If you are anything like me, one of the reasons you decided to embark on your natural hair journey was to reap the health benefits. Once I heard about the potential damage that chemical relaxers can cause to not only the health of my hair but my body as a whole, I decided to ditch the ‘creamy crack’ for healthier hair care alternatives. Yet, many of the hair care products on the market today contain ingredients that raise eyebrows. While these products claim to treat dry, damaged hair, receive popular acclaim or are created from trusted hair care lines, be wary. Here are some ingredients you may want to think twice about when purchasing a hair care products.
Isopropyl alcohol: This is a solvent and denaturant, which changes substances natural qualities. It is found in many hair care products, especially hair rinses and finishing sprays, yet it is also used in wood lacquer and antifreeze. It can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and comas. It will dry out your hair, making it susceptible to breakage.
Propylene glycol: This is a surfactant and solvent that is used as an emulsifier in creams, butters, shampoos, and conditioners. It actually breaks down protein and the cellular wall. At first, it makes the hair look smoother, but ultimately ravages the strands. When included in products, workers must wear not only gloves, but also protective goggles and clothing. Skin contact with propylene glycol can cause liver, brain, and kidney damage. There is no difference between the PG used in industry and the PG used in personal care products.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG): A petroleum based product used in making cleansers to dissolve oil and grease as well as thicken products. Because of their effectiveness, PEG’s are often used in oven cleaners and yet are found in many personal care products. PEG’s leave the immune system vulnerable. They are also potentially carcinogenic.
Sodium Laurel Sulphate and Sodium Laureth Suplhate (SLS): SLS is approximately in 90% of all shampoos or conditioners that produce foam. Research studies on SLS have shown links to irritation of the skin and eyes, development of acne, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, and possible cancer.
DEA(diethanolamine), MEA (momoethanolamine): Often referenced as Cocamide and Lauramide are known substances that form cancer causing nitrates. A study at the University of Illinois actually found that repeated applications of DEA and TEA detergents resulted in a major increase in liver and kidney cancers.
Parabens: Preservatives used to inhibit microbial growth in hair care products. Parabens in your product can cause severe allergic reactions. Parabens like propyl, methyl, butyl and ethyl are used in many hair care products. It has also been suggested that too much exposure to estrogen, which parabens mimic, may possibly increase breast cancer risks (in some studies parabens have been found in tumors, but in others, results have been inconclusive).