The prime offenders of hair care

India and Indians are in the midst of a transformation today. We see more and more people starting to exercise which is very good. I remember, we never even knew that there is such a thing as green tea and today, we see so many brands of green tea at our neighbourhood store.
Through this post, I am suggesting another good habit, which is to start looking at the ingredient list of all products we buy. When we buy any cosmetic or hair care product, we do not even look at the ingredient list. We just go by the brand names and the claims they make about their products. And if we look at the list, we are satisfied by the natural ingredients mentioned at the bottom and do not even realize that the product has such small amounts of these ingredients that it hardly matters they are there at all. We end up not being aware of what we are putting on our skin or hair, and how will it affect our body. Today I am going to tell you the ingredients that we should avoid in our hair care products and why we should avoid them.

Checking product (1)


Sulfates are surfactants that produce suds and are present in every cleaning product whether it be your dish washing liquid, body wash or hair shampoos. These are harsh chemicals and have the tendency to irritate your scalp and skin. Sulfates not only remove dirt from your hair but they end up stripping off natural oils from your hair and leave them dry every time you use them. In some cases, they aggravate scalp conditions like eczema, dandruff, itchy and irritated scalp. Earlier, I use to have dandruff problem every now and then but once I stopped using shampoos containing sulfates, I have not experienced this condition again. So if you want to get rid of the dry hair, dandruff and irritated scalp then try and stop using shampoos that contain sulfates. There are many mild alternatives to these harsh ingredient, please check the list to find out which surfactants we should look for and which ones we should avoid.

Here are different types of surfactant that are present in our hair products in detail and how to one can choose a mild shampoo.


Have you ever experienced that you start using a new hair product, and it gives good results for sometime but after using it longer, your hair stops responding to it and becomes dry, limp and feels lifeless. The reason for this is the build up that you get after using silicone products.

Silicone are chemicals that form a film on your hair and provide it great slip which helps in detangling and reduced frizz. You can find silicones in shampoo, conditioner, styling products and even some oils like Dove Elixir. But problem is that these are not water-soluble so these can not be washed off with plain water and you have to use a sulfate shampoo to remove them (hence, a vicious circle!). Initially these product look like a quick fix for frizz but If you use silicone products for a longer period of time, then these keep on building on your hair and finally become impossible to remove. Once you get the build up, then these do not let the moisture reach your hair and make hair dry, limp and weigh your curls down causing hair to loose its curl definition.

There are some silicones that are water soluble and generally start with PEG/PPG. These water soluble silicones are safer to use and do not cause buildup. For more information on all water soluble (ok to use) and water insoluble (should avoid) silicones, read through the article Silicone in hair care.
Silicones generally end with -cone, -conol, -col or -xane. So you can easily identify them in the ingredient list.


Do you notice when you apply a conditioner or styling product (containing silicone) on your hair, then you can feel an smooth feeling on your palms which does not go away easily if you try washing it off with plain water. Now, wash your hand with hand soap (containing sulfates) and you can feel your hand clean from that slippery layer. That slippery thing is silicones.

Also when you visit a hair salon for deep conditioning treatment please check the ingredient list there as well. Most of the salon products contains silicone in them. Instead use a homemade remedy to deep condition your hair which is a better and economical option.

Know your ingredients and if at all you have to use a product containing silicone just do not forget to clean your hair with sulfate shampoo.



There are two types of alcohol, short chain alcohol and fatty alcohol.

Short chain alcohol includes Ethanol, SD alcohol, SD alcohol 40, Alcohol denat, Propanol, Propyl alcohol, Isopropanol and Isopropyl aclcohol. These types of alcohols evaporate quickly due to their low molecular weight, and because of this property they help decrease the time it takes for hair to dry and also make the hair frizzy and dry.

Fatty alcohol are large alcohol group that includes Lauryl alcohol, Cetyl alcohol, Myristyl alcohol, Stearyl alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol, C30-50 alcohols, Isocetyl alcohol, Isostearyl alcohol, Lanolin alcohol and Behenyl alcohol. These alcohol are used as an emollient which give a smooth, soft feeling to the hair. There is no adverse effect of these fatty alcohol on hair and these are good ingredients for dry hair.

We should avoid short chain drying alcohol in our hair care products in favor of fatty alcohols.
But why do big label companies use these ingredients in their products? The answer is these ingredients are just cheaper than their natural or milder synthetic counterparts and they provide you quick fix for frizz which your hair pay for in a longer run.

Make it a habit to always scan the ingredients list of products that you buy, not only hair care products but even cosmetic or any personal care products as well. Be a informed buyer and do not always go by the brand-name.

Once you start using the products which are sulfate-free and silicone-free, initially you may feel that your hair are not responding well to your new hair care regime, but be patient and you will feel that your hair are getting better and showing much better curl formation after 4-6 weeks of time. Be inspired with these people who have followed it religiously and turned their once troubled curls into magical curls.

