The Best Paraben & Sulfate-Free Summer Products

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Keeping things all natural in your beauty routine is a noble effort, but it can be tricky and rather time consuming. The only way to truly be sure that you're getting the maximum nutrients nature has to offer and avoiding any nasty chemicals is to make your own treatments. That's why I grow my own basil, mint leaves, and find myself purchasing two of everything at the grocery: One batch of coconut oil for my meals and one of course for my hair and skin. One avocado for my salads and one for my hair. One flask of vodka for a homemade Bloody Mary and one for a deep conditioner. Most of the items that are housed in my kitchen often have duplicates in my bathroom, and I can't count how many times that my rooomie has asked me where the baking soda is only to find out that it's all over my face.

I'm a keep it real with you, though: I do not make all my own products. As much fun as making mango butter is, it's summer and the last place I want to be is in my stuffy kitchen extracting oil from fruit over a hot stove. Luckily, there some companies out there that are also about that natural life. Now, I'd be lying if I said I didn't put down a product because I couldn't find the label "Cruelty-Free," but the main thing I look for in a beauty product is a label marked "Paraben-Free" and "Sulfate-Free."

Parabens are preservatives that are used often in beauty products to prevent bacteria and stop fungal and other microbal growth. Now, that doesn't sound so bad, does it? The thing is, these chemicals are easily absorbed through the skin and get into your digestive system. It has been reported that parabens have been found in breast tumors and are known to disrupt hormone function, thus backing many of us on that natural beauty craze. Sulfates are used most commonly to remove grease and oil build-up in hair care products, which may sound awesome, but they also have been commonly linked to cancer (yes, like most things), and promote hair loss. Mineral oil is something that should also be avoided, especially in kinky hair, as the name "mineral oil" is the only natural thing about it. Kinky hair is naturally dry, it's important to keep our scalp producing natural oil and mineral oil has been known to effect the moisture of our skin and hair follicles in a negative way.

Chances are, if you are already putting dyes, relaxers, or other chemicals in your hair, it's not a huge deal to add some of these chemicals into your regimen, but be aware that even though the levels in each product may be monitored, the levels that you are taking in individually can only be monitored by you.

Don't start fretting, if you have a stand-by beauty product that you use and it contains some of the above chemicals, it's probably not the end of the world. It's using multiple products on the reg that may have you in trouble in the long run. Not only that, but there are certain products that are made by some stand-up companies that I swear by in my hair care regimen. These companies make products that promote healthy hair instead of keeping you coming back for more when you aren't seeing the advertised results. They're cheap and as effective as anything my clever little hands could whip up. For me, antiseptic oils keep my hair shiny and clean for the most part, but after a BBQ or a hanging out on a smoky patio during the summer months, I sometimes need a hefty shampoo that will get all those funky odors out of my 'do.

Here are a few sulfate and paraben-free products that I just can't live without this summer.

Shea Moisture

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African Black Soap Body Wash, $11, Amazon

The adorable and heart-warming story on the back of the bottle should sell you, but if it doesn't know that the African Black Soap Body Wash is the biz. It's super gentle and using it daily eliminates body acne, random blackheads, and dry skin.


Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo, $9, Amazon; Giovanni Direct Leave-In Conditioner, $10, Amazon; Giovanni Invigorating Tea Tree Triple Threat Conditioner, $14, Amazon

I stumbled upon Giovanni's Leave-In conditioner only a few weeks after the big chop. I really lucked out because the sales guy at Ricky's suggested it to me after pulling a few coils out of my hair to assess my pattern. Little did I know, I would completely fall in love with this product line. I use the Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Shampoo and Conditioner, and I like to add my castor oil to the conditioner to get some bonus moisture in my 'fro. That detangling leave-in conditioner tho? I can't even...

Jane Carter Solutions

Jane Carter Solution Seal and Shine, $13, Amazon; Jane Carter Solution Restore Moisture Mist, $16, Amazon

The day I can come up with a sealant that is moisturizing and does not give my 'fro that dreaded shrinkage is the day I will have ripped off Jane Carter Solutions. This is definitely a light sealant, which makes it ideal for looser curl patterns or daily spritzes throughout the day.

The best part about these products? They're for all skin and hair types and they are made to keep our skin and hair its healthiest. Check out more natural faves over at Black Girl Long Hair!