Clean, Natural + Non-Toxic Hair Detangler & Leave-In Conditioner For Kids

Is combing your child’s hair a constant battle with tangles and tears? My top 4 picks for hair detangler and leave-in conditioner for kids are all clean, natural and non-toxic, and they make combing tangles out of hair so easy! Whether you use a hair detangler or a leave-in conditioner on your little one’s hair, all of the tangle-free hair products below are free from harmful chemicals and will leave your child’s hair soft, shiny and easy to comb.

Mom Combing Daughter's Hair

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Thick, thin, kinky, curly – no matter what type of hair your child has, running a comb through wet hair can be a challenge. That’s where detangling sprays and leave-in conditioners come in handy.

Although my 16 year-old daughter conditioners her hair in the shower after shampooing, her hair still gets snarled in a comb if she doesn’t use a detangling spray. I always buy hair products for her that don’t contain ingredients with the potential to cause health issues.

I’ve rounded up 10 clean and natural detangling sprays and leave-in conditioners that make hair easier to comb and also have ingredients I feel good about using on my daughter’s hair.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DETANGLING SPRAY AND LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER

  • Detangling spray and leave-in conditioner both work in the same manner – conditioning agents in both products are electrically charged and stick to the outer layer of hair (the cuticle) to evenly coat it. This smoothes out the cuticle, resulting in tangle-free combing.
  • A detangling spray smoothes the hair shaft by filling splits and breaks, reducing friction between each hair strand. This makes tangles easier to break apart.
  • Leave-in conditioners contain more conditioning agents than hair detanglers. A leave-in conditioner nourishes and fortifies the hair shaft and boosts strand strength.
  • The takeaway is that leave-in conditioners can detangle your hair, but detanglers don’t always condition your hair.

WHAT INGREDIENTS TO AVOID IN HAIR DETANGLER & LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER

  • Parabens– Parabens are a type of preservative used to prevent the growth of bacteria and prolong the shelf life of lip balm, deodorant, lotion, and other beauty products. The most commonly used are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben and butylparaben. Based on a study conducted at the University of California Berkeley, researchers found that parabens were able to stimulate breast cancer cell growth, even at concentrations 100 times lower than the natural growth factor heregulin. These findings suggest that paraben exposure doesn’t have to be high to lead to cancer growth (1).
  • Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives– Diazolidinyl urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, DMDM hydantoin, methenamine and quarternium-15 are formaldehyde-releasing preservatives found in skin care products and cosmetics. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen as well as a skin irritant (2).
  • Polyethylene glycol– Polyethylene glycol is used to make personal care products thicker and better able to transport moisture to the skin. The manufacturing process introduces impurities and by-products, such as ethylene oxides and 1,4-dioxane, which are known carcinogenic materials (3).
  • Triethanolamine– Triethanolamine is used to alter the pH of hair care products and acts as an emulsifier to help other ingredients mix together better. Exposure can lead to irritation of the skin and eyes as well as asthma and allergic reactions (4).
  • Synthetic fragrance– Synthetic Fragrance may contain hundreds of ingredients, some of which are carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, allergens, respiratory irritants and neurotoxic chemicals (5). Synthetic musks like galaxolide and tonalide, are linked to hormone disruption (6). Fragrance formulations also contain phthalates, which are hormone disruptors (7).

I’ve rounded up 4 clean and natural hair detangling sprays and leave-in conditioners for kids below. All of them are safer choices to use on your child’s hair for easy combing, detangling knots and conditioning.

4 brands of hair detangler for kids

CLEAN + NATURAL DETANGLER & LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER FOR KIDS

Attitude Hair Detangler

Attitude Kids Hair Detangler

  • Cost: $6.74 for 8 fl oz or 240 ml ($0.84 per ounce)
  • EWG score: EWG Verified
  • From the Attitude website: Make brushing more enjoyable for you and your toddler with our new ATTITUDE little leaves™ kids detangler – Watermelon and Coco. Its natural and hypoallergenic formula is specially designed to tame tangled hair. The fine combination of blueberry leaves and beetroot extract, known for their antioxidant its conditioning virtues, will help protect and keeps your little one’s hair smooth and easy to style, naturally!
  • Shop: Attitude Kids Hair Detangler

