DIY vs. Natural vs. Chemical

| Julie J. Wiggins |

Many of you naturalistas are tied between whether you should use all natural (organic) products, not-so-natural (commercial/chemical) products, or just make you own (D.I.Y) products for your hair. Some of you rave about the benefits of organic products, but are these sometimes costly products really worth ditching their less expensive commercial counterparts? Today, you’ re going to judge for yourself and make a decision that’s best for you! When deciding whether you should go for a natural hair product, “Do It Yourself”, or go for a chemical cocktail, there are a lot of pros and cons to consider. Here are some factors to reflect on: D.I.Y- “Do It Yourself”



Environmentally friendly: Making your own hair  products at home is a great way to become proactive about preserving the earth. The natural ingredients will disintegrate into the environment after being discarded, rather than be accumulated at dangerous levels; which is the case with synthetic products. For instance, if you make your own shampoo, you will not be exposed to the chemicals that are present in so many commercial shampoos.

Get more bang for your buck: Those individual ingredients you will be using to make your products, can cost just as much as, or even be less expensive than, top-of-the-line commercial hair products. Even when they’re not at times, they tend to be more potent such as essential ingredients like Shea butter and tea tree oil.

Absorbs better: Sometimes commercial hair products can accumulate on the hair and scalp which can block pores, cause build-up, promote dryness, and slow the growth process of the hair. However, your natural ingredients will penetrate the hair and scalp and provide more moisture and vitality.

Made at home: Not only is this a cheaper alternative to buying right off of the shelf, but it also gives you a chance to custom-make your hair product to meet your hair’s needs. Organic/Natural ingredients are also safer to work with and are more easily accessible than trying to get your hands on the chemicals used in commercial products. Plus, you have the comfort of your home to prepare it in.

Can be multi-purposed: Since the ingredients you will be using is organic and absorbed easily, many of them may be safely used on the skin as cleansers, moisturizers, and even humectants. In addition, some virgin oils and unrefined butters may also be repurposed for cooking.


Can be expensive: The downside is some of the ingredients you may want to use will be expensive or hard to find. If you want to use pure and organic ingredients, which I would recommend, be prepared to pay some upfront costs at first. Be mindful that over the long term, these costs will even out and you will probably even save yourself money at the end

Convenience: You also may have to travel to a health food store or order some of the ingredients online, since everything you need may not be available in the drug store or supermarket. Also, making the products can be time consuming.


The opposite of organic products


Rids of product build-up: When keeping our tresses well moisturized, over time we can attain product build-up; especially if our hair is not thoroughly washed. Most commercial shampoos contain detergents, such as sodium laurel sulphate, that strips the hair of these build-ups and cleanses your beautiful locks.

Targets specific hair problems: Synthetic hair products and formulations can be a life sent for hair that’s dry or suffering from damage. That’s because most synthetic hair care products can be specifically formulated to target and manage hair problems resulting from bleaching, chemicals, or damage. The benefits of synthetic chemical hair products and formulations are similar to those of synthetic drugs. They are meant to be a short term solution to a problem. They don’t prevent damage from occurring, but they help in the relief and management of the symptoms of damage such as dryness and breakage.

Low maintenance: If you are considering straightening your hair, the permanent hair straightening achieved with chemical relaxers is usually long lasting and requires little maintenance in the long run. It can also provide additional shininess to the hair.


The detergents are harsh: Non-organic labels contain harsh detergents and chemicals that affect the scalp and hair negatively. Since these substances and detergents are strong, they can hurt the fitness of your scalp and hair. They can cause your scalp’s pH balance to remain upset and dried out. This in turn can affect hair growth because the hair won’t have a healthy environment to grow in. However, such effects can be minimized by making use of the appropriate chemical ingredient, avoiding excessive exposure or concentrations of the selected ingredient and by making use of the recommended techniques, tools and other ingredients when washing or performing the straitening process.

Side Effects: It should be remembered that chemicals are notorious to cause side effects even at the hands of the most experienced hairdresser.

Hair Loss: In the most severe cases, people who have had chronic cumulative damage from straightening or chemical processing over the years can have irreversible hair loss. Those are exceptions and rare, but it does happen. So we must think twice when we are considering using these products.

In addition to these factors, most commercially produced natural hair care products also contain other ingredients such as thickeners, fragrances, stabilizers, added colors, etc. Those are not entirely natural. The most natural product you can get is the one you make yourself. And when you take a look at the ingredients list, is it a list mainly of chemicals whose names you can’t pronounce? If so, you might not want to continue using it. It’s likely that your commercial shampoo, or other hair products, has lots of chemicals, dyes, and drying alcohols in it, which may damage your hair or even cause health problems. At the end of the day, whatever you decide, make sure you are only putting products on your hair that nourish it and keep it healthy to your comfort.


Similar to D.I.Y, but mass produced and likely contain preservatives


Similar to D.I.Y. products: They are environmentally friendly, the ingredients are more potent in nourishment, and they are also easily absorbed by the hair and scalp.

They are less harsh: Organic products contain all natural ingredients that are nurturing to the hair and scalp. Commercial products contain a host of synthetic ingredients that do not nurture but deprive the hair and scalp of proper nourishment by providing artificial nutrition. (Think fast food versus healthy home-cooked meals.)

Safe for everyday use: Being chemical free, sulphate free, and paraben free, natural products don’t strip the hair of its natural oils, and is safer for those of you who suffer with psoriasis, dermatitis, and allergies.


They tend to be expensive: Organic products are usually pricier than going commercial because ideally you are paying for the quality of the product. Although many naturalistas have saved money by making their own products at home, this D.I.Y. mentality is typically not appealing to those who are constantly on the go. They are often more expensive than what is sold in grocery stores, supermarkets and health shops. However, this has to do with the product’s quality as opposed to the manufacturers who look to rip people off.

They are not easily accessible: Although accessibility for organic products is improving by the day, it is still much easier to access commercial hair products. You may find this especially true if you live in a small town or in a country outside of the U.S. In such cases, ordering online may be the best option but you’ll most likely have to pay for shipping. They cannot be accessed that easily. While this seems to be undergoing a massive shift, these products can be difficult to find on a more commercial basis.

They are not always superior: Let’s face it; some of you have achieved better results by using commercial hair products. In that case, do not fix what is not broken. Just because a product is organic does not automatically mean it will work better on your hair than its commercial counterpart.

There are no guarantees: There’s a “good and bad” with everything, including organic products, so take heed. Not all products that advertise as “organic” are actually all organic. The best way to guarantee you are getting your money’s worth is to check out the ingredient’s list and ensure they are all legit.