How to Avoid Toxic Ingredients in Your Hair Care

Feel Like You Need a Science Degree to Read Ingredients in your Hair Care Products? Me too. It is frustrating that navigating your way through a product label could feel like a full time job. It adds another step to our already busy life. Ugh. I get it, but toxic chemicals in our hair products and the growing number of people suffering from health issues, like infertility, cancer, early onset menopause and autoimmune issues have made it mandatory to do so.

I’ve been reading labels in my skin care, hair care and cleaning products for a little over a year and a half after learning how many nasty ingredients are in our everyday products. Now, I am kind of like a hound dog as I experience major allergic reactions when I am exposed to a highly toxic product. Before that happens, I read the label. However, even after this long, I still have to research ingredients all of the time because:

1. Brands change the wording slightly from label to label;

2. Some chemicals are so new there is limited information about them when you google or enter them into sites like or EWG.Org

3. Some ingredients have misleading low rating (on the dirty list) when limited research has been done on the ingredient or on its effects when used daily or multiple times a day.


I completely understand that adopting the “read every label” mindset is a dramatic lifestyle change. If you have already implemented this in the grocery store (Good job!), then also adding it to your beauty counter purchases sounds like no fun. I, myself, still feel overwhelmed at times. I'm not saying you have to adopt a 100% toxic free lifestyle, but that wouldn't be horrible, would it?


Not to worry, the best approach is a simple rule system that I follow and can guarantee will help you understand your products better, leave you feeling empowered in your choices and on your way to clean hair care.

Rule #1 If it is sold in a grocery market, Big Box or Department Store, it’s likely not clean.

The requirements around shelf life of a product usually means there is a little something in there, and by that I mean synthetic preservatives and harmful chemicals. Blah! It’s also the center of the new “Green Washing”[1] epidemic because at the end of the day, it is all about the bottom line in these types of retailers.


Rule #2 On a glance, if you see “fragrance,” “parfum”, “perfume” or “naturally scented” then this product is dirty.

“Fragrance” can include multiple ingredients, none of which are required to be listed on the label. They often include phthalates and therefore are a major endocrine inhibiting ingredient. We, at North Authentic, are working hard with our vendors to eliminate “fragrance” from all of their products. For now, we carry multiple organic lines that are completely fragrance free. Yay! Like, Cult & King, Evolvh, Innersense, and Reverie.


Rule #3 If there are terms on the bottle that are common with “Greenwashing” (e.g. All Natural, Green, Eco, Natural, Organic). 

Sadly, most of the time you see these words, it is BS. Big brands see the market starting to care about what they put on their bodies and they want a piece of it. Don't let those headlines sway you. If you stop and look at the label, you will likely see that is product is far from


Rule #4 Does the long, scary scientific sounding ingredient have an easy to understand explanation after it?

For example, some ingredients can look scary but then right next to it, the label offers the ingredient in laymen terms. For instance, you will often see an ingredient listed like this: Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter). The brackets are offered so we clearly understand that this ingredient is all good.

Formulating and bottling products in an eco-friendly, sustainable manner is extremely difficult and expensive. If a company has gone through the trouble and expense to do so, they are going to be screaming it from the rafters! Believe me. If you are not sure if a complicated-sounding ingredient is really a conscious ingredient it is safe to assume that it is not.


Rule #5 If the product smells like a bag of skittles.

Clean ingredients that deliver smell are generally derived from rose water or essential oils, which are lovely. Unfortunately, many people are attracted to the strong artificial berry smells. I get it, they smell nice, but they are wreaking havoc on your health. Synthetic colors should not live in our shampoo and conditioner.


If you follow these easy rules, you are off to a good start. Luckily, all the education and time I have put into researching ingredients of our hair care brands, at ShopNorthAuthentic, means you can purchase any product on our site and trust that it is clean of everything on our Barred Ingredient List (the major offenders). No need to spend time reading labels here. And that list will always be evolving as will the brands that get on board with the clean movement. 


Good Luck!





[1] “Greenwashing”: The process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company's products are more environmentally sound. Greenwashing is considered an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company's products are environmentally friendly.

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