Hair 101 series on wednesday by Krya – Hair elasticity

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

We spoke about how human hair was closest in texture and composition to silk and animal proteins like wool, last week in our Hair 101 series. We also spoke a few weeks earlier about hair porosity and why hair becomes porous with excessive shampooing and chemical treatments, and why that is not a good thing.

 

Hair elasticity and hair porosity are 2 sides of the hair health coin.

 

Our hair is supposed to be slightly elastic (note the use of the word, slightly), It is supposed to stretch slightly when we comb it or when it is wet. But it is supposed to bounce back to its normal length and texture when we release it from its pulling force.

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So if you are combing hair that is curly or wavy and you have a few knots, healthy hair is supposed to stretch as you try and tease that tangle out of your hair, without breaking. Once you have detangled your hair, healthy hair is supposed to go back to its original wavy or curly appearance without losing the tightness of the curl.

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Similarly, when hair is wet, it tends to expand and stretch slightly. As long as the cuticular structure is intact, this expansion of stretching is very limited. The cuticular structure limits the water from entering your hair and causing it to swell and break. As long as your cuticles are intact, wetting your hair will only cause a slight, temporary expansion that will go back to normal once hair is dry.

How does having healthy elasticity protect your hair?

Having the correct amount of elasticity allows your hair strands to stay intact without breakage whenever your hair is manipulated mechanically (for example combed, brushed, de-tangled, twisted into a braid, slept on, etc). Elasticity also helps keep the hair structure intact. So if you have curly or wavy hair, your hair’s elasticity allows your hair to comb back to its normal appearance and shape even after washing it, or temporarily straightening it.

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What reduces hair elasticity? Weathering due to high shampooing and chemical use

We spoke about how hair porosity increases (excessive shampooing, use of hard water, blow drying, colours and synthetic treatments). The more you subject your hair to these treatments, the faster your hair ages or “weathers”. Just like aging skin loses its elasticity and begins to sag, weathered hair loses its elasticity and becomes porous and dry.

 

So here are Krya’s 3 recommendations to retain your hair’s elasticity:

  1. Pre-treat and Protect your hair from swelling and dehydration and friction that occurs when it is wet

The layer just below the hair’s cuticular structure is called the endocuticle. The endocuticle can absorb a lot of water and swell very fast. Usually in healthy hair, the endocuticle is guarded by 4 – 11 layers of interlocking cuticles. This layer, when intact, reduces the amount of water that reaches the endocuticle so the hair’s welling is controlled. But f your hair is already weathered and has lost parts of its cuticular structure, the endocuticle swells very fast.

Pre-treating hair with a layer of oil helps repel water to some extent and protects the endocuticle from absorbing water too fast. A pre-treatment works best if your hair is oiled atleast an hour before your wash. We also recommend spreading the oil well through the hair by detangling your hair well and combing it so the oil spreads evenly and covers your hair strands well.

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  1. Choose a very mild shampoo, that is preferably naturally mildly acidic

Most shampoos are very harsh on hair, and quickly cause cuticular damage. Surprisingly, even no-poo shampoos that depend upon baking soda and vinegar are also harsh on hair, causing rapid swelling of the endocuticle. Natural detergent herbs like Shikakai, Soapberry are better for hair when mixed with the right amount of naturally acidic ad conditioning herbs. They are not as efficient as removing oil as alkaline soaps or shampoos are, and help retain the scalp’s natural pH better.

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  1. Prevent hair dehydration at other times

Hair that is even partially porous is quick to lose its natural moisture because of gaps in the cuticular structure. So, if your hair is already weathered due to excessive shampooing, heat based treatments or styling, we advise coating it frequently with a thin layer of oils, especially before you step out. The air-conditioner, strong wind and heat can quickly de-hydrate porous hair, so a thin layer of herbal oil helps seal the hair from drying elements.

This oil is best applied in small quantities on the scalp and at portions of the hair which are very dry like the ends of your hair.

Apart from protective oiling, we also advise covering your hair protecting it from drying wind, heat and the cold.

 

Krya product recommendations for hair with poor elasticity:

The Krya Damage repair hair oil is an excellent hair oil to repair high porosity and improve elasticity if your hair is weathered due to chemical damage. This oil is very suitable for leave in application as a protective layer as well.

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Five simple ways to minimize hair damage from your shampoo

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Reading Time: 7 minutes

It is no secret that we at Krya think a shampoo and a synthetic hair dye are the very 2 worst villains to hit the Hair Universe. A shampoo is to us a much bigger Super Villain than even a synthetic hair dye, simply because it seems so innocuous, pleasant and definitely not scare inducing. This in no way exonerates a synthetic hair dye from being a super villain. So if you spot one, stay away from it, keep your kids, dogs and cats away from it, and lock your doors to prevent its entry into your home!

 

Apart from SLS and SLeS, the industrial degreasers used to clean cars which are the main cleaning agents found in a synthetic shampoo, a shampoo contains other nasty minions. Ethanolamines, parabens, fragrances, DEA, silicones are the many many classes of supper villainous ingredients you are likely to encounter in your shampoo.

1. super villains

Even an industry funded body like the Cosmetics Ingredient review is cautious about the use of ethanolamines in shampoos– they ask users, (i.e. us who love our synthetic shampoo)s, to use Ethanolamines only briefly for very short periods of time, scrub vigorously to ensure there is no residue left on your hair and to not use it continuously.

 

Contrast that with the Shampoo industry’s prevalent paradigm: where we are asked to wash frequently, even every single day, and rinse and repeat shampooing to ensure our hair is “clean”.
One of the properties we have come to fear in some of the most toxic chemicals used on the planet, the pesticides / fungicides / herbicides that are sprayed on your food is this: their ability to persist in the atmosphere, long after they have been used.

