Much as we love them, the beach, pool and direct sun all take a toll on our locks in the summer days. Your hair needs your help, but why let weird animal products creep into your head? Hard to tell what’s what out there, though, and sometimes it feels like you need a chemistry degree just to read the tricky labels of beauty products. While there are the common animal ingredients to watch out for, many like Chelsea Captan, a holistic stylist who has been doing hair for over 20 years, currently with Salon Wire, voted “best salon in Long Beach 2019 by The Long Beach Post,” are looking beyond vegan when deciding where to spend their dollars.
“My favorite brand for clean organic hair care is an Italian brand called Oway, where every ingredient is fair trade, sustainably sourced, biodynamic, organic and naturally derived,” says Captan. While they are a predominantly vegan company, “some of their products contain honey such as their moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and the putty contains beeswax.” The salon where she works also carries Reverie, an independently owned locally-sourced vegan brand using “sustainable botanical ingredients and environmentally-conscious packaging.” Today’s consumer cares about these kinds of things, and consciousness just may be the secret beauty-enhancing ingredient we’ve all been looking for.
Here are some of the best vegan (and cruelty-free, duh) hair products we’ve tested so far. Take care, hair!
Epicuren Coconut Hydrating Milk
Who hasn’t wanted to rub the juicy lotion from your face into the ends of thirsty hair? Epicuren Coconut Hydrating Milk is sold as skincare but the note on the bottle says it can be used on hair, too, so go ahead and spread that stuff all over your upper body area. Dry hair will drink in the skincare-quality ingredients, looking all the more hydrated in seconds. This company isn’t 100% vegan but this product is and they are good about labeling their ever-growing line of products as such.
This oatmilk and avocado-based leave-in moisturizer is perfect for reviving curls or combing in post-swim, leaving hair soft and delicious-smelling. This product bears the “v” for vegan stamp and while all of Lush’s handmade products are 100 % vegetarian, their commitment to biodegradable packaging (and less wrapping overall) along with their partnerships with human and animal rights groups make shopping here even sweeter.
Miss Jessie’s Condish
My friend Marie and Issa’s kids have the most beautifully-defined perfect curls, despite daily swimming and the regular wear and tear of being 6 and 11-year-old kids, and they swear by this stuff. The Leave-in Condish acts as a detangler, frizz-fighter, moisture lock and conditioner light enough to leave curls with some bounce. It’s also an easily-accessible product, available at Target for just $11.99 per bottle (and a tiny bit goes a long way). Miss Jessie’s has an entire line developed for wavy, curly and kinky hair — but some have honey, so read the ingredients.
Trader Joe’s Shea Butter and Coconut Oil Hair Serum
You don’t have to spend a million bucks to look like a rockstar. Comparable to similar high-end hair smoothers, TJ’s Hair Serum is the perfect thing to tame short-hair flyaways or long-hair layers and it’s only $3.99. PETA gives a gold star to the company for providing many cruelty-free and vegan products on their shelves, making compassionate self-care affordable for all.
This brand pioneered the “cruelty-free” label, always taking a stand against animal testing, and now many of their hair dyes are even vegan, which you can follow up with things like their Color Protect and Platinum Blonde shampoo or their entire Clarifying line, good for oily hair and scalps that tend to produce flat hair. All of their products are cruelty-free and most are vegan, the rest claiming that ingredients like honey were “humanely-sourced.”
This “platinum blonde color boosting treatment” is vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, paraben-free and sulfate-free and the perfect light conditioner for weekly use (between the hair masks or deeper conditioners us platinum or silver-blondes need). Don’t let the purple color scare you! Color boost treatments come in caramel, light beige, chestnut, mahogany, purple red, and copper, too.
This Los Angeles-based family-owned all vegan business has my heart because they even offer unpackaged and refill options at their store and at farmers’ markets. Less waste, more yummy-smelling non-toxic products, more love! Available online, too, of course. Try the Dry Shampoo Powder in travel size or their package-less Seaweed Shampoo Bar for all hair types or browse their Zero-Waste Wellness Shop for bath bombs and other fun in the tub.
The O.G.s of the creative world, Manic Panic not only works for when you want some color on your locks to celebrate summer, but they guarantee all of ingredients and supplier’s ingredients as both vegan & cruelty-free per PETA’s standards and their motto has long been “Tested On Celebrities, Not Animals®.”
Oats Fur Coats
Don’t forget about Spot! For dogs with itchy, dry skin or hotspots, this oatmeal-based shampoo is made up of simple easy-to-identify ingredients, topped with a cinnamon scent. It’s a concentrate, so requires some ratio-measurement before use. It’s vegan, all natural, biodegradable, can be bought in bulk, and is made in the USA — also lathers up nicely.