How To Read Hair Product Labels

By Jarmelia of DIY Hair Care Blog

Finding out which products are worth buying and which are not depends heavily on learning how to read hair product labels. This is not easy and does take some research but, thankfully natural hair products are way easier to read than commercial products. Learning how to read product labels also helps you learn how to formulate your own products.

I’m going to use a well made natural product that I love, to show you what makes it so great. I’m purposely going to leave out where you can get some of the ingredients but, a google search will turn up some answers.

Curly Kinks Satin Roots

My hair loves this leave-in the summer time, not so much in the winter. If I didn’t know how to read ingredient lists, I wouldn’t know why my hair didn’t like it so much in the winter time.

Products containing water was listed as follows; water (and water soluble ingredients), emulsifiers, oil/butters, and additives last. Ingredients are also listed from highest to lowest percent. So the last ingredient is usually 1% or less of the overall product.

Ingredients: Distilled Water, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract, Ulmus Fulva (Slippery Elm), Althaea Officinalis (Marshmallow) Root, Vegetable Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Pro-Vitamin B5 (Panthenol), Persea Americana Oil (Avocado Oil), Brassica oleracea italica (Broccoli) Seed Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance

1. Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract:
This set of ingredients is a blend of different herb extracts. Each herb has a different property it lends to the product. The main purpose of extracts is to aid in moisturing and to help strengthen your hair. You can buy extract blends or make your own by infusing different herbs.

2. Ulmus Fulva (Slippery Elm), Althaea Officinalis (Marshmallow) Root:
These ingredients are what give this conditioner “slip”. The herbs contain a lot of mucilage. Mucilage forms a thin film on the hair to help the strands slip and slide between each other easily for detangling.

3. Conditioning Ingredients: Behentrimonium Methosulfate (BTMS), Cetyl Alcohol & Panthenol- Read: how conditioning agents work (link also contains information on BTMS). “The cationic quaternary compound is a positively charged compound – the behentrimonium methosulfate – that adsorbs to our hair strand to give us all those lovely conditioning qualities like a reduction in friction and combing forces, a reduction in static electricity, an increase in moisturization, and so on.” SCM (source)

4. Humectants- Vegetable Glycerin & Panthenol (also a conditioning agent)- Humectants work by taking the moisture in the air and bringing it to your hair. How well a humectant works depends on the amount of moisture in the air; humidity. This is why, this product works better for me in the summer than in the winter.

5. PreservativePhenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol

As you can see this is a well made product! Homemade and handmade by an obviously educated person (whom I know and admire!) that knows her stuff! This leave-in conditioner is packed with great ingredients that are meant to strengthen, condition and detangle your hair, just as the company claims!  You can get this product from Curly Kinks.

Do you have a product you would like me to have a look at?

Let me know in the comments below!

About Jenell B Stewart

Jenell Stewart MS, the founder and editor in chief of the award winning website KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com dedicates most of her free time educating and uplifting women with natural hair by way of her extremely popular website and YouTube channel. Jenell has been featured in Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise.com, and starred on the Dr.Oz television show as a Beauty Expert. In 2012 she was named one of Essences top Instagramers and that same year KinkyCurlyCoilyMe won an award for “Favorite Website” of the Natural Hair Community.
  • Hadassah Agbaps

    I love this post. I also read labels due to my sensitive skin thus shopping for cosmetics with me is tiresome…and that I’m a product junkie doesn’t help! Lol! You can check it out at nappilynigeriangirl.blogspot.com!
    Offline, I’ve put it to good use by helping people shop for products!

  • Dartyle Grady

    organix cocomut milk shampoo and morrocan and argan oil conditioner

  • Mz.D

    Thank you so much ;) quite informative. I dug deeper too:


  • https://www.facebook.com/yasmine.amaya Yasmine Amaya

    Proclaim crystal ice gel alcohol free

  • Aneika

    Hi, can you review the product label for Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Extra-Moisture Transitioning Milk. Pls?