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How Closely Related Are Your Hair Products To Your Lady Business?
There are numerous chemicals in use today that negatively affect our health, hence the rise of “all natural” products that have flooded the market, from pet food to household cleaners. But have you ever wondered how they affect woman’s reproductive health?
Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) estimates that there are over 70, 000 chemicals used in products and exposure to these chemicals and metals can lead to infertility, hormonal imbalances, miscarriage and other reproductive health problems.
Our exposure to these chemicals range from our food, to the atmosphere, products we use on our hair and body, cleaning products, fragrances, among others; quite often there’s at least, one toxic chemical lurking in them.
This makes it really hard to reduce our exposure to these chemicals simply because they are so ubiquitous in our daily life.
And even though we may watch what we eat, we sometimes not even think about what we put on our hair. Contrary to what you might unconsciously feel, hairs aren’t “outside” of our body, rather they are a part of it. So what we put in it will definitely affect our health.
Using a lot of products that contain toxic chemicals is a sure way to put your health at risk.
The most overlooked part is the effect these chemicals have on female reproductive health; how it affects menstrual cycles, causes period pains and birth defects.
At first thought, it might be difficult to make the correlation between hair products and reproductive health as both systems are perceived to be seperate and unrelated.
However, research has shown that there is a link between harmful chemicals and metals on the disruption of female reproductive health.
Most of these chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors. That is, they cause hormonal imbalances which might lead to birth defects, irregular menstrual cycles, endometriosis and fibroids.
Fortunately, these chemicals can be spotted on the ingredient list of the products you choose and avoided. But there are more toxic chemicals hiding in plain sight which still have yet to be researched for their harmful effects.
For example, take an inconspicuous ingredient like “fragrance” which seems harmless. But it often covers a multitude of health hazards. Due to preservation of trade secrets, brands aren’t required to reveal the contents that make up this listing. However, this has been abused as more harmful and synthetic scents used in beauty products have made their way to store shelves.
We are constantly exposed to thousands of chemicals in hair products, but only a fraction have been tested for their toxicity and correlation to irregular menstrual cycles and reproductive health problems.
However, there are a couple of studies that do show a correlation between exposure to certain chemicals and reproductive health problems.
The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in a note on the Reproductive Risks of Chemicals At Work listed Lead, PCBs, vinclozolin, procymidome and linuron, arsenic, some phthalates, as some examples of chemicals posing risks to the female reproductive system. The note by the RSC added that the negative effects are varied and might include changes in sexual behavour, pregnancy outcome, gestation time, premature menopause, cyclicity, among others.
With negative effects like this, it is very unsettling, to say the least, to know that these chemicals can be found in a wide number of products used in the cosmetic industry.
Toluene, for example, which is also known as methyl benzene, methyl benzol, phenyl methane, and toluol can be found in hair dyes, wig glues and nail products. It is used as a solvent and can cause fetal abnormalities. Additionally, it is known to cause respiratory problems and eye irritation at acute exposure.
A study on the menstrual disturbances and hormonal changes in women workers exposed to a mixture of organic solvents in a pharmaceutical company by Somayeh Hassani tested the effects of endocrine disruptors on women exposed to them.
Although it focuses on exposure at a pharmaceutical company, the chemicals tested for can be found in products commonly used in hair products. For example, formaldehyde, one of the chemicals tested for is commonly used in hair straightening products. In this study, workers with higher exposure to these chemicals experienced irregular flow, prolonged bleeding and longer cycles compared to the women with lower exposure. Going by this study, it’s safe to say that constant exposure to these chemicals and metals have a high chance of showing the same results, regardless of the medium of exposure.
Phthalates are another known endocrine disruptor. They are plasticizers, added to give plastics their flexibility. But they can be found in hair sprays and virtually most cosmetic products. A research by Germaine M. Buck Louis PHD et al showed a correlation between higher levels of phthalates in the body and endometriosis. It revealed that more than 4 phthalates caused an increase in the odds of an endometriosis diagnosis.
Another study by Patricia A. Hunt et al concluded that, “EDCs (diphenyldichloroethene and phthalates) may contribute substantially to the most common reproductive disorders in women, endometriosis and fibroids, costing nearly 1.5 billion annually.
If these chemicals are known hazards, why are they allowed in commercial products?
Often times , some of these chemicals are allowed to be used in certain doses that are deemed not toxic enough to the human health.
But the FDA fails to take into account the other indirect ways we may come in contact with these chemicals. Chances are the vegetables in your food were treated with pesticides containing hazardous chemicals. Your favourite body fragrance and cleaning products have their own share of synthetic chemicals that are harmful to overall health. Products we use on our hair are likewise filled with harmful chemicals.
These chemicals are known to accumulate in the boday and exposure to numerous products containing these small amounts of toxic chemicals will build up and eventually cause problems.
