Is Cantu Bad For Your Hair? An Ingredient Analysis

Is Cantu Bad For Your Hair? An Ingredient Analysis

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Cantu is a hair care brand owned by PDC Brands. The company sells products for curly, coily, wavy and straightened hair.

But does Cantu use research-backed ingredients to support hair health and apperance? Does Cantu use ingredients that are bad for your hair? How do real customers rate and describe the effects of Cantu products? And why was Cantu sued?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in two of Cantu's most popular products based on clinical studies, to give our take on whether or not they're bad for your hair.

The Cantu products we'll review are Coconut Curling Cream and Leave-In Conditioner.

We'll also feature unsponsored customer reviews of the brand, and explain why Cantu was sued in 2022.

Coconut Curling Cream Review

Cantu Coconut Curling Cream ingredients

The ingredients in Cantu Coconut Curling Cream, which is arguably the brand's most popular product, are shown above.

This cream contains many research-backed, naturally-derived ingredients for supporting hair health.

Coconut oil was shown to reduce protein loss from hair in a clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science. This suggests that coconut oil can protect hair from damage.

Macadamia seed oil was shown to have an anti-aging effect on skin in a 2019 comparative study, which suggests that this ingredient can support scalp health.

Jojoba oil is clinically shown to improve hair fiber, protect hair thread and improve breakage resistance, as we documented in our article on is Aussie bad for your hair.

Hydrolyzed silk can naturally condition hair, according to a medical review published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology.

While Cantu Coconut Curling Cream contains some research-backed active ingredients, it also contains several inactive ingredients we consider to be unhealthy.

Fragrance was described in a medical review published in the Medical Hypotheses journal as a “pervasive health risk.”

Coumarin has been shown to be toxic in a 2010 medical review. Whether or not it's absorbed transdermally (through the skin) remains to be determined, but it may be prudent to avoid it altogether.

Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative shown to be toxic to human cells in a clinical trial published in the Experimental Eye Research journal.

Ethylhexylglycerin is a synthetic preservative shown to potentiate the toxic effects of phenoxyethanol in a 2016 medical review.

Overall, we consider Cantu Coconut Curling Cream likely to hydrate the hair and to improve its aesthetic apperance. However, we don't currently recommend this product due to the inactive ingredients discussed above.

Before analyzing the ingredients in another one of Cantu's most popular products, we'll feature some customer reviews of the brand.

Real People Try Cantu

A YouTube creator named Sunetra Breanna has a review of Cantu Coconut Curling Cream that includes a live product demo:

A YouTube creator named "happycurlhappygirl" shares before-and-after images from three days of using Cantu Define and Shine Custard:

Leave-In Conditioner Review

Cantu Leave-In Conditioner ingredients

The ingredients in Cantu Argan Oil Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream are shown above.

Like the previous Cantu product, this one contains a large number of research-backed active ingredients.

Shea butter is clinically shown to repair the skin barrier, which suggests that it may have an anti-dandruff effect.

Olive oil has an anti-fungal effect, and helps to protect the scalp from UV light damage according to a medical review published in the International Journal of Trichology.

Argania spinosa kernel oil is clinically shown to protect hair from environmental damage, as we documented in our review of Pura D'Or.

Glycerin was shown in a 2014 clinical trial to improve skin hydration, which suggests that this ingredient may effectively hydrate the scalp to prevent dryness and flakiness.

There are three inactive ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy, all of which were discussed in the previous ingredient analysis section: fragrance, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin.

Overall, we consider Cantu Argan Oil Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream likely to support hair repair and likely to moisturize both the scalp and hair.

However, we don't currently recommend this product due to the use of fragrance and two synthetic preservatives that we consider to be unhealthy when used in combination.

Why Was Cantu Sued?

The manufacturer of Cantu was sued in 2022 over allegations of severe side effects.

A plaintiff named Beverly Harris alleged that Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream caused "all of her hair to fall out," according to Legal Newsline.

In defense of the brand, we can't identify any ingredients in this formulation that we think are likely to cause hair loss, but any individual can have an adverse or allergic reaction to any specific ingredient.

Cantu's manufacturer was also sued over allegations that chemical hair relaxers are linked to uterine cancer, according to local news station 13 WHAM.

We recommend avoiding chemical hair relaxers as a general precaution, but our review of the ingredients in Cantu's leave-in cream don't lead us to believe that hair loss is likely to occur in an otherwise healthy individual.

Our Clean Hair Care Picks

Ingreendients Daily Shampoo is our top shampoo pick.

It's formulated 100% from plants and contains research-backed active ingredients like acetic acid, derived from apple cider vinegar (ACV), which researchers suggest "can condition hair making it softer, silkier, shinier."

Happy Head Topical is our top premium hair growth solution.

This formulation uses FDA-approved hair loss ingredients like minoxidil which is clinically shown to increase hair count by 11%.

Momentous Zinc is our top value hair growth solution.

A 2022 medical review on the use of zinc in dermatology concluded that "This review has found evidence to support the use of hair loss disorders."

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients we consider to be unhealthy.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


We believe that Cantu is good for your hair.

Both of the Cantu formulations that we reviewed in this article contained a plethora of active ingredients which are clinically shown to support optimal hair health and improve hair appearance.

We don't believe that Cantu is the best brand for your health, given the use of fragrance, phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin.

From a health and safety perspective, we'd recommend considering fragrance-free shampoo.

Cantu was sued twice: once over allegations that the leave-in conditioner caused hair loss, and once over allegations that the chemical hair relaxer was linked to cancer.

If Cantu offered fragrance-free and preservative-free products, we would consider recommending this brand, because the formulations are highly impressive from an efficacy perspective.