Protect Your Hair: How to nourish it & feed it ... and what to avoid!

A couple of years ago I started to dabble in making hair care products in an effort to move away from chemical-laden shampoos and conditioners. Can they make your hair look shiny, bouncy and oh-so-soft? You betcha! But at a cost. Both to your heath AND to the environment – where all of the things we use in our showers and baths eventually end up.

Skin safe synthetic fragrances? Glitter? (GLITTER?!) Mica powders? No thanks! We want to feel clean after a bath, not covered in glitter and dyes. And once you pull the plug, all that glitter is destined for our ocean … AND its inhabitants. Our ocean is just too breathtakingly beautiful to fill with such junk. I mean, just LOOK at that wild, untamed beauty!

On my quest, I considered making solid shampoo soap bars. But knowing that pH is SO important hair health, I just couldn’t bring myself to jump on that bandwagon. Shampoo bar soaps have a natural pH of around 10 and your hair requires a pH between 4.5 - 5.5 to to remain healthy.  

Living in Bonavista means that we are surrounded by incredibly fragrant and vividly coloured wildflowers, seaweeds, roots, seeds, barks, lichens, clays (I could go on and on!) – all of which have unique scent profiles, textures, colours, and different skin and hair benefits. Plus, they're all waiting for their place in our product line-up.

Enter East Coast Glow Iceberg Water Daily Shampoo Gel and Conditioner! Both are made with an iceberg water solution of wild-crafted botanicals, pure peppermint and rosemary essential oils, and strengthening B vitamins, as well as baobab and oat proteins. We’ve used gentle, plant-based cleansers in our Shampoo Gel that won’t strip your hair – all while maintaining a stable, moisturizing lather that we’re all used to in a shampoo. The conditioner is rich, and loaded with lightweight camellia seed oil and baobab protein that will leave your hair luminous and conditioned without the use of any silicones or chemical additives. It’s pure luxury – naturally!

Many commercial shampoos and conditioners contain keratin – a protein which is great for your hair – but in commercially made products they are almost always animal based, using extreme heat to extract it from hooves, bones, and feathers. Yikes!

We’ve sourced high quality, completely plant-based phytokeratin, designed to strengthen your hair using the power of plants  no boiled hooves necessary! Phytokeratin is a highly insoluble protective protein composed of 18 amino acids, used to maintain the moisture balance of the hair. 

While some commercially made products do contain these ingredients, they are often negated with the addition of things you definitely do NOT want to see in your hair care routine.

What to Avoid in Your Hair Care Ritual


You've probably heard about sulfates… they are detergents that contribute the rich sudsy lather of your shampoo. They have been known to cause scalp irritation, redness, and itching. And they are totally unnecessary!

Ingredients to avoid: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate.


Silicones can certainly smooth unruly hair, but over time these synthetic polymers can build up on hair and prevent oils and moisture from entering the hair shaft. Eventually, you are left with more frizz than you started with! Luckily, phytokeratin and B vitamins are film forming on the hair shaft which will protect it and smooth out unruly kinks and frizz – without coating your hair in silicones!

Ingredients to avoid: Dimethicone, Amodimethicone, Cyclomethicone.


These preservatives will improve the shelf life of your shampoo but they may shorten yours. They have the ability to mimic estrogen and have been linked to some pretty nasty heath concerns. Always do your research!

Ingredients to avoid: Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, and Isobutylparaben


Waxes are added to shampoos to make them pearlescent. They will leave your hair feeling well-conditioned, but like silicones, they will build up on hair.

Ingredients to avoid: Glycol Disterate, Stearyl Stearate, Cetyl Palmitate, Lauryl Palmitate, Lanolin


This is confusing because there are moisturizing alcohols, but drying alcohols are often found in shampoos that offer a "deep" cleansing. They will remove unwanted oils and buildup, but they are incredibly drying and should be avoided. There are much healthier options for removing dirt and regulating oils.

Ingredients to avoid: Isopropyl Alcohol, SD Alcohol 40, Ethanol, Denatured Alcohol.


This moisturizer keeps products from melting and/or freezing. Unfortunately, it is also a known irritant to skin and eyes.

Ingredients to avoid: Propylene Glycol; 1,2-Dihydroxypropane; 2-Hydroxypropanol; Methyl Ethyl Glycol


These ingredients are used to stabilize the pH of shampoos. Not only are they known irritants and common allergens, they also become carcinogenic when they react with nitrates that are also often found in shampoos.

Ingredients to avoid: Diethanolamine (DEA), Monoethanolamine (MEA), and Triethanolamine (TEA)


In addition to smelling fake and overpowering, synthetic fragrances or perfumes usually indicate the presence of phthalates, another questionable additive. Phthalates are synthetic compounds used in plastics that disrupt the production of hormones, and that can cause a whole host of problems. It is very difficult to avoid them entirely, but minimizing your exposure is wise. Look for “fragrance or perfume” in the ingredients list and run in the opposite direction! Essential oils provide beautiful scent profiles without the toxic nasties of synthetic fragrances.


This may come as a surprise, but this known carcinogen is sometimes found in shampoos (especially baby shampoos!) as a preservative and anti-bacterial agent. This toxic ingredient is not directly added to formulas, but is formed by the addition of formaldehyde-releasers. 

Ingredients to avoid: Quaternium-15, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinly Urea, DMDM Hydantoin

Now that you have the information, you can make better choices – and go back to nature to nurture both your hair AND our environment! Score!

Happy showering! 




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