Sunday, January 10, 2010

They Put What in What???

I am a member of the Natural Hair Meet Up group here in Charlotte. One of our awesome members is a certified organic health expert (OK I know I got that wrong but I can't remember her exact title right now). She works at Healthy Home Market in Davidson (north of Charlotte) and has been my go-to person with health questions.

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:


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

On Twitter? Follow her - HealthBeatNews

Her blog - Health Beat News

PURGED at the top, and KEPT at the bottom:


Talktotisha said...

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH NO! I spy 'Curly Buttercreme' in your purged product picture.

I'm going to go through my 'go to' stuff and see what potential carcinogens are lurking in my cabinets.

Thanks for this heads up - let me know NEXT week about the deodorant! :)

Marilie said...

LOL! I will definitely let you know about the deodorant. So far so good.

Yes girl, the Buttercreme was guilty of mineral oil, methylparaben, imidazolidinyl, PEG-400, PEG =-100, propyl paraben, and yellow #5. :/

Please come back and tell me what your search turned up, and don't forget to check out the links for Kenya. :)

This One Woman said...

Wow. This is certainly an eye opener. Thanks for sharing.


Serenity3-0 said...

I dont think I will be able to change my mind from thinking of no using deoderant. I have smelled some funky people and never ever want to smell like them.. What do you plan to do about your hair products?

Marilie said...

LOL! I'm still using deodorant...just not anti-perspirant...'cause there's a difference in those two things. This is day 3 and there is no funk. Trust me. 'Cause you know I like good smelling things and I would not be up in this office smelling like a stale onion. LOL!

I've bagged up all those products and they're sitting by the door. I didn't have time to hit the dumpster today, with everything going on with my cell phone and verizon. That will be another blog post after I've woosah-ed.

Tazzee said...

This is a lot of information. None of the products I use are in your purged or kept piles. I'll have to check my stuff when I get home.

Marilie said...

Tazzee, come back and let me know about your products. I would be you're using something that someone else is using, so that would be good info to know. I left my notes at home, but later I will post a quick blog with products/ingredients that don't have these synthetics in them.

MrsSaditty said...

Girl Dee and I discovered the Crystal in Whole Foods one day and it has never failed us. And guess what? I found a liquid version of it(with a pump) at my local African store.

And about those ingredients? You made me plan a major product purge for this coming weekend. No wonder "our" hair doesn't grow when we use relaxers and products. The stuff in is designed to do the exact of grow our hair.

Marilie said...

Hey MrsSaditty! They had the liquid version at the store here. How do you like it so far? I decided to go with the traditional rock, for now. It seems like it's going to last a long time.

Yep - definitely the opposite of growing. It's marketing/labeling though. We get so fixated on the labels of "moisturizing" or "shea butter" or "natural" - I know it was never my thought to look for ingredients like this, past the petroleum, mineral oil and SLS. It's crazy!

nievea said...

Sooooo....I looked up the mineral stick, I'll be on the way to Walgreen's this weekend, you think I should try it on Jalen? (his dad died from Lymphoma...not sure which on) I will slowly start my purge, but I'm not throwing anything away, it will just be "never buy again" money is gonna be funny for a while!

Marilie said...

Yeah, I don't think it would hurt to try it on Jalen. Especially given that history. I don't think it's imperative that you rush to throw everything out, IF you don't have any alternatives to use right now. But I definitely wouldn't buy any more. I knew I had a lot of natural ingredients already, so it was easier for me to purge.

I'm proud of you, girlie! :) Check the label, I don't think it has any type of age limit for usage. It's salt so it stings after shaving - ask me how I know! LOL Kenya said it could also be used on feet, but I've only used it on the pits so far.

Talktotisha said...

Ok - I was all excited looking at the ingredient list of my Carol's Daughter products, until I googled an ingredient you don't have listed: Phenoxyethanol <~~ this stuff is terrible!

So now I'm bummed - will finish using my CD products but will definitely not purchase any more!


Marilie said...

That ingredient came up on another product (of course I can't remember what). I meant to look it up, but had gotten sidetracked. I'm glad you checked it! I'm gonna look it up myself to see what the deal is.

I think SOME of the CD products are ok, more so her body products...but I have seen some questionable stuff in the hair products. I heard her stuff used to be pretty good before she went big.