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Healthy Hair 101 “healthy hair, healthy body”

Today with Yasmina Ykelenstam we’ll be exploring the latest do’s and don’ts of non-toxic hair care.

Wait, that’s not a thing? It should be. Hair is a reflection of what’s going on with us health-wise.
Need iron? You’ll soon be shedding like an ultramarine blue dip dyed labradoodle my dear – more on the health impact of hair dye in a moment.
A lack of zinc and selenium meanwhile, often causes dry, flaky scalp, so you’ll definitely need a second chance to make that first impression…

I’m pretty sure most of us are totally clued up on what to eat nowadays, so today we’ll be delving a little deeper into the capillary world, exploring the latest do’s and don’ts of non-toxic hair care.

It was the single-minded determination to get my hands on the impossibly lustrous cover girl tresses I’d coveted since childhood that landed me with my first mega rash

It was the single-minded determination to get my hands on the impossibly lustrous cover girl tresses I’d coveted since childhood that landed me with my first mega rash, all over my hairline, neck, shoulders, top of my back, and, oddly enough, also the tops of my thighs.
After careful consideration (and umpteen maddening dermatologist visits) I realised it was my lovely shampoo. And so the search was on to figure out what ingredient/s I needed to avoid in order to nip said rash in the bud, and also banish the alarming increase in ombre’d strands now clogging my drain.

Think that something in mainstream cosmetics and bath products can’t be that bad for you?
Here are just a few doozies…
Brazilian blow out products contain carcinogenic formaldehyde (New York Times article)
Until 2014 Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo contained at least two cancer-causing chemicals (New York Times article)

Watch out for…

Dichlorophenols/triclosan
Found in shampoo and other hair products, toothpaste, body wash and lipsticks. A carcinogen that has also been linked to food and environmental allergies. May contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Cocamide DEA
This coconut derived cancer-causing chemical is often found in organic/natural brands. The Environmental Working Group website tells us it has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis. Researchers have found that applying it to the skin of pregnant mice at concentrations found in our shampoos.

When my cousin’s kids were little, he had a rule when they begged for treats: “I’ll buy it for you if you can read all the ingredients out loud.” It took them well into their teens to be able to, and by then they knew all about toxic foods and had lost interest.

SLS – sodium laurate and n-lauroylsarcosine sodium
When my cousin’s kids were little, he had a rule when they begged for treats: “I’ll buy it for you if you can read all the ingredients out loud.” It took them well into their teens to be able to, and by then they knew all about toxic foods and had lost interest. It’s a solid approach that I’ve applied to all my foods and beauty products over the years.
The real danger with these is that they’re commonly contaminated with other cancer causing chemicals like ethylene oxide and dioxane.
Studies also turned up that they increase the risk of allergies and dermatitis.

P-phenylenediamine and colours identified by C.I. and a five-digit number, or FD&C blue/yellow etc
Found in hair dyes and cosmetics. Derived from known carcinogen coal tar. These colours (used mostly in dark hair dye) may also be contaminated with other cancer causing, endocrine and immune system disrupting heavy metals. This stuff is the reason I stopped dyeing my hair with commercial colour.

Parabens
These easily penetrate the skin, messing with your endocrine system. That means your thyroid, which at best means weight gain, dry skin and brittle nails, but could end up in something as serious as the life changing Hashimoto’s.

Just because it says organic doesn’t mean it’s a natural product…
Rose-Marie Swift of my favourite make up brand RMS Beauty sums up the problem of so-called “organic” brands.

I was surprised to learn that the majority of ingredients used for natural cosmetics are saponified, clarified, deodorized, fractionated and heated to high temperatures. But this means they’re not natural ingredients anymore – they are now equivalent to man made chemicals.

My selection for Healthy Hair

 I’m still jumping with joy at all the amazing natural products that are sprouting up all over the place. Sure, some of them could use hipper packaging, but hey, avoid cancer or stick a pretty package on your shelf – n’uff said right? Even the Paleo diet people are getting in on the action.

  • Shampoo

Morocco Method Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo
Not to be confused with a similarly named, chock-a-block with toxins, brand. Apple cider vinegar is something our grandmas would have used. I don’t know about you, but mine had an incredibly shiny mane. This brand has one of the cleanest shampoos I’ve found.

100% Pure
I can’t speak highly enough of 100% Pure. All their ingredients are derived from fruits and vegetables. This shampoo does what it says on the box, glosses the heck out of your hair and smells absolutely lovely to boot.

Rahua
At some point in the last few years, due to severe chemical reactions, I was forced to go no-poo. For the uninitiated, this is giving up shampoo entirely. When ending this antisocial practice, I eased into the whole shampoo thing by washing the ends in Rahua. The result: supermodel hair. I kid you not – head turning big bouncing waves of naturally gorgeous hair.

  • Conditioner for silky soft hair

Enkido Conditioner

Ajara Skincare Coconut Jasmin conditioning oil

Ekota Conditioner

  • Styling

John Master’s Organics Bourbon Vanilla & Tangerine Hair Texturiser
My absolute favourite hair styling product for seriously big hair with attitude. This stuff always generates a ton of admiring enquiries.

Morocco Method Intl. Curl Power
It’s a fine line at times between cave woman fleeing the ice age and Rita Hayworth brushed out curls. This wonderful cream delivers the former. Just messing!

Primal Life Organics Sea Salt Texturising Spray
The perfect tool for channelling the California beach girl look. A hint of rose water delivers an inflammation fighting, deliciously vibrant twist.

  • Colour

Sadly, most of the “natural” hair dyes on the market are full of nasty ingredients. Don’t see P-phenylenediamine in the list? That’s because brands have adopted a sneaky strategy of coming up with related chemicals with slightly different names.
The truth nowadays is that there really isn’t a safe commercial hair dye on the market, no matter what the label says. Luckily a number of natural alternatives exist, most famously (or infamously) henna.
Most women over the age of 30 have had some kind of carrot top henna experience, but modern henna purveyors have refined the process and made it much more user-friendly by pre-mixing henna with indigo (for brown hair), or just offering cassia obovata for those looking for a more flaxen look.

Two such companies with highly reputable products are:

Mehandi
Morocco Method Int’l

You can check your products for toxicity on the wonderful Environmental Working Group incredible database.

Yasmina Ykelenstam

The Low Histamine Chef Yasmina Ykelenstam blogs her adventures in healing from a chronic inflammatory condition. She covers allergy free living, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine recipes, in addition to all the latest developments in nutrition.

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