For Hair So Healthy, It’s Actually Healthy!


Throughout the ages, the shampoo industry has been advertising that clean hair is shiny and the reason is simple–the cheap ingredients they use strip the hair of all its oils and replaces them with artificial chemicals, which, despite the media hype, is extremely bad for your hair.  Did you know that healthy hair has no split ends or dandruff and protects itself from UVA/UVB sun rays?

What to Expect:

  1. What’s Wrong With My Shampoo?
  2. Buying Good Shampoo
  3. Making Good Shampoo
  4. Why Is This Good?

1. Whats Wrong With My Shampoo?

  • Polysorbates
    • Often leaves a residue on the skin, disrupts the skin’s natural pH balance, and emulsifies lipids in the natural protective barrier (preventing the barrier from doing its job).
    • Avoid completely.
  • Lanolin, Petroleum, and Mineral Oil
    • These ingredients are widely used in formulas intended for ethnic hair and offer no real moisturizing benefits.
    • They actually weigh the hair down and prevent the natural oils (which the scalp produced) from being absorbed by the hair shaft.
    • Avoid completely
  • Artificial colorants (Such as FD&C Yellow 5, FD&C Red 40)
    • Found in anything from hair dyes to toothpastes to food.
    • Often contain heavy metals such as lead acetate or coal tar chemicals and may even be derived from aluminum (which, as we learned from Deodorize Yourself and Remember It!, it has been linked to Alzheimer’s, breast cancer in women, neuro-developmental issues of the fetus during pregnancy, and prostate cancer in men).
    • Many colorants are carcinogenic or contain impurities that are.
    • Avoid completely.
  • BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
    • Not all antioxidants are good!  This group of antioxidants is used in everything from lipstick to toothpaste to baby sunscreen–you can even find it in some foods. Its use in food is banned in many other countries. These are toxic to the immune, respiratory, liver, and neurological systems.
    • Avoid completely.
  • Cocamidopropyl
    • This surfactant and emulsifier usually also contains impurities, like nitrosamines (see DEA/TEA), which can combine with other ingredients to form carcinogenic compounds.
    • It can cause some contact dermatitis (can be displayed as pink or red itchy rash).
    • Avoid if at all possible
  • DEA/TEA (Diethanolamine/Triethanolamine)
    • These are used as lathering agents.
    • They can react with other compounds in the products to form a carcinogen called nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA).
    • It is interesting to note that in 1979, the FDA decided to outlaw the chemical and issued an order for the cosmetic industry to eliminate NDEA from all formulas, but when the products were tested for NDEA in 1980, 42% came up positive.
    • Avoid completely.
  • Dimethecone (silicone derived emollients)
    • This is used as an emollient because of its ability to “seal” the skin, it does not allow the skin to breathe and can trap harmful bacteria.
    • It is a silicone derivative (the same substance used in breast implants).
    • It is non-biodegradable, so the impact on the environment is quite large.
    • Avoid completely if under 25 (male) and under 21 (female), then avoid if at all possible.
      • Why the difference in ages? Men and women develop at different rates.  While most women’s bodies stop developing around age 21, men’s bodies continue to “fill in” or “broaden” until about age 25.  The idea is to avoid this chemical completely until your body is completely developed.
  • Formaldehyde releasers
    • DMDM hydantoin diazolidinyl urea, Imidazalidol urea Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, N-(Hydroxymethyl) glycine, monosodium salt, and quaternium-15
    • Some of these are used as preservatives, namely as a paraben replacement (remember how bad paraben is?).  So, good?  Right?
    • No.  Since they release formaldehyde as they break down. Formaldehyde was classified as a human carcinogen in 2004.
    • Anything with the ingredient urea in the name is generally used as a penetration enhancer, which is used to help active ingredients penetrate the skin deeper. These also release formaldehyde as they break down and have been linked as blood, neurologic, and liver toxins.
    • Formaldehyde is known to be extremely toxic to all animal lifeforms (humans included), regardless of method of intake. Ingestion of 30 mL (1 oz) of a 37% formaldehyde solution has been reported as lethal in an adult human.
    • It is interesting to note that formaldehyde is that chemical that was found in Victoria’s Secret bras back in 2008 and is currently used as an embalming agent.
    • Avoid completely.
  • Parabens (methylparaben, polyparaben, ethylparaben, etc.)
    • Also discussed in Deodorize Yourself and Remember It!, these are widely used preservatives which mimic the effects of the female hormone estrogen.
    • Found in nearly all commercial body care products (liquid soaps, shampoos, conditioners, toothpastes, lotions, diaper creams, etc.)
    • It is interesting to note that parabens have been found in breast tumor tissue, though an official causal relationship has not been determined (but you can do the math).
    • Avoid completely.
  • PEG ingredients (Polyethylene glycol)
    • This is anything with PEG followed by a number (representing molecular weight), such as PEG 400.
    • Used as detergents and foaming agents.
    • They have been shown t be kidney and skin toxins and are often contaminated with volatile carcinogens, dioxane, and ethylene oxide.
    • Avoid completely.
  • Petrolatum (liquid paraffin) and mineral oil
    • Fossil fuel.  These are refined from crude oil and do not allow skin to breathe.
    • They have been banned from the European Union since 2004 for probable carcinogenic impurities.
    • Avoid if at all possible.
  • Propylene glycol
    • A solvent that is used in anti-freeze, de-icing chemicals, nail polish, latex paints, artificial smoke (as used in theatrical productions), deodorant, and adhesives.
    • The process for making this chemical is fossil fuel dependent.
    • Propylene glycol – this solvent is used in anti-freeze, de-icing chemicals, nail polish, latex paints, artificial smoke (as used in theatrical productions), deodorant and adhesives. The process for making this chemical is heavily fossil fuel dependent.
    • Also mentioned in  Deodorize Yourself and Remember It!
    • Though it is not required to avoid this chemical at all costs, it is wise to minimize its consumption.
  • Sodium or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (almost anything containing the words lauryl, laureth, or sulfate)
    • Surfactant and foaming agent that is found in most soaps, shampoos, and laundry detergents.
    • Can be extremely irritating to skin and exacerbates of eczema dramatically.
    • Created by the process of Ethoxylation, which results in a byproduct called 1,4 dioxane, which is not listed on the label, but is the cancer-causing aspect of the ingredient.
    • It is interesting to note that this group of chemicals is used in engine degreasers.
    • Avoid completely.
  • Fragrance
    • Also known as Phthalates.
    • Used for fragrance and helping ingredients dissolve.
    • It has been linked to a higher risk of birth defects, which suggests that phthalates may disrupt hormone receptors as well as increase the likelihood of cell mutation.
    • It has been linked to prostate cancer, liver damage, kidney damage, lung damage, and male reproductive defects.
    • Avoid this chemical completely.
  • Talc
    • Can be toxic if inhaled and was found in up to 75% of ovarian cancer tumor.
    • Avoid completely.

