It's widely known that botanicals— substances of or relating to plants or plant life—are important in maintaining the body's health. Now, botanicals are turning up more often in haircare products. From strengthening, moisturizing and nourishing benefits to softening, hydrating and adding shine to tresses, botanicals have proven to be good for hair's health. "People do a lot to keep their skin young, but they don't do a lot for their hair," says Guita Dovas, owner and founder of Oloff Beauty, makers of Aetó Botanica. "Botanicals that are chemical-, sulfate-, and paraben-free in hair products are crucial to promoting strength and vitality in hair." Consumers are a driving force behind the popularity of botanical ingredients, and companies are responding to this trend.
According to the American Spa/American Salon Green Book 2008, natural ingredients continue to be appealing to both male and female salon-goers when purchasing haircare products. From botanicals and other natural ingredients to vitamins and minerals, "the challenge for manufacturers has been to come up with new ingredients or combinations of ingredients that differentiate their products from the hundreds of others available to and through salons," states the Green Book. Nevertheless, companies are continually releasing exciting botantical-based haircare products that address specific haircare needs. Here's a look at what's available.
To tame unruly or frizzy curls, several companies have started developing products with botanicals in them. Almond-derived emollients, fruit extracts, arnica and ginkgo biloba are key ingredients in Profound Beauty Curl Serum, which works to provide curly hair with emolliency, hydration and control. TIGI Bed Head also utilizes botanical ingredients to control curls and fight frizz. Foxy Curls Contour Cream, part of the company's new Foxy Curls line, features sunflower seed extract, jojoba seed oil, shea butter and green tea extract, which work to define, shape and support curls; provide UV protection; eliminate frizz; and add shine.
Plants are often used in haircare products because of their strengthening and moisturizing properties. In Eugene Perma Paris Essentiel products, baobab leaf extract is a vital ingredient. "Baobab has been used by African women for centuries because of its film-forming, nourishing and moisturizing carbohydrates, which add softness and make detangling easier," says Aurélie Peligri, international products manager of Eugene Perma Paris.
Also utilizing plant extracts is the Alterna Hemp with Organics line, which contains certified-organic botanicals of avocado, cranberry, cucumber and white tea to deliver essential nutrients to hair and organic hemp seed oil to strengthen it and help preserve these nutrients.
Developing haircare products that are both good for the hair and safe for the environment is Aetó Botanica's philosophy. "We have a partnership with the farmers who harvest the botanicals we use to make sure we only use botanicals that come from sustainable sources," Dovas says. The line's Bamboo & Yucca Fortifying Shampoo and Bamboo & Hibiscus Fortifying Conditioner feature extracts of yucca glauca, hibiscus and bamboo that help strengthen and moisturize damaged hair. "We researched what the old tribes and civilizations used to heal disorders and then brought those ingredients into our products to create a strictly curative and strengthening line," Dovas says.
KIS shampoos, conditioners and styling products also help strengthen hair with the Omega-SPA Complex, which consists of flaxseed and walnut extracts, both packed with essential omega-3 and omega-6 to promote a healthy scalp and hair. Tibetan goji berry helps fight the effects of the sun, chemicals and the environment, while preserving the color and health of the hair.
Moisturizing is crucial to achieving healthy, shiny hair, and there are many botanical ingredients that can help. The Aveda Men Pure-formance line of haircare and styling products contain a variety of botanicals to deliver superior results and address the specific needs of men. Pure-formance Shampoo contains certified-organic oils of spearmint, vetiver and lavender to soothe and relieve scalp irritation while conditioning and moisturizing hair.
Olive oil, widely known for its skin-restoring and-moisturizing benefits, is a key ingredient in the CHI Organics Olive Nutrient Therapy line, where it provides these same benefits to the hair. The shampoos, conditioners, treatments, and styling and finishing products also contain 12 other beneficial organic nutrients, including basil, lemongrass, peppermint, black cumin seed, thyme and watercress, which enhance the effect of the olive oil.
Abba Pure Performance Hair Care products contain an Herbal Protein Complex that features proteins and extracts to help rebuild and strengthen hair internally and externally. Abba's newest additions are Herbal Remedy Leave-In Treatments that work to penetrate the hair shaft and hydrate the cuticle. Soy proteins in Herbal Remedy Color Protect, for example, help to strengthen and rebuild chemically treated and fragile hair; palm oil in Herbal Remedy Moisture deeply moisturizes hair to improve its manageability; and wheat proteins in Herbal Remedy Volume provide volume and strength while hydrating the hair's cuticle.
Several companies incorporate mint into their products for its invigorating and refreshing qualities. The Keune So Pure Natural Balance line is made with all-natural botanicals to keep hair silky, smooth and refreshed. The line includes Refreshing Hairbath and Refreshing Caring Emulsion, which contain a blend of essential oils like rosewood and peppermint to leave hair and scalp with a relaxed and refreshing feeling. Also utilizing the refreshing, stimulating and energizing benefits of peppermint is Redken For Men Mint Clean Invigorating Shampoo and Cool Finish Invigorating Conditioner. Similarly, Back to Basics Fresh Mint Energizing Shampoo and Conditioner is infused with mint, gingko biloba and lemongrass to cleanse and energize the pores of the scalp and soothe and nourish the hair.
Lack of hydration can leave hair brittle and dry, but products with botanicals in them can help hydrate hair and leave it shiny and soft. Eufora Hydrating Shampoo contains certified-organic aloe vera gel, as well as extracts of rosemary, chamomile, yarrow, hops, horse chestnut, lemon and passionflower to cleanse hair and deliver nutrients, proteins and moisture.
Infused with organic ingredients and Micro Emulsion Technology, P2 Smart Styling Treatments from Philip Pelusi style hair while nourishing, hydrating and protecting it from fading. Botanicals found in the line's products include aloe leaf extract, soy, sugar cane, red algae, blackberry, grape seed, sage, green tea and sunflower.
Botanical ingredients in Sexy Hair Healthy Sexy Hair Pumpkin Potion Leave-In Conditioner With Ginger Root help to revitalize dry, brittle and damaged hair. Part of the complete Healthy Sexy Hair Pumpkin collection, the product contains a combination of pumpkin enzymes and ginger root, plus safflower and jojoba seed oils to mend split ends.
Botanicals have proven to be effective sources in treating hair disorders like dandruff. The products in the Biolage Scalptherapie Antidandruff line from Matrix help rid the scalp of flakes, dryness and irritation with the exclusive Bio-Cushion Complex, consisting of a combination of green tea to tone and soothe the scalp, mallow root to care for color-treated hair, and water droplets that form a protective cushion against stress irritants.
PureOlogy DandruffScalpCure Shampoo and HairCondition contain a certified-organic botanical blend of mushrooms, green tea and burdock root to calm and soothe the scalp while protecting, strengthening and hydrating hair. —NICOLE PALMIERI