Is my shampoo truly natural: Krya’s perspective

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

When we describe our products and talk about how our products contain only purely natural, ayurvedic herbs, we often hear a counter: “But how can I tell if my shampoo is truly natural” (or face wash or body wash). This is an interesting and challenging question.

What makes a product “a truly natural product”? Do we go by the conventional easy definition which says that if a product’s main  ingredients are derived from renewable, plant based resources and not petroleum, a product is natural?

Is something a truly natural product? This is the modern dilemma

If we did follow the above definition, Krya would be a completely different company today and we would be selling loads and loads of shiny, water based products in bottles with pretty colours and scents. So, clearly, this is not Krya’s definition of a truly natural shampoo / face wash / face serum.

What is a truly natural product: Krya’s standard

Krya follows a much more stringent and strict standard of what consists of a truly natural product. All our products are made only from 4 kinds of ingredients:

  • Whole Plant parts (  herbs, roots, shoots, leaves, fruits, flowers and seeds). When we say the word “Whole” we mean harvested fresh or dry plant parts , not extracts, distillates or essences.
  • Whole plant based, expeller pressed, organic Oils and Butters
  • Whole Plant pressed essential oils
  • Clays, Earth and Soils with specific healing characteristics

Any ingredients that does not meet the above 4 criteria is not used at Krya. So we do not use Plant based extracts, even if they are more potent and concentrated: as they do not fall into or “Whole Plant” definition. We do not use solvent extracted oils even if they are cheaper, as they are neither organic nor cold pressed.

The 4 ingredient types behind creating a truly natural krya product

And we do not use any ingredients that are DERIVED as a secondary or tertiary by product from plants. To us these are simply chemicals which have been extracted from Plants and are not truly natural. So we use no surfactants like Sodium Coco Beteine. Nor do we try and pass of Sodium Laureth sulphate as a natural, coconut based surfactant. Because we understand that even though these ingredients may have once formed a part of a plant, their extraction and isolation process have transformed them into something else- they can no longer be called “truly natural”.

Which brings me to the second important part of what makes a product, truly natural: the way it is processed.

What is a truly natural product: Krya’s processing standard

As we have seen from the above examples, ,today even harmful chemical surfactants like Sodium Laureth Sulphate are being passed off as natural. This is because the source this chemical compound was originally isolated from was a plant.

To keep our process truly natural, and ensure such chemicals do not pass muster at Krya, we follow a stringent processing standard in our factory:

  • We start production only with WHOLE herbs – we do not work with isolates, extracts or essences as many of them are made using chemical isolation techniques

How to craft a truly natuarl product : start with whole herbs

  • The herbs are bought WHOLE, cleaned and then processed in the correct manner and then sent for final manufacturing
    • The herbs are not altered with or tampered in any way – we do not change their colour, aroma, texture or any other properties deliberately
  • We use only solid formats which do not require any preservatives. By avoiding the use of water in our products, we are bale to ensure that not a single preservative, base, or any manner of manufactured ingredient goes into our products

krya truly natural procesisng technique: use solid formats that do not require preservatives

  • The herbs used in each of our products add up to 100% – there is no OTHER filler, base or any other synthetics used in our products
  • All fresh herbs, fruits and oils used are sourced only from organic sources, in season. We do not use out-of-season, chemically treated produce.

Krya's truly natural processing technique: use of seasonal organic produce

  • Oils are made from scratch using the ayurvedic tila paka method. This method of ayurvedic oil manufacturing helps extract botanical nutrients much more efficiently into oil. It also helps us avoid the use of fillers, colours, stabilisers and preservatives.

krya natural processing technique - oils

This definition of “100% natural” or “truly natural” is unique to Krya. This definition goes way beyond legal requirement or license guidelines. Even the strictest of natural product certifications allow some inclusion of synthetics to make up a format. But we, are proud to say, that our internal requirement is the strictest and most accurate definition of a truly natural product.

This definition of creating “truly natural” product imposes some restrictions and challenges for us as formulators. It is the solving of these restrictions and challenges that lead to the differences between how natural products look and feel compared to synthetics.

 Challenges faced when creating a truly natural product

One of the reasons large corporations gravitate towards making standardized chemical formulations is their ease of use and simplicity to manufacture. Because standardized chemical ingredients are used in the making of these products, the output we get is also standard.

So your synthetic detergent will always look , feel, and smell the same. You can literally close your eyes and smell its chemical fragrance and identify what you are using.

Mass market products are consistent because they are essentially synthetic

This simplistic consistency is not possible to achieve in a truly natural product due to a number of factors. This is possibly why many Krya consumers can  observe minor variations across our batches of cleansers, oils and lepas. Sometimes there is also a variation across seasons. why does this occur? We will explain this through today’s post.

Seasonal variation in produce : truly natural products

Krya uses fresh organic produce seasonally in each of our skin and hair oils. Our skin oils use varied organic produce like pomegranates, muskmelon, pineapple, mangoes, etc. These organic fruits go into the Krya Classic skin oil and the Krya Moisture Plus skin oil and the upcoming Krya After sun Skin oil and the Krya Dauhridini Body oil.

krya's products vary slightly depending upon the seasonal organic produce that goes into them

The selection of this set of organic fresh produce depends upon season, and the problem we are trying to solve. Every single fruit comes with its own inherent colour, taste, aroma and texture. So if the organic produce that goes into the oil changes, the oil will also subtly change, echoing the characteristics of the produce that goes into it.

So, it stands to reason that if a company says it is adding an organic mango into its product, you should not see this variant in february. It should only be available in the organic mango season!

Time to be suspicious?

 Availability of herbs : a challenge faced when creating truly natural products

The Ayurvedic Samhitas and Nighantus document several thousand herbs with many variations in sub species depending upon geography and climatic conditions. However, due to dwindling interest, urbanisation and lack of proper collection mechanisms, many of these herbs are not easily available to us.

But, as we expand our product base and widen our search, we stumble upon certain herb collectors or organisations who can source some of these herbs for us. Therefore, our formulations always have a small percentage kept aside for these kind of rare herbs. Whenever they become available to us, we add them into our formulations.

An example of this is “kaala haldi” or Curcuma caesia. This is a rare variety of Zeodary which is documented as being found in the eastern wetlands of Bengal and Assam.

Curcuma caesia is a renowned herb to help cure certain skin diseases, reduce vata aggravation and joint pain, etc due to its high camphoraceous content.

Black turmeric: renonwned ayurvedic herb for inflammation, skin cleaning, etc

We have been searching for reliable suppliers of Kali haldi for a few years now and have just stumbled on a source. So when we get access to herbs like this, they find their way into our formulations.

So formulae can also vary / change depending upon availability of herbs. This affects the way the final products looks / feels and smells.

The effect of regional and geographical differences on herbs:

The Ayurvedic Samhitas tell us that the “kala” (season) and “desha” (geography) from where a herb is harvested alters the properties of the herbs subtly. This is because of the climatic conditions under which the herb grows and also the richness and natural nutrients available in the soil.

An example of this is one variety of organic turmeric which we source from Meghalaya. This variety of turmeric is the same species of turmeric which is used across Indian households in cooking. But due to its cultivations in this hilly region, presence of abundant rain and relatively un-urbanized and pristine surroundings, the turmeric has a much higher percentage of Curcumin as is seen in the plains. This makes the turmeric slightly higher in oil content, and its colour is a distinct yellow-orange with a strong and rich aroma.

high curcumin turmeric is used in krya's skin care products for its potent skin healing properties

In this example, the herb is distinctively different from its counterpart that grows on the plains. But this does not make it superior to other varieties of organic turmeric – just different and more suitable to its “desha”.

