What’s the most instinctive reaction when any of us walks past a mirror or even a faintly reflective window pane. Almost automatically our hand reaches for the hair to casually run through it or to set those few strands that have come off their set place. And that very reaction shows our fascination with hair. We wear it like a crown on our heads. Less or more, curly, wavy or straight, closely cropped or spiked high, our hair is what adds personality to our being.
And just how our hair is synonymous with us, hair products are an inseparable part of our lifestyle – be it shampoo, conditioner, hair oil, or hair styling products. But do you know if your hair products are doing more harm than good to you? Have we ever bothered to look at what ingredients these products are made of? How many of these ingredients can you identify as being potentially harmful to your hair?
Which raises the biggest question - How often do you read the labels on your hair care products while buying? If you’re like most, the answer is almost never. And that’s why we find it important to bring to your attention some harmful ingredients to look out for and avoid while choosing products for your hair.
These are essentially cleansing agents added to get rid of dirt, excess oil, and sebum from the hair & scalp. Sulphates are used as foaming agents in shampoos since they help create a lot of lather. Wondering what the downsides are? Sulphates are known to excessively dry out the scalp, often causing irritation and allergic reactions among those with sensitive skin. They can also cause frizzy hair.
The impact of sulphates on biodiversity is also quite concerning. The lather from your shampoo that gets washed down the drain into larger water bodies is not great for the environment as well.
Parabens are ingredients that are added to products to increase their shelf life. Think of them as preservatives for hair products as they prevent bacteria from taking over the products in your washroom cabinet. Parabens are easily absorbed by your body when they are applied to your scalp which means they also get into the bloodstream. Parabens can lead to problems like drying your scalp, irritation, premature greying, and hair loss.
These, though biodegradable in nature, can accumulate on the surface of a water body and are known to be harmful to marine organisms and corals.
Often used as solvents, Phthalates can be found in several hair care products. They often help improve texture and decrease the stiffness of a product, making it easily spreadable on the hair. Phthalates can also be absorbed through the hair and skin which can be quite worrisome in the long run since these pose major health risks including fertility issues in men.
And that’s not all; they have the same effect when released into the environment - interfering with the reproductive functions in animals as well, often resulting in infertility.
These are often used in styling products like gels and waxes to help retain hold, texture, make the hair more manageable and make combing through easier. However, prolonged usage of products with synthetic polymers can turn the hair brittle, frizzy, and prone to breakage.
Being non-biodegradable, synthetic polymers pose a huge threat to the environment when they find their way into nature. The same, when burnt in landfills, can emit poisonous gases and cause air pollution.
So, the next time you’re out shopping for hair care products, make sure to check the labels to avoid your encounter with any of these ingredients. Make an informed decision and choose the ones that truly care for your hair.