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I have been experimenting with haircare formulas for the last few years, but this year, after feeling content with my formulas on the makeup side of things, I was ready to shift my focus and work on creating something new in the haircare realm – for purely selfish reasons I should add! My hair and scalp have not been happy for many years, no matter what type of shampoo I tried, no matter how ‘natural’ it claimed to be. Even spa brands made my scalp burn and ache. My hair and scalp did not just feel dirty, but sticky, and looked like I hadn’t washed it in a week – even when it was just freshly washed. One thing that I have found equally frustrating is the fact that there is synthetic fragrance or ‘parfum’ in everything. I have poured over articles all about hair health and spoken to people more educated than me in the haircare world. I would be warned about several ingredients and told to avoid them. For anyone who claims fragrance is not a big deal, it is when it makes you physically sick and have to battle intense headaches. It also seems to affect how much I can smell other things in a negative way. As an experienced formulator, I know now that when I can’t smell a scent on me but others can, it is soft and natural. However, if it gives me a headache with flu-like symptoms and when I can smell it for days on me, even after a shower and trying to (unsuccessfully) wash it out of my hair, those are some potent chemicals right there. When the scent is even passed onto my dogs and I can smell it in their fur for days, I know that’s a heck of a strong chemical soup. My body lets me know when something is not good for me – 0r my dogs. But how do you avoid an ingredient that is in literally every hair product? Well, we all have to wash our hair regardless so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work! I am going to have to split this into two posts because I have some exciting things to share. First, I will highlight the baddies…

glycerin + why I left it out

Being that I was starting to create my own haircare from scratch, I also started carefully reading through popular shampoo + conditioner ingredient lists (many almost completely identical) and I questioned the reason behind adding every single common shampoo and conditioner ingredient and what the possible alternative could be. One ingredient that I found in literally every haircare formula (besides ‘parfum’!) was GLYCERIN. I wondered if this was the ingredient that was irritating my scalp! The more I read about it, the more I wanted to leave it out of my own formulas. Glycerin has a lot of positives, especially for the manufacturer. It is inexpensive, odorless, colourless, and it makes a formula more thick and creamy. In ideal climate conditions, it can even condition the hair all by itself by pulling moisture from the air into the hair shaft. However, climate conditions can vary in a lot of areas of the world, and in a less than ideal climate, it can wreak havoc by pulling moisture from the hair shaft and leaving hair frizzy, brittle, and long term daily use creates chronic damage over time.

This makes so much sense to me because hyaluronic acid is another common humectant, used more in skincare than haircare, but it parallels glycerin as far as being either really beneficial for your skin or really drying. Just like HA, glycerin can be plant based or come from an animal source. Even worse though, glycerin can be ‘plant based’ but sourced from petroleum. In short, there are just a lot of moving parts when it comes to this one ingredient alone. I don’t want to have to check the current humidity everyday to see if I can choose a product with glycerin or not. And when you look at the ingredient list on a product and come across ‘glycerin’, where that glycerin was sourced or made is often not listed, so how do you know if it is petroleum-based or not? Being that the least expensive ways of creating glycerin are often the most toxic, it is an ingredient that now makes me a little nervous.

It could be a coincidence, but since I have removed it from my haircare, my hair has been so much happier. It is silky + shiny again and it has incredible volume. If you try glycerin on its own you will experience how sticky it is, very similar to how my hair and scalp would feel. So perhaps companies are just adding too large a quantity of it. I am excited to shampoo my hair now and get that really clean, smooth feel. It seems that glycerin was possibly drying out my scalp too. One change I have noticed is my hair washing cycle has changed. I think it is a reflection of the boost in my overall scalp hydration level. My scalp is not dry like it used to be so I wash my hair a day earlier now.

polysorbates + why I left them out

Polysorbates are incredibly common, even in organic and natural products, but how much do we know about them? Should we be concerned? Because they are in a lot of haircare and skincare products I’m going to give you a crash course on polysorbates. Understanding the chemicals we come into contact with daily is crucial for making informed decisions about our health and lifestyle. it is important to understand the process in which polysorbates are manufactured – which is known as ethoxylation (source). Ethoxylation occurs when ethylene oxide, which has been linked to cancer, is reacted with another chemical. In this case, it is sorbitan ester of fatty acids that reacts with ethylene oxide (source). Ethoxylation can be done with the intent to make the chemical less harsh (source). It may sound good, but this process can create a small amount of another toxic substance called 1,4-dioxane. As well as leave residual ethylene oxide in the product (source). Given that 1,4-dioxane can readily penetrate the skin and ethylene oxide has developmental and reproductive concerns, these are two carcinogenic substances that we do not want in our products (source and source)! Polysorbates are distinguished by a number, typically: 20, 40, 60, 80 or 100.  The number corresponds to the amount of ethylene oxide moles added during manufacturing (source).In short, there are natural emulsifiers that I think do the job just as well as polysorbates. They are just a little more pricey so must brands (or third party companies) choose the most easily accessible and cheapest option.