We see subtle differences across many herbs depending upon “desha”. For example: the Sapindus trifoliatus (soapberry) we use across our products has regional differences when sourced from wet climates vs dryer climates – the colour of the fruit, aroma and foam head all differ depending upon geography.

 Seasonal variations in herbs

The Ashtanga hridayam tells us that herbs are less juicy, intense and more woody in Adana Kala and in seasons like Greeshma Ritu (summer season).  So when we make our hair and skin oils in Summer vs say Winter, there is a marked difference in the Swarasas (fresh juices) , Kashayas (deocotions) and Kwathas (herb infusions) we make as a prequel to making our final oil.

The Swarasas make in dry season is typically darker, more intense in its aroma and is much more concentrated. This makes the oils made in this season look darker and feel slightly thicker.

All these above reasons cause minor , subtle variations in truly natural products like Krya’s hair, skin and home care products. These differences do not affect how the products works for you, but it will affect the consistency of aesthetics you come to expect from a product.

The Krya “Signature” – what continues unchanging across all our batches

Someone reading this could very well ask what unites our products across batches despite minor changes in the formulations. Yes a truly natural product can expect to get perfect consistency across every single batch due to all the factors listed above. But, at Krya, we try and ensure there are a few uniting factors across our formulations:

Use of Signature Ingredients in Krya’s products:

In some of our products, we use certain “Signature Ingredients”. An example of this is Chamomile and Green Tea which go into the Krya Classic face wash formulation. Since our test launch of this product in January 2013, these signature ingredients go into almost every batch of the formulation.

Signature ingredients in Krya classic face wash: chamomile and green tea

We have, so far, made only one batch without the use of organic Chamomile due to lack of availability from our regular supplier. Regular customers were quick to pick up this difference and demanded to know why their facewash was not smelling the way it used to!

Signature Colours across Krya’s products / product categories:

Many Krya hair oils and skin oils have a signature colour or belong to a specific colour family. For example, the Krya traditional Baby massage oil usually has a reddish-brown colour due the use of Manjishta in the formulation.

Krya traditional baby massage oil - caries a signature colour, aroma and texture

Both the Krya Abhyanga Oils (classic and Intense) also have this reddish brown colour and a distinctive fragrance due to the use of certain herbs like bala, ashwagandha, nochi leaf, etc.

Signature properties across each batch

Notwithstanding the minor differences in formulation depending upon seasonality, herb availability, etc, obviously the one major uniting factor across each batch is the way each Krya product works for you.

We take care to ensure that the texture of the product is similar across batches. This is especially important in products meant for sensitive skin like the Krya toddler bodywash for Sensitive Skin and the Krya Sensitive Bodywash for Adults.  Here due to the dosha vitiation in skin, skin is particular sensitive to rough edges in the product and a small texture change can trigger a reaction like a rash.

Similarly, despite minor formulation changes, our skin products meant for Pitta prakriti skin like the Krya Classic range or the Krya After Sun range is always designed to cool, soothe and draw out excess Pitta from skin. So the products always feel refreshing during use and skin feels lighter and fresher after use.

Signature properties: krya's aftersun range always balances pitta and soothes skin

To Sum up:

Truly natural products are a minuscule minority. Most often , we have standardised commercial products hiding under the guise of a truly natural product. Therefore, when we do come across truly natural products, we are taken aback at their aesthetics and the textural and minor differences we see across batches.

I hope this post educated you on why these differences in texture, aroma or colour could exist in a truly natural product. I also hope this post helped you appreciate the many challenges behind creating a truly natural product.

If you too would like to try our truly natural range of skin, home and hair care goodies, please explore our offerings online. For product queries or doubts please write to us or call us on (0)75500-89090.

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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.

blog pic 1

 

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.

blog pic 2

 

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.

blog pic 3

 

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.

blog pic 4

 

  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.

blog pic 5

 

  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.

blog pic 6

 

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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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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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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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