Where Are All The "Clean" Hair Care Brands?


Why isn't the clean beauty space booming with hair care the same way it is with skin care and cosmetics?

So, one morning I was having breakfast with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Okay, fine, it wasn't a one-on-one breakfast (though one can dream), but I was sitting at a large breakfast table with a slew of other beauty editors and a handful of Goop-ers to celebrate Paltrow's latest collagen powder launch. That's when I overheard her talking to a fellow colleague about how there is a serious lack of truly "clean" (meaning, environmentally friendly and free of potentially damaging ingredients) hair care brands that exist. And, well, she was absolutely right.

While, yes, a number of big names in conventional hair care are beginning to exclude the ingredients such as sulfates (preservatives, potential irritants, and the chemicals responsible for making your shampoo sudsy) and parabens (also preservatives, and potential endocrine disruptors) that lurk in your typical shampoo and conditioner bottles, the number of transparent hair care brands is a far cry from the amount of likeminded cosmetic and skin-care brands on the market today.

So, I turned to the experts in clean hair care, from the brains behind some of the most trusted clean beauty retailers to the founders of clean and ingredient-transparent brands on the market today, to find out why this aspect of the industry is still lacking—and why that's something we should care about.

First things first, what's the problem with many conventional hair care products? Roman Gaillard, founder of Detox Market, explains: "There is an expectation for instant gratification in hair care, so a lot of conventional products are loaded with silicones, propylene glycol, and PEGs [petroleum-based compounds] for instant softness—though hair isn't actually any more moisturized—harsh sulfates for a squeaky-clean feeling, and strong synthetic scents. These make it feel like a product is working, but it's not really going to give results long-term."

And when it comes to these questionable ingredients, it's also not just a matter of rinsing them right out of your hair—the products you use on your hair are still absorbed through the scalp. "Hair health starts with scalp health, and your scalp is your skin," says Paul Michaux, co-founder and VP of product for customizable and transparent hair care brand Prose. "It's important to be conscious of the ingredients going onto it."

So, if the conventional hair brands are lacking in clean ingredients that are good for your scalp (and, thus, you), why is there still such a gap in the market when you compare it to the amount of, let's say, fully organic and natural facial oils available at a range of price points?

"In short, I think, it's because of a lot of confusion and conflicting customer demands," says Mia David, Credo Beauty's director of mission:

Natural, clean-focused consumers are often looking for "sulfate-free" and "silicone-free" products. Those classes of ingredients are really big, though—there are dozens of silicones, and most people are hard-pressed to actually categorize or list "sulfates" beyond sodium lauryl [or laureth] sulfate. It seems many folks are using two terms interchangeably—"surfactant," which is an ingredient used to create lather or foam, and "sulfates." The consumer concerns include that "sulfates" can strip the hair, or, in the case of ethoxylated surfactants like sodium laureth sulfate, might be contaminated with trace amounts of 1,4-dioxane, which is a carcinogen. Concerns with silicones are that they can weigh the hair down, or that they are bad for the environment because they can sneak past water treatment facilities and get into waterways.
I think that the truth here is somewhere in the middle. Chemicals have different functions, benefits, and risks, and some chemical makers are more responsible than others—and therefore, might have a better, cleaner, safer material. And, of course, not every user is the same—some people are sensitive to certain "sulfates" but most are not. This makes it hard for consumers to know what is what and hard for companies to decide which path to take when formulating products.

Michelle Connelly, director of merchandising and planning at Credo, adds that, in some ways, consumers have (up until recently) given less thought to hair care when it comes to going clean. "I think consumers have de-prioritized hair care because it's a rinse-off product and not sitting on their skin all day, so there may have been a perception that it's less important versus skin care or makeup. Lower demand from consumers would lead to slower innovation by manufacturers."

And let's not forget that, for brands—from emerging to massive and established, and across all beauty categories—the cost of producing a product is always a huge factor. "The hair care industry makes a lot of money from conventional products that are made with chemicals and synthetics," says Mordechai Alvow, founder of clean hair care brand Yarok Hair. "They can last on the shelf up to four years, and they are low-cost to produce."

In addition to higher costs, what it comes down to is that these clean hair care brands really have to get it right in order to be successful. As Gaillard explained, that conventional products give instant gratification without long-term results, naturals will, simply put, actually have to work in both the instant and long-term. "You can't cut corners with natural ingredients," he says. "You can't hide behind any synthetics. So these clean hair formulas have to be very thoughtful to go up against conventional."

But, as Connelly explains, the future of clean hair care is looking bright, and the demand for products that are free of potentially harmful ingredients and are transparent, sustainably produced, and overall eco-friendly is rapidly growing.

And the doors for brands to launch and thrive are wide open. "There is a huge opportunity in the clean hair care market," says Connelly. "We're seeing many new brands launching that are free of sulfates and/or silicones, but very few that actually completely meet Credo's Clean Standard [a list of ingredients to omit that many clean beauty brands follow]. The clean hair care market is underdeveloped compared to skin care, makeup, and even fragrance. I am sure that we will see more new and clean brands come to market in the next couple of years, and see some of the cleaner brands that currently exist push to remove common ingredients like PEGs."

