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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Foaming shampoo, Itching soap : a label lowdown

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Reading Time: 10 minutes

The Krya post yesterday shared a piece written by Dr.Anupama Santosh, an Ayurvedic vaidya at Shrestha Ayurvedic centre . In this piece she shared her concerns about herbal products and some of the issues she faces while recommending authentic natural products to her consumers.

We choose to focus on this important issue raised by Dr.Anupama in the blog today at Krya.

The modern soap and the modern shampoo find no place in the tradition of Indian skin and haircare. The traditional medicine pharmacopeia is vast, detailed and uses thousands of cleansing herbs and lists formulations that range from cures for baldness to simple hair growth.

This does not mean Indian traditional medicine is simplistic or primitive as is often assumed. Many of the discoveries and procedures described by Acharya Sushruta and Acharya Charaka (the fathers of Ayurveda) are still in use today.

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For example, a facial reconstructive technique described by Acharya Sushruta 2500 years ago uses parts of the forehead and cheek to reconstruct the nose. This procedure was developed as cutting off the nose was a common punishment in that era which necessitated the development of aesthetic surgery. This technique is still in use today and is now called the “Indian Rhinoplasty technique”.

So how did mass produced soap and shampoo evolve ?

The technique for producing a basic soap is ancient. Archaeological excavations and records suggest that it was in use in Ancient Babylon 2500 years ago. The Ebers papyrus , which dates back to 1500BC, also mentions the use of soap in cleaning textiles. Again we see evidence of the use of soap in the Roman world, where it was again used to launder garments.

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If you are seeing a pattern here, stay with me. We move over to Florence in medieval times where soap making has now become more evolved with the addition of perfumes distilled with knowledge brought in by the Islamic empire. Italy and France begin to compete with each other to produce finer grade soaps.

Soapmaking now reaches England. Soapmaking becomes a household art, guarded jealously by the main housekeeper of the Castle and is made in the still room.

So we have reached a point when soapmaking has become a household cottage industry. The fat trimmings from domestic meat of the animals raised for consumption would be used without wasting to be made into a cleaning soap. For the component of lye, water leached through wood ash would be used as a precursor to the commercially available Sodium Hydroxide we use. The Romans were much more economical – they simply used human urine from the public toilets, which is strong in ammonia to make Ammonium Hydroxide to make their soap.

Now here are 2 interesting facts: Soap originally started out as a textile laundering product and was generally considered extremely harsh for skin use as it was very alkaline in its pH. This alkaline nature made sense when it was used exclusively on textiles as this would help effectively cleanse out grease and dirt from wool, linen and other difficult to care for textiles.

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When soap was finally adopted for personal use, it was primarily adopted by countries which experienced extreme cold and where citizens bathed very rarely.

For example, England had a day called Shrive Tuesday which fell in early summer, which was a day when the peasants would have an annual bath. For this annual bath, the lye based soap was used. Yes, your read that right – ONE bath every 365 days.

An infrequent bath was not restricted to the peasant class alone. The nobility and the monarchy in most cold countries would have a bath only once a month. The perfume industry in France itself started as a way to ward off body odour. Frequent bathing was considered an unhealthy practice and this made sense given the extreme low temperatures that could occur in these countries.

 The soap and shampoo in the Modern Era:

The now ubiquitous mass produced shampoo and soap owes its origins to 3 inventors: Nicholas Leblanc, Michel Eugene Chevreul and Ernest Solvay. Their inventions in the mid 19th century,  transformed what used to be a home made cottage industry based process into a multi billion dollar commercial process which spawned the commercial shampoo as well.

Why soap is not good for skin:

The modern mass produced soap is quite different from its cottage industry ancestor which used just 2 ingredients – trimmed animal fat and lye. Today, the modern soap adds other additives like talc, bleaches, fillers, colours and chemical fragrances to the mix.

However, both kinds of soaps share one common trait – they are extremely harsh on skin.

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The key reason for this harsh effect on skin can be traced to a single factor – by design a soap is alkaline with a pH of atleast 8 or above. This alkaline pH makes sense if you are having a bath once a year like in Medieval England. The amount of dirt, dead cells and sebum accumulated in skin for a year would need an extremely harsh, tough cleansing product preferably with an alkaline soap.

