Billions and billions of marketing dollars are spent year after year to sell cheap chemicals as hair "care" products. Most of them are unneeded, and even dangerous. Today, I've exposed five hair care myths:
Myth #1: You can repair hair.
You've seen the commercial: "X shampoo strengthens hair, getting rid of split ends and repairing damage." Hair is dead. There is no way to repair it. Once you have a split end, it's split. Once it's damaged, there's no fixing it. It's like saying you'd be able to take an old dried out piece of driftwood and "re-hydrate" it to make it look new again. It's just not possible. So, how are companies able to claim they "repair" hair? These shampoos and conditioners use chemicals that coat the hair shaft, making it feel or look like it's repaired, but underneath it's still the same old strand of hair. It's like dipping the driftwood in tar and saying that it's been repaired. Yes, the damage may be hidden, but underneath it all, it's still an old piece of wood. So the next time you see one of those TV commercials about "repairing hair" just replace "repair" with "coat with chemicals" and you'll get the true picture.
Myth #2: The concept of "Dry" hair
Okay, let's break this down here. What's the opposite of dry? Wet, obviously. What causes something to be wet? Well, water, of course. So, when you're "moisturizing" hair, are you adding water to it? No. You wouldn't want that because when hair is wet, the hair shaft is very weak because the cuticle has absorbed water and the overall bonds of the keratin are weakened. What about oil? Is it oil we're moisturizing with? No, it's not that either. Oily hair isn't any stronger or more manageable. Oily hair is dull and limp. So, "dry" (meaning waterless and minimal oil) hair is actually a good thing. So, what are we doing when we "moisturize" hair? Same as "repairing" it. We're just coating it with chemicals so that it feels softer. Hair doesn't need to be moisturized like skin does. A little bit of oil helps add sheen to hair, but you don't need much.
So, what are we really feeling when we say we have "dry" hair? There is such a thing as damaged hair. There is wiry hair. There is frizzy hair. But there is no such thing as "dry" hair.
Myth #3: Your natural hair color is unattractive.
Dishwater blonde anyone? Yes, that happens to be my natural hair color. The corporate cosmetic conglomerates and their decades of marketing efforts would have me feeling mousy for parading around with my (shock) natural hair color visible to the entire world. You need some "drama," "depth," or "luminescence" to your hair color in order to look beautiful, they would have me feel. I notice all the girls with their fashionable blondes, streaks, frosts, weaves and other expensive color treatments. And for a moment, I do have to admit that I feel inferior for not coloring my hair. But then I have to remind myself that I'm only feeling this way because billions of dollars are spent every year to make me feel this way.
Your natural hair color, yes, even gray, is beautiful. What's even more beautiful is not having to subject yourself to toxic chemicals every six weeks. Permanent hair dyes contain carcinogenic arylamines, which are absorbed through the skin during the hair treatment. Genetically, some individuals are able to produce very efficient protective enzymes that render the arylamines harmless and eliminate them quickly through the urine. In others, the process is less effective, and these people are at risk of bladder cancer.
Other chemicals found in hair dyes are phenylenediamine, heavy metals such as mercury, and coal tar. (Check out this great article for more on this and stay tuned for tomorrows post for more chemicals to avoid.)
Growing old is not a sin. Gray hair is a badge of honor. You've made it this far through life, why not wear it with pride?! Snazz up your style with a stylish headband, or earrings that bring out your skin's natural glow. Okay, and if you just can't come to grips with the fact that you're not 29 anymore--use henna. It's the most safe and natural option out there. And hey--it was good enough for Lucille Ball. And you doesn't love Lucy?!
Myth #4: Your hair needs to be straight.Do you ever see a shampoo commercial featuring someone with tight curls? No. It's usually straight or slightly wavy hair that glistens and gleams under carefully-placed lights for the camera. For years these commercials have brainwashed (some of) us in to thinking that curly or kinky hair is unhealthy and un-sexy so they can sell us straightening irons, chemical straightening treatments, and heavy conditioners. I hear so many women who think that they need to condition their tight curls because they don't feel soft. They think that their hair is "dry" when really it's just coarse hair. Just because your hair doesn't feel or look like corn silk, doesn't mean it isn't healthy hair. It's just the nature of your hair--embrace it. Don't subject yourself to the marketing hype and gallons of harmful chemicals that you expose yourself to "conditioning" or straightening your hair.
Myth #5: Your hair needs vitamins.
Remember, hair is dead. Vitamins do nothing for hair. Vitamins are only beneficial if they're absorbed in to the body, a living thing. The body uses vitamins in metabolic pathways to create energy, fight free-radicals, or build or repair tissue. Pro-V, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin E and all these scientific "vitamin complex" ingredients--they're just in the shampoo for label for appeal. You're just pouring them on and washing them down the drain.
Tomorrow: The top five hair care chemicals to avoid.