And this property of persistence exists even in the products we use on ourselves like our synthetic shampoos.

2. persisitence
A recent paper published by researchers at Cornell University is titled “Molecular cartography of the human skin surface in 3D”. The researchers have attempted to do something utterly fascinating: capture 3D photographs of our microbiome and the chemicals that reside on our skin to understand how the two interact.
As a part of this research, the volunteers were asked to forego shampooing and bathing for a few days and 3D photographs were taken before and after this abstinence.

 

The persistence of SLS on your scalp from your shampoo

In the picture given below, on the male volunteer, SLES persists on the scalp several days after the last shampoo – and we assumed these chemicals would get washed right out.

3.chemcial persisitence

On the female volunteer, avobenzene lingers on her neck several days after a sunscreen was used and washed off, lingering on despite the shower and the soap used after sunscreen application.

We’ve said this before: the skin is one of our key organ groups in protecting our body from invasion. Unfortunately, the skin is also extremely susceptible to the synthetic formulations we apply, rub and wash it with. The dermal route is one of the fastest routes of letting synthetic chemicals bypass your powerful intestinal tract (where they would be made less harmful), and directly invade your major internal organs.
Remember what we had to say about Parabens? 60% of breast cancer tumours were found in the area where deodorants are sprayed – and this area represents only 1/5th of the entre armpit area.

 

Co-incidence? We think not.  We think that everyone should avoid using a synthetic shampoo, and actually any manner of synthetic personal care product. (This may come as a surprise to you, if your have been looking up phrases like a “natural hair fall remedy shampoo”, or an “organic dandruff shampoo” or a “sulphate free shampoo”! )

But if you are still transitioning and can’t seem to give up your synthetic shampoo completely, here is what we suggest.

 

5 ways to protect your hair from your synthetic shampoo:

  1. Start by oiling your hair really well

A good herbal hair oil does many things for you, as we often write about. In Ayurveda, hair oil exists to cool the brain and eyes and regulate pitta dosha. But when you want to protect your hair from your synthetic shampoo, your herbal hair oil is your best friend and hair bodyguard.

Oiling your hair strands and scalp well before using your synthetic shampoo, helps form a fantastic barrier function between your hair and your shampoo. It also gives the SLS in your shampoo something else to work on outside of your hair’s natural sebum, helping leaving your sebum somewhat intact.

4. oiling before shampooing

Also, unoiled hair is very vulnerable to cuticular damage by synthetic shampoo. Pre-oiling helps limit this damage to some extent.

Krya recommends frequent oiling in small doses during the week. For your pre-shampoo oiling, we recommend doing it ideally an hour before washing your hair.

  1. Rinse your hair extremely well with cool water first before using your shampoo

Water is the first cleanser that your hair needs. The cleaner the water, the better for your hair, so avoid salty, hard or chlorinated water as much as possible. Water itself is a very good cleanser, so rinsing your hair thoroughly before shampooing helps remove some part of the dirt, dead cell and grease build-up and excess oil on the hair. Rinsing helps you save on using more shampoo.

5. wash with plain water

Krya recomends: Cool water additionally helps seal your hair shaft so it helps keep your hair’s cuticular structure in decent shape. You should be spending ideally atleast 3 – 5 minutes in the rinsing process.

 

  1. Use less, far less shampoo than recommended. Dilute even this quantity severely.

Most of us over dose on synthetic shampoos.  The foam compels us to over wash with the shampoo even when it is not needed. As we have stated above, shampoos are extremely persistent on hair. And as we are unable to see any residue is left behind, we assume w have washed off the shampoo from our hair, when in fact we have not. And a little goes a long way to both clean and damage your hair.

6.diluted shampoo

Foam does not cleanse your hair. Your surfactant does. Because we are all so addicted to foam, shampoos contain foam boosters to make us think the shampoo is doing a very gentle but through cleansing. As you have been reading, this is far from the truth. Diluting your shampoo will make it foam LESS, but this is MUCH BETTER for your hair.

Krya recommends: halving or quartering the quantity you normally use, and diluting the shampoo by 50% with plain water.

  1. Shampoo less Frequently. Maximum twice a week.

We have all been fed the manufacturer led myth that we ought to be shampooing every single day. We have been threatened that not doing so will make our hair prone to dandruff, make it dirty, increase hair fall, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Frequent washing strains the hair’s sebaceous glands, forcing them to work faster between washes to produce sebum. As you age, when sebum production starts to go down, this tends to become next to impossible for your scalp to keep up with. So, when you over wash, you will find hair becoming oilier between washes when you are younger, and extremely dry as you age.

7. restrict shampooing

This leaves the scalp in a permanent state of imbalance: too oily and attracting dirt and fungal dandruff, or too dry, aggravating dry scalp dandruff and hair that break very easily.

Krya recommends: If you are used to frequent shampooing and want to transition, use plain water to rinse your hair frequently. Restrict shampooing with your synthetic shampoo to once or only twice a week.

 

  1. Here’s what we recommend most of all : switch to a better hairwash product

If using a synthetic shampoo is going to come with so many disclaimers, do you really want to continue using one? Try one of Krya’s all natural hairwashes instead.

Our hair washes come with their own set of disclaimers, but there are a wildly different set of disclaimers from synthetic shampoos. Our hair washes are powders and are super low foaming. We use only natural herbs as surfactants, so they foam only about 20% as much as your synthetic shampoo.

8. a better hairwash

As we use whole herb powders, you might find hairwash residue in your hair if you don’t rinse well. And as we are all used to much stronger shampoos, you may find that the hairwash does not remove oil as well as your synthetic shampoo in the beginning. Our natural hair washes have a transition period, but once you get over this phase, you will find that they work really well to cleanse your hair WITHOUT the side effects that a synthetic shampoo has.

Oh, and did we mention: you can skip the conditioner with our hair washes!

