15 Better Choice Hair Care Swaps

Posted by Karalynne Call on

When starting out the journey to a healthier home, some of the easiest swaps you can make are your hair care products. Chances are, you’re running low on one product or another right now anyways, so instead of purchasing the same one you've been getting with the not-so-great ingredients, let’s talk about what ingredients to look for and which ones avoid. I’ll also share some of my favorite hair products, and promo codes too!

What to Avoid

Did you know that you can absorb toxins through your scalp? When you shampoo and condition your hair, you are scrubbing products deep into your pores on the skin under your hair. Many ingredients in traditional shampoos and conditioners are designed to stay in your hair long after they are thoroughly rinsed out (think fragrance and moisturizers), so while you might assume the harmful ingredients in your hair care products are being washed down the drain, they’re actually lingering longer than you might think.


Phthalates are a known endocrine disruptor. Coined the “everywhere chemical,” phthalates are human-made chemicals hidden under umbrella terms like “fragrances” and “parfum.” They’re found in everything from plastics to personal care and cleaning products to home goods. Phthalates have been linked to early puberty, and early puberty has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in women. One type of phthalate, DEHP, was shown to have a “significantly positive association” for breast cancer risk.

What makes phthalates tricky is how they can be concealed under wording like “fragrances” and “parfum.” And because fragrance “recipes” are considered proprietary and do not have to be disclosed by companies, these endocrine disruptors are typically not listed on labels. It’s always a safe bet to choose personal care products that are scented with essential oils (like all Just Ingredients products) or products that specifically state they are fragrance free.


Sulfates are a surfactant used to create suds, giving products their ability to lather when you start scrubbing. While the soapy effect makes you feel like you’re washing away the dirt and grime, it’s actually removing the lipid layer of your skin, allowing other ingredients to permeate the skin. By removing this lipid layer, you might be accidentally causing drier skin and could be contributing to eczema.

Polyethylene Glycols

PEGs (polyethylene glycols) are petroleum-based compounds used in personal care products. PEGs are typically followed by a number indicating how many units of ethylene glycol they contain, for example PEG-4. The lower the number, the more easily the compound is absorbed into skin. PEGs are synthetic chemicals that may be contaminated by the presence of 1,4-dioxane, a chemical that the U.S. government has identified as a probable human carcinogen. Exposure to PEGs and trace amounts of 1,4-dioxne can lead to a number of health concerns.

What to Look For

Natural Fragrances from Essential Oils

We touched on this earlier, but it deserves a closer look. If a label says "natural fragrance" that does not necessarily mean it won't irritate the skin. Since the word "natural" is not regulated, it can mean a myriad of things that are not good for your delicate scalp skin. That’s why I recommend looking for actual essential oils listed in the ingredients.

Oil-Based Moisturizers (Instead of Petroleum)

If you’re trying to avoid plastics as much as you can, finding petroleum in your haircare can be so frustrating. Look for moisturizing oil rather than plastic-based moisturizers to truly nourish the scalp and boost hair health.

Natural Dyes or No Dyes

Dyes have come a long way since the first synthetic color, however, many companies still use synthetic dyes to color their shampoo. Look for one that is either dye free or uses natural fruits or vegetables as the dyes to limit your exposure to toxins.

A Few of My Favorites

Sharing a few of my favorite better choice hair care products in hopes they'll become some of your favorites! Keep in mind that your healthy journey doesn't have to be stressful and you don't have to switch out every product in your house overnight. What helped me most on my health and wellness journey was taking small steps every day. Maybe your next small step is swapping for one of the clean hair care products below. 

Join me on Instagram @just.ingredients for daily inspiration, tips, and swaps, to help you live your healthiest life yet.

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