Monday, October 11, 2010

Hair Care Of Movie Stars From The Past

There is too much information and too many links for me to turn this into a simple blog post. I found some unexpected, fabulous, very hair friendly and innovative information on how the hair of stars like Carole Lombard, Rita Hayworth and Veronica Lake was actually prepared, during filming a movie. Research on coconut oil supports the information.

I analyzed the movie star articles, which contain no recipes or preparations for creating the oil shampoos mentioned, minus the one used on Veronica Lake. I found and posted the shampoo ingredients, which are incomplete and it needed to be stripped off of her hair every morning before being reapplied. This is an exception and works very differently to the oil shampoos used on Carole Lombard and Rita Hayworth. I analyzed coconut oil research and further research. I applied my own product knowledge learned through my research and personal experimentation with catnip and I created two methods. One is to duplicate the results of the shampoos used on the other two movies stars, a shampoo method and the second, an oiling method, which can be used on its own, or on hair washed with the shampoo method.

The oiling method is designed to allow coconut, or other vegetable oils high in lauric acid to penetrate hair more than partially and even partially is very restricted to impossible, when oiling hair with problematic coatings on it. Vegetable oils that are high in lauric acid can penetrate hair to the cortex with my methods and condition it from both the inside and on the surface.

Note: Most fractionated coconut oils contain no to almost no lauric acid. They are not suitable to be used for either method.

Update November 20, 2012
I have also done more research on the shampoo method and modified it, to make the method easier to follow and even more effective. That information is not here or anywhere else online at present. It is not available at this time.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Another myth debunked: testing a natural oil for purity by refrigerating it to see if it solidifies

I thought that the test sounded strange. If an oil were mixed with another oil that solidifies in the same way, that would not be a true test. Jojoba oil for example, solidifies when left in the fridge and it is technically a liquid wax.

So, I researched it.

Why that test is not valid regarding the purity of any oil for a number of reasons. About the author of the text quoted in part below. The same things exactly would apply to other oils.
"Clever fraudsters will just add enough ‘other stuff’ so as to just make it difficult for authorities to definitively say that “yes this oil is fraudulent” without having to resort to expensive sophisticated testing and lengthy court cases. An adulterated olive oil that contains 90% extra virgin olive oil and 10% canola oil will still have a high level of monounsaturated fat* and will therefore solidify at fridge temperature. Next to the authentic EVOO, it will look exactly the same."

Labelling and the right seals plus a little Internet or email investigation will tell you whether an oil is approved, certified and pure and where it does come from. If the right questions are not replied to by email with a way to back them up, I would buy from another supplier or purchase a different brand of the oil in question.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Debunking the silicone myth in hair care

There is nothing in scientific research literature to state that the use of silicones in hair care products causes hair damage, over time or otherwise. Just the opposite has been observed by those doing the research and testing.

I do not for one second doubt reports of silicone-free products yielding better hair results for people. I simply do not believe that the lack of silicones is the sole or only reason for the results. I think there are other reasons like the formulation of the different products and changes of the hair care routine.

In this study, the repeated use of a silicone caused hair luster to diminish. The same can be said of any natural oil that is overused though. Some silicones do require clarifying. That has to do with their weight, soluability, frequency and amount used, and how they are used in a formulation.

Clarifying the hair to remove conventional and natural product build-up does not have to be done with a harsh shampoo designed for that purpose. Switching products can reduce, or eliminate build-up too. Not using a product that builds-up for a while and using a shampoo that does not build-up can remove product build-up. The length of time to do so will vary with the amount of build-up on the hair and the strength of the shampoo used. Sunsilk Lively Blonde Shampoo, a sodium laureth sufate based shampoo has done just that for me. It is the only shampoo I use. It is not a strong shampoo.

Catnip treatments do not cause build-up for me. I do one following every shampoo. Lively Blonde Shampoo contains one silicone, has not caused build-up for me in over 3 years of use and removes enough of the catnip each time I wash my hair that there is no problem whatsoever. In the past, I used conventional conditioners and natural products that did cause build-up. When I stopped using them, Lively Blonde Shampoo removed the build-up over time.