2. Buying Good Shampoo

You can buy a good shampoo that will do the trick. I will outline a few good options here.

  1. Cal Ben Five Star Soap Products.
    1. Pure ingredients.
    2. Great smell that isn’t overpowering.
    3. Leaves hair and scalp smooth and healthy.
  2. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap
    1. Castile soap.
    2. You have a choice between liquid and bar soaps and the only difference is the addition of water.
      1. You get more for your dollar if you get the bar.
    3. You also have a choice of essential oils.
      1. Tea tree is great for dandruff by soothing the scalp and killing off any microbial causing the irritation.
      2. Peppermint has been shown to stimulate hair growth by soothing the scalp.
      3. Almond is a deep moisturizer.
      4. Citrus orange helps soften rough, dry skin and can be useful in dandruff.
      5. Eucalyptus relieve symptoms associated with mild psoriasis and dry scalp, promotes hair growth and strength by stimulating proper blood flow, and improves shine and thickness.
      6. Lavender helps control dandruff and condition hair and scalp with its antifungal and calming properties.
      7. Rose can reduce tender scalp with its anti-inflammatory properties. Due to its small molecules, it’s able to deliver deep moisture to the hair and scalp.
      8. Or you can get the baby mild (which has no essential oils added) and add your own.
  3. You have many more choices if you run a search engine search, but the above two are the ones we use and love.  Anyone else have experiences with the ones above or any other brand?

3. Making Good Shampoo

Coconut Milk Castile

 What You Need

What To Do

  1. Combine all ingredients in the container.
  2. Shake well until mixed.
  3. Shake before each use.
  4. Use about a teaspoon.
  5. This can be kept for up to a month.

Note: This also makes a great shaving cream, if diluted with 1/4 cup distilled water and placed in a foaming pump.

No-Poo Honey

This recipe is a simple recipe, but must be mixed before each shower to prevent mold growth (as implausibe as that is with certain essential oils, such as tea tree oil, I have found reports of this happening)–better play it safe.

