Sometimes when you switch the children to natural shampoo, they need a detangler. This is what happened in my house. My boys wanted to grow out their hair, so I let them, but my middle son had the worst tangles every day. He was developing dryer hair. I’d yell at him to use his conditioner, but I don’t know if he ever actually did. That’s when I realized how important detanglers were. But when you look into the chemicals of these products, some are very disappointing. They are full of harsh preservatives and other nasties. But don’t worry! Mamavation has answers for you! You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like 10 DIY facial moisturizer recipes, 10 DIY shampoo recipes, & 10 DIY lotion recipes, now join us as we explore hair detangler ingredients, what you should avoid, and how to make your own formulation.
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Chemicals in Hair Detangling Formulas to Avoid
Most commonly used detanglers use toxic ingredients in the product. Yes, a product that is suppose to go on your child’s head typically has a list of potentially harmful ingredients in there. Make sure the products you pick are free of the following common neurotoxins and hormone-disrupting chemicals:
Whenever you have a personal care product that contains water or aloe vera, mold will form without a preservative. So it’s important to have a preservative, but there are ranges of them. Preservatives range in toxicity issues for humans and the environment. But here are the preservatives that should be avoided due to concerns:
- Formaldehyde releasers or derivatives
- Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone
Quats are used as antibacterials, surfactants, anti-statics, preservatives & moisturizers. They are known endocrine disrupting chemicals that impact fertility and are incredibly toxic to aquatic life. Quaternium-15, which releases formaldehyde, is a known carcinogen and may also cause the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines. Make sure to avoid the following ingredients.
- Benzalkonium chlorides (BACs). Also called alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides (ADBACs)
- Benzethonium chloride
- Cetalkonium chloride
- Cetrimonium chloride
- Ditallow dimethyl ammonium chloride (DTDMAC). Also called quaternium-18
- Didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride (DDAC)
- Quaternium- 7, 15, 26, 31, 60
The ingredient “fragrance” is used as an umbrella term for dozens of different ingredients that make up a particular scent. The term “fragrance” can act as a backdoor for all kinds of chemicals to sneak into your products. Unfortunately, many of these ingredients can be toxic to human health, like phthalates (linked to reproductive and developmental harm), and synthetic musks (linked to hormone disruption and build up in our bodies).
PEGs–Polyethelyne Glycol Compounds
PEGs are ingredients that are often used as thickeners, softeners, moisture-carrying agents, and penetration enhancers. These compounds are formed by condensing water and ethylene oxide. PEGs are concerning because they are ethoxylated, which means they can be contaminated with carcinogens ethylene oxide and/or 1,4-dioxane. PEGs also penetrate the skin easily. Here are the ingredients to avoid.
- PEGs: PEG followed by a number like PEG-4, PEG-6, PEG-7, PEG-8, PEG-75, PEG-100, etc.
- PEG polymers: PEGs followed by a number and another ingredient like PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, PEG-20 lauramine, PEG-10 Dimethicone, etc.
- Polysorbates (Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 40, Polysorbate 60, Polysorbate 80, etc.): Polysorbates are formed by ethoxylating sorbitan and then adding a fatty acid. The number refers to the number of repeating polyethylene glycol units that form a chain
Natural Ingredients Used in Homemade Hair Detangling Formulas
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar helps condition the air so the comb and brush can glide easily through the hair. It also reduces frizz, so is recommended for curly hair. Apple cider vinegar’s antibacterial and anti-fungal properties help to get rid of dandruff, and the acidity of the apple cider vinegar rinse can help maintain the pH balance of your hair to create a hostile environment for fungus, bacteria, or yeast that cause dandruff to keep coming back. A regular ACV rinse can also help keep hair tangle-free.
Our recommendations for apple cider vinegar:
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavendar essential oil is my favorite to use, but if you have boys, you may want to switch to something like chamomile, rosemary, cedarwood or clary sage. Lavender essential oil makes the spray smell very nice but it also softens and conditions the hair.
Our recommendation for essential oils:
- Plant Therapy 100% Organic Essential Oil Startup Kit
Distilled water is water that has been boiled until it became steam and then back to water again. Distilled water should be nothing but hydrogen and oxygen molecules, with a PH level of 7 and no additional gases, minerals or contaminants inside. Using distilled water cuts down on the chance that you’ll introduce something contaminated in your formulation. Formulations last longer when using distilled water.
Our recommendation for distilled water:
Marshmallow root or Althea officinalis is a polycrest herb and is also known as a white mallow herb. It’s an African plant with short roundish leaves and small pale flowers. It’s been around for centuries and even mentioned in Homer’s Iliad written over 2880 years ago! It was used by ancient Greeks, Indians, Egyptians and the Chinese.
The leaves and the root are used for making medicine since they have antibacterial properties and a soothing effect on inflamed membranes in the mouth and throat. It seems that every herb can help our hair but with marshmallow root you get double duty.
Our recommendations for marshmallow root:
Olive oil is rich in vitamins A, E and antioxidants. It also helps protect the keratin in your hair and seals in moisture while removing the buildup of sebum that impedes the formation of new hair follicles and hinders hair growth. It can also be used in the treatment of split ends and other things like dandruff. When dealing with dandruff mix with lemon juice. Dandruff is typically caused by dry, flaky skin. The acidic properties in lemon juice helps loosen dandruff while the olive oil moisturizes the newest layer of skin. Mix equal amounts of olive oil, lemon juice and water to treat dandruff, just a few tablespoons of each will work. Massage into a damp scalp, leave for 20 minutes, rinse and shampoo. Don’t use this treatment more than once a week.
Our recommendation for olive oil:
Jojoba Oil is extracted from the seeds of jojoba trees. The resulting product is actually not an oil, but rather a Wax Ester. Wax Esters are very similar to our own oil produced by our bodies. Because of this, using Jojoba Oil can help with balancing the production of oil, because the body recognizes it as its own. Jojoba Oil is rich in essential nutrients, vitamins E and B, and important minerals like silicon, copper and zinc. It can moisturize the hair, prevent hair loss, reduce inflammation, & rejuvenate the skin.
Our recommendation for jojoba oil:
Aloe vera is used in a wide array of beauty products for antiviral and antibacterial properties. This green-looking plant contains enzymes that directly promote healthy hair growth. These proteolytic enzymes are able to eradicate dead skin cells on the scalp. These dead skin cells could be clogging the hair follicle and not allowing penetration of nutrients. It also has the ability to alleviate itching and reduce inflammation on the skin.
Our recommendation for aloe vera:
Safer Store Bought Brands We Recommend
We recommend you try to make your own formulation, but if you want to just purchase a safer product from better brands check out some of the brands we recommend below.
DIY Hair Detangling Recipes to Try
You need these 10 homemade hair detangling recipes for DIYers today!
- Wellness Mama–Natural Hair Detangling Spray
- Rubies & Radishes–Natural Homemade Detangler (3 ingredients!)
- Mommypotamus–3 Homemade Hair Detangler Recipes
- Live Simply–Homemade Hair Leave-In Conditioner Recipe
- Curly Nikki–Homemade Detangler Recipes for Natural Hair
- Scratch Mommy–Natural Detangling Spray
- Natural Living Family–DIY Natural Detangling Spray
- Fabulessly Frugal–Natural Hair Detangling Spray (With Coconut Oil)
- Don’t Mess With Mama–Natural Detangling Spray (With a printed Label!)
- One Crazy Mom–Easy Homemade Hair Detangler For Kids