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9 thoughts on “The prime offenders of hair care

  • Heena

    Hi Asha,

    I just came across your blog while looking for information in Quora. You have a well maintained blog specially for curlies like us :).. I am a marketer and my job involves to meet new people almost everyday. Somehow not so happy with the look and feel of my hair.. It makes me feel low and not so confident while meeting clients. I have to tie up my but dont like the look of it. I had got my hair straightened earlier, have got good hair loss but this time am planning to do cysteine treatment. I know am making a more damage to my hair but i am not sure of leaving it curly and feel good about it. what do you recommend in such scenario. or can i get cysteine or hair smoothing treatment and maintain it by your mentioned methods later. i want to look and feel good without losing more of my precious hair.

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      I can understand how we feel sometime about our hair as I was also there in my lifetime once. I think you have also joined our facebook group. If you see my old photo (one of the oldest in group photos tab) there, how my hair used to look when I had no clue how to take care of it. So, if we follow the proper routine and products then it definitely looks better with time. You already know any chemical treatment changes the hair so it is best to avoid them. Also cysteine treatment only lasts for a few months. So, I would suggest you to start your routine with sulfate and silicone free products. Many people in the group are using Giovanni products and liking it. If your hair is still straightened then first let it grow while continue to use sulfate and silicone free products. Do not use any serum on hair as it is always loaded with silicones. It will take some patience but it will be worth it. If you have natural hair now, then you can start using the flax seed gel to style your hair by following my video or the “wash and style” routine as mentioned on the blog. Use homemade deep conditioning masks and cold pressed coconut oil before shampooing your hair. Try to read as many posts from the group and blog, it all will definitely help you to maintain your hair. Get a hair cut from a good stylist to enhance the volume. A good hair cut really makes a difference how our hair can look.

  • Anjali Khandelwal

    Pls let me know is there any protein and drying alcohol in this product . If any Pls tell me .

    product name :- fx curl booster

    Ingredients :-aqua , PVP ,PVP/VA copolymer, VP/DMAPA Acrylates copolymer, propylene glycol, PVM/MA Decadiene crosspolymer, mica titanium dioxide, anthemis nobilis ( chamomile extract), tocopheryl acetate ( vitamin e ), panthenol , parfum, aminomethyl propanol , DMDM hydantoin

  • apoorva

    hy asha
    myself apoorva i have 2c type of hairs bt i waana make my hairs more curly jst like you actually my hairs too dry i used to puutt lot of oil in my hairs massage oil vey well and make twist and i too use dahi or yogurt
    i waana know that can i massage my hair with dahi or putt them like a mask my hairs got straight after two or three days so when i comb it got straight so plz tell how it remain more curly like u what are homemade products or the things which makes my hairs more curly how can i grow them and is making twist straighten my hair and matlab vo curls maintain kse rhe actuaaly na when i waz child my hairs was so curly bt now its becoming straight so what i should avoid and what should adopt plz tell me is doing massage with dahi can straighten hairs plzz tell me ie using the amla reehta power is enough for my hairs or i need herfal conditinor actuaaly if i putt dahi as conditionor and wash it off it become fabulous bt it started itching and it become dry and bt when i massage with dahi it becom soft so only using amla reeta power or any other herbal shampoo is good for my hair actually parlour lady told to use mak or dahi and beshan she told me that it makes my more curly so i use it gap of 15 days and massage with once in a week and wash hairs thrice in a week so what herbal shampoo and condioner should i use the rest two times so that my hairs remain fabulous curly like you 🙂 and or kya mai dooo choti banna ke rakh skti hu before washing my hairs bcz oil se mere ball bhot ache ho ate h??mtlb doo choti bnake niche se fold krke banna skti hu ol the 7 days kya ye mere baaal straight ti nahi krange

  • pallavi_proudtobcurly

    Hi Asha,
    What products you use on your face, face wash/moisturizer, etc?
    I know this is totally non-hair related query, but I was just curious as you are so picky about ingredients.
    It would be great if you would share.

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      That is perfectly fine PallaviFor face I have very basic routine. I only use two products 😀 face wash and moisturizer. For face wash I use cetaphil daily gentle cleanser and for moisturizer sebamed clear face gel. Cetaphil ones although contain sulfate but it is still very mild. It has more of cetyl alcohol. I dont use any face masks but I wont suggest you to follow me on this :D. Even on face I would suggest you can use more of homemade remedies. I cant do that due to time crunch.

  • pallavi_proudtobcurly

    Hi Asha,
    Do you think using ACV as a final rinse would result in hair turning brown. I read somewhere that using acidic products like ACV and lemon could result in lightening of hair.

    Also, could you please come up with an article on protecting hair from sun damage?