The writer of this article is a Board Certified Dermatologist.

There are different dimethicones. It is about reducing hair breakage, which can make it appear that hair is not growing. Silicones have a professionally respected and scientifically validated place in hair care.

In this referenced article, Dow Corning, showed that human hair subjected to very high heat was protected from damage better with silicone solutions, than without.

Silicones: uses and safety

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Vinegar Rinses for hair and skin

I will be adding to this post.

Vinegar "is essentially a 5-8% solution of acetic acid in water." However, "diluted acetic acid is not vinegar". All vinegars used as hair or skin rinses need to be well diluted. You can buy pH test strips to read the final pH result. The pH of undiluted vinegar straight from the bottle is on average, between 2-3. Products with a pH of below 3.5 can be damaging to hair and skin, depending on how much is used, how it is used (leaving it in the hair as opposed to rinsing it out for example), and how often it is used. See also this article and updated - this blog post.

Acetic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid.

"Alpha Hydroxy Acids", 2015, @US_FDA 
"How can AHAs be used safely?
... The final product has a pH of 3.5 or greater." 

A vinegar rinse can help remove some natural product residues, soap scum and hard water minerals from hair. It cannot chelate metals like iron or copper, nor can it replace a clarifier to remove conventional hair product build-up (residue). Its acidity can help keep hair cuticles smooth and aligned and make the hair shiny. It can be used to reacidify the skin following washing with an alkaline soap. It has been demonstrated to have antibacterial properties. However, that does not make it a health cure, or the only cleaning solution to be used for other purposes.

With genuine or true vinegars, the flavours and aromas come from the acetic acid source.

Any vinegar that is not white or clear has the potential to alter or stain hair colour somewhat. Such stains are not permanent but can be difficult to remove, depending on how dry and porous the hair may be.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
At a 5% acetic acid content and used well diluted, as with any typical vinegar used on hair or skin, apple cider vinegar acts the same as the others. It can add a red tint to hair. It is the acetic acid that is working to close the cuticles and smooth the hair, even with the mother in organic ACV being touted to do more. Mother of vinegar is a term used to refer to the mass of bacteria scum that forms on top of cider when alcohol turns into vinegar. The pH of ACV is about 3.1, e.g. Bragg ACV"pH = 3.075"

"The truth about 'miracle foods' -- from chia seeds to coconut oil", 2015, color and bolding added by me, @guardian
EFSA is very clear ... very strict ... what health messages it allows companies to use in the marketing ... Apple Cider Vinegar ... anecdotally linked with ... potential health benefits in areas including: digestive disorders, sore throats, high cholesterol, indigestion, preventing cancer, dandruff, acne, energy boosting, cramps, and helping with blood sugar control. The EFSA ... hasn’t approved any of these claimsMany of the studies have been on animals or in laboratories using human cells." -UNPROVEN! EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) 

"Functional Properties of Vinegar", 2014, color and bolding added by me
"daily intake of vinegar may affect human health and metabolism. Further studies related to health effects of vinegar consumption by humans are necessary." - Lots of studies for this conclusion -UNPROVEN!  - The EFSA is quite correct!


"Veterinarian dismisses apple cider vinegar claim" - The Western Producer", 2015, color and bolding added by me, @westernproducer 
"apple cider vinegar ... choosing ... it instead of a scientifically proven product can have deadly consequences." That sums it up about ALL quackery - direct and indirect harm can be and often is - fatal. 

Malt Vinegar

Genuine malt vinegar has no added sugar or other additives. With an acetic acid content of 5% (the usual percentage of most vinegars not for specialty use like pickling), it will work on hair like white vinegar or apple cider vinegar or any other true vinegar with that percentage and no additives. Heinz malt vinegar "Ingredients: Malt Vinegar (Barley, corn malt), diluted with water to 5% acidity." In this case it is not a purely barley malt vinegar but it is a genuine malt vinegar and is suitable for cosmetic use.

