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 10 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

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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 10 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. Both the SheaMoisture and Alaffia detanglers work best for hair that’s dry and kinky. Ingredients for all of the hair detangling products are listed at the end of this post, and product cost is subject to change.

10 brands of Clean + Natural Hair Detangler & Leave-In Conditioner For Kids

CLEAN + NATURAL DETANGLER & LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER FOR KIDS

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!
  • My Take: This detangler has a subtle sweet melon scent that I really liked. The scent appeals to both kids and adults. I had no problems running a comb through my wet hair after applying, and I love that this product is EWG verified.

Clean Kids Naturally Banana Smoothie Leave-In Conditioner

  • Cost: $16.25 for 16 fl oz or 480 ml ($1.02 per ounce)
  • EWG Score: EWG Verified
  • From the Clean Kids Naturally website: Clean Kids Naturally Banana Smoothie Conditioner conditions and gently separates unruly tangles. Kiwi extract and Seaweed strengthen and protect children’s fine hair from the damaging effects of sun exposure, chlorine, and frequent brushing. A special botanical oil leaves hair silky, soft and shining. Free of: Gluten, Sulfates, Parabens, Phthalates, Fluoride/Glycol, Lanolin, Petrolatum, Mineral Oils, Coconut, Artificial Colors.

Fresh Monster Kids Hair Detangler

  • Cost: $9.99 for 8.5 fl oz or 251 ml ($1.18 per ounce)
  • EWG score: 3
  • From the Fresh Monster website: No more tears at bath time: Natural, safe formula is gentle on the eyes. Scented with all natural, fruit and botanical extracts for a refreshing, natural scent. Silky smooth, tangle free – our natural, moisturizing kids conditioner leaves hair soft, silky smooth and tangle-free. Super moisturizing & detangling – helps smooth away even the most monstrous tangles. Free of toxins, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, dyes, synthetic fragrances, BPA, gluten or soy. Comes with a goof-proof, re-closeable pump that lets kids take charge and makes travel a breeze.

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

do+ Little Detangler & Leave-In Conditioner Spray

  • Cost: $16.00 for 6.7 fl oz ($2.39 per ounce)
  • EWG score: 2
  • From the do+ Little website: The power of eco-friendly, toxin-free, pure beauty products: do+little is the Premium Natural Luxury Beauty brand that speaks to wellness with integrity. do+little products are Fortified with Botani-Milk Complex: our signature milky emulsion of plant extracts and oils that nourish and protect delicate hair and skin. Ingredients in do+little products are consciously sourced and formulated ENTIRELY FREE of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, petrochemicals, mineral oil, DEA, dioxanes, artificial fragrance, propylene glycol, synthetic dyes, silicones, triclosan, BHT/BHA & PEGs.

SheaMoisture Kids Detangler

  • Cost: $8.50 for 8 fl oz or 237 ml ($1.06 per ounce)
  • EWG score: 2
  • From the Shea Moisture website: Instead of the constant struggle to avoid hurting young tender heads with all of that tugging and pulling, you can finally gain more control over those nagging curls or waves. SheaMoisture Kids Detangler contains certified organic Shea Butter, which is essential in keeping hair frizz-free and soft as silk. Slippery Elm Extract makes your child’s hair smooth to touch, while Coconut Oil hydrates, and helps in defining curls for easier natural styling. Hibiscus Flower Extracts add luster and volume to youthful hair, giving those kiddie curls extra bounce.

Alaffia Kids Conditioner & Detangler

  • Cost: $16.20 for 16 fl oz or 473 ml ($1.01 per ounce)
  • EWG score: 2
  • From the Alaffia website: Alaffia’s nurturing lemon lavender conditioner & detangler, prepared with Ethically Traded unrefined shea butter, calming lemon balm and protective neem leaf, gently conditions and detangles your child’s hair. For EveryDay use on normal to very dry hair types. No sulfates, parabens, phthalates, silicones, mineral oil, artificial color or synthetic fragrance. Cruelty-free.

The Honest Co. Conditioning Detangler

  • Cost: $5.66 for 4 fl oz or 118 ml ($1.42 per ounce)
  • EWG score: 3
  • From the Honest Company website: Our hair detangler leaves you with silky-smooth strands. Great for kiddos or grown ups!
  • My Take: This hair detangler is my 16 year-old daughter’s favorite. It has a mild sweet orange scent that isn’t overpowering, and it easily gets out tangles. It also makes hair feel very soft.

Babyganics Kids Detangler

  • Cost: $17.99 (2 pack) for 8 fl oz or 237 ml ($1.12 per ounce)
  • EWG score: 4
  • From the Babyganics website: Got untamed, tangled up, tough-to-brush hair? This smoothing spray helps prevent breakage & makes brushing a breeze. Berry Berry: This delightful, plant-derived fragrance adds a fresh & fruity twist to bath time. Made without sulfates, phthalates, silicone, artificial fragrances & dyes. Dermatologist tested. Non-allergenic & tear free. Made with apricot oil, aloe vera & rice extracts.

