Yucca Extract Is a Natural (and Effective) Hair Cleanser

Woman lathering shampoo in her haire

Ceremonia / Design by Cristina Cianci

Whoever said good hair doesn't grow on trees obviously hasn't heard of yucca extract. If you also haven't heard about this game-changing hair ingredient, let's start at the root of it. Yucca is a tree-like plant of the agave family, native to Mexico and warmer regions of the southwestern United States. Not to be confused with yuca—the root of the cassava plant, which is a potato-like staple in Latin cuisine—yucca boasts long sword-shaped leaves and a woody base. When it comes to haircare, this natural wonder naturally foams up without the need for added sulfates, making it the perfect addition for products like clean shampoo.

Yucca Extract

Type of Ingredient: Cleanser

Main Benefits: Chemical-free cleanser that contains antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, fight oxidative stress, and reinforce the strength of your strands

Who Should Use It: In general, yucca is great for most hair types, as it replaces sulfates that can strip the hair, leaving it dry and making your scalp prone to irritation. Those with curly hair or sensitive skin are particularly great candidates for yucca extract.

How Often Can You Use It: Yucca is gentle enough to be used as a daily cleanser. 

Benefits of Yucca Extract for Hair

Yucca has powerful detergent properties and foaming agents that make it a natural, effective cleanser," explains Mateo Acosta Medina, product development manager at Ceremonia. "In fact," he says, "indigenous communities commonly use this plant to make soap." Long called the "soap root," it's not only revered for its natural cleansing power. Medina tells us it's also packed with a high concentration of polyphenols, which he says, "neutralize free radicals, fight oxidative stress, and reinforce hair's strength."

  • Replaces damaging chemicals: Yucca is loaded with natural surfactants called saponins that clean the hair naturally. Its naturally foaming antiseptic properties replace stripping foaming agents, like sulfates, perfect for those who prefer clean formulations. 
  • Promotes healthier hair: While artificial ingredients can strip away your natural moisture, leaving hair dry and making your scalp prone to irritation, yucca leaves your strands and scalp feeling clean without the dryness. 
  • Protects your hair from the elements: Yucca contains powerful antioxidants due to its high concentration of polyphenols. These components neutralize free radicals, fight oxidative stress, like dryness, and strengthen your strands.
  • Supports shinier strands: Antioxidant-fed hair is healthier hair, and healthier hair means shiny hair. 
  • Encourages a flake-free scalp: Yucca not only cleanses the hair and rids your scalp of excess oils, it also naturally exfoliates, leaving you flake-free. Additionally, studies have shown that plant-based polyphenols (like that found in yucca root and green tea) have had a positive impact on scalp health due to the anti-inflammatory benefits.

Hair Type Considerations

Considering it is a naturally foaming antioxidant-packed, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory ingredient, yucca is suitable for anyone looking to get a deep clean sans chemicals. Since faux foamers, like sulfates, strip the hair of natural oils, curly hair types are most susceptible to excessive dryness. Rather than suffer from dehydrated strands, curly-haired beauties are a great candidate for yucca extract. Additionally, those with sensitive skin would benefit from the anti-inflammatory benefits.

"There have been no studies showcasing any risks associated with or negative side effects of yucca," says Medina. "It has been defined as a 'generally recognized as safe' ingredient by the FDA." Finally, he suggests, "while yucca extract is generally safe and effective for all, if you have underlying scalp issues, we recommend consulting your physician beforehand." 

How to Use Yucca Extract for Hair

Medina explains that "in order to use yucca as its highest concentration, we start by pressing the roots, stems, and leaves to extract the juice mechanically." Then, he says, "the juice is concentrated as a spray, that eventually dries into a fine powder, at which point is optimized for shelf-ready formulas." As the extraction process is best left to the professionals, you can find products on the market to regularly cleanse your scalp and strands.

ceremonia shampoo
Ceremonia Champú de Yucca & Witch Hazel $14

Medina admits his favorite yucca-infused shampoo is Ceremonia's Champú de Yucca & Witch Hazel. "Not only is it a clean shampoo free of sulfates, silicones, and 2,500 other potentially harmful ingredients, it actually lathers, thanks to the natural foaming properties of yucca," he says. Because most chemical-free shampoos lack lather, the product development team took almost 12 months to create this innovative shampoo. And get this, it costs only $14. Medina sums it up: "It is an effective cleanser that doesn't strip away your scalp's natural oils."

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