Natural Ways to Have Great Hair for Less
Girls spend effort and money on their crowning glory, wanting to look good in shiny, lustrous hair. They buy specialty shampoos and creams to treat their hair and scalp conditions, apply conditioners to prevent fizzy hair and keep the shape and form of their manes with mousse.
Those with wavy hair go for rebonding treatment while those with straight hair opt to have theirs permed. On the other hand, most guys aren’t that bothered with their manes – just the regular shampoo from the supermarket and hair wax make up their daily haircare regimen.
But that doesn’t mean that they are spared from the dangers of the chemicals found in shampoo and other haircare products. These hazardous chemicals are found in every haircare product that you pluck off the shelf at the saloon, pharmacy or supermarket.
Let’s take a look in what each of your haircare products contain:
Culprit : Ammonium LaurethSulfate (ALS)
Hazards : Cancer, respiratory and skin problems
Added to shampoo to make them foam, Ammonium LaurethSulfate (ALS) forms a cancer-causing agent if it is contaminated with nitrosamines. Animals exposed to the chemical were found to suffer from breathing difficulties, vision problems, damage to the central nervous system and diarrhoea. Some animals had even died during the testing. Another scary side effect of ALS is that it can cause the layers of the skin to separate and be infected.
Culprit : Cocamide
Hazards : Cancer, lung and skin allergies
Another foaming agent and emulsifier, cocamide is seemingly harmless because it is of coconut origins. However, don’t let that fact fool you as cocamide can cause allergic reactions in the lungs and skin. They also have the potential to form nitrosamines, the carcinogenic compound mentioned above. So if your shampoo has both ALS and cocamide, you should be very afraid. And despite all these hazardous foaming agents added to shampoos, they actually have no cleansing properties, probably only to make your hair-washing experience a more interesting one.
Culprit : Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Hazards : Reproductive disorders, premature balding
This evil component is deemed the most dangerous ingredients found in haircare products. They remove the oil from the scalp, which is good, but unfortunately they dissolve too much of the oil, leading to a drying effect. They are the leading cause of premature balding too by damaging the hair follicles and preventing hair growth. On top of that, SLS serves as the oestrogen hormone when it is absorbed into the body through the skin. It makes the reproductive systems go haywire in both males and females – fertility in males in affected while females have an increased risk of cancer and suffer from enhanced PMS and menopausal symptoms.
Culprit : Formaldehyde
Hazards : Cancer, respiratory problems, allergies
Formaldehyde is a preservative and disinfectant that causes cancer, allergies, headaches and fatigue. It also irritates the respiratory system and damages the dermatitis. If you peruse the label of one of the most popular brands of shampoo locally, you will find this agent listed among the ingredients. If several countries think that formaldehyde is hazardous enough even for the dead and have banned the use of it in body embalmment, don’t you think you deserve better?
Culprit : Fragrance
Hazards : Skin disorders, respiratory problems, brain damage
Fragrances are not as sweet and lovely as they smell. Fragrance is commonly added to products to mask the smell of the harmful ingredients contained. Most people are tolerant to fragrances but there are a few who develop dizziness and headaches upon contact with the perfumes. Some suffer from skin ailments such as rashes, irritation and skin discolouration while there are a few who end up with bouts of violent coughs and vomiting. The unfortunate ones even develop brain damage in the long term.
What can you do?
Buy shampoo that contains vitamins A and C. These vitamins serve as blocking agents for the cancer-causing nitrosamine, if your shampoo indeed contains some. Shampoos containing those vitamins don’t come by often but that is the least that you can do.
Baby shampoo is supposed to be milder and contain less preservatives and chemicals (realise that baby shampoo doesn’t foam?), so you might want to use these for your hair. However, the most popular brand of baby shampoo voted as America’s most trusted was found to contain formaldehyde-containing compounds and 1,4-dioxane, two known carcinogens. So don’t take things for granted and check the product labels as well.
The best alternative is to just pop into an organic store and get your shampoo from there.
Culprit : Phthalates
Hazards : Reproductive disorders, cancer
You should avoid phthalates at all cost especially if you are planning to conceive, for phthalates lowers sperm counts, damage the reproductive system and causes birth defects. Phthalates have also been known to lead to kidney, liver and lung cancers. Interestingly, phthalates are banned in Europe but are deemed safe to use in the States, so you might want to check where your conditioner came from and whether it contains this carcinogen.
