Today I’m sharing my vegan non-toxic haircare routine because a question that I surprisingly get on a daily basis is: what is your hair routine and what products do you use?
My answer used to be very simple because I really don’t do anything to, or use anything in my hair. I am mostly a shampoo and air dry kind of girl. No heat, styling or products other than that, because I have long hair, and lots of it. It behaves well for the most part, with a natural wave and no frizz so I really don’t need to do much.
With that said, I do want to share more insight into what vegan and non-toxic haircare products ARE out there on the market. There’s more awareness around the importance of clean products as it applies to makeup and skincare nowadays, but clean haircare seems to be a topic that isn’t talked about with quite as much importance. I believe that it is in part why my hair is so healthy! I’ll share my favourite basics, and things I use on special occasions, plus tips for healthy hair the natural way.
When it comes to vegan haircare products, you want to look out for ingredients like beeswax and honey, primarily. You also want to make sure the company you’re purchasing from does not test on animals.
To keep it non-toxic, look out for things like phthalates, SLES/SLS, parabens, preservatives and fragrances. These toxins pose potential health risks as hormone disruptors and carcinogenic ingredients. Just as beauty products and makeup we use enter the blood stream and are absorbed via the skin, haircare products come in contact with your skin and scalp. The skin on our scalp is not only delicate, but also contains the largest pores in our bodies (in other words, it’s drinking up whatever you put on it!). It also will come in contact with the skin on your body as it rinses off, and hair product naturally transfers to your face, shoulders, back etc.
In addition to our own health, many toxins found in haircare products are unhealthy for the environment too. They contaminate water and may reach sea life. Long story short, good for you, the planet and marine life! As a refresher: check out the clean makeup blogpost and the clean skincare blogpost.
I was nervous when first transitioning into using vegan haircare products, and even more scared to use “natural/nontoxic” haircare products. I used to love that strong, artificial tropical scented shampoo I grew up using that promised me smooth and shimmering. I associated its intense smell with cleanliness, when in fact, the overpowering fragrance was not as natural as the coconuts on the bottle would lead me to believe. The ingredients responsible for smoothing my hair were also causing break outs and exposing me to some unhealthy chemicals.
By now, I’ve experimented with a variety of vegan products–some good, some bad. At the end of the blogpost is a list of my favourites. Most of the products listed I purchase at The Detox Market (think Sephora, but everything is strictly screened to make sure it is non-toxic), at Whole Foods or health food stores.
My routine is fairly simple, and I think that’s a big part of the healthy quality of my hair. I prefer to wash my hair at night with shampoo + conditioner. Every now and then I may use an exfoliating shampoo if my scalp is really dry, or my workout left me really sweaty spaghetti. I usually wash my hair about 2-3x a week, mostly because my hair is so thick and long that it takes forever to dry. I also have less oily hair, and my hair looks presentable for a few days. I air dry my hair, add no heat, and that’s pretty much it.
I don’t always brush my hair either, but when I do I use a vegan brush. I know what you’re thinking–did she just say vegan brush? That’s right. Not all brushes are vegan! It’s something easily overlooked, but many brushes are made of boar bristles. The good news is, there’s a vegan boar bristle-style brush, and as a user myself, I can vouch for it. Brushing your hair is something you can do to improve the health of your hair and scalp without having to purchase a new product. It stimulates your scalp and also distributes natural oils throughout your hair.
Another tip I’ll share is scalp massage. It feels great, and it’s great for your scalp and hair too. I personally like to use this scalp massager, but it’s a similar concept to brushing your hair for hair health. It stimulates your scalp, and can also relieve scalp pain from up-dos, and those of you with long, thick hair like myself.
On the odd occasion that I style my hair, I’ll grab a hair curling wand and randomly curl just a handful of pieces of hair around my face to give it a little framing. I really don’t do this often, but my hair does have a natural wave to it, and I sleep with it in a messy bun to keep it out of my face. The random waves you usually see in my hair are a direct product of that.