Krya’s range of natural haircare products can be explored here:

 

 

 

 

 

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Shampoo Seppuku – Throw away that shampoo part 2

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Reading Time: 7 minutes

Our last post on SLS in a synthetic shampoo has set the cat among the pigeons. We have received a huge number of emails, calls and messages from You stating your concern on the issue ( and you should be concerned!).

We’ve also had several of our consumers sending us pictures of the labels of their current brand of shampoo – and we’ve played Sherlock decoding the labels to them. Almost every brand of “natural” or gentle shampoo label that has been sent to us contained Sodium Laureth sulphate (SLES), that we write about and some other toxic animals like Methyl and Propyl Paraben.

And that is the point of this post. If you thought the only villains hiding in your shampoo were SLS, SLeS and silicones like DiMethicone, well, you were mistaken, weren’t you.

Instead your Shampoo has an entire secret society of villains hiding in it – (yes, we love DC Comics and aren’t ashamed of it !)
If SLS was the Lex Luthor in your shampoo, meet The Wizard, Gorilla Grodd, and the Funky Flashman, right here.

 

MEA, DEA and TEA (Monethanolamine, Diethanolamine and Tri-ethanolamine)

DEA, TEA and EA (Ethanolamine) are produced when aqueous ammonia reacts with ethylene dioxide.

Ethanolamines are clear, colorless, viscous liquids which reduce the surface tension of oil and water combined products so that the oil and water can mix together without separating. Ethanolamines are found therefore in shampoos, face washes, body washes, bubble baths and gels, sunscreens, hair dyes, eyeliners, mascaras and also in dishwashing detergents, liquid detergents, metalworking fluids, paints and printing inks.

TEA is commonly used in cleansing milks or creams – because it is so strongly alkaline (a 1% solution of TEA has a pH of 10), it is used as a dirt remover in ironically named “gentle cleansing creams”.

What the Industry says about MEA, DEA and TEA – rinse fast, and thoroughly:

Even industry supported and funded bodies like the cosmetics Ingredient review Panel (established in 1976 by the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance association and supported by the U.S FDA), recommended that TEA and DEA concentrations should not exceed 5%.

They also recommend that if you use a product containing any Ethanolamine, you should use the product briefly, and not continually and thoroughly scrub and rinse to ensure there is no ethanolamine lingering on your skin or scalp.

This recommendation does not take into account the fact that most of us linger when we use wash off products (and definitely more than the recommended 5 minutes). It also does not address the issue of continuous usage – many of us have now graduated to shampooing every single day. Nor does it answer the concern of DEA in leave on products like conditioners, and skin care products like mascara or even medicine like ear drops which are supposed to linger.

tea dea lingering prohibited

Why you should keep away from MEA, DEA and TEA

Effect on hair:

The excessive use of shampoos containing TEA and DEA can irritate your scalp, make your hair feel dry and lifeless, and breakdown your hair’s keratin structure,

Contact dermatitis:

3 studies spaced several years apart found that TEA based products occasionally cause contact dermatitis – the products studies were as diverse as a sunscreen, and ear drops.

Environmental toxicity:

When TEA hits water bodies, as is common when the shampoo we use goes down our drains, into our sewers and into our rivers, it can potentially cause acute and chronic toxicity in several aquatic species.

The last word on TEA:

TEA is a scheduled chemical listed in Schedule 3, Part B of the chemical Weapons Convention. This Control treaty outlaws the production or stockpiling of dangerous chemicals or their precursors that can be use to create chemical weapons.

So if we manufactured or used more than 30 tonnes of TEA every year, we have to declare this, and allow ourselves to be inspected just to make sure we weren’t manufacturing weapons. And we cannot export TEA to countries who have not signed off on the Chemical weapons Convention treaty.

Not so Fun fact: TEA is used to manufacture Nitrogen Mustard a chemical warfare weapon. In World War 2, several countries manufactured and stockpiled Nitrogen Mustard but did not use it (thankfully!). Nitrogen Mustard has a strong cytotoxic (cell destroying) effect and is today used in cancer chemotherapy.

Krya WTF moment: What the fish is a chemical scheduled under the chemical Weapons Treaty doing in your shampoo / sunscreen /shaving cream / ear drops?

Here are some avatars of Ethanolamines you could find in synthetic products around your home – our recommendation? Toss em out:

  1. Cocamide DEA
  2. Cocamide MEA
  3. DEA-Cetyl Phosphate
  4. DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate
  5. Linoleamide MEA
  6. Lauramide DEA
  7. Myristamide DEA
  8. Stearamide MEA
  9. Oleamide DEA
  10. TEA-Lauryl Sulfate
  11. Triethanloamine

 Parabens

Parabens are a class of synthetic preservatives widely used in cosmetics, personal care products and medicines. They have been used in these products for about a hundred years now and are the industry standard for anti bacterial and anti fungal properties.

You can find Parabens in almost every single synthetic cosmetic and personal care product from shampoos, to skin creams to under arm deodorants. They are also used in fragrances, but as fragrances are considered trade secrets, manufacturers do not have to disclose what goes into their fragrances, including deadly villains like Parabens.

What the Industry and Governments say about Parabens:

In spite of extensive literature on the hormonal effects of Parabens, the 2006 Cosmetic Industry Review compendium trivializes the problem. They maintain that Parabens “must certainly be considered safe”.

However, after the work of many consumer awareness groups like EWG, companies like Johnson & Johnson pledged to remove both parabens and formaldehyde from its baby care and adult skin care products by 2015 including brands like Aveeno & Neutrogena.

Globally most governments have not re-examined the safety of parabens. Some outliers are the Danish government which has banned the use of products for children below 3 years. In India parabens are commonly used in cosmetic and other applications.

