Watch out! These toxic ingredients in your hair and beauty products could cause cancer in your future
Did you know that 1 in 12 beauty products for black women has been rated highly hazardous? (Source.) You probably know that relaxers contain toxic and dangerous chemicals, but you may not realize that many products for natural hair contain toxic chemicals as well.
Due to the relaxedness of Nigeria’s Ministry of Health, a lot of our hair and skin products aren’t regulated. Thereby allowing cosmetic manufacturers to basically put in whatever chemicals they feel like into our hair products. So when you use hair products or go to your beauty salon to make your hair, your body is exposed to toxic chemicals that cause deadly illnesses such as cancer leading to early death.
The reason why the cause of cancer might not point to your beauty and hair products is because cosmetic manufacturers ensure they put in small doses of these malicious ingredients at a time. But when you start to use them over a long period of time, your organs begin to feel them.
We have put together a list of toxic and harmful ingredients commonly used in hair and beauty products, which we will update periodically. We encourage everyone to be as informed as possible about their hair and beauty products, so read those labels!
Nigerian or Type 4 natural hair has an oval-shaped cuticle, a looser cuticle layer, and has more trouble retaining moisture than other hair types. The result is that some of these ingredients are especially harmful to naturally curly hair while they may not damage straight or wavy hair. But other ingredients on the list are toxic and potentially carcinogenic, making them hazardous to use on any hair type.
Unsafe Ingredients Found in Natural Hair Products
- Benzene is a toluene, which can damage the respiratory system, irritate the skin, and cause developmental damage in fetuses.
- Diethanolamine (DEA) Triethanolamine (TEA) stabilize the pH of hair products, and are common allergens and eye irritants.
- Formaldehyde is another preservative and extremely irritating to the skin and eyes. It is a known animal carcinogen, and may increase cancer risk for humans as well. Keep in mind that certain preservatives release formaldehyde! So by extension, also look out for
- Diazolidinyl urea
- DMDM hydantoin
- Imidazolidinyl urea
- Polyoxymethylene urea
- Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
- Fragrance is a catch-all ingredient. If the manufacturer put this on the bottle, it means they don’t want to tell you what else is in the product (and Fragrance is often a term used to hide Phthalates as an ingredient.) Note: at NaturAll Club we only scent our hair products with natural essential oils.
- Isopropyl Alcohol does its job of stripping away oils from your scalp a little too well, leaving your hair dry and brittle. Ethanol Alcohol, Ethyl Alcohol, Isopropanol Alcohol, Propyl Alcohol, and SD Alcohol are also known to do this.
- Methylisothiazolinone is a common preservative in hair products, linked to lung toxicity, allergic reactions, and possible neurotoxicity.
- Mineral Oil andpetroleum are petroleum products that coat your hair and scalp so effectively, they suffocate them! These ingredients can cause acne, hindered skin respiration, imbalanced oil levels in your scalp, and skin irritation.
- Parabens are xenoestrogens, included in shampoos as a preservative. They can disrupt hormones and even pose a cancer risk. You’ll see them labeled on hair products as propylparaben, benzylparaben, etc.
- Phthalates were banned from use in toy manufacturing in California, 2009, because of links between them and cancer. However, they are still often used in hair products.
- Polyethylene Glycol dissolves oil and is commonly used in oven cleaners! Trust us, you don’t want this on your hair or skin. It strips away moisture and nutrients and is also a possible carcinogen.
- Retinol is very common in skin and beauty products, but has potential associations with developmental and reproductive toxicity. While it is usually safe to use, it might not be safe to use during pregnancy.
- Retinyl Palmitate is considered a gentler version of retinol, but it is often added to personal care products in greater concentrations than retinol in order to be effective. It still has potential associations with developmental and reproductive toxicity, and has been found to enhance photocarcinogenicity (heightening the risk of cancer when exposed to UV rays.)
- Sulfates strip oil and dirt out of your hair so well, they deplete the naturally produced sebum that moisturizes your hair. While sulfates can be beneficial for hair that gets oily quickly or has looser curls, they’re usually a no-no for naturally curly hair. Common sulfates: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
- Synthetic colors, such as D&C Red 27 or FD&C Blue 1, are derived from petroleum or coal sources. These synthetic colors are suspected to be carcinogenic, skin irritants, and linked to ADHD in children. The European Union has banned the use of these ingredients, which is a big red flag.
- Toluene is a solvent that can dissolve paint and paint thinner, but it is also used in some hair color/bleaching products. This chemical can affect the respiratory system, irritate the skin, and even cause developmental damage in the fetus if expecting mothers are exposed to it. Commonly labeled as benzene, tuluol, phenylmethane, or methylbenzene.
- Triclosan is a common antimicrobial chemical used in personal care products, but it is also a known endocrine disruptor and skin irritant.
Star this post so you can come back from time to time to check for updates!