Is it worth switching to natural hair care Products

So after becoming natural some of the main questions we ask ourselves are; what hair products should I use? What products would work for my hair? It begins another major search which sometimes keeps on going.

The truth is that we live in a time where there is a lot of accessible information available and we need to start being conscious of what we consume, not just food we eat but also in what we put on our skin (scalp/hair) and whatever we expose our bodies to. We need to take more control over what we expose ourselves to, especially for better health benefits. We would like to assume that the products we use on your skin and hair are safe. Sadly, recent studies show otherwise. "The skin is the largest organ in the body, so when we introduce chemicals of any sort to the largest organ of the body, you're going to get some absorption," Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Associates Dr. Purvisha Patel said. The study was also discussed in a Youtube interview here.

So there have been recent major concerns in the black haircare market. A new study alarmingly shows a considerable amount of hormone disrupting chemicals in products used by black women and children.  These toxic chemicals have been linked to Cancer, weight gain, asthma, fertility problems etc. This report was done and published in the journal of Environmental research by Silent Springs Institute. 

This new research shows that hair products targeted and used frequently by black women contain dozens of harmful chemicals that disrupt endocrine hormones leading to health problems such as cancer, birth defects. Endocrine hormones are secreted by our endocrine system to regulate our bodily functions such as growth, reproduction and metabolism. Diseases occur when incorrect amounts are in the body.

18 hair products marketed at black women were tested in 6 categories (they were chosen based on customer surveys): Hot oil treatment, leave-in conditioner, root stimulator, hair lotion, relaxer and anti-frizz/polish. Many of these products are intended to help straighten or moisturise hair. Results of the study showed

  • These hair products tested (used by black women and some marketed towards children) contained multiple chemicals associated with endocrine disruption and asthma
  • Hair relaxers for children contained multiple chemical prohibited in cosmetics in the EU and regulated under California’s Proposition 65 because of their links to reproductive toxicity and cancer
  • Parabens, fragrances, diethyl phthalate nonylphenols were commonly found in root stimulators, hair lotions and hair relaxers. Anti-frizz had higher concentrations of cyclosiloxanes.
  • 78% of the products contained parabens which are used as preservatives
  • 78% of the products contained phthalates, fragrances and cyclosiloxanes.
  • Hair relaxers for children contained some regulated/restricted chemical which surprisingly were not indicated on the product labels.

The presence of parabens which are preservatives and a fragrance marker (DEP) was in higher levels in samples for black women compared to products targeted to white women. In past studies, parabens which are used as preservatives in some hair products were shown to to mimic oestrogen and may lead to cancer, weight gain and so on.

The study led to conclusions that consumers cannot reliably use product labels to reduce certain exposures as they are mostly poorly indicated on the product labelswith reasons not exactly known.

In general, relaxed/natural/texturised and so on, we need be aware of what we consume. These studies have shown the problems with the haircare industry today and points towards the type of ingredients and products to be careful of. This is not actually the first time that harmful ingredients have been found in black hair care products. In 2016, a five-year study was done by The Black Women for wellness and found similar results. This raises a lot of questions and proves why we need to be more cautious of what hair products we use.

Author: Ngozi Ossai (ozzichiq)