One needs to read labels carefully. There are immitations labeled malt vinegar that do have additives. Vinegars with higher percentages of acetic acid, can need to be very diluted for cosmetic use, much more so than the average vinegar at 5% acetic acid content. Concentratied acetic acid is corrosive. Wiki on acetic acid is a good source of information and well referenced.

Malt vinegar

"barley is malted ... soaked in water and allowed to germinate before being roasted ... partial germination and roasting converts the natural starch in the barley into ... maltose. ... malted barley is fermented ... maltose will convert to alcohol. ... the alcohol turns to vinegar ... some companies make immitations of this popular vinegar ... dyed with ingredients like caramel ... "

Balsamic Vinegar

True balsamic vinegar has no added sugar either. Heinz balsamic vinegar "Ingredients: Burgundy wine vinegar dilute with water to 5% acidity, sulphur dioxide added to wine to protect color." A preservative was added to preserve the colour only.

Traditional balsamic vinegar is not considered to be the same as wine vinegar. Wiki is a good source on this too.

"Traditional balsamic vinegar is produced from the juice of just-harvested white grapes (typically, Trebbiano grapes) boiled down to approximately 30% of the original volume to create a concentrate or must, which is then fermented with a slow aging process which concentrates the flavours. The flavour intensifies over the years, with the vinegar being stored in wooden casks, becoming sweet, viscous and very concentrated."

Balsamic vinegar has been reported to work well on hair on the Long Hair Community boards, with no discernable difference to using other vinegars more typically used. Other than a possible preservative for colour it can be as basic as any other vinegar. The acetic acid content is what one needs to be most concerned about.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fragrances, irritants, allergens and sensitivity

A number of frangrances are recognized to be both allergens and sensitizers (26 main ones). I am very sensitive to hexyl cinnamal and cannot use a shampoo with that fragrance additive in it. One can react to a fragrance additive and think that they are reacting to something else in a cosmetic formulation. My symptoms were an itchy, "burning", painful scalp. By comparing ingredient labels I was able to identify exactly what caused my symptoms. Any shampoo with that fragrance in it caused the same reaction.

"Risk management by labelling 26 fragrances? Evaluation of Article 10 (1) of the seventh Amendment (Guideline 2003/15/EC) of the Cosmetic Directive"
"... It was found that more than 50% of these cosmetic and washing and cleansing products contain at least one of the 26 substances above the thresholds for labelling ... Regulations are not effective if they load the major responsibility for risk management on consumers, instead of on authorities and manufacturers. ... "

Here is the list of the 26 fragrances. Hexyl cinnamaldehyde, a synonym for hexyl cinnamal is on it.

The article below is most disturbing because children suffered for far too long before the correct diagnosis was made. This underlines 2 things I have touched on before, pH being important in hair and skin products and reading labels and hopefully identifying an offending ingredient. Quaternary ammonium compounds are in all conditioners, some shampoos and many other products and many quats are known irritants. It is how one reacts to them and the concentration used that can be problematic. While one cannot change what products are used in schools, public restrooms or hospitals, one can be selective about what products one uses at home.

"Scrubbing Away Germs Can Backfire on Backsides"
" ... toilet-seat contact dermatitis ... incidence of this condition is rising in North America because of a resurgent popularity of exotic-wood toilet seats and frequent use of detergents that contain highly irritant/sensitizing compounds such as quaternary ammonium compounds ... detergents used in public restrooms and in hospitals are potentially more irritating to the skin than those used at home ..."

I reacted to an improperly formulated hair conditioner years ago (that was subsequently reformulated because of the number of bad reactions to it) and I cannot to this day use a product formulated with the quat behentrimonium chloride, no matter how far down an ingredient list it is on the label. I became that sensitized to it. I could not find information on it at the time and used other conditioners with it in them before I was sure it was the problem. Each time I was exposed to it my sensitivity became worse. From the MSDS on behentrimonium chloride, "Skin Contact: can cause skin irritation upon prolonged or repeated exposure."

