July 10, 2007 by Shaundra Williams
Unfortunately, very few hair care products available in today’s market cater to curly textured, wavy, or tightly S-coiled hair textures. As a result, individuals, especially African Americans with textured hair are unable to truly experience healthy hair or discover the true lusciousness of Black Hair or Ethnic Hair. Curly or "kinky" hair needs moisture. African American or Ethnic Hair is no different than any other hair type. African American, Biracial, and Ethnic Hair can grow and thrive, even with the application of heat and chemicals (although this should be avoided). Here is a guide on buying Black, Ethnic, or African American hair care products.
Rule #1: Avoid Bad Hair Product Ingredients: Many commercially available hair care products denoted for African American or ethnic hair use harmful ingredients. Be certain to check the ingredients in your hair care products. The following ingredients are awful for ethnic or African American hair, not only stifling African American and Ethnic hair's health, true texture, and hair growth, but also harmful to the body.
1) Isopropyl Alcohol: Dries and Breaks African American or Ethnic hair. It is found in color rinses, anti-freeze
2) Mineral Oil/Petrolatum: It used as a moisturizer in African American or Ethnic hair care products; however, it coats African American or Ethnic hair, actually preventing moisture from getting into the thirsty hair. It is a derivative of crude oil and a cheap industrial grease component. It also prevents the release of toxins from African American or Ethnic hair and alters the skin respiration by preventing oxygen release.
3) Polyethylene Glycol (PEG): Strips African American or Ethnic hair of critical moisture. Used as an emulsifier in products, dissolves oils and grease.
4) Propylene Glycol (PG): An active component in many African American or Ethnic hair care products, make up, lotions, mouthwashes, and deodorant, PG is the active component of anti-freeze and actually deteriorates the protein and cellular structure of African American or Ethnic hair. Protein is what your hair needs to thrive. Workers actually use gloves and goggles when dealing with this substance due to its chemical side effects and toxicity.
5) Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)/ Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): A cheap foaming and thickening agent that strips African American or Ethnic hair of moisture and causes skin and scalp irritation. 95% of all hair shampoos contain this ingredient or a derivative. Avoid it completely; TEA lauryl is just as bad, if not worse. Do not be fooled by the use of the word TEA. Shampooing African American or Ethnic hair with a product that contains these can lead to the absorption of excessive nitrates.
6) Diethanolamine (DEA), Momoethnanolamine (MEA), Triethanolamine (TEA): Usually listed as an ingredient containing a neutralizing compound, i.e. as Cocamide DEA or Lauramide DEA, repeated skin applications of DEA-based detergents are known to form cancer causing nitrates
Rule #2: Avoid Hair Coloring, Rinses, and Dyes. Look on the pack of the ingredient label and check for FD&C Colors: Many individuals with African American or Ethnic hair experience scalp irritation due to these. If you have an irritated scalp ,your hair will not grow long or remain healthy.
Rule #3: Avoid Hair Products with Synthetic Fragrances: Unless natural fragrance, created by items such as essential oils and seasonings, fragrances can include up to 4,000 additional ingredients, specifically more Propylene Glycol that is harmful and damaging to African American or Ethnic hair care. Fragrance can lead to headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing, and vomiting.
Rule # 4: Avoid Products with Chemical Preservatives: Nearly all brands of Black/ African American and Ethnic Skin and Hair Care Products contain hair and health harmful toxins, especially parabens that are used to extend products' shelf lives. While these companies make huge profits, it is at the expense of your hair and health being exposed to cancer causing elements, such as formaldehyde or formaldehyde-donors. According to the Mayo clinic, formaldehyde can irritate the respiratory system, cause skin reactions and trigger heart palpitations.
Rule # 5: Abandon your typical beauty supply store or drugstore. Curly or ethnic hair needs natural hair care products because the sulfates, chemicals, alcohols, and silicones in 99% of hair care products have a moisture stripping effect. Ethnic hair needs moisture to grow, become strong, and stay manageable. Without moisture your hair will become dry and damaged. Try Beauty 4 Ashes GodHead (a great all natural) or Tigi BedHead (a quality synthetic shampoo) if you cannot find GodHead.
Rule #6 Only purchase all natural hair care products tailored for your hair type. Visit your local health foods store or find great hair care product for purchase online. The hair care industry is finally seeing the light and making hair care products that truly work for ethnic hair.
Beauty 4 Ashes Christian Health & Beauty, a beauty conglomerate, acclaimed internationally, makes 100% natural ethnic hair care products for general hair health and hair growth (wwwdiscoverb4acom). Their products have received great ratings in the States as well. Most shampoos and conditioners are Aloe Vera based and contain natural oils like jojoba, shea, avocado, sunflower, coconut, olive, wheat germ, etc.
The next best option is Aubrey Organics and Burt Bees. Although not made specifically for African American or Ethnic hair, Aubrey Organics' products are 100% natural and contain many natural oils. (wwwaubreyorganicscom).
You may also try Ojon or Carol's Daughter. Although their products do contain some of the ingredients above, they are superior to traditional drugstore products.