However, it's not just the brands out there that need to held accountable for what they put into their products, and the consumers (finally) beginning to demand clean hair care—there needs to be support from the major retailers carrying these products, too. "It's one thing for brands to create clean products and hold themselves accountable, but without support of retailers it would do us no good," says Shane Wolf, founder of Seed Phytonutrients. "Partnerships like Sephora and the remarkable work they're doing by implementing the Clean at Sephora program is a huge step in the right direction."

So, will we soon see the market for clean, natural hair care—including accessible price points—thriving as much as skin care and cosmetics? As long as consumers continue to demand it, brands continue to innovate, and retailers show support, it's only a matter of time.

Screenshot via YouTube

And I need to see the rest ASAP

As excited as we already are for Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, to hit theaters next week, we just got even more desperate to see it. Why? Well, the first six minutes of the film were just released, and every minute is incredible.

The film opens on Molly (Beanie Feldstein) meditating and listening to a motivational tape telling her she's better than everyone else, and to "fuck those losers." Her room is decorated with pictures of Michelle Obama and RBG, so we know her head is in the right place. We learn she's the class president when she arrives at school with her best friend, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever).

It's there that we get a glimpse of the social hierarchy in which Molly and Amy exist—but somewhere down near the bottom, way below the popular kids, the theater nerds, the stoners, and even the annoying class clown.

The film officially hits theaters on May 23, but Annapurna Pictures is holding advanced screenings across the country today, May 17—we're actually holding two of them! So, if you're in L.A. or New York, check them out.

But also, you can watch the first six minutes of the film, below, and prepare yourself to watch the whole movie in a week.

BOOKSMART | Uncut First 6 Minutes

Photo by Rich Polk/ Getty

Her hypocrisy would be mind-blowing if it weren't so predictable

It's been just over two years since Tomi Lahren appeared on ABC's The View to assert that, despite her ultra-conservative bona fides, she holds one position more normally associated with the left wing: She's pro-choice. In that talk show appearance, Lahren made clear then that her pro-choice views were consonant with her self-identification as a "constitutionalist," further explaining:

I am someone that's for limited government. So I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government but I think the government should decide what women should do with their bodies." I can sit here and say that as a Republican, and I can say, "You know what? I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well."

Back then, we noted the hypocrisy inherent to that position, since Lahren was an ardent supporter of President Trump—who made no secret of his desire to appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and other judicial benches—and Vice-President Pence, whose anti-abortion views are even more ardent.

Since Lahren's appearance on The View, she has appeared in the anti-abortion film Roe v. WadeRoe v. Wade, which co-starred fellow execrable conservative troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, and, um, Joey Lawrence. Though the film has not yet been released, it is alleged to contain "several graphic scenes depicting aborted fetuses," and also the acting styles of Jamie Kennedy, so we're not sure for whom it will really be appropriate.

But while Lahren's role in that film would be enough to make anyone question just how committed she is to her alleged pro-choice stance, the recent news about de facto abortion bans in Alabama and Georgia has incited Lahren to speak out about her views once again.

On Twitter, Lahren opened herself up to "attack[s] by [her] fellow conservatives" and spoke out against the Alabama abortion ban as being "too restrictive." And, indeed, her "fellow conservatives" did quickly attack Lahren for not actually caring about human life, and for having too liberal a position on whether or not a woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy that resulted from rape. But then also, as Lahren must have known would happen, other people supported her for... not having one irredeemably monstrous position amongst her arsenal of irredeemably monstrous positions.

But, let's be clear: Tomi Lahren is not—no matter what she tweets—pro-choice, and neither is any supporter of the Republican Party. There is no doubt that there are Republicans who are in favor of safe access to abortion—particularly when it comes to themselves and their family members having said access. But by supporting the Republican Party, they are showing how little it actually matters to them, and showing what it is that they really prioritize over women's safety and freedom: namely, access to guns, bigoted immigration policies, the continued disenfranchisement of voters across the country. I could go on, but there's no need.

Lahren's tweet doesn't reveal in any way that she's an advocate for women's rights, all it reveals is her hypocrisy and that of anyone (Meghan McCain, hi), who would love to have a world created specifically for their needs, and who is willing to sacrifice the rights of the less privileged in order to secure their own. It is despicable and dangerous and incredibly predictable. But, at least, it might give Lahren something to talk about on the red carpet with her fellow anti-abortion movie costars, if that film ever gets more than a straight-to-video release.

If you want to find out how to help women have access to abortion, please visit here for information about donating and volunteering.

Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty also appear

Lil Nas X went all out with the visuals for his hit "Old Town Road," tapping all of his newfound collaborators and friends, like Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty, to star. The movie travels from 1889 Wild Wild West to the modern-day city outskirts, so saddle up and come along for the ride.

As the visuals start, Nas and Cyrus gallop away with a bag of loot, obviously having pulled off a heist. The trio of men on horseback that were in pursuit of them come to a halt, unable to catch up, and Chris Rock—the leader of the group—states, "When you see a Black man on a horse going that fast, you just gotta let him fly." Just as Nas and Cyrus think they're able to relax in stranger's home, it turns out the homeowner isn't so friendly. Nas jumps into a hole to escape, only to end up hundreds of years in the future on the other side.

