A FORMULATOR’S GUIDE TO PLANT-BASED HAIR + SCALP CARE INGREDIENTS
Standout species . . . Essential Oils, Carrier Oils & Extracts for synthetic-free, strand-supporting solutions.
Vegan. Plant-Based. Eco-conscious. Organic. Clean Beauty. . . Numerous natural trends abound, but they all share one thing - a shift away from harmful synthetic ingredients. Across cosmetic categories, hair and scalp care comprise the second largest space, taking 25% of the cosmetics market1. With natural hair care solutions just gaining momentum, this guide will get you started choosing botanical ingredients that speak to the growing number of ingredient-savvy consumers.
While synthetic ingredients have had a perceived potency; now, innovative research on species’ unique compound combinations and synergies prove the power of nature's design. The truths behind sulfates, parabens, alcohol and silicones are out, revealing how chemical-based products can coat hair, causing resistance to moisturization – the very thing they are supposed to achieve. Alternatively, science-backed botanical ingredients have proven results, and are not only safe for people and planet, but carry beautiful backstories that connect your product to vibrant imagery.
HAIR CARE STARTS AT THE SCALP
Research on natural ingredients for skin care has largely contributed to advances for the scalp – the starting place for healthy strands. Although some think the scalp should be treated separately from hair due to its unique microbiome2, they have a very interdependent relationship, so we’ve offered suggestions for both!
Whether it comes to scalp or skin applications, an NPD report showed that 50% of American women prefer natural products3, and for men, this is only just the beginning of the beard care revolution.
NEW FORMATS FOR MULTIFUNCTIONAL FORMULATIONS
Given the explosion in new formats, our considerations for Essential Oils, Carrier Oils and Cellular Extracts can be used across water- and oil-soluble formulations - from purifying scrubs with detoxifying foams, to leave-in treatment serums. With the average shampoo bottle containing 80 percent water4, the water-less beauty trend has waves to make in hair care. Thus, all these ingredients can be considered for concentrated, dissolvable formats or “splash formulas” that don’t require rinsing5.
So, without further ado, here are our go-to ingredients for hair and scalp care! While it’s not an exhaustive list, it’s a great place to start if you are working on NPD or refreshing your range with naturals. If you’d like more specific recommendations to meet your objectives, we’d love to personalize our suggestions for you … CONTACT US to request an NPD Innovation Map for unique ingredients tailored to your formulation!
A powerful cleanser, to regulate scalp’s sebaceous glands, keeping strands free from dandruff and head lice.
Increases circulation to stimulate growth and soothe the scalp.
Ideal for dry scalps, as it can stimulate sebum production and its antiseptic properties may get rid of lice.
In addition to strengthening hair follicles, its natural sedative properties can soothe stress, which may contribute to hair loss.
Stimulates and cools the scalp through high levels of menthol, which increases blood flow to the scalp, bringing oxygen, nutrients and a relaxing sensation.
Eucalyptus (see essential oils page for 8 different varieties)
Stimulates hair follicles, promotes growth, relieves itchy scalp and lice.
Helps boost hair’s shine and softness
Cedarwood (information available upon request)
Balances the scalp’s oil-producing glands to reduce hair loss, increase circulation to the scalp potentially treat conditions that cause dandruff due to its antifungal properties.
Helps with stress-related hair loss by regulating cortisol levels (a hormone produced in excess during physical and emotional stress).
Lemongrass (information available upon request)
Soothes irritated scalp and has shown to reduce dandruff.
Consider for shampoos, conditioners, and scalp treatments.
FOR ALL HAIR
Anti frizz, detangles, rich in oleic and linoleic acid, adds sleek and shine.
Fractionated Coconut Oil
Helps soften frizzy, dry hair, dandruff or scalp psoriasis, encouraging hair growth by stimulating hair follicles.
Apricot Kernel Oil
This fatty acid-rich oil can strengthen weak hair strands and follicles and ease inflammatory conditions of the scalp like dandruff. Perfect for use as a mask or hot oil treatment, massaged into scalp.6
Due to its Vitamin E content, it may help thicken hair and encourage hair growth. Also protects against dryness (dandruff or dermatitis), breakage and split ends, hydrating the scalp and hair shafts, preventing hair loss.
Improves scalp health, resulting in strong shiny hair.
DRY + DAMAGED HAIR
Can help stimulate hair growth and protect hair follicles from loss of moisture.
Flax Seed Oil
Deeply penetrates and is absorbed in the hair, preventing breakage and frizz.
Hemp Seed Oil
Nourishes and conditions the hair.
Strengthens hair follicles, conditions curly dry hair, making it more manageable
It has zinc which helps with keratin production to strengthen hair. Restores moisture levels, protecting against hair color depletion.
Helps soften and strengthen hair, minimize frizz and reduce breakage by penetrating deep into the hair shaft and sealing in moisture.
The oleic acid is a potent scalp stimulator, increasing circulation to strengthen the follicles and encourage strong, healthy hair growth.
Very nourishing for the scalp and hair if dry. Improves blood circulation, encourages hair growth and fights dandruff by soothing scalp irritation and reducing itching.
Rich in many vitamins including Vitamin E, it can help reduce inflammation, itching and build-up of dry skin caused by dandruff, encouraging hair growth and healthy shiny hair.
Contrasting to the oils above, Cellular Extracts deliver the water-soluble phyto-compound profiles of a species, including the likes of caffeine, which is known to energize the scalp and rejuvenate hair follicles. More hair-supporting compounds found in Cellular Extracts have been identified by NATIVE EXTRACTS, who’s Director, Lisa Carroll, shares that “the Hair Care sector is being driven to perform naturally. Global consumer demand is on the rise for providence back to natural source and accessing molecules that are naturally derived from nature.”7
Contains Glutamyl-Cysteine & derivatives that may counteract greying hair, and Quercetin, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Native Snowflower (tea tree)
Contains Quercetin to promote growth and hair cell viability, and Kaempferol for inducing the anagen phase (hair growth stage) and conditioning scalp.
Contains Kaempferol which also may prevent hair follicle miniaturization, the weakening of hair.
Contains Procyanidins that may improve hair density and diameter and hold hair in the growth stage for longer periods before eventually shedding, a promising phyto-compound for male pattern baldness.
All contain EGCG (Epigallocatechin-3-gallate), which has shown to protect hair cells against environmental toxins through improved cell viability and performance, potentially improving length when combined with Quercetin.
Has some of the key Amino Acids (AAs) that are necessary to produce keratin (i.e. Arginine). Boosting these AAs may combat hair loss and stimulate new hair growth.
Like Native Snowflower, Emu Apple and Gotu Kola, this leaf extract is multifunctional with Quercetin and Kaempferol, a dynamic duo of compounds for improving hair length.
With Caffeine, Kaempferol, Lignans, Quercetin and Rutin, this extract has potential for hair growth, dandruff and hair loss treatments.
Now, hopefully that hasn’t left you more confused than where you started. Whether it has you knowing what ingredients you’d like to try, or has you wanting to delve deeper into the research, we’re here to help!
If you’d like to learn more, please REQUEST more research on “Natural phyto-compounds for Hair & Scalp Care”.
Or, if you know what species you’d like to use, CONTACT US for individual data sheets on the ingredients you are interested in!