Well if there was ever a subject that is highly subjective….this blog is it.
Everything from food, cleaning and personal products will have many people swear it is the best.... While others are swearing that exact same thing is the worst thing ever!
Hair products have always been a lot about scent and scent is very subjective. Standing in a warm shower or a bath relaxing and breathing in citrus, spice, lavender, you name it, has been marketed as a way to have your own spa experience. In fact growing up a really popular shampoo in my teens was called “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific”. We all loved it and used it but yes it was highly fragranced!
Odours are tied to emotions in our brain, to be then memorized and eventually part of our consciousness. So even if a memory is shaped by all of our senses, a particular smell is enough to revive those memories in our nervous system.
Times have changed and those sensitive to scents are finally getting more options for hair products. Fragrance can not only cause emotional distress/happiness but in some cases it can cause a terrible headache or allergic reactions. Some workplaces are also "scent-free".
Today I am providing product recommendations for curlies, wavies, and coilies who are sensitive to scents or would prefer not to use them in their hair care routine.
Fragrance-Free Product Recommendations for Curly Hair
I will start by giving you suggestions of fragrance-free products. Note that most fragrance-free products still have a little bit of a smell due to the ingredients in the product, but they do not have any additional fragrances or perfumes added to them.
The brand that has had a fragrance-free option for years and is my go-to recommendation is Jessicurl. Everything they make has a fragrance-free option which means they have shampoos, conditioners, and styling products available without added fragrance. They are also vegan, gluten free, and cruelty free.
Another brand to recommend is Canadian brand LUS. They have released a selection of products that are fragrance-free: their shampoo, conditioner, and their famous All-In-One styler. This link is for Curly but the kit is also available for Coily and Wavy.
Curlsmith has just released their new line of products called Shine. There is a shampoo, conditioner, cream, jelly, and gel. You can get them in the Curlsmith Shine Kit or purchase each bottle separately. The kit has full sized shampoo and conditioner but sample sizes of the stylers.
If you are looking to go completely zero waste and fragrance-free, look no further than to Jack59, another Canadian company. The Naked shampoo and conditioner bars will work for you! I do recommend reading my blog on using shampoo bars and picking up the compostable holder to keep your bars safe and dry (it's also great for travel).
Recently another Canadian company called Curl Keeper released their popular Original liquid styler in a fragrance-free version. This liquid-y serum helps prime your hair with moisture and hold. It can be used alone or with a harder holding gel on top.
Mild and Naturally Scented Curly Hair Product Recommendations
What if you don’t mind a little bit of scent? I would usually refer you to brands that I know are mostly organic and use essential oils. When a product says “fragrance” they do not need to disclose on the label what is in the fragrance. As we know, some signature scents are part of the reason that people stay with a particular brand and this "fragrance" blend is like their secret sauce.
My first recommendation to you for a natural scent would be Innersense. They are certified organic and clean beauty is their objective: “Clean chemistry, radical transparency and a commitment to the environment are our promises to you. This means no parabens, silicones, sulfates, synthetic fragrances or questionable ingredients. It’s your health. It’s our planet.”
All product pages on our website here at Curl Warehouse provide full ingredient lists and Innersense provides you with the specific essential oils used in each of their bottles so you'll know what to expect regarding the smell. Their brand is very concentrated so each product has less water, making them last a lot longer than many other brands. You only need to use a little to get results.
The next brand I would lean towards is Ecoslay. These are home-made recipes that are made and shipped from the kitchen of the owner Adria. Since there are not a lot of preservatives in their products, refrigeration helps extend the shelf life of their handcrafted products. Ecoslay has recently added pouches to their line up so you can refill your existing Ecoslay bottle, thereby creating less packaging waste too.
Here is their promise: “We believe that you are what you eat. We also believe that what you put ON your body is just as important as what you put IN it. So, why should we take the time to put organic fruits and veggies in our diet while slathering our hair and scalp with ingredients that we can't pronounce? Each ingredient in our products is carefully chosen because it gets the job done AND is good for you. You don't have to worry about reading the ingredients label (although you should!) because you can trust that we have your back.”
A brand that I really like is Original Moxie. They are also known for using quality ingredients and essential oils for scent. Here are their comments on scent for Fragrance-Avoiders: “If you just don’t care for heavily fragranced personal care products, you may be in luck. Ever notice how, when you shampoo your hair you smells like shampoo for the rest of the day? That’s due to artificial fixatives used to prolong the scent. Essential oils, on the other hand, tend to dissipate after a few hours, and leave your hair smelling fresh and clean, but not perfume-y. So, even if you aren’t crazy about one of our fragrances, you won’t have to smell it all day long."
Another brand known for simple ingredients and an essential oil or two is called Miribel Naturals. They were previously called My Soigné but have had a name and packaging change. They have only four products but everything you need to have beautiful hair. You can purchase all four products in a bundle or individually. The scent of these products is very mild.
In summary I hope this list gives hope to those of you out there struggling to find a hair product that suits you. When in doubt some of these brands (Jessicurl, Curlsmith, Original Moxie, and Innersense) offer sample or travel sizes so you can try it before investing more dollars into full sized bottles. We are seeing a definite trend towards lightly scented or fragrance-free products in all areas of our lives now. This list will continue to grow!