But given our penchant for a bath atleast once a day, and often in hot water, an alkaline product like a soap alters the pH of skin. Skin’s pH has been carefully designed to be 5.5 and is kept that way by the natural oil secretions on our skin, our sweat and the presence of synergistic colonies of friendly bacteria on our skin.

When we alter the pH of our skin using a soap, this breaks this ecosystem, dries out skin, kills the friendly bacteria and leaves our skin open to the invasion of hostile bacteria. Consistent and frequent use of soap will leave skin dry, irritable and unhealthy.
(We’ve discussed much better, gentler ways to have a bath earlier.)

The issue with modern shampoos:

We have detailed the drying and scalp irritating properties of SLS in previous posts. We have spoken about how the commercial SLS laden shampoo cleans by stripping all the essential sebum from your scalp and hair. We also spoke about how this causes a counter reaction in your scalp, which then compensates with a greater amount of sebum production to make up for the lack of essential sebum.

SLS and SLeS also denatures scalp protein and damages the hair’s cuticular structure. Undamaged hair has a “hydrophobic” surface which is coated with sebum. This ensures water does not enter the hairshaft and damage hair. With the repeated use of synthetic shampoos, and harsh chemical treatments on hair like colouring and deep conditioning, this hydrophobic oily coating is rinsed away , leaving gaps in the cuticular structure through which water enters the hair shaft.

Yes I get synthetic soaps and shampoos are bad for me. What about my herbal shampoo?

Unfortunately, with the growing demand for natural products and the growing awareness for natural herbs and solutions, chemical consumer products companies have now made a clever addition to their toxin laden products.

They add, what is called in industry parlance as a “claim ingredient “ to their regular synthetic products.

 The claim ingredient as per Indian law:

Unfortunately the consumer products industry – both in India & globally is very poorly regulated industry compared to say the food or pharmaceutical industries.

marketing hype

 

 

 

 

The first problem with “regulation” is the fact that regulation always lags or follows the introduction of a new concept. The very concept of “regulation” is new and most regulatory bodies of the 20th century were set-up by governments in response to misleading or downright false claims made by manufacturers. Think about it, the concept of a BIS standard for a soap or shampoo can be defined only after there is a significantly large industry for these products.

The second major problem is the fact that the major manufacturers are often appointed by governments as experts to set up regulations. In this regard, several shocking loopholes or low standards that favor manufactures have now been enshrined as “government standards”.

industry collaboration

For example manufacturers can add just 1% of a ingredient  say amla and claim ALL the benefits associated with it – all they have to do is use phrases likes “with the goodness of  amla“  while the rest of the product could contain any manner of chemical bases or preservatives. Even organic food, a new and exciting sector , created by folks in response to pesticides & GMO has not been spared. An “organic” ready to eat food product can contain by law, preservatives like sodium benzoate. So much for “safe”, “organic” food!

Example 1:

Consumer VOICE, a leading, independent publisher did a comparative test of major Indian hair oil brands available in the market. The reference to this original article is given below. The independent study found the following in their research:

  1. All the brands of hair oil were based on mineral oil or Liquid Paraffin – while this was mentioned on the product label, the advertising for these products generally emphases only the goodness of the natural oils and herbs used. This test included even leading brands which claimed to be ayurvedic and natural. Light Liquid Paraffin was found to be between 62% – 91% in content. While BIS permits the use of Light Liquid Paraffin in cosmetic products, there is no maximum limit specified. This is grossly misleading as consumers are obviously buying the hair oils based on their claims of the hair oils containing vegetable oils and herbs,
  2. In 2 leading advertised brands of Amla (Indian gooseberry ) based hair oil, the Amla extract is less than 2%. Even with adding such a trace quantity of Amla, the Manufacturer is getting away by naming this product an Amla Hair oil, when it should really be called a Paraffin hair oil!
  3. A leading advertised brand of Almond hair oil contained , in fact, only a few drops of almond oil per bottle- the net weight of mineral oil was 76% and vegetable oil was over 20%.

Ayurveda has not been spared too

Unfortunately the bad habits from the chemical consumer products industry have defiled the Indian Ayurvedic sector as well. AYUSH standards from the GoI allow a range of “permitted” additives, base, preservatives etc. So you could find an “Ayurvedic” toothpaste, with one or two ingredients mentioned in the Ayurvedic texts but with the bulk of the product containing a synthetic base or with sodium lauryl sulfate as a foaming agent.