The full version of the report above is available.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shea butter, allergens and product labelling

Sometimes you can get a reaction to a product or ingredient and not realize that the ingredient is fairly well known as an allergen.

People often ask me what I know about an ingredient because they know I will search for the information if I cannot reply right away. I was recently asked about what someone recalled regarding shea butter and could not find in the current LHC threads. That is because that particular thread is archived. This is it, the LHC thread, where quidscrbis describes her severe allergic reaction to shea butter, a painful rash that lasted weeks.

Update November 16, 2012
Unfortunately, the LHC link above no longer works and at this time, I am unable to update it. Shea butter being a natural botanical product will have variations in constituents.

As it turns out, there is more to shea butter than is commonly known. I have seen warnings online that it should not be used on broken skin. See this link for peer-reviewed information on shea butter and its safety and cautions.

Then there is the question of labelling. This company, puts a warning on its label, for unrefined shea butter with essential oils.

As to reports online that shea butter is good for irritated skin, this 1996 study reported that canola oil actually worked better than the other lipids tested, which included shea butter.

Added June 27,2015
See also regarding shea products quality
"Effect of storage conditions on microbiological and physicochemical quality of shea butter"
"The effect of storage duration and packaging materials on microbiological and physicochemical qualities of shea butter revealed the necessity to change some packaging materials used in the production sites."

"Nutritional composition of shea products and chemical properties of shea butter: a review."
"Fat extraction is mainly done by traditional methods ... roasting and pressing of the kernels ... fat (butter) is used in food preparation and medicinal and cosmetics industries ... biochemical properties indicate some antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Large variations are observed in the reported values for the composition of shea products. Recommendations for future research are presented to improve the quality and the shelf-life of the butter ... more attention should be given to the accuracy and precision in experimental analyses to obtain more reliable information about biological variation."

"Coping with the Upheavals of Globalization in the Shea Value Chain: The Maintenance and Relevance of Upstream Shea Nut Supply Chain Organization in Western Burkina Faso" 
"If mandatory labeling implies stricter social and environmental requirements by the final buyers, it may also entail a shift in the organization of the shea value chain."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

An update on my catnip cosmetic use and information on certified organic labelling

I recently tried catnip buds as opposed to a mix of leaves and buds. However, after using buds only twice (I used a bit more the 2nd time) my hair has actually been drier both times. It seemed softer at first. I needed to see how my hair reacted and felt over the weeks between washing and treating. I used the buds the same way I used the mix. The Catnip blog post.

I prefer a mix. I just bought another tub of Hagen Catit Catnip Garden. The label states that it is 100% organic and pesticide-free. There is something about the leaves and buds together that is better for my hair. I wanted to see if there was any real difference. I have in the past used organic leaf and flower or leaves and buds mixes with very few buds. Now I know what my hair needs and likes best, which as I thought is a more balanced mix. The Hagen brand is what I have used for the past 3 years approximately. I trust if for consistent quality. There are I am sure, other pet store brands that are excellent too.

Hagen is a Canadian Company, and their products are available internationally. One thing I like to do is check out the brand behind what I buy. I have spoken with a Hagen representative in the past about their catnip. Not all companies behind a brand of catnip grow their own product. What I like about pet supplied catnip is that the companies know about their product and can answer questions with knowledge. I have read enough research on catnip to know when a company does not and I have not had that happen with pet suppliers of catnip.

I have seen and read what some non pet suppliers of catnip have said about their catnip. Some know very little or nothing about what they actually offer for sale.Their prices for quantity per recommended single use packages of catnip for cosmetic use are to me, ludicrous (overpriced). The quantities I have read recommended for single use are wasteful and way too much, even for the longest, thickest hair. I have been buying catnip and using it cosmetically for hair and skin for almost 5 years. Catnip is extremely economical to use for personal care.

