We all love to take care of our hair with natural products. When it comes to maintaining our hair’s health and radiance, selecting the right hair products is paramount. As more people become conscious about the potentially harmful effects of controversial ingredients found in beauty products, the demand for cosmetics without « nasty » ingredients is skyrocketing. From petroleum based substances, to silicones, to PFAS, controversial preservatives like some parabens or phenoxyethanol, endocrine disruptors… and many other potentially toxic, polluting and controversial ingredients…., the beauty industry has seen its fair share of controversial substances.
What about Amika ?
Amika : Most people are now well-informed about potentially harmful ingredients lurking in your favorite moisturizer, but have you ever had a closer look at the ingredient list of your favorite hair mask?
In this article, as usual, we’ve selected a random product, Amika’s Soulfood Nourishing Hair Mask. Amika is advertising its products with «highly effective, clean formulas» and without any «nasties» and we will be having a closer look at the entire ingredient list – just to make it clearer what’s behind the scenes. Moreover, we will also reveal some smart tips to help you select hair products that are free of any controversial ingredients. Let’s dive in !
Let’s take a look at the AMIKA brand philosophy in general :
« Brooklyn born and salon raised :we celebrate our heritage by bending rules that don’t make sense and pushing beauty boundaries in Brooklyn, creativity and culture are a way of life, and we draw inspiration from our surroundings to deliver products packaged in vibrant, feel-good colors. all our haircare and tools are effective, high performing, and kind to your strands.No nasties *highly effective, clean formulas without sulfates (SLS, SLES, ALS), parabens, phthalates, DEA, aluminum starch and over 1,300 questionable ingredients banned by the EU. Always cruelty free * leaping bunny and vegan certified. our products and ingredients never have, and never will be tested on animals. »
What could the definition of « clean formulas » and « no nasties » for Amika look like ?
Let’s have a look at Amika’s Soulfood hairmask – what about the overall formulation of their product?
For instance, here are the product benefits, – as presented on Amika’s website *:
« what is soulfood? ultra-luxurious hair mask is rich and creamy but never weighs hair down. it is packed with vitamins and nutrients to condition the hair making it soft, silky, and smoother than ever. Who it’s for :perfect for all hair types, especially those in need of deep hydration.Why it’s special :like a cool drink of water for your hair, this mask quenches hair’s thirst. the rich, moisturizing formula provides superior hydration leaving hair manageable, soft, and shiny for days. »
Let’s take the time to check the composition of the product by taking a closer look at AMIKA’s Soulfood Hairmask INCI (ingredients) list
Water/Eau/Aqua, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Behentrimonium Chloride*, Propylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn/Argousier) Fruit/Seed Oil, Cetrimonium Chloride*, Panthenol, Chlorphenesin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ethylhexylglycerin, BHT, Phenoxyethanol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Fragrance/Parfum, Benzyl Benzoate, Hydroxycitronellal, Limonene *antistatic agent/agent antistatique
Ingredient analysis Amika Soulfood Hairmask :
As always, it is the first 5-10 ingredients that make up the majority of the product’s overall « profile ». And Amika’s hairmask includes already a large number of controversial and questionnable ingredients, silicone-based ingredients (polluting), questionnable synthetic preservatives (Chlorphenesin, BHT) etc.
A list of controversial substances have slipped into the formula of AMIKA’s Soulfood Hairmask:
- BHT, preservative (suspected endocrine disruptor)
- The synthetic preservative Chlorphenesin, an organohalogen that can have allergenic effects and problematic because it can accumulate in the body.
- DIMETHICONE, – silicones : environmentally problematic substances (not very biodegradable), pollutants
- Cetrimonium Chloride, a synthetic preservative or hair conditioner (antistatic), which is part of synthetic quats category, substances that are not very biodegradable/polluting and slightly irritating.
