Seven years ago, I stepped into my natural hair journey, wholeheartedly embracing the awkward big chop grow-out phase, and since then I’ve learned that, a good sulfate-free leave-in conditioner is an absolute essential.
But why sulfate-free? For decades, Black women and women of color have been exposed to countless chemicals through the hair products we use every day. Some of these chemicals are toxic and have been “linked to cancer, weight gain, asthma, and fertility issues, among other things.” You see, the products were created with us in mind — to get our coin — but they aren’t for us. This is why it’s so important to know what we’re putting in our bodies, in our hair, and on our skin.
Now, while the sulfates used in most hair products aren’t toxic, it’s better to avoid as many chemicals as possible these days, especially when it comes to products you aren’t immediately washing out of your hair like your leave-in. With that said, we’ve gone ahead and did the research and found five leave-in conditioners that are not only free from sulfates, but they’ll also have your strands feeling better than ever.
The entire Maui product line is stunning, and their Moisture Heal & Hydrate Shea Butter Detangler Leave-In is no different. If you’re a sucker for good packaging, you’ll almost certainly gravitate toward Maui’s Leave-In and then you’ll be hooked when you see the ingredients. It has natural goodness like aloe vera juice, coconut water, shea butter, coconut and macadamia oils, that’ll heal and hydrate your strands without introducing the chemicals we’re trying to avoid. Maui says its leave-in conditioner is free of sulfates, silicones, parabens, synthetic dyes, and even gluten.
You just can’t have a proper roundup of natural hair goodies without mentioning at least one product from Shea Moisture. Sure, the company has gone through some changes over the years, but there are still a few products that work really well for hair with texture, and the Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-In Conditioner is one of them. Jamaican Black Castor Oil is known for its many benefits, including its ability to thicken, strengthen, and increase hair growth. This leave-in conditioner also has apple cider vinegar and peppermint oil, both of which are great for scalp health, and organic shea butter, which is perfect for locking in moisture. It’s also free of sulfates and color safe.
Another great pick from the Shea Moisture lineup is the Manuka Honey & Yogurt Multi-Action Leave-In. The “multi-action” claim lies in the way the one product hydrates, repairs, moisturizes, and boasts shine. The Manuka Honey & Yogurt line is also surprisingly versatile, it seems to work with thicker curly/coily hair as well as thinner, straighter textures.
Carol’s Daughter has been a staple in the natural hair community since 1993, and for good reason. The company has managed to stay relevant over the years by pushing great products like its Black Vanilla Leave-In Conditioner. If you’re looking for something light-weight that’ll breathe life back into your dry, dull, or brittle hair, then look no further. The key ingredients here are pro-vitamin B5, wheat protein, lavender, and honeysuckle, which means it’s not only good for your hair but it also smells amazing.
We’ve already talked about the benefits of Jamaican Black Castor Oil but if your hair is easily weighed down, you might prefer mists and sprays to creams, and that’s where this Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave-In Conditioner & Detangler from Tropic Isle Living comes in. The company combines its castor oil with shea butter for extra moisture, red pimento to encourage stronger roots, and rosemary for overall scalp health. The Tropic Isle Living product lineup almost feels like we’re reaching back to the ancestors for a bit of (hair) strength.