Common Botanicals in Hair Care Products
by Gretchen Heber on Monday, March 8, 2010
Many manufacturers tout the natural ingredients in their products, and, of course, who doesn’t like natural ingredients? But what exactly does grape seed do for the hair? What are the benefits? We’ve put together a handy primer of some of the hottest natural ingredients on the market right now, with information about what they’ll do for your hair.
Açaí: The combination of acai berry’s vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, EFAs and chemical constituents come together to greatly benefit the hair and skin. Açaí oil is said to deeply moisturize hair, add luster, and enrich hair color. Açaí also helps eliminate frizz.
Aloe vera: Aloe vera gel is a boon for us kinky, curly gals. It helps fix damage from heat appliances. Aloe vera is smoothing as it is soothing, controlling without stiffness. It is used as a treatment for hair loss because it stimulates new hair production and can even fight against Alopecia. It works very well as an anti-frizz product.
Argan: Argan oil—or Moroccan oil as it is sometimes called—is gaining attention in the haircare industry for its ability to soften unruly hair while offering protection from the elements. It is easily absorbed into the hair and promises to eliminate frizziness as well as provide intense conditioning to all hair types. It is known to promote hair growth by strengthening weak hair prone to breaking off, and with its rich vitamins and minerals, it promotes healing to the skin, nails and the hair shaft.
Avocado: For hair, avocade is used in hot-oil treatments and for deep, hair conditioning. Avocado pulp can be whipped smooth and applied to face or massaged into the hair for a quick and easy softening, conditioning and moisturizing mask.
Chocolate/cacao: Savoring cacao’s numerous health benefits is a nourishing treat for skin and hair—adding shine, vibrancy and improving the general health of both. By using chocolate and cocoa butter products on your hair and skin, you get to enjoy the delightful chocolatey aroma and reap the benefits of antioxidants, vitamin and mineral.
Grape seed: Grape seed extract is sometimes used to treat hair loss and to stimulate hair growth. It’s also used to combat dryness. Grape seed extract is a very strong antioxidant.
Jojoba: Jojoba acts as a humectant on the hair and scalp by sealing it to prevent moisture loss. All hair types will benefit from jojoba but hair that is dry and damaged will benefit the most, as jojoba coats and seals the hair cuticle. This maintains moisture balance, essential for healthy hair. Jojoba extract is also said to remove buildup.
Horsetail: If applied topically on hair, horsetail is known to help strengthen and restore shine in your hair. Horsetail adds silica to the hair, which can help prevent hair loss.
Monoi Tiare: The union of Tiare (Gardenia Tahitensis) with highly refined Tahitian coconut oil produces aromatic oil that penetrates and hydrates the hair and skin. It seals the surface of the scalp, hair cuticle and skin, preventing dryness. It is renowned for protecting the skin and hair against salt water and sun damage. The oil is hypoallergenic, moisturizing and nourishing. The Tiare extract has excellent rejuvenating and conditioning benefits for the scalp and hair cuticle. Minor scalp irritations and itchy scalp is alleviated.
Macadamia nut: Macadamia oil reduces wrinkles and dryness. It is a natural moisturizer and emollient (emollients attract and trap moisture from the air). Macadamia oil is light and non-greasy so it is easily absorbed into the hair shaft and skin. Another gift of macadamia nut oil is that it contains proteins, and its vitamin E contributes skin-care benefits and long shelf life. The high count of mono-unsaturated fatty acids makes the oil mimic the sebum (naturally produced oil on scalp and skin which protects it from damage). All of these qualities contribute to its reputation as a superb hair and skin treat, as well as an elixir for healing scars, sunburn, wounds and irritations.
Murumuru: Murumuru is especially useful to people with kinky, curly or wavy hair because of its softening ability. Often, kinky, and some types of curly, hair feels coarse. Murumuru coats coarse curls, making them more supple and manageable. Products containing an appreciative amount of murumuru oil or extract are well-suited to textured curls. Murumuru products moisturize the hair with lasting hydration, controlling frizz and defining curls.
Pomegranate: Pomegranate oil is preferred for hot oil treatments or pre-shampoo soothing for frizzy, over-processed hair and for general conditioning for kinky, curly and wavy hair. Pomegranate oil will enhance the appearance and feel of hair, help with detangling and will moisturize the hair shaft.
Seaweed: Seaweed is an emollient, defining and softening curls. Seaweed feeds the shafts and the ducts of the scalp to help improve the health of the hair. It has been said that the thick, black, lustrous hair of the Japanese is partly due to their regular diet of brown sea vegetables such as arame. Research has shown that minerals are important to healthy hair growth, and arame has a high mineral content.
Shea butter: Shea butter is remarkably high in unsaponifiables — up to 11% (this varies), giving natural UV protection. This is one of the reasons it is beloved by Africans whose skin and hair is almost constantly exposed to sunny and sometimes harsh weather conditions. The UV protection is useful elsewhere as well. Having some UV protection enables our hair to retain its natural vibrancy, color treatments and softness. The emollient, (softening) quality of shea butter makes it useful for hair and body care, as it is easily and quickly absorbed when applied topically. For most types of hair, shea is a good hot oil treatment, wherein it is melted, cooled slightly, then applied warm to the ends of hair where split ends occur and to the scalp. Agroforestry and environmental organizations fear over-harvesting of shea nuts could contribute to land degradation, eventually leading to desertification. This is one of the reasons some experts also advocate use of alternative butters such as mango butter, which is almost identical in efficacy and usage.
Sunflower: Sunflower oil contains vitamin A, D, and E and a good amount of protein for skin and hair; it’s a high-quality source of zinc (protein is very good for most types of hair, vitamin E is a great antioxidant and zinc is protective against the sun’s rays).
Tamanu: Tamanu oil’s ability to regenerate and act as an anti-inflammatory and antibiotic make it a welcome addition to the curly hair care arsenal, particularly in protective and healing formulas for those who use heat or chemical formulas on their locks. Many curlies seek natural ingredients to help with hair growth or to stop breakage—in this area tamanu oil shows promise. Not only is tamanu oil recommended for skin disorders or scalp burns, but its regenerative properties make it the oil to reach for when trying to recover from hair loss.