- Phenoxyethanol, a controversial synthetic preservative with proven toxic potential (notably harmful to the liver)
- The « Fragrance »/ Perfume listed in the INCI list can also sometimes be a problem: since it is a non-certified product (in natural and organic cosmetics), there is a good chance that it is a synthetic fragrance, which very often also contains phthalates, also classified as endocrine disruptors. To avoid the presence of phthalates, the only certainty would be to opt for a certified product, as synthetic perfumes are simply not authorised by the various specifications in natural and organic cosmetics.
Conclusion for the analysis of AMIKA’s Soulfood Hairmask
A formulation that is far, far from the claim of « highly effective » « clean formula» ….
In conclusion, Amika’s Hairmask contains a list of controversial and polluting ingredients, problematic for the environment (silicones, quats) and potentially harmful and toxic substances (suspected endocrine disruptors, etc)- which clashes with the claim of « clean formulas » and « no nasties » . For example, none of the substances mentioned above would be allowed by any of the serious labels/certifications for organic cosmetics in Europe : Cosmos, Nature, BdiH, Ecocert, Soil Association, Aiab, etc…
Top Tips for Choosing Hair Products Without Controversial Ingredients
1. Educate Yourself on Controversial Ingredients:
Start your haircare journey by getting informed about controversial ingredients commonly found in beauty products. You can use the website’s free INCI research tool and dive deeper into the subject with the different articles on the website.
1. Educate Yourself on Endocrine Disruptors:
Endocrine disruptors are harmful chemicals present in various beauty products. These chemicals can interfere with your hormonal balance and potentially lead to serious health issues. It is never enough to choose products labeled as just « paraben-free » or « clean beauty » as the products can still contain endocrine disruptors or harmful ingredients. Certified organic cosmetics however, provide more guarantees, endocrine disruptors are simply not allowed in the formulation process by the different labels. More detailed information also here. If the product is not certified, make sure to check the ingredient list.
4. Avoid Silicones and mineral-oil derived ingredients (Petrolatum, etc):
Likewise, Silicones are commonly used in beauty products to create a smooth texture and long-lasting effects. However, they represent a huge toll on the environment, as they are not biodegradable. When selecting hair products, choose those with silicone alternatives such as natural waxes or nourishing oils (jojoba, sesame, argan, olive, coconut etc) sheabutter, or cocoa butter.These ingredients provide hydration and a comfortable wear without the negative side effects. Again, silicones and mineral oil derived ingredients are not allowed in certified organic cosmetics. If the product is not certified, make sure to check the ingredient list.
2. Stay Away from PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl Substances):
PFAS are a group of chemicals used in many industries, including cosmetics. They have been linked to adverse health effects and are extremely persistent in the environment. This is a tremendous environmental concern, which of course concerns many other industries. Check the ingredient list for PFAS-related compounds like PTFE or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and educate yourself on the subject as well.
5. Be Mindful of certain synthetic Preservatives:
Preservatives are essential to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and extend the shelf life of cosmetics. However, some synthetic preservatives, such as formaldehyde releasers or phenoxyethanol have been linked to skin irritations and allergies and other more serious health concerns. Others fall into the category of endocrine disruptors (some parabens (but not all parabens), triclosan, etc).
2. Embrace Organic (certified!) Cosmetics:
Organic cosmetics have gained immense popularity in recent years for their commitment to using natural and pure ingredients. Choose « certified organic »- hair products – and brands which have certification seals from respected organic regulatory bodies. These products are formulated without controversial ingredients and provide a gentle yet efficient alternative for keeping your hair healthy and lustrous.
To sum up, by following these tips, you can effectively avoid, controversial ingredients like endocrine disruptors, PFAS, pollutants, silicones, and other questionable preservatives commonly found in hair products and beauty products in general. Your hair deserves the very best care, free from any controversial ingredients that could compromise its health and radiance. By opting for certified organic cosmetics, creating homemade hair masks (there are numerous recipes on the internet), and checking your product’s ingredient list, you’re well on your way to maintaining a luscious, chemical-free mane. So, next time you’re on the hunt for hair products, like the one from Amika, remember the top tips we’ve covered here and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with your decision to prioritize your hair’s long-term health and beauty.