The Review: When a Good Hair Day is Good for the Planet
Can you feel it?? A slight hint of spring is in the air and it’s enough to make you want to let your hair down and cerebrate! And speaking of hair, we thought it was high time to give ours a little attention while simultaneously giving some attention to green beauty products as well! …Green as in eco-friendly, not lime coloured lipstick or what have you.
The timing is perfect as earthsafe has just relaunched it’s brand new re-formulated line of bath and body care products which I was very curious to try out. It sounds a little bit too good to be true; a shampoo or moisturizer that is as good as a name-brand you would find in a drugstore but that is also environmentally conscious. I’ll admit I was very skeptical due to my limited experience in trying out “all-natural” products that might be eco-friendly but just did not perform as well as the brand name body lotions or shampoos I was used to using.
To give you a brief introduction to the earthsafe brand before we go any further - it's a Canadian-made line of natural, effective hair and body care products that stands by a philosophy of living consciously by using products that are good for you and good for the environment. The line currently contains shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and body wash in both a naturally-scented and unscented line (for those who are sensitive to scents and fragrances. As I love using products with perfume-y fragrances I opted to try the naturally-scented products which are fragranced with a combination of Lemon, Ginger and Lavender. While not as fruity a smell as I'm used to, it still had a really nice refreshing smell to it.
Because my relationship with my hair has always been fragile at best, I was interested in trying the shampoo and conditioner first as I found it hard to believe a natural version could measure up to the expensive drugstore brands I’ve had on rotation forever. To give you a little insight into my hair drama, I have very naturally curly hair that is quite fine and very prone to frizz. I’ve been flat ironing my hair into submission since I was a teenager and as a result I have a lot of damaged split ends and a lot of angst that my hair never seems to grow past my shoulders, (probably out of protest from all the abuse it gets). My hair washing/drying/styling routine probably takes over an hour from start to finish and requires on average 4-6 products in order for me to feel confident in my hair staying under control for a full 8-hour work day. It’s exhausting and also quite expensive having what feels like such a high-maintenance mane. I’ve formerly also worked in a couple salons (answering phones, not cutting hair thankfully!) which has given me a little behind the scenes insight into hair health and styling. Enough know-how at least to make a some-what educated critique on shampoo and conditioner for you!
SO first off something you might not know about shampoo; Most of it isn’t biodegradable which might not seem like a huge deal but then you’d think that something designed to be washed down the drain would be made with ingredients that actually break down and aren’t going to poison waterways. In reality, the standard bottle of shampoo or conditioner contains silicones, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and even formaldehyde which aside from being terrible for the environment, aren’t so great for your health either. If you aren’t already familiar with some of these nasty ingredients here is why you would NOT want to be using them in your regular shower routine:
Silicone is an all-too common ingredient in hair care products because it gives hair the illusion of shine, but in reality is essentially polymer chemicals which coat your hair preventing moisture or nutrients from penetrating the hair shaft while also causing buildup and weighing your hair down.
Parabens are a common chemical preservative commonly used in shampoos, moisturizers and soaps but are linked to health problems such as neurotoxicity, developmental and reproductive disorders, skin irritation, and even cancer.
Sulfates or SLS are the chemicals responsible for the lather and foam we’re used to in shampoos and body washes despite that it’s known skin irritant, it also strips skin of its natural oils, creating dry, dull skin and hair.
Phthalates are associated with bio accumulation, which means that they become stuck in the body forever as opposed to passing through our systems and are linked to hormone disruption and organ damage.
Now even if you aren't a fraction as obsessive about your hair as I am, you can recognize that none of those ingredients are good for your hair or your overall health. The difficulty is that it can be really hard to commit to using healthier, more natural products if you feel like you're compromising on performance as well. As I mentioned I have tried out some more-natural shampoos or hair products before, but they were short-lived affairs as I was finding natural shampoos and conditioners didn’t perform as well or give my hair the same manageability as the less-natural options I was used to. Natural shampoos that are sulfate(foaming agent)-free don’t usually have the same lathering capabilities, and silicone-free conditioners often don’t make my hair feel as sleek or moisturized so it can result in feeling like a waste of time and money.
So I went into my first trial of the earthsafe Shampoo & Conditioner a little wary to say the least. But what I noticed right away using the Shampoo was that it lathered up just as easily as as say a popular brand shampoo and it took the same amount of time to scrub and rinse my hair clean of all the hairspray and product buildup from my usual styling which was a very pleasant surprise. As far as the conditioner goes, I will say I had quite low expectations because my conditioner standards are very high to treat my fried and parched ends. While the earthsafe conditioner feels a lot thinner than the thick moisturizing conditioners I tend to use, I was shocked how easily it coated and de-tangled my hair and how little I needed to use to get the job done. It rinsed out easily whereas heavy conditioners might take an extra rinse to completely get out of your hair. All in all I think I cut down my hair washing time by an extra ten minutes (my water bill will thank me later)! I only used a heat-protectant spray before blow drying instead of the usual addition leave-in conditioner, hydrating oil and styling cream (I told you my hair was high-maintenance) and my hair still turned out as smooth and as manageable as when I used all the extra product I thought I was dependent on, and it was just as shiny even without all the silicone gunk!
Another massive positive to using the earthsafe hair products for the past 2 weeks (even more positive than having many good hair days) is that I’ve been using products that are actually made with biodegradable ingredients that are plant-derived and won’t contribute to the harming of the environment or my health. It’s a pretty good feeling to make a small difference by doing so little, really. I had thought that switching to a natural/eco-friendly brand would be a compromise however if anything it’s more of an improvement to my routine as I’m using fewer addition hair products and taking less time fighting with my hair.