I got to the meeting a few minutes late. HHM was kind enough to let us use their new community room for the get together. I have to say I smiled widely when I walked in and saw all the "nappies" (that's what we call ourselves). Locs, twists, twist outs, braid outs, 'fros...just awesomeness!!
You don't have to be a black female to see how many products are THROWN at us in this endless search for manageable, healthy, beautiful hair. Not that they aren't thrown at other women, but I've noticed in the past 10 years that the "ethnic hair care section" has been growing exponentially. Used to be a piece of a shelf, now it's a big section in stores like WalMart, Walgreens and others.
I personally have gotten away from using a lot of the commercial products. Mainly because of two ingredients: petroleum/mineral oil, and sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate. The former because up to Friday's meeting, I only knew that it was not moisturizing and therefore would defeat the purpose for someone who has hair prone to dryness. The latter for the same deal - it strips the hair of natural oils, and contributes to dryness.
Friday's meeting opened my eyes. While I was on the right track with avoiding those two things, that was just the tip of the iceberg, and the reasons I cited weren't even the most important!
Kenya gave us so much information, my head was spinning. She is a two time lymphoma survivor, and is really vested in this information. I knew she was going to hit us with the cold, hard truth. The first part of the meeting was a true/false quiz. All the answers were false. I am going to ask her for the questions so I can post them for you here at a later date.
After that, she gave us all a free copy of "Natural Ingredients Dictionary," by Aubrey Hampton. Aubrey Hampton is the founder of Aubrey Organics products. The dictionaries were donated to the store, so that we could have them for free. At the back of this dictionary, Kenya had us turn to a list entitled "Ten Synthetic Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid." Here are those 10 things:
- METHYL, PROPYL, BUTYL AND ETHYL PARABEN
- DIETHANOLAMINE (DEA), TRIETHANOLAMINE (TEA)
- DIAZOLIDINYL UREA, IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA
- SODIUM LAURYL/LAURETH SULFATE
- PROPYLENE GLYCOL
- PVP/VA COPOLYMER
- STEARLKONIUM CHLORIDE
- SYNTHETIC COLORS
- SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES
More on some of those in a minute. Kenya asked us to bring 3 - 5 hair and body products that we like to use, so that we could look for these ingredients. The first four listed are almost always in the products marketed towards women of color. I took some Victoria Secrete and Bath & Body Work's lotions, one of my Soul Purpose shea butter balms, and my Suave conditioner. I was using Suave for my conditioner washes, but the other things I really haven't been using much, since I've been making my own scented body butter.
Well I'm here to tell ya - those lotions and that Suave have several of these ingredients that need to be avoided. There were at least 20 people in that room. If we all brought 5 products, there were at least 100 products there (granted, probably some duplicates, but still). Out of all of them, only ONE product passed the test. And it wasn't something readily available in the stores. ONE product? Just ONE?? Wow.
If I type out all the things about those ten ingredients, this would be a ridiculously long blog post. I encourage you to research and read for yourself, and then make your own decisions. But here are a few tidbits:
- METHYL, PROPYL, BUTYL AND ETHYL PARABEN - this is used to extend product shelf life. It is weakly estrogenic and is easily absorbed through the skin. Known to be toxi.
- DIETHANOLAMINE (DEA), TRIETHANOLAMINE (TEA)- used as emulsifiers/foaming agents. Can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation and dryness of hair and skin. They are ammonia compounds and form cancer-causing nitrosamines when they are mixed with nitrates. Toxic if absorbed over a long period of time.
- DIAZOLIDINYL UREA, IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA - preservatives. Primary cause of contact dermatitis. AKA Germall II and Germal 115. They both release formaldehyde! Yuck!
- SODIUM LAURYL/LAURETH SULFATE - harsh detergent. Many times derived from petroleum. Causes many allergic reactions.
- PETROLATUM - well, y'all already know this is the fuel we put into our vehicles. Petroleum jelly and mineral oil are derived from petrolatum. There's no nutrient value in these ingredients. It doesn't moisturize - matter of fact, it can interfere with your body's own moisturizing mechanism.
