Cruelty-Free Hair Care

Welcome to the first in a series of reviews on Cruelty-Free beauty products I’ve tried and tested! The support from the post On Going Cruelty-Free and the List of Cruelty-Free Brands was amazing so I thought I’d share what works for me.

We’re starting at the very top, with hair care. Here’s a selection products I’ve given a try and my general consensus on whether they really work…or not so much. From local gems and international big brands, with a traditional remedy popped in for good measure, my hair care routine has evolved to contain a bit of everything.  When I shop around for haircare products of any kind, the first thing I think about is my very sensitive scalp and the second is the very treated condition of my hair. Keep that in mind if I go off on a bleach related tangent!

Shampoo & Conditioner

The Body Shop‘s Rainforest Radiance range is free of parabens, sulphates and colourants, it promises to ‘gently cleanse to remove dulling residues for prolonged colour radiance’. This shampoo doesn’t foam up like a traditional shampoo- you have to rub it between your palms to create a lather then apply it to wet hair. I liked this shampoo but I did develop product build up about three-quarters of the way through the bottle. The Rainforest Radiance Hair Butter is technically classed as a treatment, not a conditioner but I went for the more luxurious option. I mean, it’s like body butter for your hair. It softens and nourishes hair intensely. So much so that I’ve bought it again since my first purchase.

The African Organic’s brand has ethics that stand out. They use locally sourced ingredients that are biodegradable and work with programmes that help people and the environment both locally and abroad. The Mongongo range is made for treated hair, using oil pressed from the Mongongo seed which forms a protective layer of the hair shaft in UV light. I love the Mongongo Shampoo but the Baobab Conditioner didn’t give my hair enough moisture and nourishment. I do want to try out the Marula Hair Treatment Oil and if they come out with a hair mask, I’d buy it too. You can find the brand at Dischem.

I found Nature’s Gate at Dischem and was super excited because of positive reviews about the US brand. Nature’s Gate Chamomile and Lemon Verbena for Dry and Damaged hair is my favourite cruelty-free shampoo and conditioner so far! Not harsh on my scalp, leaves my hair soft, gets me tons of compliments after every wash. Ticking lots of boxes here! The formula is paraben free, sulphate free and vegan. It’s also friendly on the pocket at a reasonable R99 per bottle.

The Stylist's Notebook Creulty-Free Hair Care


ColorpHlex  is a salon treatment that uses “a naturally derived vegetable protein molecule that penetrates the hair, reinforcing bonds during the color and bleach process”. I’m sceptical of any product that throws around words like repair and rebuild in relation to hair. Split ends are split and can’t get put back together, right? This treatment had me eating humble pie because really worked for me. I’m not going to go into the chemistry behind it because Science has never been my strong suit and I could end up saying something completely nonsensical. With the help of my colourist, I’ve been using the two-step process every six to eight weeks since December. ColorpHlex has slowed down the breakage to keep my hair long and healthy since.

Awaphui Keratin Rinse and Awaphui Intensive Treatment  are my most opulent hair care purchases but they are worth the pretty penny. The Keratin Rinse was formulated to be used with the Awaphui Moisturising Lather Shampoo (not pictured). This is important because if you use the wrong shampoo, the amount of protein in the Keratin Rinse could leave hair feeling brittle. I used the rinse bi-weekly with the deep conditioning properties of the Awaphui Intensive Treatment  in between and it left my hair silky and feeling strong.

Pureology Split End Repair is applied to the end of damp or towel dry hair before styling- or air drying if you’re feeling super committed to protecting your locks. I started using this before playing around with bleach, even then I had split ends. This product doesn’t weight down hair which is useful for styling- more weight on hair means less bounce and hold. Paul Mitchell Awaphui and Pureology are available at selected salons nationwide.

Jojoba Oil has been used for centuries by Native Americans and is my hair oil of choice. I tried coconut oil but it left the mid length of my fine hair looking limp and greasy, even after trying out different ways to rinse it out. Jojoba oil is a nice alternative. Sometimes I add a few drops to shampoo although my favourite is an overnight soak. I add about 6-7 drops of lavender oil to a tablespoon of jojoba oil and apply root to tip. The next morning I shampoo and condition like normal. Essential oils like jojoba and lavender oil are available at most good pharmacies and health shops.


I’m not good at styling hair. Blow drying I can do… A few different styles of soft braids get me by. Curling hair is enough to make me super nervous and I normally get the tension of the curling iron wrong or get curls with sharp edges. This coupled with my naturally straight hair (thanks mother nature!) means I avoid heat styling as much as possible. That being said, here’s what I use with my basic af skills.

Fudge Urban is a cruelty-free brand from Australia. I heard about it when one of their sponsored hair stylist’s recommended a few products. Urban Fudge Straight Hair Stuff protects from heat damage and reduces frizz. To introduce texture and volume, the Fudge Urban Sea Salt Spray is a winner. It doesn’t have a huge hold factor, so waves stay touchable- not crunchy.

Got any Cruelty-Free hair products you love? Share your favourites in the comments section!

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