Why you should keep away from Paraben containing products:

Effect on skin and Hair – aging and cell damage

The irony is not lost on us. Parabens are commonly found in anti aging products. However, research shows that they actually accelerate the skin aging process!

Researchers from Meijo University, Japan concluded that Methyl Paraben could cause carcinogenic skin damage when people who used the compound in skin care products were exposed to sunlight irradiation. Similarly, Researchers from Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Japan concluded that UVB exposure to Methyl Paraben when used on skin significantly increased cell death and oxidative stress in human skin.

Endocrine disrupting function

The European Commission on Endocrine disruption have listed Parabens as a category 1 priority substance because they easily penetrate skin, and interfere with the function of the hormones. In our body, Parabens can mimic estrogen.

Penetrative ability into the body:

Parabens have been detected in urine, serum, breast milk and seminal fluid, but the most worrying fact has been their detection in breast tissue from patients with breast cancer. In one important North American study, it was calculated that the average person is exposed to 76 mg of parabens every day, with 50 mg from cosmetics, 25 mg from pharmaceuticals and 1 mg from food.

Research from the CDC’s National Centre for Environmental Health found that the blood of over 60% of the children surveyed during the National Health and Nutrition examination survey was contaminated with more than 8 toxins including significant levels of 3 kinds of parabens.

One alarming property of parabens is their ability to enter the body through the skin, something that most people are not aware of. This has been widely studied in underarm cosmetics like deodorants and whiteners. Breast cancer research shows a higher concentration of parabens in the upper lateral breast near the armpit corresponding to the use of deodorants which contain parabens.60% of breast cancer tumors occur in the precise area where we use deodorant sprays!

 

An important point to note here is the route we allow to Parabens when we apply then on our skin and hair. While eating Parabens in your food is not the best thing to do, in the oral route, Parabens are metabolized better, and are less estrogenic.

However in the dermal route, we allow Parabens to directly enter our blood stream and make their way to our organ systems, increasing our exposure risk.

Effect on Male reproductive health:

In addition to Paraben’s estrogen like properties, this chemical has also been associated with interfering with the Male reproductive system. Studies report low sperm counts, and decreased levels of testosterone in Men linked to the absorption of Parabens form personal care products.

Intersex fish:

Boulder Colorado in 2008 undertook a multimillion dollar upgrade of their waste water effluent plant. Until then, intersex fish were a common sight – stimulated by the chemicals in personal care products like shampoos and pharmaceuticals like steroids, male fish across species developed female characteristics. This multimillion dollar plant has not removed the problem – however, with efficient sewage treatment, the male fish are taking slightly longer to get feminized.

Krya WTF moment: What the fish (pun intended) is a gender bender chemical that has been found in cancerous breast tumors, decreases sperm count and ages skin and hair doing in your shampoo? I mean, really?

krya wtf moment 2 - parabens

Here are some labels Parabens hide under in your shampoo or skin care product:

  1. Benzylparaben
  2. Butylparaben
  3. Propylparaben
  4. Methylparaben
  5. Ethylparaben
  6. Isobutylparaben

This isn’t over – far from it. Look out for our next post on this September on more Super villains hiding in your synthetic shampoo.

A happy hair month to you!

This article is a part of Krya’s series on healthy and happy hair, which we are writing all this September. Through the Krya healthy hair series, we hope to inform, educate and inspire you to restore your hair to its natural state of great health. Synthetic shampoos and hair products contain a huge host of suspect industrial chemicals that are not just toxic for us to use, but are polluting and toxic to the planet as well. The natural world is full of safe, environmentally sustainable, cruelty free options to care for your hair, and our series will try to present atleast a small part of this exciting world to you. 

 

Consumers love our all natural, synthetic free, gentle hair washes- explore more here. We are running an introductory offer on all of our skin and hair care products this month – just subscribe to our super useful newsletter above to get the coupon code in your inbox.

 

If you would like to explore our series further, here’s what We’ve written about hair health before this piece:

  1. What goes into your Shampoo – part 1
  2. What’s the deal with SLS and SLES – and why it shouldn’t come anywhere near you or your hair
  3. What is your hair supposed to be? A trial? A challenge? Or simply, your best friend
  4. Is beauty external? We think not
  5. What should you be looking for on that product label?  
  6. Common carcinogens implicated in breast cancer found in your home 
  7. Is it a conspiracy? A pre-planned genetic supremacy race? Or simply misinformation? Some reasons behind common toxics & why they continue to be used 
  8. Are we putting our children at risk by using these products on them? Here are 3 toxins that plague children through the products we use on them. 
  9. Do the products we buy contain toxins? How do we decode what goes into them? Here’s Urban Survival 102 telling you how to decode a cosmetic label
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Hair hara-kiri – throw away that shampoo Part 1

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

My biggest hair problem as a teenager was hair that wouldn’t dry fast. I had waist length hair back then which was as thick as my palm. My hair literally took hours to dry, and before I started using shampoo, I would sometimes have to comb out clumps of shikakai from my home made hair wash after it dried.

Yup, pretty much a case of my diamond shoes being too tight.

Of course, I grew up. Started to use synthetic shampoos, and then of course, all hell broke loose. Because just a few years later, my biggest hair problem, was that my hair, simply would not grow.

Instead, I grappled with hair that broke easily, was thinning everywhere, and just didn’t grow as fast as it used to. So to keep the focus off my non growing hair, I kept cutting it shorter, until at one point, I sported a pageboy cut.

The reasons for my hair’s state are now quite apparent – I committed every single one of those 5 hair mistakes we wrote about last time on the Blog. If there was a treatment or a new hair product out, you could be sure I was right there, asking for it.

But today I want to focus on the single hair mistake almost all of us are committing – and this one is a hara kiri (a hair-a-kiri?) – using a synthetic shampoo.

