By Rebecca Hitchon
When it comes to skincare, we’re rigorous about the ingredients we need to avoid. We stay up to date with the latest hero ingredients and we’re more willing to spend extra on our skin. Research shows that the average British woman spends up to £100,000 on cosmetics in her lifetime. This compares with £40,000 on hair care, despite hair maintenance generally being more expensive. For our hair, we’re financially and emotionally invested in colouring it. But after that, we’re not so in the know about the ingredients or brands to be aware of. Yet getting our hair care right is crucial, especially because once hair is damaged, it’s technically dead and cannot repair.
So what hair care ingredients are complete-no gos and what are hair heroes? We talked to luxury scalp and hair health brand MONPURE’s resident dermatologist, Dr Sue Ann Chan, to create your go-to guide for what you should and shouldn’t put on your locks. MONPURE’s focus is on a healthy scalp being the root of healthy hair, particularly in terms of the common problem of hair loss and thinning. The brand avoids toxic and harsh chemicals to help you maintain the long-term health of your hair.
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Hair care no-go ingredients to steer clear of
“Whilst [preservatives] are crucial in producing and maintaining the shelf-life of cosmetic/hair care products, certain ingredients are more harmful than others,” says Dr Chan. She particularly warns against Methyisothiazolinone (known as MI) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), which are in shampoos, conditioners, hair colours and hairspray. The two preservatives, which are often combined, are two of the most common allergens in beauty products. To avoid irritation, the chemicals have largely been removed from leave-in products and are now used in lower concentrations. But it is definitely better to be safe and avoid them than be sorry.
“Heavily perfumed products should also be avoided, especially if you have a sensitive scalp and skin,” explains Dr Chan. This is because the fragrances in hair care products are artificial, meaning that they are made up of chemicals. This is in comparison to the alternative: natural, clean ingredients, which Dr Chan tells me are less processed and more biodegradable. Artificial chemicals often penetrate beyond your scalp’s skin surface. As the scalp is a sensitive part of the body, this is a recipe for disaster, or irritation and dryness.
Sodium laurate sulphate
You’ve probably heard that sulphates are ingredients to avoid not only in your hair care routine but also your skincare routine, and there’s good reason for that. Dr Chan explains how Sodium Laurate Sulphate, or SLS, is a common irritant. It effectively cleans hair and create the lather we love from our shampoos, but it is extremely drying. Of course, this is not good for those with naturally dry curly or afro hair, or those with processed hair. SLS is also a product of palm oil, which we’ve covered in terms of deforestation, animal displacement and human rights violations.
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Silk peptides and vitamin pro B5
MONPURE’s Dr Chan explains how silk peptides and vitamin pro B5, or panthenol, are ingredients with moisturising hair care effects. Silk peptide is purified silk powder, with silk’s original physical structure and chemical composition. It retains moisture in your hair and is in MONPURE’s Strengthening Silk Protein Shampoo. Vitamin pro B5 absorbs moisture from the air, nourishing deep into the hair follicle. Vitamin pro B5/panthenol is in MONPURE’s Strengthening Essence-Conditioner.
“[Niacinamide] is a great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant,” says Dr Chan. It supports your scalp health, keeping your hair strong and maintaining its colour for longer. Niacinamide minimises the effects of environmental factors and time, so helps with MONPURE’s specialism: hair loss. The brand use pumpkin seed and rosemary leaf extracts as ingredients in their Follicle Boost Hair Density Serum, to help prevent hormonal hair loss.
Moisture retaining humectants
As the title suggests, humectants like glycol (which are substances that reduce moisture loss) help hair absorb and hold moisture.
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Alongside knowing hair care brands that you can trust for quality, beneficial formulas, “take time to read and review the individual ingredients,” says Dr Chan. As mentioned, “products containing a variety of preservatives, colouring and fragrances should be avoided, as they can cause irritation.” Like we said in our skincare ingredient guide, brands list ingredients from the highest to lowest concentration. The first five make up about 80% of the product and have the most effect on your hair, therefore these are the ingredients to focus on.
We hope you’ve learnt something from our hair care guide. What are the hair care products or brands that you can’t live without for healthy hair? Let us know in the comments or tell us on Instagram @keiseimgz.
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