For a lot of women, when it comes to hair products they are laser-focused on the end result to the exclusion of every other facet. When your hair becomes an integral part of your “look” or your “style” – whether for a single night out or just in general, you just want it to behave the way you want it to behave. So for a many women, when they see a hair product advertised as “wholesome” or “natural” they translate that in their minds as “less effective” or “not as good” and reject it without another thought. However, the fact is that hair products can be made without dangerous chemicals and still be just as effective – and there are some very good reasons why you should consider a natural product that doesn’t use parabens, mineral oils, or sulfates.
A paraben, or a para-hydroxybenzoate, is an old-school preservative that is widely used in shampoos, moisturisers, and even toothpaste and food. Parabens are, essentially, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and they work very well, which is why they are so widespread. You will likely find some in just about any off-the-shelf shampoo or conditioner or other hair product you see in the store.
The problem with parabens is that we’re starting to realise they are very dangerous over the long term. While no direct link between parabens and breast cancer has been scientifically established, the fact is breast cancer tumours have been found to contain large amounts of parabens. Parabens also chemically mimic estrogen in the body, and while this does not seem to affect adults in any particular way it is suspected as a chief cause of early puberty in young girls. The end result: You should avoid parabens until someone absolutely proves they are safe.
Mineral Oil is misnamed, as it is actually a by-product of the production of gasoline. As a result it is produced accidentally in huge quantities, making it incredibly cheap and plentiful. As a result, creative folks have been cooking up new uses for it on a constant basis and it appears in everything fro shampoos to baby oil – in fact, with the addition of perfumes it is baby oil. It’s a clear oil that does not spoil or break down under regular conditions.
However, the harmful effects of mineral oil are controversial. Untreated mineral oils are considered mildly carcinogenic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), although refined mineral oils are considered unlikely to be cancer-causing – however, the WHO also readily admits there is not enough data on mineral oils to make a definitive statement. Mineral oils have also been found to interfere with the body’s ability to break down and absorb vitamins, and because it is not absorbed by the skin it clogs pores and interferes with the release of toxins. Is mineral oil the worst thing you can put on your skin? Probably not, but it’s not a good thing to put on your skin, either.
Sulfates are chemical compounds that foam in water and act as a detergent for grease, so it’s no wonder they end up in hair care products. Generally speaking, sulfates are considered safe by most governmental and health agencies – but of course, safe is a moving target. Sulfates have been demonstrated to be an irritant to many people and can exacerbate or cause redness, dryness, and itching. By-products of the process used to create sulfates has been demonstrated to be carcinogenic, although sulfates themselves have not. The question is, are the carcinogenic compounds completely removed from the product before they are sold? The government is satisfied that they are, but considering there are wholesome alternatives, why take the chance?
There’s no real evidence that traditional chemical-laden products significantly impact the health of consumers, but with fantastic alternatives available, why would you take the chance? A healthier lifestyle overall can start with the simple choice of your hair care products.