How many of you still use shampoos with sulfates? What about styling products with cancer-causing parabens? Phthalates? Mineral oil? Silicones?
Right, not many of you guys. Most naturals and even people with relaxed hair are well aware of the chemical dangers of the ingredients in hair products that many of us grew up using. If you’re not, let me quickly recap for you:
Sulfates are effective cleansing and foaming agents used in beauty products. They are generally used in toothpaste, shampoo, and washes. The most common sulfate is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). The concern with this ingredient is that it was found to have a degenerative effect on the cell membranes because it breaks down proteins. Other studies have also noted that this chemical leaves residue in the heart, lungs, and brain. So it is unknown, in the long-term, if it will have negative effects on a person’s health. There’s also possible skin irritation, eye irritation, and damage to the hair follicle when using sulfates.
Parabens are the most common preservative found in cosmetics, including makeup, moisturizers, and hair care products. One study found parabens in breast tumors, but did not indicate that parabens actually caused the cancer.
Phthalates are chemicals used to make products more pliable. They’re found in toys, food packaging, and some beauty products, including nail polish, shampoo, and soap. Two studies suggest phthalate exposure during pregnancy may lead to abnormal development in male infants, including low hormone levels and small genital size. (Source: WebMD)
Granted, some of the research has been contradictory, and some experts say that sulfates, parabens, and phthalates are fine in low levels, but many people are taking a better safe than sorry approach – especially for black women who high higher rates of breast cancer. All that said, regardless of whether you’ve been conscious of it or not, chances are that the hair products that you use boast that they’re sulfate-free, paraben-free, silicon-free, and/or phthalate-free.
If most naturals so concerned with the chemicals in our hair products, why don’t we care about the ones in our skin and beauty products?
I quietly came to this realization a few weeks ago, and it led me to turn to an all-natural face regimen. As some background info, I had a lot of hyper pigmentation and acne throughout college, and tried all types of face washes and fade creams (spot treatments only!) trying to address the issue. My last straw was a visit to a black dermatologist – whom I was convinced was going to revolutionize my life with some new insight – but he just diagnosed me with hyper pigmentation and prescribed Retin-A. After reading up on the side effects of the treatment, I decided I couldn’t fight my face woes with more chemicals. So for the past year, based on recommendations from Natural Chica, K is for Kinky, and my mom, I’ve been using THREE completely natural products on my face, and I’m happy to report that all my dark spots are gone, and I rarely ever get pimples anymore.
African Black Soap Base, African Shea Butter Certified Organic, Oats, Aloe, Plantain Extract, Vitamin E, Essential Oil Blend, Vegetable Glycerin, Palm Ash, Rosemary Extract, Iron Oxides
Purified Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Certified Organic Filet Of Aloe Vera), Glycerin (Vegetable), Fragrance (Natural Rose), Hamamelis Virginiana Extract (made from Certified Organic Witch Hazel), Rosa Centifolia (Rose) Flower Water, Citric Acid, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract
Egyptian Magic is made of Honey, Beeswax, Olive Oil, Royal Jelly, Bee Pollen and Bee Propolis.
While I’ve only done the switch with the products I use to cleanse my face, clean my body, and moisturize my lips, my plan is to slowly phase in all-natural lotions, deodorants, and even my tinted moisturizer, as these products stay on my body the longest, and I use them most regularly. The Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Database has a great array of scores for lots of beauty and hair products, so feel free to check them out before making any purchases.