With Endometriosis and fibroids affecting up to 70% of women it is important to avoid these endocrine disruptors at all cost. Embracing a more natural lifestyle is the preferred way to go for the benefit of your health. For every chemical with benefits, there are more natural options.
Hair dyes, keratin treatments and relaxers contain endocrine disruptors. So constant use of these hair products put you at risk of developing reproductive health problems.
With this evidence of the link between toxic chemicals and female reproductive disorders, it’s best to stay on the safe side, wouldn’t you say?
Fortunately for us, there are lots of brands nowadays that understand the health dangers caused by exposure to toxic chemicals. These brands are green and use organic ingredients to make their products. While some popular brands are known to make organic options in addition to their toxic products, quite a number of others are dedicated to producing only holistic products. Some popular brands include Little Barn Apothecary, Burts bees, 100% Pure, Avalon organics, Fortifyd naturals, Soultanicals, and more.
Ditch the straighteners
Wanting straighter hair every now and then is totally fine and a sophisticated styling option but most straighteners like relaxers, contain harmful substances you want to avoid. Don’t believe me? Check out the documentary, Good Hair to see what’s really lurking in the creamy goop. Want straight hair, instead try a flat iron straightener, a silk press or other chemical-free options.
Find a salon/stylist that understands your needs
Unless you go to salons with your tools and products in tow, you need to find a salon that understands your commitment to avoiding chemicals.
Not all products used in salons are tested for toxicity that’s why it’s still common to have formaldehyde used in hair treatments despite its link to cancer and respiratory problems.
It might be considered strange and intrusive to inspect the products when you walk into the shop, so it’s best to do a little preliminary research and look for holistic or organic salons. That way you can go in and breathe easy knowing all products and tools used on your hair are free of toxicity.
Often times we go the extra mile to get certain products regardless of their toxicity due to the touted benefits they give to our hair. However, eating nutrient-rich diets can improve the look of your hair too. Also, eating more immune-boosting foods help fight against minor disease or sicknesses that may arise from being exposed to these harmful substances in cosmetic products.
Watch out for harmful hair ingredients
Ingredient watching is not a futile endeavor. It’s not wise (or safe) to assume that just because the products are on the store shelf, they are totally safe for use. As mentioned earlier, some of these toxic chemicals are allowed in products we consume either due to the FDA’s lack of foresight or based on the premise that certain quantities below the harmful level of the chemical is alright.
But there’s a chance these chemicals are contained in more than one product you use. There’s also a high chance that you might be indirectly exposed to a certain amounts of these chemicals in your day to day activities. A combination of these “small amounts” of chemicals will put you at accumulated risk over time. Avoiding them in your hair products brings you one step closer to preserving your health long term.
Wondering what chemicals to avoid, here’s a list of the most toxic chemicals contained in cosmetic products you’ll want to stay away from. Download this Dirty Dozen pocket guide that lists hair ingredients to avoid and take it with you on your next shopping trip or salon visit. Keep it in your purse or bag for always-there access!
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From festivals to fashion runways, you’ve seen these bold and colorful prints pop up in the most modern of ways. And while instantly recognizable, you may not have know it by name. So what exactly is Ankara fashion, and why is there such a buzz? Well, Ankara (also known as “African wax print” or “Dutch wax print”) is largely characterized by it’s vibrant, ethnic patterns and bold colors and is typically made of 100% cotton.
The buzz? While it has been popular among African culture for a long time, it’s been an emerging trend among African-Americans and quickly taking the states by storm as women and men continue to proudly claim their Queendom and Kingdom, continuing along the ongoing spectrum of discovery.
I’m personally loving this modern take on cultural fashions and believe the only proper response to that would be a resounding, “Yasssss!”
The beautiful patterns are rich in color and vibrant in style and the world of fashion cannot stop obsessing over its bold beauty.
BellaNaija, an online Nigerian magazine and blog, follows the latest trends from the red carpet to the wedding aisle. Your wedding day may not be near, but a night out on the town surely is. Either way, it is imperative you know exactly how and where to work your style. And lucky for you, there are tons of options.
Grace the Office with Style
From hair to fashion, there is always some debate on what’s proper or appropriate for the office. Some things keep consistent, such as a skirt or knee-length dress. However, there’s no reason that you can’t express yourself in office friendly attire with a bit of flair. Cubicle Nation or even your corner office with the great window view can be a tad less monotonous if you stack your fashion cards right. Pair your simple pieces with an Ankara blazer, or go bold with a full Ankara fashion dress or skirt. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Own the night out on the town with your girls or your guy
If you are anything like me, I have the ultimate girl power playlist with a good mix of tough, spicy and sweet on full blast when I’m getting ready for an evening of fun. So, of course, when I am gearing up for a night on the town with my crew, or a special guy, I have to match my attire to my attitude. Ankara patterns are known for perfectly mixing and matching vibrant colors in sophisticated patterns that catch the eye and hold it hostage. Pair a top with your jeans, or go all out, like with this bodysuit.
