With vegans now making up 2.5 percent of the population (and almost all of them having hair in some form or another that needs taming), it makes sense that the vegan hair care market is booming. Besides that, plenty of people who still choose to eat meat and other animal products often don’t want to put animal byproducts on their hair. Vegan hair products aren’t just for the omnivores among us — these natural products offer a little something for everyone.
It may be easier to find the vegan-certified label on your favorite hair care products these days, but choosing totally vegan products still takes some homework. Erica Hariss, the mastermind behind the vegan Saving Grace Hair Powder — designed to cover roots and absorb oil and made with only four ingredients — recommends checking the PETA website first. PETA’s Animal Ingredients List organizes animal ingredients and their alternatives to help customers avoid these common ingredients in cosmetics, food and other products.
Hariss says, “I do know that to ‘qualify’ for some of the labels consumers are looking for these days — organic, vegan, no animal testing, etc. — you pay a company (usually nonprofit) to use their logo to represent what your particular product stands for. However, the fallacy in this is that many small or artisanal companies may actually be vegan, or not tested on animals, but not pay for usage of the icon that represents this on their packaging.”
Hariss recommends examining all product ingredient labels — and ignoring any marketing claims made on the front of the packaging — before you make your vegan hair care choice. She says, “Many of these artisanal brands tend to be made in small batches and crafted from natural ingredients that tend to be organic and often vegan. They are also often free from preservatives, additives, chemicals and synthetics.” The Ethical Elephant also provides a full breakdown of cruelty-free and vegan product labels and logos.
With a little digging, you can absolutely find a nourishing, natural and animal-friendly product to use on your hair. And for some of those hair woes that are tougher to tackle, we’ve got just the vegan hair products to do the trick.
For frizzy hair
Giovanni Direct Leave In-Conditioner is the curly-headed (and sometimes frizzy-headed) vegan’s best friend. Enriched with certified organic botanicals and made with zero animal ingredients, the leave-in conditioner can help to moisturize, detangle, nourish and restore hair strength. (Naturally Curly, $8)
For dry/damaged hair
While dry and damaged hair can benefit from the basic frizz treatment listed above, you may need some extra help to manage your frazzled locks about town. Original Moxie’s Twist Mist Lightweight Shine is our fave hair manager, made with great-smelling essential oils that help to deodorize and tone the scalp. The vegan shine spray can be applied to dry hair after heat styling or in dry climates to smooth flyaways. (Curlmart, $20)
For oily hair
“Finding vegan hair care products that actually work with all hair types has been a challenge,” Christine Deehring, owner of the pregnancy subscription box service Bump Boxes, says. “My go-to has been Acure’s Clarifying Shampoo and Conditioner. Acure’s Dry Shampoo is the perfect solution for oily hair. It works on all hair types and is a necessity for a busy mom!” (Amazon, $10 – $13)
For color-treated hair
Color-treated hair repair normally means pulling out the big guns in the form of more chemicals that aim to make overprocessed hair all better. We suggest trying vegan oils instead. Argan Oil Hair Repair can address frizz and add volume, using natural vegan oils to fill in cracks and fissures that may come after multiple color treatments. (Amazon, $16)
For limp hair
Yes, vegans can use styling products too — and Rusk Wired Flexible Styling Crème is one of our top picks for hair that’s feeling kind of flat. Used on wet hair, the crème can help to maintain moisture while blow-drying. And when applied to dry hair, you’ll get a nice little lift, plus some shine and extra body. Pureology also makes a cruelty-free and vegan blow-dry amplifier to improve body and bounce. (Target, $14 – $24)
Originally published May 2011. Updated Aug. 2016.