One giant, looming problem in the beauty industry is the use of false advertizing and excellent marketing to sell products that are essentially full of lies. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true. This is especially prevalent in the haircare market. With “the most innovative product in haircare” coming out pretty much every week, it’s easy to understand why we all get suckered into grabbing it off the shelves as soon as it hits stores. But have you ever looked at the ingredients in your products and actually understood what they all do? Tons of popular drugstore and professional products contain harmful ingredients that don’t do anything positive for your hair or scalp. It’s time to bust these brands and debunk what their products claim to do.
Wen has been marketed as a “natural” cleansing conditioner, and an alternative to the harsh ingredients found in traditional sudsing shampoos. Thousands of people have experienced severe hair loss or breakage tied to use of Wen products and there is currently a class-action lawsuit against the brand. Although the FDA (yeah they’re involved with this case) has yet to find the main culprit for these allegations, simply looking at the ingredients list can be very telling. A large portion of the ingredients are known allergens which can cause eczema as well as overall skin irritation. Several ingredients are actually petrochemicals (obtained from petroleum and natural gas) which are definitely NOT good to put anywhere on your body. So yeah, the “no-poo”/no lather movement is definitely recommended for some hair types, we wouldn't consider Wen a safer or more natural alternative to traditional shampoo.
Bumble & Bumble
Bumble and Bumble has been a prominent name in the industry for over 40 years, so it comes as no surprise that people continue to reach for their products. We concede they are great for photoshoots and runway looks, but they aren’t the best at protecting the health of your hair. All of their products are full of dimethicone (cosmetic grade silicone) which they use to smooth the hair and make it shiny. Unfortunately, dimethicone leaves a heavy coating on the hair, which prevents oils and moisture from penetrating the hair shaft. At the same time, it attracts dirt and environmental pollution and eventually dries the hair out. But besides having a not-so-cute ingredient in all of their products, the line itself is huge and confusing. Michael Gordon, one of the original founders, even believed the amount of products (and ingredients) to be excessive and sold the company in 2000 to Esteé Lauder. He has now created the brand Purely Perfect with the intention of doing the exact opposite.
Organix (OGX) are easily recognizable as the little round bottles at the drugstore. The main appeal of this brand is that it’s affordable and “organic,” or so the name claims. Problem is, FDA guidelines for what qualifies as organic are pretty loose and not necessarily safe. Being labeled as organic does not mean more natural, or without chemicals. In fact, the FDA does not actually have a definition for the term “organic.” OGX, like many other brands in the industry are thriving due to clever marketing but lack in honesty. Considering that the first several ingredients listed after water are synthetic, it’s clear that any “natural” ingredients they are using are not prominent in the formulation. And although the brand itself has never actually stated that they use organic ingredients, this is a perfect example of how the industry is misleading people by slapping some sexy words onto the packaging.
Pantene Pro V has been a drugstore go-to for eons. With it’s giant bottles and discount prices it’s no wonder why all of our parents stocked up on it for so long. The promise of smooth, sleek, tangle-free hair is honestly still alluring to us. But Pantene’s way of achieving all of the things it boasts are less than pleasant. And after a few uses, you’ll notice your hair suddenly falling flat and feeling lifeless. The culprit here is a waxy build-up of product. Because of this build-up, hairdressers have seen negative reactions during coloring appointments when clients have been using Pantene at home. Pantene claims their product will not cause any sort of negative chemical reaction, but the proof is in the pudding. Some videos even show hairdressers using their shears to shave the product buildup off their client’s hair. Ew.
Moroccan Oil has been a game changer in the hair industry by promoting the use of their miracle oil to nourish dry, damaged, frizzy hair. Their fragrance alone has set them apart from other serums and kept people loyal to the brand. But surprise surprise, this oil doesn’t actually nourish your hair. The biggest reason to steer clear from this brand is their obnoxious use of silicones. The first 4-6 ingredients are silicones, depending on which product you’re looking at. The problem here (and with so many other brands) is that silicone molecules are too large to penetrate the hair and end up layering on top of it over time. If there is a large amount of silicone formulated into a product it will prevent your dry, damaged, frizzy hair from actually getting any nourishment at all and can make those problems worse.
It’s also important to note that all of these brands contain methylisothiazolinone – an extremely common yet controversial preservative that is generally used in place of parabens. Along with being a well established allergen, it is also suspected of causing immunotoxicity and skin toxicity. The United States, Japan, and many European countries concluded that methylisothiazolinone is safe at maximum concentrations of 0.01%, but Canada has banned its use in cosmetics all together. Even at such a low concentration, it can still cause severe allergic reactions including eczema and skin irritation. Keep a look out for it as it’s in most soaps, detergents, shampoos, and sudsing products.
Do yourself and your hair a favor and don’t fall for the marketing BS. Sometimes the truth hurts, but your hair doesn’t have to.