Herbal Hair Care Products and Treatments, Are They Natural
I am a naturopathic physician with nearly 20 years of experience developing breakthrough nutritional products.I also have extensive television and radio experience and have lectured widely to health professionals, the military and the public on all aspects of natural health.
Dr Myers, an expert who holds a doctorate in naturopathic medicine
Stephen Fry in my surgery during the making of the BBC TV program
Me with Lord Bragg, accepting my "Champion of the Year" award
After graduating, I was recognised as being the 'best young neurosurgeon in Britain'
We often see herbal hair care products, skin care products as well as other beauty products and cosmetics marketed as being natural but in reality it’s not always clear as to whether they really are and this is causing a lot of concern for many people who are keen to use natural products and avoid harmful ingredients.
The main problem lies around the fact that there is no legal clarification or guidelines’ regarding what is meant by the term natural therefore companies can use it to try and entice customers into buying their product even though the product contains synthetic and sometimes even harmful ingredients.
This means that anyone wishing to buy an herbal hair care product that is natural will have to carefully check the ingredients on the package and will have to verify any claims made by the company supplying the product. Not easy to do but more and more people are waking up to the fact that all is not as it seems when it comes to so called natural products and are becoming familiar with the type of ingredients to be avoided.
What ingredients should you avoid?
Probably the most infamous ingredient that is often found in hair care products as well as in industrial cleaning products, car wash soaps and engine de-greasers is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS.
SLS is used in soaps and shampoos as they act as a detergent and foaming agent. However, there is an increasing amount of evidence pointing to the fact that SLS can be extremely harmful to health, even carcinogenic when combined with other chemicals. SLS is known to cause eye irritations, skin rashes, scalp problems, allergic reactions and sometimes hair loss.
Companies can quite deviously mislead customers by claiming that SLS “comes from coconut” or “derived from Palm oil” which would suggest that the particular product is a natural product and therefore SLS is a safe ingredient. It isn’t.
You will also often see Sodium Laureth Sulfate listed, which is when an ether chain is added to SLS that has the effect of producing more foam and a richer and thicker product. Avoid it if you want a safe and natural product.
Another ingredient that has been hitting the headlines a lot recently is Parabens which can come under the names propyl, methyl, and butyl or ethyl parabens. They are cheap for companies to buy and are therefore widely used in the cosmetic industry to prevent products from going rancid but Parabens are known to cause reactions and skin irritations. You can buy products that are “parabens free” but again you will need to check the rest of the ingredients to see which preservative is being used.
Formaldehyde or Formalin is something you may well want to avoid and is an ingredient often found in shampoos as well as other products. It produces toxic fumes and can cause skin irritations and allergic reactions.
Another term that is used quite frequently and sometimes to dupe customers into believing a product is safe is ‘hypoallergenic’. If this is listed on a package then it would suggest that the product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. This isn’t true. Like the term natural, there are no official guidelines as to when the term hypoallergenic can be used so means very little when you see it listed on the bottle.
Synthetic colours and fragrances are other ingredients that are anything but natural and which are often harmful but can be listed on a label alongside other ingredients that make them look as if they are natural.
Get to know the ingredients and active raw materials you want to avoid and learn what you should be looking out for if you want to buy a really natural product.
How to choose a natural herbal hair care product
The good news is that there are products out there that are 100 percent natural but you have to be able to distinguish these from others that are merely disguised as natural.
Look for products that contain plant and herbal extracts and those that mention vegetable oils and essential oils among the ingredients. Herbal extracts such as horsetail, parsley, lavender, chamomile, burdock root, sage, rosemary and peppermint are all raw materials that are natural and which are often used in hair care products.
Fo-Ti or Polygonum multiflorum is another natural ingredient that is often found in hair care products which is reputed to be able to help prevent grey hair.
Essential oils that might be listed include the likes of Rosemary, lavender, sage, basil, sandalwood, juniper, Ylang Ylang, lemon, rosewood, orange, as well as many others.
As for vegetable oils you will often see Jojoba oil, Olive oil, Sunflower oil, Coconut oil and many others.
These natural ingredients are fairly easy to spot but the trick is to be able to identify other dubious ingredients amongst them on the ingredients list.
So to answer the question are herbal hair care products natural, the answer is it really depends on what is actually in them and as you can’t always trust what it says on the packaging you have to know what you are looking for.
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