Now I'm sure most of us are aware or have heard that the following ingredients: Silicones, Sulfates and Parabens are to be avoided in our choice of 'natural' hair products, or to not use them quite so often- depending on your personal views. These no-go ingredients are actually part of an even bigger family called EDCs, and there is so much more to it all than we ever thought! The truth has finally been revealed and it's not good news.
The Environmental Research Journal of April 2018, has taught us that EDCs and Asthma promoting chemicals are still being found in most hair products used by Black women. These were tested on 18 well known US hair products (although they have not been named) used by Black women all over the world, including hot oil treatments, relaxers, hair lotions, leave-in conditioners, root stimulators and anti-frizz products. All 18 came back positive with EDCs and Asthma promoting chemicals, however a shocking 84% of the chemicals weren't listed in the ingredients list.
What are EDCs?
EDCs affect the way by our bodies use and produce it's natural hormones. EDCs disturb the functions of the endocrine system, which regulates the body’s production of hormones. This is done by mimicking the body’s naturally occurring hormones, which can overstimulate cells, and also block naturally occurring hormones from binding properly to cell receptors, as well as alter the metabolism of our natural hormones. Disruptions to the endocrine system can lead to the development of life-threatening hormone-mediated diseases like obesity, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
The most common/heard of EDCs being:
-Sulfates: scientists have identified a huge risk of potential reactions to sulfates, including "dermatitis, urticaria, flushing, hypertension, abdominal pain and diarrhoea and life-threatening anaphylactic and asthmatic reactions".
- Parabens: studies have found 6 different parabens inside breast cancer tumours in female patients, in concentrations that seemed to tie in with the use of cosmetic products. A study in 2015 found that parabens also prompted the swift growth of breast cancer cells in a lab environment, and scientists are concerned that the tie between parabens and breast cancer may be strengthening.
- Silicones: silicones make dry and damaged hair appear healthy. In fact what it does is create an extra layer over the shaft of each hair follicle by coating them and effectively sealing the cuticle from external elements whether it be moisture, heat, sebum, or grime. Over time, this makes it hard for your hair to maintain proper hydration, and for the nourishing ingredients of other products to reach the hair shaft.
But what do we know about the dangers of fragrances in hair products? One ingredient that we so often try to overlook- is this because it is that hard to find products without Fragrance (Parfum)!? What does said fragrance actually contain? Do we even need it?
Studies have shown that synthetic scents or "fragrances" can affect the nervous system leading to major health issues.
The word fragrance or parfum on a product label, in fact represents an undisclosed mixture of various toxic scent chemicals and ingredients (sometimes up to 4,000 seperate ingredients) used as fragrance dispersants.
A National Academy of Sciences points out that about 95% of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum/crude oil. They include a list of toxic chemicals all linked to various cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions.
Most shockingly, the reason why synthetic fragrances are beig used so widely is because it is a cheaper and faster accessible option than using natural oils for scent.
FDA and Cosmetics:
The FDA does not currently require fragrance and cosmetic makers to disclose exactly what they are using in their scent products.
So, if companies are truly using all natural ingredients, then why the need to deceive your customers? Well, this could well be because the FDA website states how the agency cannot legally require companies to warn about allergens in cosmetics like they do with food.
The law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients, except for colour additives, to be approved by the FDA before they go on the market. Scary!!
Word of Warning:
- 11 of the 18 products tested contained 16 chemicals regulated but not prohibited in the EU
- Hair relaxers marketed for the use of children were among the products that tested positive for regulated chemicals!
When choosing hair products, please be very aware of the top 5 ingredients on the list. The higher an ingredient is on the list, means that there is more of it in the tub! So, only good ingredients there please!
If an ingredient doesn't sound familiar, or you're wondering if a mentioned ingredient is a good or bad alcohol, look it up! (preferably before purchasing the product). That one ingredient could be the difference between a good product or a bad one.
Spread the word & save our curls ♡
Nika x [The Curly Community]
Helm, J.S., Environmental Research (2018), https://doiorg/10.1016/j.envres.2018.03.030