How to Read Hair Product Ingredients List: Basic Rules!!

Reading product ingredients is something that we NEED to start doing right away. Irrespective of whether you are using the Curly Girl Method or not, you should be reading ingredients list of almost everything that you put on your hair, your skin and also in your tummy!! It is high time we start being aware of what we are using and how it is affecting us and mainly to see if we are “actually” getting what the product claims to be. So here are few “Basic Rules” to follow while reading product ingredients.


Basic Rules for Reading Hair Product Ingredients:

  • Top 5-6 Ingredients are most effective: The first 5 ingredients listed on a product list have the maximum concentration in the hair product. Ingredients are listed in descending order of concentration. When you wanna see how effective a product is gonna be for your hair, read the top 5 ingredients in the list. Post 5-6, the concentration is very very less and might be needed only to see if it contains any ingredient that you are avoiding in your routine. To find the effect of certain ingredients on your hair, read the top ingredients in all your products and try to find the trend of your hair’s reaction to them.


  • Water (aqua) should be the first ingredient: Coz most hair products would be water based and comprises mainly of water. So it has to be the first ingredient on the list. (there are exceptions to this….so give it a thought before deciding). Also, we curlies need water to hydrate our hair so our products should mostly be aqua rich!!


  • Do not go by product “claim” or “label” of sulfate free or silicon-free: Always flip the bottle and “read” the ingredients list. NEVER EVER go by the labels in from claiming to be “Silicone-free” or “Sulfate-free”, “SLS/SLES-free”(this doesn’t make it sulfate-free). So always read  the ingredients list and check if it really is what it claims to be.


  • Check if the ingredients meets all your needs: Especially for curlies following pure Curly Girl Method and to people avoiding certain ingredients (due to sensitivity, allergy etc.),  I would suggest to read the entire list of ingredients. I have seen so many shampoos that are labelled ‘sulfate-free’, but then contain silicones in the ingredients list…if you are following pure CG method, that doesn’t fit your requirement, right!! Also, conditioner claim to be ‘sulfate-free’ when what we should be checking in a conditioner is absence of silicones. So, be more aware of what you need in your products and what you don’t need 🙂


  • Do NOT believe the ‘claim’ to be herbal or natural: If a product claims to be herbal or natural or advertise by mentioning some ‘extracts’ or ‘oils’ or ingredients that are awesome, but the ingredient is towards the end of the list, the company is trying to deter  you or fool you into believing that ‘that’ ingredient is the major content in the product. I have already ranted about this here: Read Ingredients Before Accepting a Brand’s 100% “Natural” claim!!


  • Learn to find “Incomplete” list of ingredients: If a product mentions only “Key Ingredients” (like all awesome ‘herbal’ ingredients such oils, extracts, butters & herbs) but doesn’t mention the major content of that type of product, then the list is incomplete…and you should probably avoid using it. For e.g., if it is a shampoo doesn’t mention the name of the surfactant, be suspicious… Also, “Base Q.S.”, “Lotion Base Q.S.”, “Surfactant” etc. But looking at such lists, there is no way of knowing “what” the base or the additional ingredients are. May be the brand lists the ingredients on it’s website. However, I would want it to be on the product.


  • DO read this article: To get a better idea of how to judge the ingredients list, read this fabulous post at The Natural Haven Boom. This is a MUST!! 🙂


Next time you buy a hair product, instead of reading the product’s claim, I urge you to flip the bottle and read its ingredient list before deciding if you want to put that on your hair.

So, do you read your product ingredients??

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