A dated report I’m reading tells me that the world spends close to 60 billion dollars every year buying shampoo. Yes, you read that right. We are as a race, spending collectively the equivalent of the GDP of Zambia,or Slovenia, on just Shampoo!

The modern shampoo was “invented” in the 1920s. Of course, this news was not as exciting for people in general because all of us had been washing our hair with herbs, clays and water for time immemorial. Shampoos therefore cleverly position themselves as modern, scientific products that provided a great experience and gave us what we did not have with herbs – Lots & Lots & Lots of Copious lather.

Today’s shampoo formulation has evolved, dangerously from its 1920s version. Besides being actually harmful for your hair, a shampoo today contains ingredients that are extreme irritants, environmental toxins and are even carcinogenic.

 What’s in that foaming, coloured, scented mess?

1. Detergent

The most important ingredient in a shampoo is the part that cleans. And this comes ingredients like SLS, SLES or even ALS (Ammonium lauryl sulphate) and its ethoxylated cousin ALES (ammonium Laureth sulphate).

We are extremely concerned about the all pervasive and toxic nature of SLS and SLES – you will find SLS / SLES in almost everything that foams and is a cleanser of some sort from your laundry detergent to your baby wash and of course your shampoo. We actually spent a whole post talking about the dangers of SLS and SLES .

Sulphates were initially used as cheap detergents – typically in car washes and mechanic workshops to easily cut through axle grease. They are today widely used to lift off grease from hair and to clean your body, face and even your clothes.

We have 3 major concerns over the almost obsessive use of SLS and SLES by the consumer product industry:

Sebum stripping ability

The first is that both these Lauryl Sulfates  are almost too effective at stripping hair (and skin)  of its protective layer of oil – the result, all the vital and necessary sebum in your hair which protects the cuticles and its integrity is stripped out, leaving it dull and lifeless.

Irritant nature

The Journal of the American college of Toxicology notes that concentrations of SLS that are as low as 0.5% (and upto 10%) cause slight to moderate skin irritation, while 10% – 30% routinely causes skin corrosion and severe irritation. Ironically, in lab testing of skin care products like healing creams or lotions, skin is first irritated using SLS before it can be healed with the test product! SLS also causes severe eye irritation which is a point of note if you want to use it in a shampoo that is definitely going to reach your eyes.

Role in cell destruction and premature aging

This should get your interest right now. SLS is described as a protein de-naturing compound. So with consistent use, it will break down the protein matrix of your hair, effectively stopping hair regeneration and impeding its health.On skin, SLS will disrupt the protein structures in it and could hasten skin aging.

2. Silicones

Silicones like dimethicone or PEG-12 dimethicone are often described as “conditioning agents”. Silicones are an interesting addition to shampoos. They were added precisely because of the detergents in shampoos – because the detergents are harsh , strip sebum and break your cuticular scales, the silicones are added to coat hair.

Silicones are laboratory made chemicals which are made from combinations of silicon, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They are flexible and plastic like with a rubbery feel and are used in adhesives, sealants, lubricants, cooking utensils, insulation AND personal care products.

It is important to note here that silicone should be accurately described as a “coating agent” and not a “conditioning agent”. So a silicon cannot “penetrate” or “deep condition” your hair. But what it can do is form a layer on top of your hair, hiding the damage caused by the detergent in the shampoo – and this coating is precisely why it takes so long for you to find out that your hair is damaged (hint: its because your shampoo is doing a darn good cover up job after damaging your hair).

Silicones are found both in hair care products and skin care products. It is the primary ingredient in hair conditioners and is also used in make up products like foundations and primers, because it does the same job of coating over the damage on your skin and helps the rest of the product glide smoother.

Because silicone covers the damaged cuticular scales of your hair, it produces a kind of gloss/ shine – which deceives you into thinking your hair is healthier than it is.

And because it coats your hair, it also decreases the ability of natural oils to penetrate your hair or skin – so if you are regularly using a conditioning shampoo or a conditioner, and trying to oil and restore your hair to health, then chances are that your oiling is not going to be very effective.

If you apply a silicone containing product on your skin, you can have similar bad results – because the silicone coats your skin, it prevents healthy skin functions like sweating, and sloughing off dead cells. You are also probably keeping in dirt, dead cells and bacteria much longer leaving them to linger on your skin. This is probably why people with sensitive or acne prone skin suffer greater breakouts when using silicone containing products (which is almost all synthetic skincare products).

We are still not sure about the toxicity of commonly used silicones like dimethicone. Environment Canada have put this ingredient on their toxics watchlist – what we do know is that in the very least it could be a persistent (lingers on for a very long time), bio-accumulative (stays and builds up within the bodies of fishes and organisms that eat it) environmental toxin.

Here are some possible silicone agents you could find in your shampoo / conditioner: Methicone, Phenyl trimethicone, Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Dimethiconol, Dimethicone copolyol.

 

blog post graphic sept 4

This isn’t over – far from it. Look out for our next post on Monday for more straight dope on what goes into your synthetic shampoo.

A happy hair month to you!

This article is a part of Krya’s series on healthy and happy hair, which we are writing all this September. Through the Krya healthy hair series, we hope to inform, educate and inspire you to restore your hair to its natural state of great health. Synthetic shampoos and hair products contain a huge host of suspect industrial chemicals that are not just toxic for us to use, but are polluting and toxic to the planet as well. The natural world is full of safe, environmentally sustainable, cruelty free options to care for your hair, and our series will try to present atleast a small part of this exciting world to you. 

 Consumers love our all natural, synthetic free, gentle hair washes- explore more here.