Example 2:

A leading South Indian brand of herbal hairwash powder has often been brought to our notice by Krya consumers. They check the foam generated by this herbal hairwash and tell us it is atleast twice more than the Krya hairwashes. The foam quality is also surprisingly similar to the foam generated by a synthetic shampoo – the foam is thick, and lasts for a long time on hair.

An analysis of this product’s contents proved difficult, as the Indian label lists only upto 60% of its ingredients. The natural foam generating herbs like Sapindus trifoliatus, Sapindus mukorossi (Different species of Soapberry / Reetha), and Acacia concinna (Shikakai) is less than 5%. The largest herb listed by volume is Coconut Shell powder, which has no nutritive action and is only a natural abrasive and filler.

So 2 questions you might have are: What is in the missing 40% of the product? And how is it foaming?

Both questions have one definite answer – SLS. This is not declared in the Indian pack as companies are not required by law to do so here. But SLS is listed in some of its export packs and the percentage volume is sometimes as high as 17%.The balance could possibly be made up of preservatives, other fillers, foam boosters and perhaps a fragrance – we say could, because, again the Indian law protects cosmetic manufacturers. We don’t have to disclose what goes into the products that are used so intimately by billions of consumers everyday .

Ok, dang! What are my options now?

So what is an Indian Consumer to do? If you find a product that is cheaply priced, colourful, easy-to-use, with a shelf life of more than 12 months and still “natural”, you may wonder, is this too good to be true ? Yes, indeed it is too good to be true.

Some of the points we ask our consumers to check on the label:

  1. Add the ingredients listed to check if they add upto a 100 % – if not ask the company what is not part of the declaration – this includes vague declarations like “base”, “q.s”, “lotion base”, etc
  2. Check the fragrance – if it lingers in your bathroom for a long time or on your person for a long time, it is probably not natural. Natural fragrances rarely last for long.
  3. Check the foam quality and consistency – synthetic foam derived from SLS / SLeS / ALeS and other chemical sources is usually extremely white, thick (think thick clouds of foam), and is retentive and substantive – so it will stay for a long time.
  4. Check for the mention of the words “extracts” vs. the use of whole herbs
  5. Check for the mention of surfactants which are described as being derived from coconuts . My favourite example is how SLS is repackaged as a natural coconut derived surfactant – My challenge back always is this – If I give you a coconut, can you make SLS for me without the use of manufacturing equipment and synthetic chemicals? If your answer is no, then stop linking this poor coconut to SLS. The coconut is as much a precursor to SLS as a real Nagpur Orange is to a synthetic orange cola.

The human body – designed for health:

Ayurveda and Siddha classical texts reveal a very wonderful fact – a normal human body is designed to live healthfully and well upto atleast 100 years of age. In fact, the texts classify middle age, as the age between 33 – 66, and old age begins only from 66 years onwards. Rasayana and rejuvenative treatments like Panchkarma are designed to internally balance the doshas and set the body back to its natural balance.

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The external use of whole herb based toxin free products along with the right diet and lifestyle gives almost magical results even in decades old stubborn hair and scalp issues like dandruff, scalp flaking, hair breakage, etc.

We have chosen this August to focus on hair health and care. And to inspire your transition to natural haircare and to re-discover just how good your hair can look / be, we have a very special deal on all of Krya’s haircare products with upto 20% off on all our haircare goodies!

The Krya August Hair Olympics Challenge

To inspire a change to toxin-free natural products and to give your hair a much better shot at real health, we are celebrating the Krya Hair Olympics Challenge this August.

BeFunky Collage

Looking for thicker, healthier, stronger hair this August?

Throw away your synthetic hair care products and replace them with Krya’s nourishing hair care products instead.

Every Krya hair care product for adults carries a special discount only in August 2016

  • 10% off if you buy a single piece of any Krya hair care product for adults
  • 20% off if you buy 2 or more pieces of any Krya hair care product for adults or a Krya hair care system for adults

Explore Krya’s huge range of good-for-you hair care products at special prices here.

