We constantly praise organic hair products, be it hair colour or hair care. But what does organic really mean? And do you ever get lost in all the ingredients you have to look for and try to avoid in your beauty and hair care products? Beauty professionals are very familiar with all of these things, but writing this blog post turned out to be more challenging than first expected (since I am not really a professional). However, this post will explain what ‘organic’ entails and shed light on six chemicals you should avoid when colouring your hair.
What does ‘organic’ mean?
In the organic beauty industry, ‘organic hair care’ and ‘organic hair colour’ refers to hair products that are made of organic botanicals and less chemicals. Organic, then, is defined as ‘botanicals grown without the use of pesticides’. Thus in this industry there are certain chemicals that should not appear on the ingredients list. We are introducing five of these here:
1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – Why You Should Avoid it
This chemical is widely used in many hygiene products such as shampoos. The basic function of SLS is that it can allow better interaction between a product and your hair. This is done by breaking surface tensions and separating molecules.
But how does SLS really affect your hair, skin and health? Actually there are conflicting answers to this question. One thing about SLS that is heavily debated is whether it is a carcinogen. That is, a potential cause of cancer. However, there are currently no scientific evidence that this is the case. But SLS poses other threats to the health of your hair and skin. For example, it can cause irritation to the skin and scalp, even when the level is very low.
2. Parabens – Why You Should Avoid them
‘Parabens’ is probably a word that you often come across. Parabens are the most commonly used preservative in personal care products. The basic function of parabens is that they stop bacteria and fungus from moving into your favourite creams and shampoos.
Parabens have been victim to much vilification because 1) they can mimic estrogen, and 2) they can be absorbed into our skin and potentially affect our endocrine system. Nothing has been scientifically proven yet, but researchers well know that estrogen exposure can be linked to breast cancer progression. And therefore more research is needed on this subject.
Research do show that parabens can be absorbed and detected in blood and urine. And this means they could potentially affect and harm our health.
3. Ammonia – Why You Should Avoid it
Ammonia is a colourless gas that has a characteristic smell (not a nice one). Ammonia works as a precursor to, for example, foods and as a building block for various pharmaceutical products, such as hair colours. In its nature, ammonia can be both toxic and caustic, why there are many reporting requirements when producing or using it.
Now, this substance doesn’t sound like something that you’d want to put in your hair, right? So why do you find ammonia in so many hair colours? Ammonia is used to prepare the hair shaft to take in the pigment by opening the hair shaft and cuticle. This process damages the hair because the pH of the hair is raised to a level where it is basically impossible to return to a normal level after colouring. Thus, the hair loses protein and moisture. As you can probably sense, ammonia is a quite harsh chemical why evermore companies try to remove this substance from their hair products. And this is doable; ammonia does not need to be there.
4. PPD (p-Phenylenediamine) – Why You Should Avoid it
PPD is an ingredient derived from ammonia and is often found in hair colours. PPD is used to help the pigment adhere to the hair better and is often used especially in dark hair colours.
The most commonly known risk of PPD is allergy. Many people are to some extent allergic to this substance. And even if you’re not allergic, the effect of PPD is believed to be cumulative. This means that the more you are exposed to the substance, the more likely you are to develop a reaction in time. Allergies should be taken serious, so if you still want to use products with PPD in them, you should do a patch test beforehand to make sure you don’t get an allergic reaction.
5. Resorcinol – Why You Should Avoid it
The fifth chemical of mention here is resorcinol which is a dihydroxy benzene. Benzene, which is used to make resorcinol, is one of the chemicals known to increase risk of dangerous diseases like cancer. In hair colours, resorcinol formulates with other chemicals to provide a permanent colour effect.
Resorcinol has commonly been linked with hormone disruption and can cause skin irritation. And like PPD, the more you’re exposed to resorcinol, the more sensible you’re likely to be to this particular chemical. The affects caused by resorcinol should be taken serious as they suggest a variety of health issues. Besides affecting our health, researchers argue that this substance could be dangerous for the environment as well – another good reason to avoid it.
If this post has inspired you to try organic hair colours – you can read about the great benefits and how you can still get great results even though the colour is natural and organic! Read about this here and learn more about: The best Natural Hair Dye with the Best Results.