If you would like to explore our series further, here’s what We’ve written about hair health before this piece:

  1. What’s the deal with SLS and SLES – and why it shouldn’t come anywhere near you or your hair
  2. What is your hair supposed to be? A trial? A challenge? Or simply, your best friend
  3. Is beauty external? We think not
  4. What should you be looking for on that product label?  
  5. What are the 5 beauty mistakes you are probably committing right now on your hair

 

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My hair feels like itself

Krya Hair Wash
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Reading Time: 5 minutes

My hair feels like itself:

I have been spending the last few days writing to everyone who has bought the new launched Krya hair wash, asking for feedback. I am happy to have received a lot of vibrant, enthusiastic and positive feedback, and much food for thought for product improvements.

This is an important part of my role at Krya. R&D, new product formulations and production is a part of my individual responsibility at Krya.  Every single formulation has a journey to make before it reaches the hands of a consumer who pays for it (and then of course it makes another journey).

It starts on paper and then becomes reality:

Every formulation starts on paper, after we have thought through what it should do for a consumer. When we start, our formulation sheet is long messy and wild – sometimes it carries upto 30 ingredients at the start. We extensively go through all available literature on the herbs in question. We supplement this research with information from the classical texts to understand if this ingredient has been used in similar formulations. In some cases, where the ingredients are new to us, we try out samples of the individual herbs ourselves to see how they work. So a cassia flower for instance would be made into a single ingredient hair mask to check for hair conditioning properties.

 

We then sample each formulation: we make test batches of about 2 – 3 Kg each and test it extensively among ourselves. If it works for us, we then send it to a sample set of consumers who have either expressed interest in the product (in the case of products we haven’t launched at all), or are long term users of the product (when we are reformulating existing products like our dishwash).

Each formulation now undergoes iterations based on user feedback. Every formulation goes through a minimum of atleast 5 iterations. Our skin and hair care products go through even more iterations as variations in responses are much more in these categories.

A supply availability check then follows:

We then do a supplier check to check for availability of these ingredients. This takes a while because some ingredients may be out of season, in which case the formulation needs to be reworked.

A part of our supply check is to ensure sustainability and fair trade. We avoid using ingredients that could be misused and cause the death of a plant – tree bark is an example. We also prefer to work with the farmer or collector as much as possible to ensure fair trade.

We then go into manufacturing:

We then do a pilot batch check. This is the stage when we really understand what it takes to process each ingredient at a large scale. Some ingredients are removed here, usually because they are too difficult to process well.

If the ingredients are dropped, the of course, the formulation goes through a further round of iteration when we look for possible substitutes to the ingredients that have been dropped.

But none of this really matters:

I describe this formulation creation process to reiterate that NONE of this matters. What really matters is how a product performs once a consumer has decided to swipe their credit card on our website and try it out in their home. The in house “test” if you will, is the feedback we depend a lot upon.

No product formulation should be static, and ours certainly isn’t. Our detergent has gone through atleast 6 post launch changes based on consumer feedback. The Krya dishwash is going through its 2.0 iteration as I type this and we expect to launch our improved version in a few days.

The Krya hair wash and some user feedback:

The Krya hair wash we launched in June, went through a lot of iteration before we launched our initial pilot batch last September. Since then, based on user feedback we tweaked the formulation and production process and launched 2 variants of the product: a classic variant for normal hair and an extra conditioning variant for dry hair.

But as I have said above, what really matters to us is user feedback now, so I have been writing emails in the hundreds over the last few days, requesting consumers who’ve bought the Krya hair wash, any variant, to please give us feedback – the good, the bad, and even the ugly if it exists.

The most consistent theme I am noticing from the emails that have started coming in response to my question is this: everyone feels that their hair feels like “their hair”.

Most of us remember a time when we used to have great hair. This was probably in our teens – the time when we spent close to no money on grooming, did not follow any careful hair management protocol, ate pretty much what we pleased (and  a lot of unhealthy stuff), and still, magically had great hair and skin.

According to the feedback I’ve been receiving, this seems to be the last time anyone got to see “their” hair. Once they got into their twenties, the world of synthetic shampoos and conditioners beckoned and everyone began to experiment.

The result of this experiment has been varied: some wrote in talking about how their hair started becoming this well of oil. About how the oil crisis could be solved by drilling into their scalps. About how shampooing every day became a necessity.

Others wrote in to speak about the difference they experienced with the Krya hair wash. And I quote:  I absolutely loved using Krya, my hair felt like nothing it’s felt like before. Sure, commercial shampoos and conditioners leave your hair feeling  smooth and shiny, but Krya made my hair feel clean, healthy and natural. It is a great product. “

But we still have a long way to go:

The fact that we sell a powder hair wash does cause several inconveniences. One of our consumers wrote in telling us: “This is more a personal thing – Was travelling last week  and  I realised it just gets a bit messy as the bathroom floor will have dark brownish-green granules. As a guest I would not want to leave it that way esp with if the tiles are all white.”

Yes this is a problem. Because we use unbleached whole herbs, they come in their own colour. And because we use the whole herb and not an extract, they can sit, fibre and all on your bathroom floor in unsightly clumps.

We can reduce the particle size slightly, but not to a huge extent without affecting the aroma and nutrient properties.

We also offer a low foam product – the product does not foam at all if there is oil on your hair. Once the oil is removed, it foams to a certain degree, but this is not comparable to using a synthetic surfactant laden hair wash. Low foam products are kinder on water systems and use less water, but I can understand the sudden shock between using a high foaming shampoo and the Krya hair wash powder.

Gratitude:

My final emotion as I process this feedback and figure out how to further improve our hair wash is that of gratitude. And I try conveying this to every consumer who has been kind enough to take the time to respond to me and give me such detailed feedback.

Thank you for sticking with us and supporting our work despite many inconveniences. You’ve had to give up on so many of your existing expectations from your hair wash product. You’ve also had to live through live iterations as we take in what you have to say and refine our product further.

We are in gratitude always: for your unstinting support and commitment to the larger cause of being environmentally sustainable and supporting natural, non toxic brands like ours.