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Hair care herbs around the world

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Reading Time: 8 minutes

My hair epiphany happened when I was 28. I was in a lab, with my friend who specialized in natural herbs and their application in skin and hair care products. We were discussing hair damage, and she made a remark that startled me.

“Preethi, almost every single woman I know has damaged hair”, she said. I hotly disagreed, and ran my hand through my hair to disprove her.

Yes, I coloured my hair, I added, but I spent top dollar to buy the best products money could buy. I was careful to choose ammonia free colours. I used the best shampoo, conditioner, and serum I could buy. I had even added a post wash spray on serum for care and gloss. Hell, I actually spent a significant proportion of my salary buying high quality haircare products – surely my hair wasn’t damaged?

“So give me a strand of your hair”, she said, “and let’s look at it under the microscope”.

And I did.

My hair was appalling.

The cuticular scales were missing and damaged. I could see gaping portions of the hair shaft visible under the 200X pitiless magnification of the sophisticated microscope in my friend’s lab. She pointed out places where atleast 6 layers of my cuticle were missing.

And she exhaustively listed every single treatment I was doing to my hair which was damaging it – shampooing with an SLS / SLeS based shampoo, blow drying it with my fancy hair styler, colouring it every other month in different colours, perming it (once), straightening it (twice), and washing it almost every single day to keep it bouncy and ungreasy.

“You do know that your hair isn’t supposed to be washed so often, or feel so greasy, right?”, she casually added. “Your hair is supposed to be healthy and look good, without using so many synthetic products”.

We believe all kinds of things about hair – but if there’s one thing we should believe in, it is this. Like my friend said to me 9 years ago, your hair is supposed to look good. It is designed to look awesome. And its awesomeness is not just aesthetic, it is also functional. The same stuff that keeps it glossy and shiny, also keeps it strong, whole and protects it from damage.

Unfortunately, almost every single synthetic product we put on our hair to wash, condition, straighten, colour or perm it damages it. Pretty badly.

Yet human hair, like the human body, is resilient. It is capable of healing itself and repairing damage, if the damaging conditions are removed.

I am the very first user of all of the products we make at Krya. In the 8 years that have passed since I peered into a microscope to study my hair, convention dictates that my hair should have gotten more fragile, more damaged, and less healthy.

On the contrary, as I transitioned to better food (read mostly organic, whole grain, and plant based), cut the stress (somewhat – I do run a business!), got more air and light in (and stopped working in an air conditioned environment), my hair damage started to reverse. Somewhere along this way, I threw away all the synthetic products I used and started to use only 2 products – a Krya all natural, toxin free shampoo with frequent oiling using a Krya all natural, herb filled oil.

My hair is growing more, breaks less, is less greasy (so I do not have to wash as frequently) and my scalp is flaking less.

Most hair that is damaged due to lifestyle reasons can be coaxed back into good health. And we are going to be spending a lot of August, telling you just how, on the Krya blog. We are also going to be running some fun contests and giveaways on the Krya facebook page, so do join us there as well.

And to inspire your transition to natural haircare and to re-discover just how good your hair can look / be, we have a very special deal on all of Krya’s haircare products with upto 20% off on all our haircare goodies!

When we write / speak about natural haircare, we often draw a strange blank. We are met with a sense of panic when we recommend you throw away your synthetic shampoo / conditioner and You ask us this: “Just how do I then care for my hair? Am I supposed to just look unfashionable without my serum?”

Hair and herb history – or how people looked good without the SLS

A recent paper I read that studied the plants used in traditional haircare  by Bhil tribals in 3 taluks (Vijaynagar, Khedbrahma and Bhiloda of Aravalli ranges ) in Sabarkantha district in Gujarat . They treat hair ailments with plant remedies based on their inherited knowledge handed down from their local vaidyas in the tribe. Nearly 25 plants were listed in the research conducted among tribals from 3 taluks in a single district in India.

The traditional Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita, Sarangadhara Samhita and Bhaisajya Ratnavalli are full of formulae, herbs and preparations both internal and external to cleanse hair, treat scalp infections, promote hair growth, and even colour and condition it. Siddha texts including the more recent “Anubhava Murai vaidyam” by Raja Serfoji includes a similar compendium of hair care herbs.