Babo Botanicals Smoothing Detangling Spray

  • Cost: $14.00 for 8 fl oz or 237 ml ($1.75 per ounce)
  • EWG score: 4
  • From the Babo Botanicals website: For tangly or unruly hair. Lightweight alcohol free leave-in-conditioner for damp or dry hair. Faster detangling and increased shine with plant-based botanical conditioners. Eliminates frizz calms flyaways and prevents static. Instantly refreshes bed or hat head. Tangles gone. Curls revived. Shine Restored.. Certified Organic Nutri-SootheTM Blend rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants combines Chamomile Watercress Kudzu and Calendula.

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.

INGREDIENTS

  • Attitude Kids Hair Detangler ingredients: Aqua/water/eau, glycerin, shea butter glycerides, PCA glyceryl oleate, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, hydrolyzed corn starch, beta vulgaris (beet) root extract, vaccinium angustifolium (bleuet) leaf extract, maltodextrin, moringa oleifera seed extract, citric acid, triethyl citrate, decanal (fruit), dimethyl heptenal (fruit), gamma-nonalactone (coconut).
  • The Honest Co. Conditioning Detangler ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Behentrimonium Chloride, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Extract, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract*, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract*, Chenopodium Quinoa Seed Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Orbignya Speciosa Kernel Oil, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Protein, Panthenol, Caprylyl Glycol, Triethyl Citrate, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Citric Acid, Tocopherol *Organic Ingredient
  • California Baby Calming Hair Detangler ingredients: Aqua (water), plant waxes of cocos nucifera extract (coconut) and simmondsia chinensis extract (jojoba), cyamopsis tetragonolobus gum (guar gum), herbal blend of: *cereus grandiflorus extract (cactus), *calendula officinalis (calendula), *carrageenan (irish moss), +viola tricolor extract (pansy), +salix alba (willow bark and *yucca aloifolia extract (yucca), citric acid, citrus grandis seed extract (grapefruit), *pure essential oils of lavandula angustifolia (french lavender) and salvia sclarea (clary sage), phytic acid (rice origin), gluconolactone (from non-GMO corn), and sodium benzoate.
  • Babyganics Kids Detangler ingredients: Water, aloe barbadensis leaf juice†, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract†, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil†, theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, persea gratissima (avocado) oil†, oryza sativa (rice) extract, prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernel oil, glycerin, cetrimonium chloride, polyglyceryl-4 caprate, polyglyceryl-6 caprylate, citric acid, sodium hydroxide, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, plant-derived fragrance*
  • Babo Botanicals Smoothing Detangling Spray ingredients: Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf* Purified Water (Agua) Polyquaternium 80 (Sugar) Organic Calendula Officinalis Extract* Organic Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Extract* Wild Crafted Nasturtium Officinale (Watercress) Extract* Organic Pueraria Lobata (Kudzu) Root Extract* Glycerine (Vegetable) Glucono Delta Lactone (Sugar) Polyquaternium 10 (Vegetable Fiber) Organic Evening Primrose (Oenothera Biennis) Oil Potassium Sorbate (Food Grade Preservative) Natural Berry Essential Oil Blend *Certified Organic Ingredients
  • Fresh Monster Kids Hair Detangler ingredients: Water, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Glycerin, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Polyquaternium-4, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Natural Fragrance
  • SheaMoisture Kids Detangler ingredients: Deionized Water, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Vegetable Glycerine, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, Hibiscus Flower Extract, Citrus Medica Limonium, Citrus Aurantifolia, Jasminium Officinale, Slippery Elm Extract, Essential Oil Blend, Behentrimonium Chloride (Conditioning Salt), Algae Extract, Hyssopus Officinalis Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf and Equisetum Arvense Extract, Althaea Officinalis Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E) *Certified Organic Ingredient.
  • Alaffia Kids Conditioner & Detangler ingredients: Azadirachta indica (Neem) Leaf* Aqueous Extract, Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm) Aqueous Extract, Butyrospermum parkii (Shea) Butter*, Cetearyl Alcohol, Emulsifying Wax, Lavandula hybrida (Lavender) Oil, Citrus limonum (Lemon) Extract, Panthenol, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Ascorbic Acid
  • do+ Little Detangler & Leave-In Conditioner Spray ingredients: Water, isoamyl laurate, silybum marianum ethyl ester (blessed thistle), starch hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, pca glyceryl oleate, glycerin, porphyra umbilicalis extract (red algae), helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, cetearyl alcohol, elaeis guineensis (palm) oil, argania spinosa kernel oil (argan), cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, arachidyl alcohol, commiphora myrrha resin extract (myrrh), gardenia tahitensis flower extract (tiare), glyceryl stearate, coco-glucoside, phospholipids, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, sodium hyaluronate, behenyl alcohol, cocos nucifera extract, guar gum, lonicera caprifolium (honeysuckle) flower extract, lonicera japonica (honeysuckle) flower extract, macadamia ternifolia seed oil, arachidyl glucoside, caesalpinia spinosa gum, xanthan gum, sodium cocoyl glutamate, propanediol, caprylic/capric triglyceride, pyrus malus (apple) fruit extract, prunus armeniaca (apricot) fruit extract, vanilla planifolia fruit extract, dipteryx odorata seed extract, coffea arabica (coffee) seed extract.
  • Clean Kids Naturally Banana Smoothie Leave-In Conditioner ingredients: Aqua (Infusion Of Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice), Laminaria Japonica Extract, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Citric Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Musa Sapientum (Banana) Fruit Extract, Potassium Sorbate.

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/

10 brands of Clean + Natural Hair Detangler & Leave-In Conditioner For Kids