A few weeks ago I went for my yearly haircut. Yes. Yearly...because I'm that type of gal. That's because I have unruly wavy/curly hair (scary picture below) that I never know what to do with.
I usually just bun it and forget it, but someone recommended that I go to a DevaCurl stylist. She excitedly told me about their NO-POO shampoo and how the product line was all natural. I was intrigued and booked an appointment.
I listened patiently for one hour as my stylist gave me the whole DevaCurl NO-POO spiel. With each product, she explained how natural it was. I nodded with understanding as she told me my hair would need a few weeks to detox. After showing me my amazing curls (Yes...the curls were AMAZING!) the stylist moved on to the product sales pitch.
Maybe it was the curls....maybe it was the chemicals in the salon, but somewhere along the way I lost my brains. Without researching, I bought product and went home. I felt great all evening and pranced around like Shirley Temple.
That night, I didn't sleep a wink. I spent the whole night sneezing, wheezing, and feeling nauseous. All I could think about was washing this crap out of my hair. It turns out, some of those DevaCurl products were not so natural after all.
The next day I surfed DevaCurl's website to check out the ingredients. I found none. What I found was a list of "key ingredients" like: Hops, Peppermint, Grapeseed Oil, Wheat Amino Acid. Right away my red flags went up. Shouldn't a truly natural company be proud of its ingredients? I retrieved the bottles purchased and started researching the ingredients. What I found out was...well, very crappy.
Is DevaCurl's NO-POO Shampoo really no poo?
What exactly does "NO-POO" mean? According to the NO-POO movement, it simply means washing hair with water or with gentle alternatives to shampoo, such as baking soda and apple cider vinegar, allowing you to stop the cycle of chemically coating hair. Is DevaCurl worthy of calling its shampoo NO-POO? Well, DevaCurl does not use any silicones, parabens and sulfates in their products, and that is a good first step, but what exactly is in DevaCurl's NO-POO shampoo?
Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, a preservative. Preservatives are necessary in all liquid products. DevaCurl has chosen one that is acutely toxic by inhalation and should not be used in products that can be inhaled.
Cocamidopropyl betaine is used to make lather. It is a natural ingredient, but one that has been chemically altered into something that is no longer good for us. It is derived from coconut oil, yet it received the 2004 Allergen of the Year award by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.
Laureth-4, a surfactant and an emulsifier. Although considered quite safe, the manufacturing process has a risk of producing Dioxane...a known carcinogen.
Polyquaternium-7, a copolymer. Polymers coat the hair and help strands attract to each other. Polyquaterniums are chemically modified with a positive charge which binds to the negative charge of the hair, leaving a coating behind. Although considered quite safe, it is a known irritant or allergen.
Fragrance, a tricky ingredient. Companies, even truly natural ones, usually don't disclose their fragrances, so as to keep their secret formulas...well secret. But, more often than not, these are known irritants or even carcinogens.
Is it me, or do these ingredients sound very...poo-ey? Interestingly, two of the above "POO" ingredients are greater in volume than those key ingredients listed on DevaCurl's website. It feels rather deceiving. In fact, this shampoo scores a not so good 5 on the Environmental Working Group website.
As I looked through the rest of the purchased products, the same poo-ey ingredients kept popping up. As I opened and smelled each bottle, I realized the conditioner was the likely culprit of last night's nightmares.
To be fair, the only claim DevaCurl makes on its website, is that the products are 100% silicone, parabens and sulfates-free. (They also claim to have been the first suds-free cleanser on the market in 2002, but that's a whole other debate). Perhaps the problem lies with gullible stylists and uneducated customer who repeat things like"
- "I am such a fan of the all-natural approach and botanically based products".
- "I love the fact that the products are all natural and contain great ingredients".
- or my stylist who went on an on about how natural each product was.
Lack of regulations, confusing labeling, and uneducated word of mouth have made it extremely difficult for customers to navigate the hair care aisle. Sadly, most natural hair care products, even some that I use, have "pooish" ingredients. What I've learned though, is to never believe a label, pricey does not mean premium, and to never be loyal to one line. Rather I pick and choose the products that work for my needs and budget, and try to reduce my daily toxin load as much as possible.
Actual NO-POO bottled Shampoos and Conditioners
If you truly want NO-POO bottled products, here are some great alternatives. All rate 2 or under with the Environmental Working Group. Some have been around for decades:
All Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Liquid Soaps widely available in health food stores
Dr.Bronner's Organic Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse available is some health food stores
Miessence Lemon Myrtle Shampoo (Normal to Oily)
Miessence Desert Flower Shampoo (Normal to Dry)
Miessence Shine Herbal Hair Conditioner
All Hugo Naturals Shampoos widely available available in health food stores
All Hugo Naturals Conditioners widely available in health food stores
Herbaliz Shampoo and Vinegar Hair rinse
Herbal Choice Mari Shampoo
Herbal Choice Mari Conditioning Rinse
for more see:
The One DevaCurl Product I Use
Yes, I do continue to use one DevaCurl product, and here's why. Below is a before and after picture of my hair. The very (sorry...pixelated) picture on the left was taken after I simply shampooed and conditioned. As you can see, my hair is wavy, curly, straight and frizzy all at the same time, which is fine for most days. The picture on the right shows my hair with products that tame my curl (aka...when I want to be seen in public):
I often rotate my shampoos and conditioners, but on this day I used Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Liquid Soap followed by Dr. Dr.Bronner's Organic Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse. I finger combed my hair with Alba Botanica Fragrance-Free Leave-in conditioner and "noodled" my hair (a great tip I got from the DevaCurl stylist) twirling each section around my finger to separate the curls. I then finished off by scrunching those curls with DevaCare Arc AnGEL Firm Hold Defining Gel. While not as natural as I would like it to be, it does the job that I need it to, like no other product can....so far.
Funny enough, the Arc AnGel scores a "1" on the EWG, but upon closer look, the ingredients are incomplete. Just goes to show how you can't always trust the EWG. Always compare ingredients with the actual product label.
So in the end, I learned a lot from my DevaCurl experience. I did get a good haircut. I got some good tips from the stylist. I found one product, although not that natural, that actually tames my curls, and last but not least.... I was reminded to ALWAYS do the research before spending my money :)