A reading of Nicholas Culpepper’s seminal work published in the 17th century contains a rich account of herbal and pharmacological knowledge. Culpepper spent most of his life in the outdoors, cataloguing the medicinal herbs found in the English countryside, and was one of the most well known astrological botanists of his day. His approach to herbal medicine have had a far reaching impact on how modern medicine is practices today. For example, he prescribed the medical use of foxglove, a precursor to digitalis , used to treat heart conditions.

These materia medica list thousands of local and indigenous herbs that can be used to safely care for hair. Apart from these formal systems of learning, ethnographic studies or oral traditions in tribal communities also records the rich and varied use of herbs to treat ailments and to enhance beauty.

Today we have presented just 5 of these many thousand herbs used for healthy haircare.

  1. Mushta / Nagarmotha /Indian Nutgrass / Cyperus rotundus

Mushta is discussed elaborately by Acharya Sushruta, acharya Vagbhatta and Acharya Charaka.  Acharya Charaka describes this plant to cool pitta and treat pitta related conditions like diarrhea and skin infections. Acharya Vagbhatta described Mushta as a febrifuge that cools down pitta induced fevers.

 

In Cambodia, Mushta is known as a diuretic herb. Traditional Chinese medicine describes Mushta as being effective against liver disease (interestingly the liver is considered the seat of Pitta in Ayurveda). In srilanka, Mushta decoction is taken internally to reduce fevers, diarrhea and stomach complaints.

mushta - krya aug 4 blog 4

As Mushta brings down pitta and has a woody fragrance, it was often used as a decoction or a paste to cleanse hair. It was also added to hair oils to delay graying and keep hair soft, well conditioned and healthy.

Mushta can be found in many of Krya’s skin and haircare products including the Krya Classic Hair Oil, the Krya Classic Hairwash, the Krya Abhyanga bath powder for women, the Krya After Sun Bodywash, The Krya Body wash for Men, etc.

  1. Nimba / Neem / Azadirachta indica

In vedic literature, Neem is mentioned several times. Acharya Charaka classified Nimba as a Kandughna (anti pruritic) drug. Acharya Charaka used the flowers of Nimba in Nasya treatment and indicated that it is to be used extrenaly in skin diseases.

Acharya Vagbhatta described the seed oil of Nimba as being very effective in the treatment of grey hair and hair fall.

Neem leaf , neem seed oil and neeem flowers are traditionally used in hair and skin care. Neem helps bring down scalp itching, scalp dermatitis and scalp psoriasis. It is a very effective anti bacterial cleanser and deodorizes scalp and skin with regular use.

nimba - krya aug 4 blog 3

The crushed seeds and leaves are applied over hair as insecticide to kill lice. The infusion of fresh leaves is applied on the head to cure dandruff. The mixture of seed and exuded sap from trees growing near water, is massaged on the scalp for promoting hair growth.

Nimba can be found in Krya’s anti dandruff system, the Krya Kids ubtan, and the Krya Anti acne face wash.

  1. Amalaki / Phyllanthus embellica / Indian gooseberry

The Indian gooseberry is renowned in Ayurveda and Siddha and is called the “Dhatri” or the Nurse. It is one of the few herbs that contain all 6 tastes, and is therefore considered a perfect food. It is not a surprise, therefore to see such frequent mentions of this fruit in Vedic literature and in Ayurveda.

The Texts classify Amlaka as a Chavanaprasha and Rasayana (rejuvenative, life expectancy enhancing, youth promoting) herb. It has extremely strong anti microbial activity, hypoglycaemic activity, hypolipidimic activity and anti emetic activity.

amla - krya aug 4 blog 4

It is a strong, health giving and hair nourishing herb which promotes hair growth, retards graying, removes excess pitta and conditions hair. It is also an extremely rich source of Vitamin c which stimulates healthy hair and skin growth even in the boiled / dry form (a unique fruit as generally Vitamin C is water soluble and disappears on boiling).

Amlaki is found across all Krya hair formulations including the Krya Classic hair system, the Krya extra conditioning hair system, the Krya damage repair hair system and the Krya anti dandruff hair system.

