I want to tell you about a very important relationship I have. With my hair. Seriously. We have been through A LOT together. Ironing (yes, a real iron), “straightening” perms, keratin treatments, highlights, lowlights, the list goes on and on. I have spent probably frightening amounts of money on any product that promised to combat my frizz and straighten my curly locks. When I say I can’t hang out because I need to wash my hair, I swear I’m not trying to avoid you. For one hour a week I hold my hair hostage until it is as straight and frizz free as I can possibly make it. (And for those that are saying to just embrace my curly roots, no pun intended, I say, if only it were really that easy).
Unfortunately the more I have read and learned about common, and potentially harmful, ingredients in our hair products, the more I am realizing that it hasn’t been my hair that has been the problem, its what I have been putting into it. I always assumed that if I was buying shampoo that said sulfate free, I was good. Unfortunately that’s just not the case. Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt’s book “No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products” was eye-opening for me. Many of these “red flag” ingredients will probably look familiar to you if you’ve read my Mommy Scientist Series. Unfortunately, these common culprit ingredients are in too many of our products!
Ingredients to watch out for:
- A common ingredient in most store-bought shampoos is detergent. Yep, detergent. Or Surfactants as they are more commonly called. You can find them listed as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate. Basically, this is the “cleaning” agent that you think is making your hair squeaky clean. The reality is that while these surfactants are trapping and washing away dirt and oil, they also strip away the hairs natural oil, making it limp and dry. And thus creating the need for more products…
- Parabens are the preservatives in your products. They will likely show up on the ingredients list as Methylparaben and Propylparaben. Parabens have been linked to thyroid and estrogen level issues
- Fragrance: Yep, the things that make your product smell pretty can be a minefield of different chemicals. Manufacturers are not required to list the specific ingredients that make up the fragrance. Just by seeing the word fragrance in your product could mean there are dozens, or hundreds, more chemicals within your product.
- Phthalates are used as a softener in many cosmetics products as well as toys. They are known endocrine disruptors. You can find them listed with a variety of prefix’s attached to the word phthalate but unfortunately just buying a product that doesn’t have a phthalate listed in it does not mean it isn’t in there. Phthalate’s can also be in the fragrance ingredients in your product.
Ok, if you’re anything like me, your mind is probably going into freak out mode. Please don’t freak out though. And don’t go dumping out every hair product you own. Our best defense is becoming more aware, informed consumers. Start slow. Avoid products that have a million ingredients in them that you can’t pronounce. It’s a gradual process. Experimenting with different types of products comes with A LOT of trial and error and there’s no one size fits all solution. Fortunately, many of my new favorite cleaner hair products are things that I have taken right out of my pantry.
Does this mean that you should never buy a hair product from the store again?
Of course not. Fortunately there are a lot more options out there today when it comes to safe, organic cosmetics and hair care lines.
Are these products expensive?
Some of these store-bought products can definitely be a little pricey, and not as easily accessible as many of the common brands we are used to seeing. Fortunately, you don’t need to break the bank stocking up on these products because there are also many hair product alternatives that you probably already have in your kitchen pantry including honey, coconut oil, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda.
Which store-bought products should I ditch and what should I replace them with?
Good question! For the sake of avoiding information overload, I’ll save it for my next post about how to make smarter hair care choices. It includes information about better store-bought options, inexpensive DIY products that are probably already in your pantry, and examples of how I’ve changed my hair care routine.
What’s one hair product that you cannot live without?
I think you’ll enjoy these related posts:
- Healthy Living Link Party #21
- Healthy Living Link Party #22