed by hair-washing and you had to wait several days for them to get back into their groove? Man, those days sucked.
Too Shea! Conditioner ($16.95 / 8oz): This is a really nice hydrating conditioner that leans more towards the sticky than the greasy side in consistency. I’ve been using this most days as my conditioning cleanser and it’s absolutely great. The whole lines smells good too, in a natural good way, and the presence of peppermint in this conditioner makes it perfect for waking up in the morning shower. This conditioner gets my solid stamp of approval, and I think it would work especially great for women who don’t want their curls weighed down. I, on the other hand, also happen to enjoy a really heavy conditioner too… Which is why I use it in tandem with…
Deep Conditioning Treatment ($16.95 / 8oz): This conditioner is the bomb. It’s so thick that it’s almost tough to squeeze it out of the bottle. Heavy and rich, it literally seems to detangle curls on contact. Funnily, it has almost the exact same ingredients as the previous conditioner, but the proportions must be totally different. According to the description, I’m not the only curly girl obsessed. While it was once marketed as a weekly treatment, so many women started using it daily. That’s what I’ve been doing, and the results are GREAT.
OK, that’s a wrap for now. Tomorrow I will cover the three amazing styling products that came in the set. But tell us, curlies and wavies: What is your washing and conditioning curl ritual? Have you heard of JessiCurl?
When a brand says right on their website, “what goes onto your skin, goes into your body,” I’m going to take a closer look.
I did just that with Griffin Remedy and found some go-to products. Though I typically look for unscented skin and hair products, sometimes I do appreciate a light, energizing scent in the shower. This clean, vegan, gluten-free brand makes a variety of products, and I’m a regular user of their hair care.
Griffin Remedy Daily Shampoo and Daily Conditioner: Both have a pleasant, mild orange scent and are my very favorite scented hair products. The shampoo lathers nicely, and cleans thoroughly but gently. I shampoo every few days or so, and this one is the best for when my hair is really feeling dirty. I often choose this shampoo after a coconut mask, and it gets out just enough oil but leaves what my hair needs. The combination of the orange shampoo and the coconut oil smells sooooooo good. The conditioner is fantastic for no-shampoo days, especially when I don’t need a huge amount of moisture, but I want to use a little something. I also like it for post-shampoo, and it’s great for helping to rinse out the last bit of henna after I color. They also make a Restorative line (lavender scent) that is more moisturizing, and have a Volumizing line too (lemon verbena scent). The prices are quite reasonable, much less expensive than most clean brands I’ve tried ($8/8oz bottle). I find them in various local stores, including Whole Foods, and you can order online.
I’ve also tried in-store testers of some of their lotions (lovely, especially the grapefruit). Have you tried anything from this brand?
And for my next trick, I will interview myself about two new products from Intelligent Nutrients. (There are two more to come—so check back soon. But for now…)
What do they smell like?
Like the best Aveda product you ever tried, but better. IN, as you probably know, was created by the founder of Aveda, who sold that company many moons ago. Big difference here, of course, is that the fragrance is completely natural and organic—and smells way better as a result. It’s a mix of lemongrass, ylang ylang and geranium and I’m convinced they possesss aromatherapeutic powers. I also like to know that when I go in for a hug, my hair will smell nice. I don’t wear perfume every day other than my Lotus Wei Infinite Love stuff, which fades as natural perfumes should. So this does the trick there.
On a scale from 1 to 10, how good does your hair look when you use this stuff?
Acknowledging that these things are subjective (and relative), I’m going to go with 8. I’ve been using it almost daily for more than a month and I’ve been having really, really good hair days. Since summer is over and I’ve had lots of big work meetings lately, I haven’t been air drying as much as I did all summer. With very little effort and a little heat I’ve been accomplishing hair that’s not flat, not too bouncy, super shiny, and nice at the end of the day, too.
Do you like them better than the other hair stuff you’ve reviewed lately?
Yow. That’s like asking a mom to pick her favorite kid, which I’m more than happy to do because I’m not a parent (and a shampoo isn’t a child, and this analogy is completely falling apart). Anyway, yes. I prefer these products to the others I’ve reviewed recently—namely Acure and Yarok. But I prefer Yarok for air drying (see below) and I prefer Acure for the price, gentleness, and for everyday. So I still have those in my shower caddy, love them, and will replace them when they run out.
How does your hair look when you airdry with these guys?
Not the best. Not terrible, but I don’t get the same lovely waves and volume I get with Yarok, for instance.
Does the shampoo foam?
No, not really. It gets you clean, though, obviously. The bottles look similar, which can make showering a little confusing if you’re pre-coffee. I frequently grab the wrong one first.
So does that mean you’ve been doing that weird thing where you wash your hair backwards?
Yes! IN’s founder was the first person to teach us this trick and, no surprise, it works wonderfully well with his products. My favorite trick these days is to lightly wash just my roots with a dime-size dollop, rinse, condition all over, leave on for a few minutes, then rinse again at the roots with another dime-size dollop.
Are they gluten free?
Do they cost an arm and a leg?
How excited are you to try this stuff? And are there other Intelligent Nutrients products you swear by?
Shampoo Ingredients: water/aqua, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, glycerin,1 disodium coco-glucoside citrate, glyceryl oleate, cocoglucoside, behenyl alcohol, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, ethyl palmate,1 theobroma grandiflorum (cupuacu) seed butter,1 astrocaryum murumuru seed butter,1 citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) oil, cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass) leaf oil, pelargonium graveolens (geranium) flower oil,1 cananga odorata (ylang ylang) flower oil,1 sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil, nigella sativa (black cumin) seed oil,1,2 cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil,1,2 rubus idaeus (raspberry) seed oil,1,2 vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil,1,2 vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberry) seed oil,1,2 cistus ladaniferus oil,1 glycine soja (soybean) seed extract, elaesis guineensis (palm) extract, oryza sativa (rice) extract, adansonia digitata (baobab) oil,1 aleurites moluccana (kukui) seed oil,1 xanthan gum, citric acid, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, benzyl benzoate,1,3 limonene,1,3 linalool,1,3 farnesol,1,3 eugenol,1,3 isoeugenol,1,3 geraniol,1,3 citronellol,1,3 benzyl salicylate,1,3 tocopherol (vitamin e)
Conditioner Ingredients: water/aqua, ethyl palmate,1 behentrimonium chloride, behenyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, pentaclethra macroloba seed oil,1 theobroma grandiflorum (cupuacu) seed butter,1 astrocaryum murumuru seed butter,1 cymbopogon schoenanthus (lemongrass) oil,1 pelargonium graveolens (geranium) flower oil,1 cananga odorata (ylang ylang) flower oil,1 nigella sativa (black cumin) seed oil,1,2 cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil,1,2 rubus idaeus (raspberry) seed oil,1,2 vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil,1,2 vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberry) seed oil,1,2 cistus ladaniferus oil,1 glycerin, glycine soja (soybean) seed extract, elaesis guineensis (palm) extract, oryza sativa (rice) extract, adansonia digitata (baobab) oil,1 aleurites moluccana (kukui) seed oil,1 citric acid, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, benzyl benzoate,1,3 limonene,1,3 linalool,1,3 farnesol,1,3 eugenol,1,3 isoeugenol,1,3 geraniol,1,3 citronellol,1,3 benzyl salicylate,1,3 citral,1,3 tocopherol (vitamin e)
(1 means “certified organic”; 2 means “antioxidant Intellimune® seed oil complex; 3 means “aturally occurring component of organic essential oil blend”)