  1. Saw Palmetto / Serenoa repens (Peruvian ginseng) /

Saw Palmetto is a palm like plant with berries that grows in the south eastern united states. The berries were a staple food for Native Americans. The active ingredients in Saw palmetto include fatty acids, plant sterols and flavonoids. Saw palmetto is prescribed in Europe for Benign prostrate hyperplasia (a non cancerous enlargement of the prostrate gland). The berries are also expectorant, a mild sedative and help expel mucous. The herb is also used to treat urinary disorders.

saw palmetto - krya aug 4 blog 2

Historically, saw palmetto was used to stop hair loss and trigger healthy hair growth. Research suggests that saw palmetto inhibits DHT (dihydotestosterone), an enzyme that is associated with male pattern baldness.

  1. Soapwort (a cousin of the Indian soapberry ) / Saponaria officinalis

Soapwort comes from a family of nearly 30 species of saponin containing plants found in Europe, parts of Asia and Western Siberia. Soapwort leaves and roots can be used as a gentle cleanser for hair and skin. Historical anecdotes indicate it was used to clean the Shroud of Turin.

soapwort - krya aug 4 blog 1

It has also been used historically, much like its Indian cousin, the Soapberry to clean delicate fabric like wool and garments with lace.

So there you have it – we read about 5 herbs that have been used historically around the world to cleanse and care for hair.


 

As we are fond of saying, the chemical consumer product industry is about 150 years old. But human beings have been washing, bathing and keeping themselves clean for millennia. And we did pretty well (apart from that brief blip during the Black plague in medieval Europe). The most brilliant thing about the human body is its ability to heal itself, if the conditions that cause it harm are removed. Similarly, hair that is damaged due to lifestyle reasons can be coaxed back into good health.

To inspire this change and to give your hair a much better shot at real health, we are celebrating the Krya Hair Olympics Challenge this August.

Looking for thicker, healthier, stronger hair this August?

Throw away your synthetic hair care products and replace them with Krya’s nourishing hair care products instead.

Every Krya hair care product for adults carries a special discount only in August 2016

  • 10% off if you buy a single piece of any Krya hair care product for adults
  • 20% off if you buy 2 or more pieces of any Krya hair care product for adults or a Krya hair care system for adults

Explore Krya’s huge range of good-for-you hair care products at special prices all of August here.

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The Krya Classic Hair nourishing system

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“Dear Team Krya , thank u so much for your product. Both my daughters hair is so soft n beautiful. Couldn’t have asked for more. In love with your product. Thank u! Also I have to add the amount of hair fall has drastically reduced. When I used SS synthetic shampoo for them, esp my elder daughter, bunches n bunches of hair used to come out as I wash. Today I hardly had 5 – 6 strands in my hand (Which is very normal).

Also I need to know whether I can send this for my relatives in Australia. do pls find out n let me know. Thank u “ – FP, a recent Krya consumer.

 

Why does using the Krya hairwash cause an immediate reduction in hair fall? This is one of the questions our customer service team often asks during our internal product training sessions. Ayurveda considers hair an extension of the Shushumna – the Shushumna is considered the energy spine and along with the Ida and the Pingala forms the 3 mains “Nadis” – The nadi system carries the life force energies  / “Prana” throughout our body.

Hair is said to be an extension of this Shushumna, and it reflects the condition of the overall body, as healthy hair comes only from a healthy body. Hair can change because of an inherent lack of balance in the 3 doshas – this lack of balance can come in from what we eat, and the lifestyle we are wedded to, and can be exarcebated by the products we use.

Damaged, falling or prematurely graying hair is usually a sign of too much pitta in the system. This pitta can come from the food we eat (a fondness for and a tendency to constantly choose spicy and sour food), and the kind of work we do (working in a hostile environment, for instance). It can also increase by certain chemical treatments and products we use – hair treatments that increase heat (colouring, “deep conditioning”, excessive use of a blow drier) can also increase the pitta in the body.

For pitta damaged hair, we generally advise the use of cooling foods (ashgourd, pumpkins, fresh, seasonal local vegetables), the addition of herbs like Amla to your diet and a change in hair regimen – like adding a good herb oil, switching to a natural shampoo and boosting hair health through special herbs.

Vata is another dosha that tends to get deranged, especially in urban city dwellers. Deranged vata leads to sleep disorders and insomnia, and increases basic dryness in the hair.