- PROPYLENE GLYCOL - IF this is derived from vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, it is ok. But generally it's a synthetic petrochemical mix...can cause hives and eczema. A girl in class stated that she has eczema and her doctor actually gave her an Rx for a cream with this in it. Things that make ya go hmmm...
- PVP/VA COPOLYMER - this is a waste material from the production of plastic. I don't think I need to add anything else here...
- STEARLKONIUM CHLORIDE - get this: this product was developed by the FABRIC INDUSTRY as a fabric softener. How the hell did it wind up in hair conditioners?? This is toxic!!
- SYNTHETIC COLORS - You know how you read food and product labels, and a color will be listed as FD & C Red No. 6, or D & C Green NO. 6? This is what they are - synthetic colors. They can be carcinogenic. And they don't have to tell you what they used to "make" the color.
- SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES - a synthetic fragrance can have up to 200 ingredients. Just ONE fragrance. And again, they don't have to tell you what the ingredients are. Some of the synthetic fragrances can cause hyperpigmentation and skin irritation, and a laundry list of other affects.
We didn't even get into talking about make up. I'm scared for when we do. But I know it's coming, so I will steel myself accordingly. We DID discuss deodorants/anti-perspirants. I've known for a while that these are not good. We NEED to sweat. That's one of the ways the lymphatic system gets rid of waste products from our bodies. Anti-perspirants don't allow us to do this. We have some pretty important lymph nodes under our arms, right near our breasts. So imagine what we're holding in? Even knowing this, I still swabbed on my Degree or Secret and went on about my day. When questioned about an alternative, Kenya advised us about a deodorant called
Crystal Body Deodorant Stick. What this amounts to is a stick of mineral salts. It's clear. It has no scent/odor. It's Ammonium Alum.
I'll be the first to tell you I gave a side eye at what she referred to as "the rock" (the large size is formed into a big rock shape and last for a loooooooong time). We were like, um...what is a rock gonna do for us? Well that odor under our arms is caused by odor-causing bacteria. The Crystal stick provides a barrier that stops the bacteria from forming. You either wet the stick or apply to wet skin. It will dry clear.
I bought the smallest size. I was majorly skeptical about this. I'm not trying to walk around smelling like Pepe LePew. Especially since I work out several times per week. Saturday morning was the test. I told my friend Lori that I'd go with her so she could walk on the treadmill up in the work out room at my job. You must apply this to clean armpits, so I showered and applied it. I put on my work out clothes and headed up to the gym. I wimped out on my work out and only ran 2.6 miles (yeah, yeah, yeah. I know), but I most definitely was sweating. After I got off of the treadmill I did a quick smell check. Nothing. Hmmmm. Went home, disrobed and still nothing! I showered and re-applied. Now the rest of that day, Verizon got my pressure up (and thus my body temp and sweating) and then the Cowboys-Eagles game had some tense moments. When I tell you there was not ONE OUNCE OF ODOR, I truly mean it. Not one! I truly believe that every product is YMMV (your mileage may vary). What works for some may not work for others. But it is not expensive, and I had nothing to lose by trying it. We'll see how it works out for the rest of the week.
I could go on, but I'm going to wrap this up. Ultimately, whatever you decide to do is up to you. There are so many toxins we're exposed to on a daily basis. We may not be able to omit exposure from all of them, but I'm all for reducing where I have control. I'm perturbed that we've been hoodwinked and bamboozled by some of these companies for so long - but that's another discussion for another post. I purged my products yesterday. It really hurt me to my heart that my Jessicurl Too Shea conditioner had the diazolidinyl urea in it. Everything else was great! I'm mad that I ordered a liter. All my smell good lotions are hitting the trash can as well. I've posted pics of the purge and keep piles below.
One of the most important things Kenya said on Friday is this: we have to change our perceptions of what our hair is supposed to look like, smell like, and how it's supposed to feel. Same thing with our skin. A lot of these ingredients are producing an illusion. And that illusion can be hazardous to our health.
On Facebook? Become a fan of Kenya's page, Minority Natural Health Network
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Her blog - Health Beat News
PURGED at the top, and KEPT at the bottom: