The Krya Hair Colour project – part 1

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A Krya natural hair colour is one of our top enquiries, after our enquiries on repairing damaged hair and growing strong hair. While we have been talking about the dangers of chemical dyes and hair colours sometime now, we decided only early this year that we would launch an alternative.

Hair_colors

The rich variety of hair colour nature gives us

We have been pretty quick off the block for most of our new product launches, and our lab-launch time today has been quite compressed given our past history of sometimes taking over a year to commercially launch a formulation. Our hair colour project has been one of our post challenging projects for a variety of reasons, and many of these have to do with how predictable synthetic dyes are and therefore consumer expectation on the hair colour experience.

We spoke about how hair treatments like hair colour and hair smoothening are extremely damaging to the hair on the Krya blog last week. But here’s a small recap:

Synthetic colour related damage to your hair:

Forceful lifting of the cuticle:

Hair colours attack the inner core of the hair, and the cuticle is the first barrier to the entry of hair colour into your hair. To penetrate the hair shaft, the hair colour alters the pH of hair from its natural acidic state to an alkaline level. At this alkaline level, the cuticle is forcefully lifted up exposing the inner sections of hair, and the hair colour penetrates through into the hair shaft.

Stripping hair of its existing colour

In order to achieve evenness of colour, synthetic hair colours start by stripping hair of all its colour.  Bleaching agents like peroxide break down the hair’s natural colour pigment and bleach hair.  With the protective cuticle now being lifted up and your hair’s natural colour being broken down, your hair’s texture will now be unhealthy, dry and straw like.

2 ways in which Synthetic colours damage hair

  • Because of the unnatural way in which synthetic hair colours work, hair is forced into 2 states: The first is the prolonged, and forceful lifting up of the cuticle in order to allow the hair colour to penetrate deep into the hair’s shaft. This damages the cuticle and reduces its elasticity – so hair becomes extremely dry and dull.
  • By penetrating deep into the hair’s shaft, the colour also forms micro perforations in the hair’s structure leading to greater porosity of the hair. By bleaching the hair before depositing colour on it, the synthetic colour also interferes with the hair’s natural pigments and fatty acid layer – this makes the hair dull, brittle and rough in texture.

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Hair that has been chemically damaged becomes extremely rough, dry & brittle

A natural history of hair colouring:

The ancient Egyptian city of Tell-El-Amarna (orAmarna in short), was built as the capital of Pharaoh Akhenaton, considered the “heretic Pharaoh” as he preached Monotheism and tried to promote a new religion based on a single God, the Sun God,  abandoning ancient Egypt’s multiple god based religion. Amarna was abandoned shortly after the Pharaoh’s death in 1332 BC.

Archeologist Jolanda Bos has analyzed a selection of 100 recently excavated skulls from the cemetery at Amarna. 28 of those skulls still had hair, include one woman whose hair had nearly 70 extensions forming an elaborate hair style.

The skulls had different hair textures and hair colours and styles including 3 strand braids, stylized rings and coils around the ears. The hair texture ranged from extremely curly black hair to straight hair that was wavy with a dark brown colour. Most interestingly, the excavation also found a skull with gray hair that had been dyed with Henna and had Henna’s characteristic orange red shade still remaining after several thousand years.

Henna was even used by an aging powerful Pharaoh like Ramses 2 to maintain an impression of youth and vigor.

Colours from nature:

Ancient India used dye derived from 3 sources for hair and textile dyeing – plant parts, insects and animal parts and metals and minerals. In our posts we will discuss a few plant based natural dyes.

The Kamala tree:

Mallotus philippensis is a south East Asian tree growing in moderate to high rainfall areas. The fruit contains reddish brown glandular hair like strands which are used in Ayurvedic medicine. These “hair strands” are a strong digestive and purgative and release a golden red dye called “Kamala dye” which is used to dye wool and silk. Kamala dye is also added as an anti oxidant in ghee and vegetable oils to prevent rancidity. It is a strongly vermicidal herb.

Mallotes resized

The rich red fruits of the Kamala tree – used to dye delicate fabric like silk

In ancient times, the Kamala tree was called “Kampilla” indicating its origin from the Kampilla country, the North western province. In ancient literature, the plant is described as “red bodied” containing red tinctorial matter in the form of grainy powders (rakta churana). The dyes prepared from this plant were described as “rocanika” and “candra” (pleasing), and was used particularly to dye silk fabric.

“Kumkuma “– Saffron:

Kumkuma was a popular dye drug in the post Vedic period. The Mahabharata records a particular community of people called the “Jaguda” who were engaged to cultivate the Kumkuma plant. The Arthashastra notes that the Kumkuma plant is generally cultivated under royal patronage for its valuable flowers that were prized for both their dyeing and cosmetic properties. Kumkuma grew in 2 provinces in India, and the Kumkuma from Kashmir was prized for its red filaments and dye.

Safran-Weinviertel_Niederreiter_2_Gramm_8285

Stamens of Crocus sativus (Saffron) – prized in cuisine and beauty

The bright red colour produced by this flower was considered both durable (“dhira”), and economical and pleasing.

Haridra – Turmeric

Yellow dye was principally produced from plants in ancient India, and turmeric was the most important source of yellow dye in India. The Chinese traveler I-Tsing, who visited Indian in the 7th century, has noted many recipes for obtaining yellow dye based on his experiences in India.

Curcuma_longa_roots

The auspicious , golden yellow Haridra

Haridra is described as an extremely auspicious and highly beneficial plant in Indian literature. The yellow dye produced by the rhizome is described as bright (pinga, kanchani), pleasing (rocani), and producing deep colour to fabric (dirgharaga).

Haritaki (Chebulic myrobalan):

We have spoken about Haritaki earlier on the Krya blog. It forms one of the 3 great myrobalans in India, and has many internal and external applications in Ayurveda.  We use Haritaki extensively in our skin and hair formulations, and it goes into our Triphala , the Ayurvedic anti bacterial cleansing formulation that we use across many of our products for safe and effective cleansing.

Haritaki was traditionally used in ancient times as a hair dye to impart a dark almost black colour to hair along with other plant based dyes, and was also used a hair conditioning and growth promoting and cleansing herb.

In the Krya Lab – Some challenges while developing a natural colour

Being a vegan and cruelty free company

While many many substances exist in nature to impart colour, at Krya, being a vegan and cruelty free company, we use only plants in our products. In the world of hair colours and dyes that immediately excludes us from using Insect based dyes like “Laksha” which have been used since ancient times in India to both dye fabric and also in cosmetic applications like hair colour and colour cosmetics.

Laksha generally breeds on plants like Manjishta, Palash and Khadira (which are themselves natural dye producing plants), and produces a resinous substance which is described as “Krishna “(dark) and “Rakta (red) and can give permanent tints to fabric.

The use of a natural mordant / additive that is gentle on hair

Many natural colours also require the use of mordents and fixers to give a lasting shade. In fabric dyeing, mordants like alum are often used to “fix” colour. Fabrics also undergo special treatments over many weeks – for example, Chebulic myrobalan dyed fabric is soaked in buffalo milk for a few days to help deepen colour and produce a longer lasting shade.

Certain herbs are also used as additives or auxiliary dyes to brighten colour or slightly change the shade.

Obviously in developing a natural colour, we have to take into account how these mordants can affect hair health, and use auxiliary colour promoters that aid hair health and hair growth and work fast.

Obtaining an even shade

One of the greatest challenges in developing a natural colour has to do with how safe the process is compared to a synthetic hair colour. As we have discussed earlier, a synthetic hair colour works by first bleaching hair with a chemical like peroxide. After hair is completely stripped of colour, the desired colour is then injected into each hair strand.

This chemical process ensures that all hair strands get an even coating of colour, which gives synthetic hair an even finish.

As we do not follow this pre-bleaching process in natural hair colours, hair tends to get unevenly coloured depending upon the split between grey and black hair. Those with roughly even amount of grey and black hair may develop hair that has 2 shades of colour.

Our challenge at Krya is how we can overcome this and offer a colour that does not make such a demarcation between grey and black hair.

Natural vs synthetic colour -evenness challenge

Synthetic vs natural dyes – notice how even the black is in the synthetic dye

Maintaining hair health and hair condition while colouring it:

We discussed how synthetic colours strip hair of both its pigment and an essential layer of fatty acids and artificially lift up the cuticle. All of these make the hair dryer than what it is. But even naturally, hair that grays has a slightly different structure compared to hair that still has its natural pigment intact. Grey hair tends to be wirier and thick, so it feels much coarser compared to hair that has not begun to age. It therefore tends to be a little more unmanageable and frizzy compared to normal hair.

Also as hair ages, the sebum secretion to the hair reduces, and it becomes finer. So grey hair tends to be much drier, breaks easier and is less manageable.

While developing our hair colour, this is one of our priorities. So our colours have been developed using a rich range of natural conditioning herbs and plant butters to coat and maintain hair health. Also, our hair colour range is being developed with a series of protective and nourishing hair masks and a special set of hair washes and oils that boost hair health and texture.

To conclude

This is the first in many many posts we intend to write about the chemistry of hair colour, the dangers behind synthetic hair colours and dyes, and how the power of plants can be harnessed to give us healthy and toxin free beauty and nourishment.

The Krya Hair Damage Repair system:

The Krya Hair Damage Repair System consists of Oil, a Hair Wash and a Hair Mask for chemically damaged hair, of which the Hair Oil is now available.

Severely chemically treated hair becomes extremely porous because of multiple injuries to the hair cuticle. Synthetic colours also permanently damage the hair shaft as they lift the cuticular structure and inject chemicals like PPD inside the hair shaft to ensure the hair colour stays longer without getting washed out.

Chemically damaged hair also contains a layer of toxins on the scalp as this kind of hair is regularly coated with synthetic conditioners and treatments to artificially smoothen it and “condition” it externally.

Because of the permanent nature of the damage wrought by chemical treatments, we have to ensure that the existing hair is conditioned and boosted with moisture so that it is more manageable and new growth is stimulated with better nourishment being given to new hair growth to ensure the hair is stronger. The regenerative capacity of hair of course depends upon the body’s state of health and the food being eaten.

Our Hair oil for severely damaged hair uses a whole host of powerful herbs. Some of them like Liquorice and Bhringaraj (Eclipta alba) work on the cuticular structure and provide moisture and nourishment to smoothen and condition hair. Others like parsley, marigold and thyme contain anti oxidants that stimulate collagen production to promote the growth of stronger hair. Flaxseed’s fatty acids and anti oxidants remove dead cells and toxins from the scalp, and lemongrass balances sebum production ensuring the scalp produces the right amount of oil for the hair.

Explore and order here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shampoo Seppuku – Throw away that shampoo part 2

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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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Better hair this September – the healthy hair series from Krya

Krya Hair Wash
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Good hair appears to be in alarmingly short supply today. We seem to have an epidemic of products available in a store to satisfy our every hair wish, but this appears to be the time when we are collectively most upset about the state of our hair.

I put out an appeal on our social media page asking for great hair stories from people. I get an interesting response from Preethi Raghav who is a 24 year old entrepreneur with her hair story. She tells me about her teenage tryst with the whole bag of hair tricks: shampoos, conditioners, serums, gels the works. And then in 2012, she decided to literally clean up her act and drop the synthetics.

The result?

“My hair has thickened to almost twice to what it was!,” says Preethi. “Plus, Shampoos and conditioners would leave my hair dry and frizzy no matter what I did! I used to have headaches almost every time after a shampoo. It never occurred to me that the chemicals could be the reason! My hair feels so earthy and nice now”.

Most of us aren’t this kind to our hair. Our five year journey at Krya has given us data points spread over thousands of consumers across different parts of India – and our conclusion is expected. Only a very tiny percent of consumers, no matter what their age , or lifestage is, are happy with their hair’s health. Everyone seems to experiment a lot with hair – we colour it, highlight it, straighten it, perm it, and shampoo it frequently. And all of this has an impact on how healthy or unhealthy our hair is.

 

The structure of our hair

Human hair, actually every single part of the human body is a marvel of bio engineering. The evolution of mammalian hair can be traced back to our common ancestors, the synapsids, which existed about 300 million years ago.
The 2 aspects of hair that we are most concerned about, gloss and strength are attributed to the 2 parts of hair: the cortex and the cuticle.

An intact, smoothly layered cuticle gives us hair that is naturally glossy and shiny. And its strength to withstand tugs, combing, brushing and the stresses of daily life comes from a cortex that has integrity.

 The overlapping scales

hair strand

The picture shows you how hair looks under 200X magnification and what is visible is the outer cuticle layer of the hair. ( The cuticle itself is made up of 6 – 8 layers of cells). Each cuticular cell is made up of proteins , lipids and polysaccharides – they are colourless and arranged in an overlapping roof-tile or fish scale like pattern.

This arrangement ensures 2 important aspects of how your hair is designed to protect itself:
1. the overlapping scale like pattern helps dirt and scales to be removed easily by lifting up the cuticular cells.
2. This overlapping pattern ( which ensures that each cuticular cell overlaps the next exposing only 1/6th of its surface) ensures that the cuticle regulates entry of water, and chemicals forming an effective barrier to protect the inner cortex of the hair.

Important parts of your hair:

  1. Epicuticle – the water barrier – prevents water from entering and being absorbed by hair. Hair which is structurally weak absorbs water and swells changing its shape
  2. A layer – high in cysteine which helps form disulfide bonds to give high structural strength and rigidity to the cuticle. This layer provides the strong structural matrix to hair. Damage to this layer makes your hair structurally weak.
  3. Cortex: Lies below the cuticle and forms the the major component of hair. The keratin protein in the hair is bound by disulfide bonds formed by cysteine residues within the cortex. These bonds are responsible for the natural shape of your hair strands.

 

Hair fall and damage – reasons

Your hair’s life depends on a number of factors like the medication you take, stress, your diet, and also the products you use on it.

The more you style or alter your hair’s characteristics (like colour, texture), the more you change the natural constitution of your hair. While the amount of styling products and treatments each kind of hair can accept is different , less is always more for hair health.

So here are 5 beauty treatments that can permanently damage your hair :

1. Excessive shampooing with SLS / SLES based shampoos
Shampoos exist to cleanse your scalp and remove excessive oil from your hair. But as we’ve discussed before, SLS and SLES are strong detergent like substances that literally bubble the oil out of your hair and scalp. With the sebum layer stripped from your hair, your hair starts to lose its sheen and becomes extremely dry.

shampooing blog image 1 (1)

In younger hair, excessive washing can also lead to aggressive sebum secretion from the sebaceous glands – which leads to more washing. This vicious cycle gives you extremely greasy hair that slowly starts to get dry as you grow older and your sebaceous glands start to secrete less oil.

2. Heat (hot air blower or hot water washes)

The constant use of hot water to wash your hair or repeated use of a blow dryer, can damage the overlapping pattern of the cuticle resulting in bumps on the cuticle surface where some of the cuticular cells have been damaged. Your hair therefore appears dull and loses its natural shine and gloss. Further, this cuticular cell loss exposes the inner layers of hair to the entry of excessive water and chemicals which can then damage the inner layers.

heat blog image 2 (1)

3. Hair texture altering treatments (straightening, perming, relaxing)

Several chemical treatments that are designed to alter hair’s shape or colour (straightening, perming , relaxing) work at the level of the cortex. Any change in hair texture or shape requires that the disulfide bonds within the cortex need to be dissolved. This damages the hair’s basic structural integrity at its core.

perming blog image 3 (1)

4. Highlights and colourants

Permanent hair colourants use an oxidation reaction that requires a compbination of para dyes (para-phenylenediamine, para-toluenediamine, and para-aminophenol ) with hydrogen peroxide. The hair colouration process takes place inside the cortex of the hair and the entry of these molecules into the hair cortex is facilated by the ammonia in hair dyes and some colours. In the newly advertised “ammonia free” dyes, this entry of the colour molecules is facilitated instead by sodium carbonate or ethylamine – so while your hair colour may be ammonia free, it is still a very dangerous process and is quietly damaging the core of your hair as it uses chemicals to slip past the hair’s natural barriers.

hair colour blog image 4 (1)

5. Chemically treated henna

Henna is also being contaminated by the addition of PPD dyes, and kali mehendi or “black henna” is a mixture of henna with PPD derivatives and hydrogen peroxide. Apart from cortex damage, hair dyes also strip the hair of 18-methyleicosanoic acid or 18-MEA. This is an important lipid component of the cuticle. When this is removed from hair, hair becomes coarse and dull.

 

A prescription for happy, healthy hair :

Here’s the first thing: our hair’s structural design ensures that our hair is supposed to look beautiful and feel healthy. All that we want from great hair: shiny, glossy, strong, long, etc, is achieved through the cells, polysaccharides and disulfide bonds and everything else in hair’s natural design.

But here’s the second thing: Unfortunately, we all seem to be rather proud of subjecting our hair to the equivalent of a harsh concentration camp: by using products that are designed to seek and destroy the fine structure of our hair.

So is there a prescription to healthy happy hair?

Yes there is. And we are going to spend more time on this in the Krya blog. But our prescription in short is this:

Oil your hair regularly, wash it when it feels dirty (not too often) with the gentlest possible natural shampoo. Don’t heat it in any way. Eat well and leave it alone.

prescription for healthy hair

  • Oiling, as you might have guessed, helps work the arrector muscles, stimulates the papilla and lends a helping hand to your sebaceous glands as you get older.
  • Washing it less frequently, keeps your cell structure intact – which is important if your hair is already damaged and cannot handle too much washing.
  • Not heating hair too much just makes sense – hair is made of protein, so heating it is basically cooking it – think of frying tofu or an egg – you create an irreversible chemical reaction when you “cook” hair with hot air or water.
  • Eating well is a good prescription for healthy anything – hair, skin, everything else. Our bodies are designed to be supported with dense, nutrient rich fruits and vegetables, high quality grains and micronutrients. Good eating repairs your whole body and gets your hair back to good health.

Lastly, your hair deserves a gentle, completely natural product that does not stress it out. Look for sulphate free, paraben free, all natural shampoos – your shampoo should gently work with you to lift out dirt and additional grease form your hair and scalp. It should not remove so much oil that your hair “squeaks” afterwards. A shampoo that uses natural, plant based surfactants like soapberry, shikakai, is gentle and effective on hair and skin.

So there you have it – a simple, do-able prescription to start with. Does it work? Yes it does. It did for me and a whole lot of other people you are going to be read about this month.

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 – http://krya.in/blogk/2015/07/my-hair-feels-like-itself/
  3. Is beauty external? We think not – http://krya.in/blogk/2015/02/the-tree-of-life-the-holistic-approach-to-beauty-health/
  4. What should you be looking for on that product label?  

 

 

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