11 Oct Thou Shall Not Phthalate, Sulfate and Paraben My Hair
In an attempt to understand what makes better haircare, I was surprised by the many synthetic compounds that the industry uses in pursuit of perfect hair. The three principle compounds are namely, phthalates, sulfates and parabens. Together, they make up the majority of haircare on the market today.
Target #1: Phthalates
Take your standard fruit-scented hair conditioner. To achieve that refreshing kiwi scent, fragrance chemists rely upon phthalates which act as stabilizers in synthetic fragrances. A stabilizer is just a fancy compound that makes you smell like kiwi throughout your day; it also smoothens out the odor profile of the product, leaving you with a pleasant lingering scent. Phthalates are big players in the hair & beauty space and are rampant in cosmetics and skincare products. However, they have also been linked to negative health effects such as asthma, allergies, and reproductive defects such as decreased sperm motility. But it’s not all bad news! There are haircare products that have taken note and opted for natural fragrances to avoid phthalates in their formula. Here at NIUCOCO, we believe that nothing beats the smell of a real coconut. That’s why all our products are infused with natural compounds and are paraben-free.
Target #2: Sulfates
Next on the hit-list is sulfates. These compounds help remove greasiness and so are aptly referred to as detergents or degreasers. To achieve that squeaky-clean feeling takes a high concentration of these bad boys. Sadly, that feeling, like all good things, comes at a price. With continued use you may experience skin irritation, dandruff and hair loss. Thankfully, alternative compounds can be used to achieve that same squeaky-clean feeling without the irritation. Sulfate-free shampoos may take a while to get used to as they don’t foam up under water. However, it’s worth nothing that colored hair does not fade due to the mild cleansing agents in these formulations. So far, we have covered compounds implicated in the scent and efficacy of a product. But what about the preservatives used in your favorite hair serum?
Target #3: Parabens
Meet parabens. Parabens were very popular during the 1920s as a preservative against fungal and bacterial contamination. However, in recent decades, these compounds were discovered to mimic estrogen. For those of us who are more science-inclined, the chemical structure of a paraben is very similar to that of estrogen. This allows it to bind to the estrogen receptor, causing a disturbance in reproductive hormonal levels. The cosmetic industry pushed for the removal of parabens after studies suggested that parabens were involved in a significant number of breast cancer cases. To this day, researchers have yet to find a causal relationship between parabens and breast cancer, but several studies support a correlation between the two.
So what can you take away from all this?
Well, the good news is that your haircare regimen has the potential to be phthalate, sulfate and paraben-free. How? Well, it’s as simple as looking for products that use natural formulations – natural fragrances, mild detergents and natural preservatives (#NIUCOCO? 😉).
With the rise in consumer-conscious goods, hair experts are noticing and investing in alternative ingredients that are good for you and the environment. My hope is that one day the industry will come to its senses (#getwoke 🙌🙌) and banish this deadly trio once and for all.
But till then, why not start yourself?