A Wedding Day Stunner
Your wedding day is one of elegance, grace, and style and it should be the case on every front, especially your dress. Ankara fashion has a definite place as it has been the traditional garb of Nigerian weddings since the beginning of time (or at least as far back as we can Google), and it is evident why. The intricate designs are stunning and captivating. They are not limited by the style of your dress to no extent. So, whether you are deciding to keep it sexy and put your curves on display, or keep it sweet reminiscent of Cinderella, you will not be disappointed.
You are not meant to go through life unnoticed, so why wouldn’t you show up boldly on the fashion front as well? Spice up your wardrobe with a few Ankara pieces that are flexible and accommodating of every aspect of your life.
Already owning the style?
Share your pics with us! Use hashtag #loccessories
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6 Down & Dirty Tips on Choosing A Dreadlock Shampoo
Whether you’re just starting to explore natural hairstyle possibilities, are beginning to grow dreads or have been wearing locs for a while now, it’s important that you learn just how to shampoo dreads to ensure that they stay healthy and keep looking great.
Well, to put it simply, you can’t just shampoo dreadlocks with any old shampoo you pick up at the 99 cent store. You need to use a dreads shampoo if you want to get the best results and avoid hair care woes. But what makes for a good dreadlocks shampoo you ask? Read on to discover some important tips about shampooing dreads…
1. Residue Is a No No. Locs can easily absorb ingredients like fragrances and oils from shampoos and other hair care products. Even if you thoroughly rinse your hair, traces of residue can linger in your locs and absorb moisture. Even if your dreadlocks feel dry, that residue that’s lurking behind might leave them still slightly damp, increasing your risk of developing dread rot. Always rinse your hair thoroughly after washing your locs, meaning twice as long as what feels natural or “enough.”
2. Most Shampoos Will Leave Behind Residue. You’ll find a number of conventional and even specialty ethnic shampoos on the market that claim to be “residue free,” but in actuality most still leave behind some traces of ingredients. Before buying any shampoo, it’s important to check the ingredient listings for any ingredients that start with the letters PPG or PEG. These ingredients are likely to leave behind residue on dreadlocks and should be avoided. Right now, I’m using Jason’s Tea Tree Normalizing Shampoo. Reason being, it doesn’t have any any harsh chemicals (i.e. no parabens, no sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate or phthalates and not tested on animals). I read about it on a dreadlocks forum and sought it out, when I finally found it and saw on the packaging that it’s recommended for itchy scalp (which I have), with that I was convinced enough to try it and have been very happy with the results.
3. Sulfates Are Not Your Friends. There are two surfactants commonly used in shampoo that people of all hair types are starting to avoid like the plague: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES). Both of these ingredients have been shown to potentially damage the cuticle of the hair strands and to strip moisture from the inner layers of hair proteins. These cleansing agents should be avoided if you have dreads, as they can trigger scalp sensitivity and leave locs dehydrated.
4. “Organic” and “Natural” Are Not Synonymous With “Safe for Dreadlocks.” Many shampoos today are touted as being organic, natural, naturally derived, made with organic ingredients and so on. Many Naturalistas make the mistake of assuming products with these types of labels are automatically safe for their locs, but that’s not always the case. Many natural ingredients can still create residue, making it important that you only choose formulas with essential oils or saponified oils not oils mixed with carrier oils. For example, a lot of people still use beeswax for their dreadlock maintenance. Yes, beeswax is technically “natural” (and who could hate those cute little bees busy making honey and other goodies for us?) but it’s a death knell for dreads because it attracts lint and unsightly buildup.
5. Search Before You Buy. Before purchasing any shampoo for dreads, don’t simply be swayed by pretty packaging and clever marketing angles… flip the bottle over and take a scan of all of the ingredients contained in the formulas. Find out whether or not they’re really dread safe before you make your purchase. There are commercial products out there that are safe, but it can take a bit of investigation to find them.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Your Own. Because it can be so difficult to find a residue-free shampoo for dreadlocks, many Naturalistas (and NaturalMistas) choose to whip up their own homemade rinses. You can find a number of recipes online that allow you to make a big batch of dreadlock rinse with just a few easy-to-find ingredients.
Whether you decide you want to make your own dreads shampoo or purchase one of the dreadlock shampoos that are currently available on the market, your locs will thank you by being easy to manage when you take the time to shampoo your dreads with a formula or natural rinse made especially for locs.
And to keep that healthy vibe going, consider adding a Dreadlock Shampoo Brush to your dreadlock maintenance routine. It’s like a pamper party for your scalp…
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