In between washes, I’ll dry shampoo if I need to, but dry shampooing too much causes buildup on my scalp. It can also cause dry scalp which eventually could became dandruff. If I ever overdo the dry shampoo, I try to do a little scalp exfoliation session. If using dry shampoo, it’s important to me to use a non-aerosol formula, and of course, vegan and nontoxic.
Acure Simply Smoothing Coconut Shampoo – Acure is a cruelty-free brand, with products formulated with non-toxic ingredients. Most of their products are vegan nontoxic haircare products as well–just give the labels a quick read before you purchase. This was actually the first ever clean shampoo I had ever tried after switching from my standard shampoo, and it was a great transition with a familiar coconut scent. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for that coconut scent!! I would say Acure is one of the most affordable, at drugstore prices, for its great quality.
Briogeo Be Gentle Be Kind Matcha + Apple Shampoo – A light shampoo, reminiscent of some fruity shampoo in green bottles I used to use growing up. This is more or less my everyday shampoo nowadays, and I love how it smells!
Seed Phytonutrients Daily Hair Cleanser (Shampoo) – I used Seed Phytonutrient’s shampoo and conditioner for about half a year or longer. I love the brand’s values and of course their products too. They were created by L’Oreal employees, but they emerged as a new brand, functioning as an independent company (meaning cruelty free, sustainable packaging practices, non-toxic). Their hair product bottles are made from minimal plastic, all of which is recycled material, and recycled cardboard which is water resistant. When you finish a bottle, it also comes with seed packets for you to plant and give back to mama earth. The scent is very mild and it doesn’t lather up as much as a conventional shampoo, so just be aware of that.
Rahua Classic Shampoo (Palo Santo) – Rahua is a nontoxic brand with a variety of haircare products that all smell amazing. This is my personal favourite, the classic shampoo which smells like palo santo! If you like the smell of palo santo then you’ll absolutely love this shampoo. They have other scents including mango passionfruit, if you’re not into a woody scent. Aside from their incredible products, the Rahua founders do incredible charitable work to support the Amazon, where they source key ingredients for their products.
Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal Exfoliating Shampoo– I started using this product in the colder winter months because I felt like my scalp was drier than usual and I was also over dry-shampooing. It created buildup and dry, itchy scalp. I like using this for a deep clean every once in a while–it sort of feels like getting your rug deep cleaned versus just lightly vacuuming it. That was a weird analogy. Anyway, all Briogeo products are cruelty-free and non-toxic, and this scrub truly works as a treatment for anyone struggling with itchy scalp, or potentially dandruff. I like to use it once a week at most.
Takesumi Detox Overnight Dry Shampoo – I discovered this product at The Detox Market, because I had been looking for a dry shampoo that wouldn’t make my hair look white/grey. Naturally, I use this product in the brunette/brown shade, but they also have a blonde one. It’s a non-aerosol formula, and also doesn’t require rubbing into the scalp. You simply apply it to your scalp and then go to bed (or wait a few hours for it to do its magic). I actually like to use it preemptively, before a sweaty workout because I know that it takes some time to activate. Before a hot yoga class for example, if I have somewhere to be afterwards, I’ll toss some into my roots before the class. I’ve also tried using it like a standard dry shampoo, and it works on the spot if you don’t have time to wait for it to settle.
Briogeo Be Gentle Be Kind Conditioner – This is the conditioner counterpart to the lovely everyday shampoo.
Seed Phytonutrients Moisture Conditioner – The counterpart to the shampoo. Also comes in a few varieties like the deeper conditioning moisturizer and the light version.
Rahua Hydration Conditioner (Mango Passionfruit) – A more neutral scented conditioner. I recommend pairing the shampoo and conditioner to match, so your nose isn’t too confused by a cocktail of scents post-shower. By all means though, go wild if you wish and mix and match!
Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask – This is the cult classic product for most who have used the brand’s products. Great for self-care days and at-home hair treatments every once in a while. This product tends to last me a long time because I use it as a treatment occasionally, not every day.
