With all the hype about good hair care products and bad hair care products, it is challenging to determine what your hair exactly needs. Several companies that produce hair care products chock of full of sulfates, detergents, parabens and silicones are continual butting heads with all natural hair care products that lack these ingredients. To make matters worse, heavily funded marketing departments for many beauty conglomerates, publish articles or journals which refute the chemical side effects of their product ingredients. Yet, the truth of the matter seems evident. Just as with food, the less refined, chemically created your product, the better it will be for your hair.
So why the outcry from companies that use these ingredients? The battle is over the word better. If you want a hair care product that makes your hair feel better, meaning softer or shinier instantaneously, but has some minor to major side effects, buy products from anyone. Yet, if you want long-lasting healthy hair that has to be built over time and produce some instant rewards, go all natural.
If you still are undecided, here is a synopsis of pros and cons of the heavyweight contenders in the hair care ingredient battles.
Why are silicones bad for your hair? Silicones are chemical substances that actually coat the hair, forming a shiny layer which makes the hair appear healthier and shinier. They are often found in shine sprays and hair rinses and dyes. Some silicones are water soluble, and others are not. For those that are not, they have the potential to create excessive build up on the hair, resulting in dry hair unable to receive moisture due to the presence of the layer of film. Yet, because your hair appears shinier and softer, most users of silicones are pleased with their hair until they learn it is actually damaged from all the dryness. This especially occurs with the use of hair dyes. Thus, silicones are an illusion and actually do more harm than good, depending on whether you prefer instant, false gratification or healthy hair. Keep in mind, however, that some people do love silicones and experience success with them by using them.
Sodium laureth sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), is a detergent and surfactant found in many personal care products (soaps, shampoos, toothpaste etc.). It is an inexpensive and very effective foamer. These substances provide a foaming quality to the product, allowing for better distribution of the product while washing hair or skin and while brushing teeth. While SLS is a known irritant, some evidence and research suggest that SLES can also cause irritation after extended exposure. Products containing these substances can affect those prone to eczema and other irritants. When rinsed off, the product will have cleaned the area but will have taken moisture from the top layers of skin. In people with sensitive skin (prone to dermatitis, acne, eczema, psoriasis and chemical sensitivity), the drying property of these type of detergents can cause flare-ups of skin conditions or may worsen existing conditions. The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) and the American Cancer Society stated that the common belief that SLES is a carcinogen is an urban legend. However, the Environmental Working Group has claimed in their Skin Deep Report that SLES may possibly be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.SLES and SLS have been known to become contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers 1,4-dioxane to be a probable carcinogen. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration encourages manufacturers to remove this contaminant, it is not currently required by federal law.
Many companies have eliminated sodium laurel sulfate in their products by claiming to use milder sulfate detergents, but that is questionable, since must sulfates are even harsher than SLS. Plus, the inexpensiveness of SLS shampoos and conditioners just make them attractive to beauty monopolies. Did you really expect to get quality ingredients for that 3.00 shampoo? Yes, you make have hair that looks or feels quality, but remember looks can be deceiving.
The Final Word
As more companies respond to the natural and organic personal care movement, the battle between natural ingredients and chemical ingredients will continue to rage on. Your best bet is to find a product that, even if all natural, contains quality ingredients, not simply extracts and ingredients that sound good. By far, some of the highest quality hair care products that I discovered are Beauty 4 Ashes GodHead products, especially their Silky Smooth System. Priced similar to Philosophy and Nexxus, their products actually contain hair healthy natural oils and essential oils and have no sulfates or silicones. Yet, they also produce quality, visible results. You can learn more about their product ingredients at www.discoverb4a.com.