Thank you for giving us the chance to serve your needs. We will keep working and improving our products.

Check out the new Krya hair wash which is now available in 2 variants, classic & extra conditioning.

 

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Urban Survival 102 – reading cosmetic labels

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

This is the second part of our article on the science of reading product labels, in which we will decode cosmetic product labels. In the earlier part we dived into the different elements that make up a food label in the Indian context. Krya does not make food products. We work only in household and skin care products. However we are also aware that good nutrition and health are fundamental to great skin and hair, which is why the earlier article examined food labels.

 The amazing human skin

The skin is the primary recipient of personal care products and to a lesser extent the scalp and hair. It is also our first line of defense and very integral to good health. Therefore I am constantly appalled by how poorly we treat our skin by applying products on it without due diligence.

Consider these skin facts :

  • The skin is the largest organ in the body.
  • The skin renews itself every 28 days ( it is a living growing organ !)
  • The adult human skin can weigh around 3 -4 kg and covers approximately 20 square feet in area.
  • The skin can absorb up to 60% of any product applied on it. (It is not a inert physical barrier like a raincoat)
  • A baby’s skin can be three times thinner than an adult’s skin (& therefore is more vulnerable)

The cosmetic products industry is beset with two main problems today which makes label reading a vital survival skill.

  1. Lenient regulatory standards

A good friend who is the marketing director for a global brand of powder fruit juice concentrate revealed that in India, their formulation contains 96% white sugar, 2.5% preservatives and just 1.5% fruit juice extracts. Even at just 1.5 % levels, they can legally show lush pictures of fruit orchards and claim all the benefits of eating the fresh fruit from the tree. So if you went to the store with just the image carried over from TV advertising and purchased the product without reading the label, you will be sugar high and nutrient low.

8. Oranges_and_orange_juice

What is actually in your “straight from the orchard” orange juice? Mostly sugar?

 2. Creative re-interpretation

Creative re-interpretation is the other side of the same coin that also has lenient regulatory standards. Benefit claims made by brands today are stretched to the point be being farcial or even false. A common example is the use of the word “goodness” in many food and cosmetic products. It is legally possible to add 1% olive oil to 99% liquid paraffin’ to create a massage oil and then claim the benefits of pure olive oil. Here the trick is to use the word “goodness” of olive oil in the claim.

In this backdrop we would like to provide you with 4 filters to scan any cosmetic label to help you make a technical decision, and hopefully a better decision.

The 4 things to think through when reading a cosmetic or household product label

  1. Does it add up to 100 %?

This is the first point to check on a cosmetic label and ask yourself whether it all adds up.

The norm is to provide a full list of ingredients. This is not followed by many products. Then there are cases where complete declaration rule is relaxed, which we will talk about shortly. If the ingredient list says “key ingredients” mentioned with their percentages, you should quickly add the numbers. They will not add up to 100% and often the list of ingredients will account for only 30%-40% leaving you in the dark about the remaining 60% -70%. This is cause for concern.

Example 1: The label of a leading herbal hair wash powder calls itself completely natural and goes on to claim it is a proprietary Siddha formulation. The label declared many wonderful natural ingredients like Soapberry (which we use across our Krya cleaning and hair care formulations), Shikakkai and Amla (which goes into our body wash products). However, the ingredients declared were only key ingredients adding up to just 27% of the product.

6. Acacia concinna

Acacia concinna: a wonderful natural herb used throughout India for hair care. A common ingredient misrepresented in “herbal” products

But what about the remaining 73% of the product,  which is really the major part of what is being applied on your hair. I found the composition of the remaining 73% on the label of the export variant of the same product. The balance 73% contained the following

  • sulphates (a cheap foaming agent)
  • hydroxy propyl tiammonium chloride
  • Hydrated aluminium silicate
  • Preciptated silica
  • Dimethicone
  • Glycerol

None of the above ingredients are good for hair. Let us leave aside the debate of whether they are toxic to hair and environment. At the very least I can aver that the composition of the 73% not declared on the pack is nothing to be proud of and the claim of “herbal hair-wash” is certainly misleading.

  1. Excipients , QS

Many formulations contain active, potent ingredients which need a carrier medium or a buffer or a diluting agent known as excipient, which can safely deliver the active ingredient. These excipients can be natural or synthetic and are usually cost effective, inert, bulking agents. The excipient concept has its origins in medicines. For example bitter medicines for children were given with honey as an excipient to mask the taste. The excipient concept and the format for declaring it has now been borrowed by processed food and cosmetics industries as well.

It is common on labels now for brands to declare their ingredients by weight per 5 gm of the product with the excipient listed at the very end with the suffix “q.s”. Now q.s. from the latin ”quantum satis” is an instruction to add “quantity sufficient “of the excipient to make the formulation. It is also assumed that formulator has an understanding of the safe limits in which the excipient can be used. This is a tricky situation for someone interested in decoding the label. The manufacturer need not disclose what the name of the excipient used neither is there any clear guideline on what chemicals or ingredients that can be called excipients.

Example 2: For example I used an Ayurvedic toothpowder and found it to be rather sweet. The label had listed several herbs well known for oral care which added up to nearly 40% by weight of the product and the balance 60% under excipients. Now I assumed that the excipient would be salt which is rather common. However after tasting the toothpowder and finding it to be really sweet, I discovered that the excipient was mostly sugar, which is not a good idea at all in a toothpowder.

2. toothpaste on brush

Sugar: a common excipient used to make the taste of toothpaste more appealing

Then there are cases where the excipient appears to outright misleading. After our earlier post on sunscreens, a mother messaged us requesting an audit of the Ayurvedic sun screen lotion that she used on her kids. Now the product’s ingredient list read as follows:

  • Key ingredients like aloe , zinc oxide , oil etc at 11%
  • Bees wax at 7.5 %
  • Purified water Q.S.

