Top 10 Chemicals to Avoid on Natural Hair and Skin by Rachel Asakome
If you have plans to take good care of your natural hair and skin, here are some top 10 chemicals to avoid. I get so many emails from people asking me what chemicals are safe for their hair etc, well below is a list of a few chemicals that are a definite NEVER for black hair! Remember, whatever you use on your hair is absorbed into your body through your scalp. This is why I advocate the use of 100% natural or Organic products, it’s easier than trying to dodge chemicals. That being said, I still advice that you read the ingredients of every product before you purchase it, just because something says it’s natural or organic on the face doesn’t mean it’s safe!
This is because; manufacturers are trying to make money and might sneak in one or two chemicals that may be harmful because it’s cheaper than providing the organic alternative.
Chemicals to Avoid on Natural Hair and Skin
The photo above shows the ingredients of the antibacterial hand wash in my guest bathroom, would you use hand wash to shampoo your hair or take a shower?…..NO! Right? Well, some of you might have already used these bad ingredients in your hair.
Okay! I shall begin:
1. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (“SLS”) & Sodium Laureth Sulphate (“SLES”): Sodium lauryl sulphate is a surfactant used in several cleaning and hygiene products like laundry detergent, dish washing liquid etc. So basically you would be washing your hair with what you can find in your Ariel, Omo and Key soap. Sodium Laureth Sulphate which is considered a bit gentler than SLS is basically the same thing as SLS, it is also a detergent and surfactant, the only difference is in their molecular formula.
These products are foaming agents, so when you wash your hair you get this lather and your scalp is nice and clean. However, these agents strip the hair of its natural ‘good’ oils that help keep it balanced and moisturised. SLS dissolves the oils on our hair the way it dissolves dirt and grease on car engines, it totally strips the hair dry, and this may lead to breakage, which is why conditioners are needed to keep the hair moisturised.
Furthermore, in cases where shampoo residues remain on the scalp, the left overs are dangerous to the hair follicles. To add salt to the wound, SLS is absorbed into the body from application to the scalp, and of its side effects is to mimic the activity of the oestrogen hormone. This causes a variety of health problems ranging from fertility issues in men, PMS Etc.
2. Diethanolamine (“DEA”) and Triethanolamine (“TEA”): They can react with other chemicals in cosmetic products to form strong carcinogenic chemicals nitrosamines, which are linked to liver, stomach, bladder and oesophagus cancers. These chemicals are heavily toxic and also cause dryness of the hair and skin. Other names for this chemical include, Cocamide DEA, Cocamide MEA, DEA-Cetyl Phosphate, DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate, Lauramide DEA, Linoleamide MEA, Myristamide DEA, Oleamide DEA, Stearamide MEA, Monoethanolamine and TEA- Lauryl Sulfate.
3. Petroleum by Products: They include mineral oil, petroleum jelly, paraffin, petrolatum, glycol, trisodium EDTA, polyethylene etc. The list is too long for me to go on. Essentially these products clog your pores and inhibits your body’s natural ability to moisturize its own skin, leading to dryness and chapping. This also includes the skin on your scalp which might inevitably cause dandruff. The most common in hair and skin products are mineral oil, and petroleum jelly. These products are used by manufacturers again because they are cheap.
4. Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea: These are preservatives put in cosmetic products, these chemicals release fomaldehyde (a chemical used to embalm dead bodies), this causes irritation to the mucous membranes and it’s known to cause contact dermatitis, headaches and internal bleeding.
5. Parabens: These are also chemical preservatives put in our cosmetic products because they are cheap and extend the shelf life of products. Research has shown that they are known to disrupt normal hormone function, affect our reproductive systems and are linked to breast cancer. They also cause skin irritations like rashes and other allergic reactions. Their names in products include: Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl.
6. Phthalates (butyl, dibutyl, butylbenzyl, diethyl): Commonly used as emoliants, humectants and plasticizers in our cosmetic products. They are added to our lotions and cleansers to give the illusion that the skin is softened and moisturized, however, the chemical is leaving a residue that creates that feeling. Research has linked these products to birth defects, damage to the lungs, kidneys and reproductive systems, lowering sperm counts and breast cancer risks.
7. Propylene Glycol and Polyethylene Glycol (PEG): The natural version of this is vegetable glycerine mixed with grain alcohol, however it is usually made from synthetic chemicals because it’s cheaper that way. It’s been known to cause hives and eczema. It’s used as cleansing ingredients and to thicken product formulas, however, it easily strips hair of its naturally protective oils.
8. Ethyl alcohol and Isopropyl alcohol: These alcohols are drying to the hair and skin because they can dissolve the natural protective oils in your skin and hair. They are also known as SD alcohol, ethanol, SD alcohol 40, alcohol denat, Propanol, Propyl alcohol and Isopropyl alcohol.
9. Synthetic fragrances: Synthetic fragrances are usually just labelled “fragrance” on the ingredient list. If you cannot certify from the supplier the content of the fragrance I suggest you avoid this! As opposed to natural fragrance, synthetic fragrances can have up to 200 chemical ingredients. These chemicals are known to cause headaches, dizziness, skin rashes, hyperpigmentation etc.
10. Stearalkonium Chloride: This chemical was designed as a fabric softener by the fabric industry. However, companies use it in hair conditioners and lotions because it’s much cheaper than natural conditioning ingredients. This is toxic and causes several skin irritations.
Stay alert and avoid all these harmful chemicals.
Esione Rachel Asakome, CEO Beautifully Nappy Ltd
Visit her website for more tips: www.beautifullynappy.com
You can also visit her listing page on Bellafricana: http://bellafricana.com/listing/lagos-nigeria-beautifully-nappy/