aqua/water + why I left it out

I do not see water as being harmful, it is hydrating as long as it is not tap water or from a mystery source. However, when it comes to hair products, you are often already adding water to the product in the shower, so I like to make room for other ingredients that will be extra benefit the hair and scalp. Flower waters are popular, but because some are sensitive to even natural scents, I chose raw aloe juice. It’s wonderful for the skin, balancing to hormones, does not have a strong scent, and it is not pigmented.

citric acid + why I left it out

Though citric acid can be obtained naturally from various fruits and vegetables, approximately 99% of the citric acid found in products is identified as MCA, modified citric acid. However, it is not labeled as such on products. Modified citric acid is created through microbial processes using a mutant strain of the black mold, Aspergillus niger. Is it bad for you? A 2018 research study analyzed the different effects of citric acid and modified citric acid. Two separate groups of individuals were evaluated after consuming organic citric acid or modified citric acid. Four case reports show that individuals who consumed MCA demonstrated joint pain with swelling and stiffness, shortness of breath, muscular pain, and abdominal cramping. No negative health symptoms were recorded when organic citric acid (from lemons and limes) was consumed. It was reported that when some removed all products containing citric acid from their diets, some chronic significant inflammatory reactions improved. When they added it back, their symptoms returned.It was concluded that:“We believe that ingestion of the MCA may lead to a harmful inflammatory cascade which manifests differently in different individuals based on their genetic predisposition and susceptibility, and that the use of MCA as an additive in consumable products warrants further studies to document its safety.” If you try giving up MCA in your food and personal care products and feel much better, maybe that’s all the ‘safety testing’ you need.

gums + why I left them out

If you are plant based and have attempted to make your own vegan cheese, you will know about these different gums as they are crucial if want to make a block cheese. All gum additives appear to exert a possibly powerful influence on the makeup of our gut microbiome so why wouldn’t it have a powerful influence on the skin microbiome too (source)? You will also see them in plant milk and ice cream ingredient lists. Typical use is for thickening, stabilizing or emulsifying. They have different names but they all do basically the same thing. So after experimenting with them in the kitchen in the past, I try to avoid them whenever possible. They are usually sourced from algae or ssaweed. They seem harmless enough but because there have been warnings about them being harmful to the gut, I just decided I don’t want to take that chance if I don’t have to. As far as them being added to haircare, because they thicken a product, they can also take on a gel, or straight-up gum like texture when mixed with water. I decided to leave them out because even if they are harmless to the hair and scalp and are not toxic, they may cause build-up on the scalp and make it difficult to fully rinse them out of your hair easily. Glycerin is added in a much greater quantity than a seaweed gum. It usually one of the last ingredients in the ingredient list. However, as someone who desperately wanted to get to the bottom of what ingredient or ingredients in my hair products made it difficult for me to get my hair full clean without a sticky, heavy build-up left, I didn’t want to risk it. Being that I succeeded in achieving the results I was looking for with a gum-free product, I think they possibly may have contributed to the negative results I was experiencing. I noticed that some ingredients list seaweed instead of listing the name of the gum that is made from that seaweed. But usually you will see xanthan gum, guar gum, carrageenan gum etc. Caution is required if you are allergic to soy, wheat, corn or dairy since xanthan gum usually comes from these sources.