It appears that water is the excipient forming 91.5% of the lotion. Here is the problem which the lay person would not be aware of.

It is just not possible to form a stable water based lotion with just beeswax as the emulsifier. In the lotion industry a number of other chemicals like cetyl alchohol, stearic acid, polysorbate, carbomer are used as emulsifiers to product a stable lotion in all conditions.

Further with 91.5% water and a long shelf life, some preservatives are required. The industry depends on chemicals like parabens and benzoates for preservative action, which are also not listed in the ingredient list.

This raises many questions: how did this brand of Ayurvedic sun screen lotion achieve a stable product with just beeswax? Is any ingredient deliberately left out to protect the intellectual property? Is it just plain omission?

The only option here is to directly write to your brand and ask them for a complete disclosure of all ingredients including excipients.

  1. Claims & Mis-directions  

Product claims are stretched to the absolute limit today. What started off as creative interpretation of the law can now be stretched to the point where it is no longer true.

Example 3: An example that immediately comes to mind is the line used by an Ayurvedic preparation which claims that their product helps you “stay slim and smart”. I have always wondered about the use of the word “stay” for this therapeutic product. If I am already slim and smart, why do I need this product? The visual communication gives us the impression that it is a problem solver, so if you do not notice the fine print you could easily conclude that this product will “make” you slim and smart. Sadly I know that many consumers have purchased this product in the hope of losing weight. I am not sure whether it worked for them or not.

The other disturbing trend in Indian cosmetic industry is use of the “Ayurvedic” tag to claim the halo of this sacred branch of our tradition. It is possible with some legal jugglery to add a few ingredients that have mention in Ayurvedic texts to an otherwise basic chemical formulation and pronounce the product as “Ayurvedic medicine”. Apart from the obvious benefit of piggy backing on Ayurveda, there are some licensing and tax benefits which motivate brands to borrow the Ayurvedic cloak.

In his book, India Unbound, Gurcharan Das recounts the story of how Vicks Vaporub became “Ayurvedic” when faced with the twin problems of very poor profits and a boycott by the Pharmacies in India. He recounts in the book that in this dire situation someone came up with the idea of re-classifying Vicks as an Ayurvedic formulation. Coincidentally some of the key ingredients are also mentioned in Ayurveda as remedies for common cold and the government approved their reclassification. They then were allowed to distribute the product widely in all stores and not just pharmacies. They also claimed tax benefits allowed to Ayurvedic medicines and scripted a spectacular financial rescue.

Is this really Ayurveda? Is this really presenting a true picture to the consumer who reads the label and trusts that Vicks is a genuine Ayurvedic formulation originally created by a qualified Ayurvedic doctor?

Ayurveda is a very exact and exacting science that has great reverence for the patients well being as well as for the plants, animals and minerals that provide the raw materials to create Ayurvedic medicines. For herb collection Ayurveda specifies place of origin, method of cultivation, time , season of methods of collection and storage.  I very much doubt if Gurcharan Das and the rest of the team at Procter & Gamble regularly invoked the blessings of Lord Dhanvantari at the factory manufacturing Vicks Vaporub as prescribed by Ayurvedic tradition.

This was most likely the first incident in India of a brand exploiting the Ayurvedic classification loop-hole. Since them this is a route abused by so many brands that is has also corrupted many hoary Indian Ayurvedic companies. Many Ayurvedic brands in India have now incorporated “bad habits” from cosmetic companies. For example, I know of an Ayurvedic company that manufactured only tooth powder for over 80 years. The current generations of owners have suddenly started manufacturing a tooth paste with the known cosmetic villains like SLS, sugar, artificial colours and flavors and still continue to call it an “Ayurvedic formulation”.

Charaka, one of the father’s of Ayurveda has said that medicine is that which restores health and brings longevity. He also avers that a pure medicine is one which when eliminating disease should not give rise to even the slightest cause for another disease.

4. Is this product free from known Chemical Villains?

In this blog, we have written several articles putting forth our point of view on several industrial chemicals in cosmetic products that are toxic to some or all humans. These chemicals are skin irritants, endocrine disruptors and even carcinogenic. This is not the place to present a case for or against these chemicals. So we will go straight into our recommendation. Given the bewildering array of what could go wrong with chemicals in cosmetic products it is far easier to look for what is NOT present in a product that read the ingredient list. In our opinion the following claims on a product label should help you make a better choice. So look for

  • Sulphate ( or SLS ) free
  • Paraben free
  • Petrolatum free
  • Fragrance free
  • Aluminum free
  • Lead free
  • Cruelty free
  • Phthalate free
  • DEA / TEA free

We hope that this article and its companion on reading food labels will give you the basic skills to survive shopping in a supermarket aisle filled with thousands of potentially harmful ingredients. Hopefully, you will walk out carrying products that genuinely fulfill the promise they made to you in their communication of being safe and natural for you and your family.

This article is a part of Krya’s series on toxics in household and personal care products. Through this series, we hope to inform, educate and inspire you to look around your home and detox it and yourself from the harmful action of more than 100,000 suspect industrial chemicals that surround human life today. The natural world is full of safe, environmentally sustainable, cruelty free options to care for yourself and your home, and our series will try to present atleast a small part of this exciting world to you. 

If you would like to explore our series further, here’s what we’ve written before this piece:

  1. An introduction to the series
  2. Common carcinogens implicated in breast cancer found in your home
  3. Is it a conspiracy? A pre-planned genetic supremacy race? Or simply misinformation? Some reasons behind common toxics & why they continue to be used
  4. Are we putting our children at risk by using these products on them? Here are 3 toxins that plague children through the products we use on them.
  5. Do the products we buy contain toxins? How do we decode what goes into them? Here’s Urban Survival 101 telling you what you should look for in food product labels.

 

 

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