What You Need

  • Ingredients
    • 1 tbsp Raw/unpasteurized honey (this is hard to come by in some states).
    • 3 tbsp warm, pure, filtered water (I’d recommend getting a whole house 7- or 10- stage filter. You could also go to the local whole market, where they may dispense pure, filtered water in your jug)
    • A few drops of essential oils (optional. I suggest carrot seed oil, tea tree oil for dandruff, lavender for all hair types).
  • Utensils
    • Small container

What To Do

  1. Mix the ingredient in the small container and go shower.
    1. It will be watery and that’s good.
  2. Wet hair an massage the mixture well into the scalp.
    1. Don’t worry about the rest of the hair, this remedy is for your scalp. Once your scalp is healthy, your hair will follow.
  3. Rince
    1. No need to use conditioner.

There is a transition period with this remedy.  Normal shampoos strip the scalp’s natural oils, which is uses to condition and treat the hair.  At first, the hair may see oily, so for the first week, this my need to be n everyday wash.  As your scalp heals, the repetition of washes will decrease to every other day, then every second day, and so on.

Warning If you are allergic to honey, do not use this remedy.

No Poo

This is a bit complicated to start with, but it works.

What You Need

  • Ingredients
    • 1/2 to 1 tsp of baking soda
  • Utensils
    • None

What To Do

  1. Week one
    1. Wash hair daily only with 1 tsp baking soda
      1. Wet hair
      2. Massage baking soda into scalp.
      3. Rinse well, allowing the solution to flow to the rest of the hair.
  2. Week two
    1. Wash hair every other day with 1 tsp baking soda
  3. Week three
    1. Wash hair every other day with 1/2 tsp baking soda.
  4. Week four
    1. Wash hair twice with 1/2 tsp baking soda
  5. Week six and onward
    1. Wash hair once a week with 1/2 tsp baking soda

Note: At least every other day, rinse the hair out with only water.

4. Why Is This Good?

  • Coconut milk
    • The Lauric Acid can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
    • It can protect hair against damage, moisturize skin, and function as sunscreen.
  • Castile
    • Castile soap is a very simplistic soap that doesn’t have any of the bad ingredients of other soaps. Using sudsing soaps on your hair and body isn’t actually good, since they strip the natural, protecting oils, but Castile soaps are definitely better than any of the other in that they an actually help your skin and hair maintain their own natural beauty.
  • Vitamin E
    • Antioxidant that protects and repairs your skin by neutralizing the oxidant effect of free radicals, which are molecules that damage collagen and cause skin dryness, fine lines, and wrinkles.
    • The atoms within you attempt to maintain an even number of electrons, which stabilizes them.  If an atom has an uneven number of electrons, it will steal an electron from another atom to stabilize. During your average day, your skin takes a beating and your body can produce free radicals as a result, which steal electrons from healthy cells, which can cause a damaging chain reaction.  Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and prevent cellular damage from continuing. Vitamin E is one of the most powerful antioxidants, but your body can’t produce it, so you must supplement (make sure you use d-alpha and not dl-alpha).
  • Essential oils
    • There are many oils to choose from, each with its own properties.
    • Try to choose an oil or combination of oils that smells nice as well as serves a medical purpose (there are plenty to choose from, so have fun with it and remember to always choose oils that are marked approved for internal use).
  • Olive/almond oil
    • Olive Oil
      • Extremely nourishing and moisturizing.
      • One study on mice has shown that olive oil may also protect your skin against sun damage and even cancer.
      • Contains a oleocanthal, which has been found to stop the activity of enzyme Cox-1 and Cox-2, which are at the heart of inflammatory conditions and it does so in a similar way as ibuprofen or other NSAIDs do.
        • It is interesting to note that about 1.75oz (50g) of olive oil in your daily diet is equal to roughly 10% of the recommended adult dose of ibuprofen, without any of the safety warnings on the ibuprofen label.
    • Almond Oil
      • Rich in vitamins A, B, and E
        • Improve the complexion and retains glow
        • Deep moisturizer
        • Soothes skin irritation and inflammation
        • Nourishes skin, making it softer
        • Cures chapped lips and body rashes
      • Rich source of magnesium which helps hair grow long and healthy
      • Helps rid hair of split ends by reducing breakage
      • Helps rid hair of dandruff by moisturizing scalp and keeping scalp and hair healthy
  • Honey
    • Humectant (attracts moisture).  Unlike Glycerine, when honey has evaporated, the moisture will remain.
    • Contains vitamins and minerals that nourish hair and scalp.
    • It is naturally antibacterial.
  • Baking soda
    • This salt actually inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria in your armpits… it kills the bacteria and helps sanitize.
    • Note: This has shown to strip hair dye over time.

Next Post (9/5/2014):

Series: Tiny Planet, Part 1 – Making a Tiny Impact

This is part one of a four-part series named Tiny Planet. In part one, we will dive into what our commercial impact on our planet is and how we can make a smaller one.



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