Hair Products

April 3, 2008

Hair Products

by Peggy Nederlof

Hair mousse, gels, and sprays commonly contain endocrine disrupting phalates. To avoid warning labels about carcinogenic effects, manufacturers slightly reformulate their products by removing the carcinogen and replacing it, quite legally, with another chemical that is just as dangerous.

Of the more than 75,000 chemicals registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, only a fraction have gone through complete testing to find out whether they might cause problems for human health. Many that are produced in enormous quantities have never been tested at all. Usually, it takes dramatic episodes of workplace injuries or wildlife poisonings, combined with rigorous scientific proof of harm and public outcry, before the government will act to restrict or ban any chemical. And that is no accident. The current regulatory system allows synthetic chemicals into our lives unless proven beyond doubt to be dangerous.*

When selecting hair products, a general rule to follow is select products that have as few ingredients as possible, and especially those that have recognizable names. Avoid petroleum and synthetic ingredients, which often have very long chemical names.

Aerosol and pump sprays produce fine droplets which can be inhaled deeply into lungs and transferred into your bloodstream. Inhalation of spray can also cause respiratory irritation and breathing difficulties. If you must use a spray, choose pump over aerosol as spray droplets are slightly larger. Hair setting lotions are a better choice.

Hair styling products can contain TEA, DEA, MEA, FD&C colours, BHA and palmidate-O, all carcinogens. Ethoxylated alcohols, PEG compounds, polysorbate 60 or 80 may be contaminated with 1,4- dioxane, a carcinogen, and phthalates (added for flexibility) that mimic estrogen and are endocrine disruptors. Conventional hair sprays coat hair with polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), a plasticizer. Other toxic substances which might be ingredients in styling products are: PVP-MA copolymer, methylparaben, sodium laureth sulfate, Propylparaben, ceteareth-20, silica, phenoxyethanol, dyes, and synthetic fragrance.

Listed below are some of the better products as rated by various websites cited below as being less toxic. A word of caution – even though they may have received a good rating, some people may have sensitivities to even organic ingredients.

Hair Styling Gel / Lotion

Aloe Vera Gel

Carol’s Daughter Hair Oil

Inky Loves Nature Straight Shea

Inky Loves Nature Virgin oil de coco Cream

Kiss My Face Upper Management Styling Gel

Leonor Greyl Eclat Naturel, Styling cream for dry hair

Weleda Hair Care-Rosemary Hair Oil

MiEssence Certified Organic Shape Styling Gel

Hamadi Shea Pomade, Classic Grooming Aid for Short Hair

Aubrey Organics – B-5 Design Gel; Mandarin Magic Ginkgo Leaf &

Ginseng Root Hair Moisturizing Jelly; Natural Body Highliter Mousse

Sea Buckthorn Leave-in Conditioner and Curl Activator; White

Camellia and Jasmine Shine Conditioner Spray

Suki Clean Balance Treatment Oil (organic, food grade, no animal

testing, no synthetics)

Burt’s Bees Avocado Butter Hair Treatment

Hair Styling Mousse

Kiss My Face Styling Mousse

Formula Latina Volumizing Mousse

Giovanni Hair Care Styling Natural Mousse


Naturade Products Inc Aloe Vera 80

Giovanni Hair Care Prod. F.N.M Styling L.A. Hold Spritz

Beauty Without Cruelty Hair Spray, Natural Hold

Botanical Therapeutic – Hair Spray

Ecological Vegetal Hair Spray (alcohol free)

Aubrey Organics – Natural Mist Herbal Spray (regular hold, super hold)

Formula Latina Shine

Hair Relaxer

Motions At Home Smoothing Shine Serum

FX Molding Wax

Home-made Alternatives

Mix together 2 cups boiling water, and 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin in 1 teaspoon vinegar. Strain through coffee filter and put in sprayer bottle.

Lemon Hair Spray – Squeeze juice of 1 medium lemon into 2 cups of water. Slice up lemon peel and add. Boil slowly until reduced to 1 cup. Strain and pour into spray bottle. Keep in fridge. For extra hold use 1 1/2 lemons.

Flax Seed Gel – Boil 2 tablespoons of flax seed in 1/3 cup water for 10 minutes. Rub through hair, sparingly.

Websites used for research: has links to to’s ‘Skin Deep’ which lists many cosmetic and hair products and rates them according to the EWG (Environmental Working Group). I noticed some discrepancy in the ratings. Some products seemed to get knocked out of the best category for having essential oils and vitamin E. Then while browsing through the website, there was a response from the Suki founder about the poor rating her products received from Skin Deep. She explains her experience with the ratings board and claims that the site has a lot of misinformation.

To quote Suki Kramer –

“The EWG / Skindeep’s rating system does not differentiate between a botanical extract that is clean (meaning does not contain parabens, propylene glycol, or is extracted with the highly toxic hexane or any other means.) In fact people doing the rating didn’t even know when I spoke with them that ingredients can be hidden in extracts, or between regular lecithin and the lecithin we use (non-gmo, organic, food grade). There is no way to enter such a differentiation when you as a manufacturer go to enter your ingredients in the database. They do not make a distinction between organics, naturals in many cases, and/or regular, synthetic ingredients, not to mention cosmetic-grade and food-grade, nor do they care whether you use an ingredient at 100%, at 1%, or at .01% within your formulas. You get the same rating no matter how much of an ingredient you use.”


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