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Contact EPA Pacific Southwest

Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Healthy Hair Care and the Environment

Natural Alternatives

One way to avoid potential health effects from chemical ingredients in products is to use common natural ingredients such as shea butter and olive oil to make natural alternatives.  If you make your own products, take extra precaution if you are allergic to ingredients such as avocados or nuts. Natural recipes tend to have a shorter shelf life since they do not contain preservatives, so to prolong their use you can store them in your refrigerator.

There are many natural healthy hair ingredients including:

shea butter

Shea Butter comes from a tree native to Africa which has soothing, moisturizing and protecting effects. It is also known as Butyrospermum Parkii. It displays a protective role against UV rays because of its cinnamic acid content. Shea Butter returns luster to skin and hair, and also protects the skin and scalp, especially in over-processed and/or heat treated hair.

Chamomile is a member of the daisy family and is an herb that purifies, calms and soothes with virtually no adverse effects so it can be used for long periods of time. The active ingredients in chamomile are called essential oils and flavonoids and are good for healing skin and scalp irritations.

Sunflower Oil has high amounts of Vitamins A, B, D and E, minerals, lecithin, insulin, and unsaturated fatty acids and is an excellent moisturizer because of its emollients. Emollients are known to soften skin and hair without leaving an oily residue.


Avocado Oil is a rich heavy oil, more penetrating than most oils. It is therefore good for dry hair and skin. The oil is obtained from the pulp of the avocado pear and has a deep green color. It is a stable, natural oil, rich in vitamin E. Avocado also contains Vitamins A, B1, B2, D, and Beta carotene. It is classified as monosaturated oil and is best suited for dry hair and skin.

Witch Hazel is extracted from the bark and leaves of the Hamamelis tree and is an astringent and gentle cleanser which removes build-up on the hair as well as the scalp; it also helps to fight dandruff.

olive oil

Olive Oil is obtained directly from the olive after it has been harvested. It is made into a paste from which the oil is collected. Olive oil conditions and improves the strength and elasticity of the hair, helping to prevent breakage. It's also very good for "frizzy" and/or damaged hair.

Honey naturally attracts and holds moisture. It is also a natural antiseptic and contains antioxidants. Honey is packed with vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, sulphur, iron, zinc and vitamins B1, B2, B3, which aid in hair growth. It can be added to conditioners, rinses and pomades.

aloe vera plant

Known as the true or medicinal aloe, Aloe Vera is a species of succulent plants now widely used as a moisturizer and can also be used as a gel to re-twist locked hair. Aloe Vera is also used for soothing the skin, and keeping the skin moist while eliminating the risk of flaky scalp in harsh and dry weather.

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