Culprit : Parabens
Hazards : Hormone disruption, cancer
Manufacturers add parabens to the conditioners to make the product last longer on the shelf but unfortunately, the welfare of their customers was not of utmost concern. Parabens are a hormone disruptor which prevents hormones from working the way they should. Parabens also works like the oestrogen hormone, which too much of it will up the risk of breast cancer and other cancers of the reproductive system in both males and females. Sweden and Japan have banned this substance while it is still being reviewed in Europe. Yet again, it has been declared safe for use in the United States.
Most conditioners also contain two dangerous additives found in shampoos, SLS and formaldehyde. So using shampoos and conditioners laden with these agents is a double dose of danger. Manufacturers have also come up with leave-on conditioners to cater to the increasingly vain women who want their hair to be free from fly-aways and frizz. These conditioners only allow more opportunity for the chemicals to be absorbed as they are left on the hair and scalp for several hours a day.
What can you do?
Make your own conditioner. Choose your ‘flavour’ – green tea, beer, honey, honey and banana or mint.
Green tea conditioner
This is the easiest and cheapest to make. Just make some green tea, pour it through your hair, rinse and voila, that’s your green tea conditioner.
Mint tea conditioner
Soak some mint leaves in hot water or make some mint tea if you don’t have any mint leaves. Run the tea through your hair and then rinse.
Just like the methods above, pour some beer through your hair. Although your hair will not smell as sweet as if you had used tea instead, you would benefit from the proteins and sugars in the beer which will strengthen the keratin in the hair.
Mix equal portions of honey and water, apply the mixture to your hair and rinse off with water. Due to the sticky nature of the mixture, you might need to rinse twice but the smooth and silky hair you reap after that is well worth the effort.
Honey and banana conditioner
Mash a banana and mix it with half a cup of honey, before leaving the mixture in your hair. Rinse off the mixture after 30 minutes.
HAIR SPRAYS, GELS AND WAX
Culprit : Phytic acid
Hazards : Inhibition of mineral absorption, damage in brain and nervous system
Phytic acid is a common ingredient found in hair gels, a haircare product used by men daily to keep their hair in place. High levels of phytic acid were found to inhibit the absorption of vital minerals such as iron calcium, copper, magnesium and zinc. High quantities have also been found to delay growth in children while animals exposed to the acid displayed damage in the brain and nervous systems.
Culprit : Vinyl chloride
Hazards : Cancer
Your hair spray propels out of the can because of the vinyl chloride added. While this ingredient makes application of the spray easy, it has been acknowledged by the American National Institutes of Health to be a carcinogen associated with the one of the most lethal and devastating types of cancer, angiosarcoma of the liver. As such, some manufacturers have replaced vinyl chloride with methylene chloride and propylene glycol but both of these have also been linked to cancer.
Culprit : Polyquaternium-11
Hazards : Cancer, eye and skin conditions
Check your product label if it contains polyquaternium-11 for it is not only a carcinogen but also poses various other health risks. Users can potentially develop skin and eye irritation. Severe cases even suffer from sensitivity to light and phototoxicity, a skin condition that requires light to treat and resembles a bad case of sunburn.
What can you do?
Make your own hair gel. Once again, choose your base ingredients from either gelatin or flax seeds.
Flax seeds hair gel recipe
– ¼ cup of flax seeds
– 1 cup of water,
– essential oil (optional)
– aloe vera gel (optional)
- Mix and boil the seeds and water in a sauce pan while stirring constantly.
- Turn down the heat and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes once the seeds have started to boil and form a gel-like paste.
- When you have achieved your favoured consistency of the gel, remove the mixture from the fire and strain it using a cheese cloth or panty hose.
- Add some essential oil for scent or aloe vera gel for moisture if you wish.
- Store the gel in a tub in the refrigerator.
Gelatin hair gel recipe
– ½ to 1 teaspoon unflavoured gelatin,
– essential oil (optional)
- Dissolve the gelatin in warm water and stir, adding more gelatin if you prefer a thicker consistency.
- Add essential oil for fragrance if you desire.
- Store the gel in the refrigerator.