I will save my can’t – live – without hair + scalp – loving ingredients for the next post

There were also some ingredients that, after a lot of research and experimenting, I felt like my own hair couldn’t live without and I couldn’t wait to include them in my haircare products for my clients. In short,hair was soft, and there was no white residue or flakes left behind—the product washed out completely clean. I was floored, in the best way possible. This formula would also be ideal for anyone wanting to cleanse existing braids as it is so easy to get the product everywhere and then thoroughly rinse the hair quickly and effortlessly. This micellar-like formula, except without the water, better preserves the hair’s natural oils. The carefully chosen plant oils are lightweight and help to soothe and relieve the feeling of irritation, while also calming sensitive skin to help reduce inflammation. This unique formula is also ideal for those who may also have a sensitive scalp, or need color protection but still require a clarifying formula. “[Since it’s not harsh] it may also extend the vibrancy of color-treated hair more effectively than traditional clarifying shampoos. For those with thick hair (like me) the texture of this formula is not gel-like in thickness so there won’t be any remnants left behind.

scents – why I couldn’t totally leave them out but instead provide an array of ‘scent therapy’ options as well as ‘100% scent-free’

Even though I react to ‘parfum and any type of synthetic fragrance blend, I love having a signature scent, especially when it comes to my hair, because it lingers, and when I find a scent I really like, it changes my whole mood. So I have been working on a variety of over a dozen botanical blends which are 100% free of endocrine disruptors and mystery chemical blends (of over 500 different ingredients that are not required to be listed in the ingredients). When customizing you perfect haircare product, you can also opt for ‘scent-free’ and leave it that way or add your own favourite essential oils.

my new handcrafted botanical scents you can now choose from

BASIL BLUE SAGE FRAGRANCE is a sophisticated and herbaceous scent that we love! top notes of rosemary, basil, sage and spearmint leaves blend with heart notes of cardamom, jasmine and lavender, along with a base of fir needle, copaiba balsam and patchouli to produce an aroma full of depth and vibrancy.

BERGAMOT AND SANDALWOOD PERFUME is an incredible fresh scent with a little hint of warm spice that we love! top notes of bergamot, lime, sage and thyme blend with heart notes of nutmeg, ginger and lavender, along with a base of sandalwood, cedarwood, patchouli and vanilla to produce an aroma full of depth and vibrancy.

BLACK CURRANT & VANILLA PERFUME is an elegant, fresh blend featuring fruity top notes of geranium, almond and peach, followed by gentle heart notes from coconut, clove, tea and rose, supported by refreshing base notes of patchouli, vanilla and juniper.

JASMINE & CEDARWOOD PERFUME bursting with sweet aromas of lemon, lime and melon, harmonized with the floral richness of violet and jasmine heart notes, tied together with refreshing base notes of cedarwood and vanilla, this all natural fragrance oil takes you back to skipping through a field of flowers on a radiant summer day.

LIME EUCALYPTUS MINT PERFUME featuring top notes of crisp eucalyptus and freshly squeezed lime, accompanied by spearmint and cedarwood, this all natural fragrance will give you the feeling of nature’s bliss.

MARINE CYPRESS PERFUME is the perfect balance of invigorating and grounding, incorporating fresh top notes of pineapple, lemon and mint, accented by calming lavender, geranium, patchouli, and cedarwood.

ORANGE & COCOA PERFUME is a comforting citrus aroma of sweet almond and orange top notes, complimented by the delicious richness of cocoa and vanilla.

PEACH YOGURT PARFAIT PERFUME is a delicious and inviting scent that we think you will love! top notes of peach and banana blend with heart notes of jasmine, along with a base of vanilla cream and cedarwood to produce a mouthwatering aroma that is sure to delight.

PINK HIMALAYAN SALT & NEEM PERFUME is an elegant scent that is perfect for your diy projects! top notes of bergamot, lime, lemon and grapefruit blend with heart notes of petitgrain and spearmint, along with a base of rosewood to produce an opulent aroma that is perfect all year long!

PISTACHIO CREME PERFUME is a warm and sophisticated scent that we love! top notes of peach, sage and black cherry blend with heart notes of jasmine, geranium and rose, along with a base of almond milk to produce a nutty and creamy aroma that is sure to delight.

ROSE VANILLA CEDARWOOD PERFUME is an elegant and sophisticated scent that we love! top notes of green clover leaf blend with heart notes of rose maroc and bois de rose, along with a base of sweet vanilla and cedarwood to produce a vibrant aroma that is full of depth and beauty.

TURMERIC & ROSE PERFUME is a sophisticated scent that is perfect for your diy projects! top notes of petitgrain and lemon blend with heart notes of rose and geranium, along with a base of vanilla and rosewood to produce a refined and elegant aroma that is perfect all year long!

WHITE MELON & VIOLET PERFUME is a delicious and succulent aroma that is perfect for summer! top notes of banana and pineapple blend with heart notes of melon, violet and cinnamon, along with a base of creamy vanilla to produce an intriguing scent that is sure to delight!

 

Feel free to browse my handcrafted haircare!

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