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Sulfate & Paraben Free Haircare Part 1

Nasties in your hair care

The western world is increasingly becoming attuned to making healthy lifestyle and food choices and with it people are looking for more natural products to complement this shift. One key way we can look after ourselves is to minimise or eliminate harsh chemicals.

In the words of one politician to another.“The cosmetic industry has borrowed a page from the playbook of the Tobacco industry by putting profits ahead of public health.”

I’m sure it didn’t start out being so sinister, but at some point our health stopped being more important than product sales and profits. As consumers we’ve exhibited a lack of awareness and paid little attention to the ingredients of the cosmetics we use on our body. Just because water rolls off our skin, we think our skin is protecting us right? Well not really. The reality is our skin is often a carrier, not a barrier. Our skin breathes and is a permeable barrier, not impermeable. Toxins, can be absorbed through our skin and enter our bloodstream and tissues.

Natural hair care products are receiving increased recognition after years of ignorance. Natural hair care ranges have become popular for both external and internal use. External for the physical care of your hair and internal for the elimination of chemicals absorbed which can be known to cause skin irritations and can also cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.

Using the right hair care and beauty products is essential for the look and health of your hair. The problem with natural haircare products is that you may find it difficult to choose one that is appropriate for you and your hair due to lack of knowledge about the benefits of particular ingredients and the condition that your hair may need treating for.

Natural or Organic are meaningless words

A lot of the products available in the market today bear a “Natural” or “organic” label which means very little in practical health terms unless it carries certification from a reputable organic certifying body. Even with organic certification, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a shampoo or conditioner has sufficient “protection power” to help maintain hair health especially if you colour your hair or use straightening irons or blowdryers everyday.

The main thing to be aware of it that, synthetic hormone-disrupting chemicals have been found in shampoo preservatives and many of them can be found in products that claim to be “natural” or “organic.”

Beware of Parabens

The most disturbing of these hormone-disrupting are the preservatives collectively known as Parabens, which have been proven to disrupt the endocrine system. What this basically means is that Parabens mimic, disrupt or block the actions of your hormones and interfere with your body’s hormonal pathways. The endocrine system regulates every function of your body and provides instructions to your body that tell your cells what to do. This can have serious consequences.

For instance, one messenger hormone, oestrogen, is secreted by the ovaries and plays a big part in the regulation of fertility, pregnancy, menstruation and fat cell activity. Our endocrine system is extremely sensitive to change and relies on a delicate balance between the hormones to facilitate optimal functioning and good health. While too much oestrogen can cause big problems including weight gain, fluid retention and depression, it has been discovered that even minute amounts of exposure to oestrogen will have an impact on our endocrine system.

So how do you avoid parabens?

Read the ingredients of your hair products and check labels for the following terms:

  • Propylparaben
  • Parahydroxybenzoic acid
  • Parahydroxbenzoate
  • Methylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Butyparaben

Next read Part 2 of this article on Sulfates.

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