California Baby Calming Hair Detangler

California Baby Calming Hair Detangler

  • Cost: $14 for 8 fl oz or 237 ml ($1.75 per ounce)
  • EWG score: 2
  • From the California Baby website: This spray makes brushing hair an effortless affair! Botanical extracts transform troublesome hair to soft, shiny, and manageable while lavender and clary sage essential oils leave a delightful scent. Free of harsh chemicals, PEGs, glycols, alcohol, silicones and synthetic fragrances
  • Shop: California Baby Calming Hair Detangler

Pipette Kids Leave-In Detangler0

Pipette Leave-In Detangler

  • Cost: $6.00 for 4.4 oz ($1.36 per ounce)
  • EWG score: EWG Verified
  • From the Pipette website: this weightless, silicone-free detangler for kids effortlessly loosens knots and snarls with zero residue or stickiness. Made with plant-derived squalane to nourish kids’ tender scalps, it’s designed and clinically tested for all hair types and textures and leaves hair tangle-free and moisturized—no rinsing required.
  • Shop: Pipette Leave-In Detangler

Carina Organics Leave-In Conditioner

Carina Organics Leave-In Conditioner

  • Cost: $19.83 for 8 fl oz ($2.48 per ounce)
  • EWG score: 1
  • From the Carina Organics website: A leave-in conditioner designed to naturally detangle your locks. Made with certified organic plant, vegetable, and fruit extracts. This nutrient rich, toxin-free, formulation helps to restore luster, softness, flexibility, and shine while it detangles.
  • Shop: Carina Organics Leave-In Conditioner

SHOP CLEAN + NATURAL DETANGLER & LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER FOR KIDS

TIPS FOR KEEPING HAIR FROM TANGLING

  • Before showering: Brush your child’s hair before they get into the bath or shower. If your child always has tangles while you shampoo, use a detangler before they get in the shower, then apply shampoo.
  • After showering: Apply detangler or leave-in conditioner to wet hair. Brush or comb wet hair by working from the bottom up. Start combing the bottom six inches of hair, starting with gentle strokes. When this section is detangled, move to the upper part of the hair until you reach the crown of the head.
  • Avoid brushing aggressively. Gently work out matted knots by spraying a detangler or conditioning treatment around the knot and gently working a comb or detangling brush through the tangle.
  • Regularly apply a hair conditioner to protect and nurture hair strands.

REFERENCES

  1. Pan S, Yuan C, Tagmount A, Rudel RA, Ackerman JM, Yaswen P, Vulpe CD, Leitman DC. 2016. Parabens and human epidermal growth factor receptor ligand cross-talk in breast cancer cells. Environ Health Perspect 124:563–569; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1409200
    https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp.1409200
  2. Congleton, J. Exposing The Cosmetics Cover-up: Is Cancer-Causing Formaldehyde In Your Cosmetics? Environmental Working Group (EWG).
    https://www.ewg.org/research/exposing-cosmetics-cover/formaldehyde-releasers
  3. Jang, H.J. et al. Safety Evaluation of Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) Compounds for Cosmetic Use. Toxicol Res. 2015 Jun; 31(2): 105–136.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4505343/
  4. National Toxicology Program, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services. NTP toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of triethanolamine (Cas No. 102-71-6) in B6C3F1 mice (dermal studies). Natl Toxicol Program Tech Rep Ser. 2004 May;(518):5-163. PMID: 15213765.
  5. Nudelman, J. and Engel, C. Right To Know. Exposing toxic fragrance chemicals in beauty, personal care and cleaning products. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and Campaign For Safe Cosmetics. Sept. 2018.
    https://d124kohvtzl951.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/26092837/BCPP_Right-To-Know-Report_Secret-Toxic-Fragrance-Ingredients_9_26_2018.pdf
  6. Synthetic Musks. Campaign For Safe Cosmetics. A Project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.
    http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/synthetic-musks/
  7. Patisaul, H.B. and Adawele, H.B. Long-Term Effects of Environmental Endocrine Disruptors on Reproductive Physiology and Behavior. Front Behav Neurosci. 2009; 3: 10.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2706654/

Mom combing her daughter's hair