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Silicones and sulfates are often those two ingredients under hot debate. They’ve got a bad reputation but you might not know exactly why. Anyone with colored or chemically damaged hair can attest that hair products with sulfates are too drying and stripping of color as well as moisture. As for silicones? They’re like a sweet-talking boyfriend that if you hang around them too long, they’re likely to be the physical manifestation Destiny’s Child’s “Bills Bills Bills.” Those guys, like silicones, stick around far too long on your hair (even post-shampoo!) and contribute to build-up. Ever wonder why your strands get greasy the next after washing? It’s likely that silicones are to blame. They cover your hair in a hydrophobic layer (aka waterproof), which is great for repelling frizz-causing humidity, and it gives you that silky slip when combing wet hair which feels really nice. That layer also attracts dust and dirt however, kind of like how when you pull a shirt fresh from the dryer and it’s got lint statically stuck to it. Dirt + your natural oils = flat, greasy-looking, weighed-down hair. Not so cute. Some of your favorite brands do offer silicone-free conditioners though—here’s some of our favorites.
Aveda’s botanical bent with their products ensures that you’ll always get a natural plant-based product which is as gentle for your hair as it is effective and nice-smelling to boot. Most of their conditioners actually are silicone-free, but the Rosemary Mint is their good old stand-by for men or women. We love the tingly scalp-feels that the mint lends with this hair-washing/conditioning experience.
(Where to Buy: Aveda Rosemary Mint Conditioner, $4.50 – $40 at Aveda.com)
Bumble and bumble has the lock on cult styling products, but their haircare line is nothing to sneeze at. Their Bb Seaweed Conditioner is like draping your hair in “sea silk” as the bottle touts. It’s light-weight enough for daily use and great for fine hair. The Spirulina Maxima Extract and Ascophyllum Nudosum Extract are super moisturizing, while sea kelp makes your hair shiny.
(Where to Buy: Bb Seaweed Conditioner, $24 for 8oz at Bumbleandbumble.com)
John Masters Organics is one of those hair brands that lives and dies by the organic sword. That said, pretty much all of their products are of the “everything you need, nothing you don’t” variety, including this delicious-sounding Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructor. With plant-based extracts and essential oils, this is the perfect moisturizing cocktail for your thirsty hair that craves nature as much as nurturing.
(Where to Buy: John Masters Organics Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructor, $28 for 4oz at Johnmasters.com)
L’Oréal’s EverStrong (and the rest of the Evers, for that matter) line is a total drugstore beast, working overtime to give you amazing hair for less than a movie ticket. The EverStrong line puts the equivalent of a home gym into a bottle to work your hair back to health—all without sulfates and silicones. Pretty nifty, for a drugstore score.
(Where to Buy: L’Oréal EverStrong Hydrate Conditioner, $6.99 at Lorealparisusa.com)
Living Proof’s empire pretty much thrives off of a sulfate and silicone-free manifesto. Their products harness the power of science to impart you with brilliant hair with none of the cheapo grease-goading ingredients. For something like a frizz-free formula, eschewing silicones is a feat to say the least. We’re glad that we can have our cake and eat it, too. Well, when it comes to silicone-free smooth hair.
(Where to Buy: Living Proof
Frizz Conditioner, $10-24 at Livingproof.com)
Lush is your friendly neighborhood bakery, if it baked delicious-smelling hair and body products, most often done by hand. Their American Cream conditioner is the milkshake of hair conditioners with fair trade vanilla, strawberry, lavender, honey, and oranges combined into this creamy formula that gives you hair as soft and fluffy as kittens.
(Where to Buy: American Cream Conditioner, $9.95 – 32.95 at Lushusa.com)
Shea Moisture puts the most delectable ingredients into their hair potions, but here’s a special one that donates proceeds to Community Commerce (which supports women-led businesses, woohoo!). Manuka Honey is the most potent kind of honey for things like moisturizing (it also has tons of skin benefits) and mafura oil, African Rock fig, and Baobab oil are all restorative oils for amazingly (and naturally organically) soft and hydrated hair.
(Where to Buy: Shea Moisture Community Commerce: Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Conditioner, $10.99 at Sheamoisture.com)
You may think of TRESemmé as your mom’s shampoo but they’ve been really branching out lately into styling products that fulfill all the things you want from a salon-grade haircare line. Their Naturals line still gives you all the salon quality you’d expect with bouncy shiny soft hair, but leaves out the harsher chemicals for a more botanical take on haircare.
(Where to Buy: TRESemmé Naturals Conditioner, $4.49 at Drugstore.com)