Vata is a dosha which increases with the use of drying products on the hair and skin. Vata also increases in the presence of drying substances like synthetic soaps and synthetic shampoos with SLS & SLeS. Even in body types that have an excess of sebum, consistent use of these synthetic cleaning aids removes moisture from skin and hair leaving both dull, lifeless and with a tendency to get damaged easily or break (in the case of hair).

Oiling forms an important, inescapable part of a healthy hair regimen, especially when the Vata is deranged. For people with extremely dry hair or hair that has a tendency to break easily, feels frizzy and gets tangled easily and desperately needs a synthetic conditioner, we advise adding oil generously to their regimen.

Night time hair oiling is especially beneficial in these cases. This allows the herbs in the oil a much longer window to soak through and work on damaged hair. It also helps calm deranged vata which has accumulated through the day and calms down a hyperactive mind allowing restful and deep sleep.

Oil is the major weapon in the ayurvedic arsenal to control vata. Oiling is extremely beneficial even for the body, especially when you notice signs of vata derangement like frequent catches in the spinal system, an inability to sit still and stay focused, a tendency towards insomnia, etc. Traditional medicine recommends using cooling herbs and base oils like coconut, almond, and sesame for this.

In addition to our hair oils and hair washes, we have long been contemplating adding a nourishing series of herb masks for different hair conditions. We already have started this in our skin care range with our very popular after sun face mask and our classic face mask.

Every product comes with a basic core functionality. Most short action wash off products are designed to cleanse. So while we can add beneficial herbs to them, the action of these herbs is restricted because the product stays for a short while on the skin.  Plus the main function of a cleansing product is to remove superficial dirt and dead cells – so the herbs chosen help maximize this function.

Our masks therefore give us a way to load high quality herbs on skin and hair for much longer. Our after sun face mask for instance, uses our special medicated mung bean which steeps for over a day in herbs like lodhra, liquorice and Manjishta. Apart from this, we use expensive, high quality fruits like mulberry, guava and other herbs which cool skin, remove excess pitta which increases as a result of high sun exposure,  and bring the skin back to its normal state. Regular use brings down skin tanning and blemishes due to sun exposure. Obviously, the product works both because of the herbs used and the amount of time the mask stays on skin.

We already have a hair mask which is a part of our dandruff fighting system – many consumers report successful control and relief from dandruff when they use all three products (oil, hair wash and hair mask) together to combat dandruff. We have been able to make  difference in even decades old dandruff with our system within 2 – 3 months of regular product usage.

This week, we worked on another hair mask, this time as a part of our classic nourishing hair system. Our classic system already has our Bhringaraj and amla based hair oil and our ever popular Classic hair wash. We recommend it for hair that is reasonably healthy, does not have special problems like dandruff, and is not especially dry. Consumers love our Classic hair range because they notice a quick reduction in hair fall brought by the use of synthetic shampoos. The oil is also extremely cooling and beneficial for the scalp, and we have had good reports of improvement in hair texture and hair fall as a result of using this oil.

Our classic hair mask relies on both traditional and non traditional herbs and oils. We have added a huge amount of organic, shade dried red hibiscus flower – this herb is renowned in traditional medicine to cool the body and add texture and volume to hair. Apart from hibiscus, we also add the classic Amla and Bhringaraj which go into both our Classic hair oil and our Classic hairwash.  Bhringaraj is a master hair herb in Ayurveda, Siddha and TCM and it helps cool the seat of pitta, the liver and the entire body’s metabolism.

Our classic hair mask also uses certain unusual hair herbs. We add organic guava leaf which helps boost micro circulation, stimulates the scalp and aids hair growth (this also goes into our classic hair oil). Rosehips which are extremely high in Vitamin C, and help detox the scalp also goes into the mix. And to top it off , we add raw, organic kokum butter and apricot oil to add much needed texture and moisture to hair.

So that’s our Saturday update from Krya: the Krya classic hair nourishing system with a hair oil, hair wash and a hair mask.

Because, good hair (and good skin) comes with doing a few simple things, consistently, every day, and is built brick by brick.

Here’s where you can explore our Classic Hair nourishing system:

  1. The new Krya Classic hair mask
  2. The Krya classic hair oil
  3. The Krya classic hair wash
  4. The Krya classic hair nourishing system (a bundle pack of all 3 products)
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Hair hara-kiri – throw away that shampoo Part 1

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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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Reading Time: 7 minutes

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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