For the last couple of years I have been using Alterna’s Caviar Anti-Ageing Shampoo; which was recommended to me as it’s good for coloured hair. The easiest way for me to buy this was online (unless I happened to pass a salon that sold it) and it worked out about £25 after I finished with postage. I figured there had to be something similar out there; cheaper and more accessible.
Once I started shopping around for alternatives I realised it’s actually not that easy. There’s lots of advice out there about what ingredients to avoid but shampoos contain so many chemicals it takes time to identify the good from the bad, not something you can do quickly when you’re out shopping. It’s also easy to get taken in by products claiming to be ‘colour safe’ when they aren’t. I decided to do some more research.
Firstly, I learnt that I should avoid Sulphates or Sulfates; they make shampoo sudsy and cling to dirt that you then wash away, but they can cause coloured hair to fade. Also they aren’t great for dry or damaged hair and dry scalps. In labels they can also be listed as SLS.
Then there’s Parabens (e.g Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Benzylparaben) These are more likely to be in skincare products but they can appear in hair products too. They are added to promote hair growth and inhibit bacterial growth. They are absorbed easily through the skin and can mimic estrogen in the body causing us to produce less of it naturally. As a result they have found possible links to early puberty in girls, breast cancer, testicular cancer and low sperm count in Men. So although these are all only possible links, I’d rather avoid them if I can.
Fragrances. I love it when my hair smells delicious but fragrances added to shampoo can cause allergic reactions, especially for people with sensitive skin. They can even exacerbate the symptoms of asthma. Parfum is often added to make Shampoo smell nice or mask the smell of chemicals, however it is important to look at the ingredients list to know how much of each chemical is in the product; the further down the list the better as they go in order of quantity (largest ingredient first)
Finally there’s Alcohol such as Ethanol, Ethyl, Denatured, Methanol, Isopropyl, SD and Benzyl Alcohol. These strip hair of necessary nutrients.
*However, Cetearyl Alcohol is actually good, this is added to thicken shampoo but it hydrates hair.
I looked at 6 shampoos, 3 of which I have bought in the past because of my lack of knowledge (Nioxin, Alterna and Tresemme) and 3 that I found online when I was researching about the ‘best’ shampoo for coloured hair. I ranked them in the table below, least favourite at the top.
For obvious reasons Nioxin is my least favourite as it has 3 out of the 4 ingredients to avoid and it’s expensive. The following 3 all contain alcohol and fragrance; so I ranked these based on value. The decision for 1st and 2nd was close as both Noughty and hair organics contain only one of the 4 ingredients to avoid. Even though hair organics is better on the amount of fragrance in the product, for me price was more important as I don’t have allergies or sensitive skin potentially aggravated by parfum and this ‘moisture boost’ one has the nourishing alcohol (Cetearyl) in it. I’m sure in time there will be new research that tells us something completely different, but for now I’ll go with this!