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Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Each year it seems that there are more organic and natural products across all industries, including hair.
Organic products may be appealing for various reasons, including their ingredients and the lesser environmental impact, but do they really help grow your hair? Are any of them backed by science? Or should you leave them on the shelf?
Let’s have a look.
Organic hair growth products are products that are made with organic and natural ingredients. This typically means they are free from artificial fertilizers, pesticides or other modifications.
To be a certified organic product, you must meet certain standards of ingredients. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean it is 100 percent organic ingredients (some will state-specific percentages).
Also, know that some may advertise as organic but not be organic-certified. If the product is organic-certified, you should see a little emblem saying it is.
Among the hair care community, some people have a no-no list when it comes to chemicals within hair products.
These chemicals are said to strip your hair of nutrients, cause itchy scalps or be worse for dry scalps, among many other alleged issues.
Although the research isn’t intensive on the actuality of these claims, you may want to be aware of the chemicals and decide for yourself.
All in all, the effects will vary from individual to individual and depend on your hair health, among other things.
The chemical list many try to avoid is:
Many shampoos contain some kind of sulfate, which is used as a cleanser and foaming mechanism in shampoo. However, because it is used to strip dirt from hair and scalp, it can leave hair feeling dry.
Common sulfates in shampoos include:
Sodium lauryl sulfates
Ammonium lauryl sulfate
Sodium myreth sulfate
Although there is some talk of sulfates as being carcinogenic, this has been found to be false by the scientific community.
So if you already tend to have a dry head or hair, looking for a sulfate-free product may be something you want to try.
The common complaint of silicon is that it can cause too much moisture and produce stringy, greasy hair.
Silicon is put in shampoos to work as a moisturizer and can effectively do that by keeping water from evaporating.
Yet, often, you’ll hear hair experts complain of the non-soluble silicons, or silicons that aren’t easily washed out of hair. These include:
It’s thought that because they are non-soluble, these ingredients may cause a build-up of moisture in your hair shaft, making hair greasy.
However, if you are worried about your scalp health, be mindful that allergic reactions to propylene glycol do happen.
Some chemicals can be irritant to scalp conditions, such as eczema, dermatitis, or psoriasis. Creating an environment that is better for those conditions can help with overall hair growth.
The short version? Think healthy scalp = equals healthy hair.
Many organic products do not test on animals and may have more sustainable packaging or production.
If you are concerned about the environmental impact of your hair products, consider looking for certified organic products.
Popular organic hair growth products range from shampoos to conditioners, serums and gummies. But do any of them really work?
We’ve broken down these common organic growth hair products and let you know what you can expect.
Organic shampoos are typically shampoos that contain organic ingredients that are chemical free and contain nutrients or antioxidants.
Although there is no research that points directly to organic shampoo (as every product ranges in its exact ingredients) and hair growth, some studies point to zinc helping with hair loss.
A good idea may be to look at the ingredient list so you can determine whether it’s what you want.
Organic conditioners are typically conditioners or deep conditioners that contain organic ingredients, which includes different types of oils such as; argan oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, moroccan oil or castor oil.
Yet, similar to organic shampoo, there has not been extensive research on whether or not organic conditioner is better for hair growth vs. regular conditioner.
However, looking at specific ingredients could help. For example, coconut oil and sunflower oil have been shown to help damaged hair, which could help with hair growth.
In addition to the oils found in conditioners, another choice is using the oil or a serum itself. Serums and oils are popular for their moisturizing effect. Grapeseed oil for hair is one popular choice for stronger, shinier locks (although the science behind these claims is debatable.) Mineral oil for hair is one oil product that's become popular (although the science is iffy on this one.)
Another oil that has limited but promising research on hair growth is rosemary oil. In one study, rosemary oil was found to be effective at improving hair growth when measured up against minoxidil 2%.
However, it’s worth noting that the study was limited in that there were only 100 total participants and no control group, and that much more research is needed before any definitive conclusions about the efficacy of rosemary oil can be drawn.
Most hair vitamins you see on the market are actually organic! These vitamins are biotin, vitamin A among many more.
Getting the proper vitamins is definitely important for hair growth and keeping a healthy head of hair. But do vitamin pills themselves work?
The proper amount of Vitamin A (700 mcg per day for women) may help with hair growth and shine.
However, be careful, as too much vitamin A can actually potentially cause hair loss!
While biotin has been closely linked to hair growth, studies have shown that hair loss issues are sometimes related to biotin deficiencies — which are admittedly rare.
Check out our full guide to vitamins for hair loss for a more in-depth look into which vitamins and minerals may be helping our hurting your chance at a full head of hair.
If you are looking for more research-backed options to grow your hair, you may want to check out non-organic medication such as:
To learn more about these medications, check out our Guide to Female Pattern Baldness.
The choice to go organic will ultimately depend on what you decide is best for your hair type and lifestyle.
Some organic ingredients have interesting initial studies, which may be enough to try them for yourself.
While some specific organic ingredients like biotin may help with hair growth, it really all depends on several things — what kind of hair loss you’re suffering from, the specific product you’re using, etc.
So, does organic work? Well, it depends!
Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.
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