Having bought and used organic bulk catnip from health food stores with a huge variance in quality, I will not go back to spending my money on catnip of questionable quality and source again. Since I use catnip on my hair and skin, I will only purchase it from a pet supply company that has been around long enough and is still competitive in that business. That is no different to me than people questioning the quality and source of the henna they buy. If I were to grow catnip myself, there is a lot of information I would need to make sure that what I grow would meet the same standards of quality of an excellent quality, pet supplier catnip.

Some information on certified organic labelling - I find this most interesting.

Updated October 25, 2012 

What seal to look for when buying organic products.
"Keep in mind that even if a producer is certified organic, the use of the USDA Organic label is voluntary. At the same time, not everyone goes through the rigorous process of becoming certified, especially smaller farming operations."

Organic does not mean the same as pesticide-free. For use on my hair and skin, I prefer catnip to be pesticide-free too.

Naturally sourced pesticides are still pesticides.

Organic Products - 2015

The following exactly matches what the Hagen representative told me when I asked why their catnip was not labelled "certified organic".
"2009 Organic Products Regulations, Questions and Answers, updated 2014 Q2 Are non-food products, such as aquaculture products, cosmetics, fibres, health care products, etc., included in the Canada Organic Regime? The regulations apply only to food products, animal feed and products used for the cultivation of plants. Each sector not included in the application of the regulations may continue to make organic claims. However, these products must also meet all other relevant federal legislation"

Certified organic labels worldwide
"There are more than 400 bodies claiming to offer organic certification services. Some are governmental agencies while most are private organizations."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Setting The Record Straight About The Safety of Fats, Oils, Petrolatum, Iron Oxides And Our Lungs

While I was double checking the risks of inhaling iron oxide powder, I came across this research, that states while they found no link to inhaling iron oxides and lung cancer, there is a link between occupational workers and exposure to oil mists and bladder cancer.

I followed up. The association between the mists and cancer is thought to be about contaminants in the oil.

The same is thought to be about a weak link between populations exposed to iron oxides and cancer, where there is no exact cause identified. As stated here, "there is no evidence that occupational inhalation of iron oxides alone", alone being the operative word, can cause anything more than benign lung inflammation that does not restrict lung function.

Where is this leading and what does it have to to with is blog? It has do do with half truths and misinformation on the Internet and elsewhere, being perpetrated by marketers to generate profits, by not making all of the information known on products, that may be competing with their own.

Moving on to petrolatum and mineral oil, I came across this Wikipedia entry on petroleum jelly and the section on "improper uses" leading to lipid or more properly known as lipoid pneumonia, which when you click on it, gives a definition of the two kinds there are but not the causes in detail.

The truth about refined petrolatum, including mineral oil is that it is safe to use when it is USP or cosmetic grade.

The interesting thing is that the PHA contaminants, often incorrectly associated with cosmetic grade petrolatum may not be associated with lung cancer alone for occupational workers, but may actually be a combination of high levels and another contaminant.

The most fascinating thing about all of this to me has been understanding exactly how our bodies function regarding how fats can get into our lungs and cause lipoid pneumonia, which although rare does happen and it is not restricted to the use of petrolatum or mineral oil. It can be caused by the aspiration of any fat, including vegetable oils.

First some useful definitions. Vegetable oil is defined scientifically more broadly than one would think. Aspiration simply means breathing in. I found it very helpful to get a better understanding of just how we breathe and the anatomy of the lung.

Of the types of oils that can be aspirated, animal oil causes more problems than vegetable oil, which causes more than mineral oil. The oils are not intentionally introduced into the lungs. That can result from cultural practices as well as happen accidentally through a problem with a swallowing response.

Interestingly enough, the question about lipoid pneumonia and petroleum jelly was asked on the Mayo Clinic website and the reply is detailed.

Iron oxides should not present a risk to the consumer who wants to buy small amounts to use and is careful not to inhale the powder. They are not known to be carcinogens.