Forget trying to figure out the logistics of time travel, and just embrace the hilarity of Nas' horse also having wound up there, and in peak racing condition. He impresses the locals not only in the race (with Vince Staples losing money in a bet against him) but with his sweet square dancing skills. Once he and Cyrus (yes, he time traveled too) trade out their old-timey duds for some fresh, rhinestone-adorned outfits, they enter a room playing bingo with Rico Nasty in it. Diplo is playing the washboard, I feel like I'm losing my mind, and this is probably the best music video I've watched this year.

Watch the movie for "Old Town Road" again and again, below.

Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (Official Movie) ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

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Screenshot via YouTube

They really "don't care" about how this was edited, do they?

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber used the name of their song as inspiration for the "I Don't Care" music video, and have presented what is essentially a long blooper reel of the pair messing around with a green screen.

The visuals show how dedicated the two are to proving just how much they don't care, because I'm pretty sure they did the editing on this video as well. They dance around in costumes, as an ice cream cone, a panda, a teddy bear, and more. I have a clear vision of Bieber and Sheeran raiding a costume shop just an hour before setting up a tripod and going to town on this one. They also juxtapose their faces on top of a ballerina, a skydiver, and a corn inside the husk.

Blink, and you'll miss the funniest moment of all in the video: Ed Sheeran gets married to a cardboard cutout of a young Bieber with swoopy hair.

Watch the visuals for "I Don't Care" below.

Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care [Official Video]

Photo by Jena Cumbo

Her new LP, 'Take Me to the Disco,' is her most personal work yet

Meg Myers isn't afraid to admit she's still figuring out who she wants to be. Originally from Tennessee, Myers moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to dedicate her life to her music career. In 2012, she released her first EP, Daughter in the Choir, which set the groundwork for the releases of Sorry (2015) and Take Me to the Disco (2018). Well-known for her poetic lyrics, crude vocals, and cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," the honest singer-songwriter makes a point to tell me that self-acceptance is a process. After listening to her deeply personal LP, Take Me to the Disco, I know she's not wrong.

In the middle of producing her new forthcoming music, the star opens up to NYLON: "I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art. Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free." It's clear that it is this fearlessness to self-reflect that not only makes her body of work so authentic but also what motivates her to continue to grow.

Below, we speak with Myers about her new music, self-love, and her ever-evolving relationship with creativity.

The Great Eros Pants, Chae New York top, Schutz shoes, and Via Saviene rings. Photos by Jena Cumbo

How did moving to Los Angeles influence the artist you are today?
I feel more safe here. I've been tapping more into my truth and expressing myself on a deeper level here. Growing up, my family was very chaotic, and I never knew what was about to happen. I have four brothers and a sister, and we grew up basically as best friends, making fun out of the chaos and always creating some type of art from it. I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art.

Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free.

What are some of your biggest influences?
I think all the barbecue and shrimp and grits [in Tennessee] really adds a smokiness to my music.

My queerness gives me a lot of material to create with. It's allowing me to be more playful and not take every little thing so seriously.

Silk Laundry jumpsuit, Wild Vertigga T-shirt, and Nakamol earring.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Tell me about your new music. Why is it different than anything you've ever created?
This EP is going to have a lot of similar vibes to my last album, because I wrote it at the same time with the same producer about a lot of the same struggles and self-discoveries as my past music. I'll share more with you on my third album.

I'm such a fan of your cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." Why did you gravitate toward that song to cover?
It's such a powerful song! Kate Bush is magic. It's almost like I've been being guided to cover that song for a long time. I don't know how to explain it in words, as they can feel so limiting, and this song is beyond words to me. It's just a deep inner knowing, and it makes my heart flutter.

Chae NewYork blazer; Saku top, The Great Eros bottoms, and Inch2 boots.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Are there any other songs you feel really connected to?
I would love to collaborate with Active Child. The songs "Hanging On" and "Johnny Belinda" are also otherworldly to me. I've been listening to this band called Walk the Moon a lot. I also love Phoebe Bridgers. I have a crush on her. I generally listen to instrumental music and classical. If you look up 432hz music, it's incredibly healing, and solfeggio frequencies have helped me with a lot.

What does self-love mean to you?
It's been a process for me. It's been quite the journey. Right now, I would say [self-love for me] is about accepting myself, and having love for all the experiences that have led me to where I am. It also means being grateful for growth. It's also been about learning to be in the present moment. It's been learning to trust myself and not listening to what others think I need to be doing. As I learn to do this, I also learn how to love others deeper. All this being said, it's a process.

Chae New York blazer and Saku top.Photo by Jena Cumbo

What advice do you have for someone struggling to find happiness right now?
Spend some time in solitude if you can, or with a really safe person who you feel you can express yourself freely with. Find someone who has no expectations of you and is supportive. In that present moment, ask yourself, What feels good to you? What do you feel like doing? Use your imagination. Daydream. Find what it is you enjoy doing. I promise you can unlock magic inside yourself. It just takes patience.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.