Briogeo Scalp Revival Treatment Oil – This is a fun product that I tried alongside the exfoliating shampoo. If you have a dry or itchy scalp you should really try it. You add a few drops of this oil to your scalp after washing your hair and it gives you a really nice tingly feel and soothes the scalp. While I personally don’t struggle with serious dandruff issues or psoriasis, reviews on the website seem to indicate it does wonders for sensitive scalp issues like that. I also recommend it for those who wash their hair frequently (e.g. swimmers, surfers, or summertime when you wash your hair more than normal).
Acure Simply Smoothing Coconut & Marula Conditioner – Just the counterpart to the aforementioned shampoo 🙂
Tangle Teezer Detangling Hairbrush (holographic pink) – This funny looking hairbrush is a wonder product for anyone who brushes their hair that is prone to tangles. It’s easy to grip and lightweight, so it’s my go to for traveling purposes.
Briogeo Vegan Boar Bristle Hairbrush – My current brush in use. You know what to do with it!
Briogeo Scalp Massager – I can’t speak highly enough of this scalp massager and how good it feels! I’m convinced it contributes to the health of my hair because I don’t do anything else foe for my hair.
T3 Twirl Convertible Styling Wand – So when I do style my hair, I’ll use this hair curler. I was initially drawn to it because it doesn’t look like your average hair curler (I mean it’s beautiful) but looks aside, this brand has won awards for its tools. I’m copy and pasting this straight from their website but the T3 technology is tourmaline which, “is known as the “electric stone” because, when heated, it emits negative ions and healthy infrared heat. Negative ions reduce static and seal the cuticle which, in turn, helps to diminish frizz, smooth locks and enhance shine”. As a former crappy straightening iron abuser in my middle school days, I can vouch that their tools definitely don’t toast or fry my hair.
Get your hair done at a salon that focuses on nontoxic products, or a vegan/cruelty free one. Aveda salons are a great option if there’s one in your city, as their products are all cruelty free. If you don’t have a dedicated salon that fits your values, try…
I know it sounds silly, but bring your own products with you! I personally do this because I have specific stylists that I trust with my hair, who work at salons that use conventional products. If you’re not comfortable asking, call ahead and let them know you’ll be bringing product with you to wash/condition your hair, and while you’re at it you can ask what other products they might appreciate you bringing (e.g. styling products). Be confident when asking to bring your own products.
Now colouring your hair isn’t natural by any means, but if you are going to colour, opt for a cruelty free brand like Paul Mitchell, or again you can opt to BYO if the salon allows.
This is not related to vegan/non-toxic products in any way, but just a note about stylists. I have serious trust issues with my hair because I’ve had some really awful haircuts, and hair colouring jobs. As an Asian woman, it’s really important that I go to someone for colour who really knows how to work with Asian hair. Asian hair tends to turn a brassy orange/red colour that I am personally not a fan of, so finding someone who gets it is key! I trust my hair with very few people, and Nathan Nutter is my go to for colour! For cuts, I am usually even more apprehensive because although I have a lot of hair to spare, I think cuts can really change your entire look. I used to go to New Jersey to get my hair cut, but in New York, I now go to Alex. He specializes in short hair and pixie cuts but gave my hair life again while still maintaining length.
I know from firsthand experience what it’s like to have trust issues when it comes to hair, but the vegan nontoxic haircare products on the market nowadays are incredible, and there is an abundance of options for you to choose from. As always, just do your best, and if there’s a product you really cannot part with, maybe you use it less frequently until you can find a cleaner dupe.
Love & light,
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BY Remy • March 9, 2019
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Hi there, I’m Remy! Welcome to Veggiekins Blog, home to nourishing vegan + gluten-free recipes and tips to live your best balanced and holistic life. I’m a human on a mission to empower you to be well and be kind to your mind, body and soul with the healing power of plants.
Some brands I’ve had the pleasure of working with…