Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How To Save Time And Money Over Any Holidays And Recover From Money Spent On Them

Updated January 3, 2013. Happy New Year, no matter what your circumstances have been and are and may 2013 see you and yours well.

To help you save time and money this and any year, remember the basics.

Cosmetics do not need to be expensive to work. They just need to work. Marketing cosmetics is about selling you a product at a profit, in many cases, regardless of how well it can work. Often that marketing entails stretching the truth as to how effective that product may be for the purpose intended and contains misleading information, that contravenes regulations, in effect, making the product a drug. Currently, there are only two recognized drugs for hair restoration and growth and they are both government approved and regulated. While scientific researchers are looking for new drugs that are effective for those issues, the hype continues. See this post for more details.

You do not need to pile on products to have great hair or skin. You can save both time and money by using less products more effectively. See this post for more details.

Not all products are best used, when certain scalp conditions or other conditions are present. See this post.

I get feedback from people who email me asking for recommendations for hair and skin care. By far in the majority of cases, simple hair and skin care has worked best. I have heard back from friends and others alike on cosmetic mineral oil being all that has been required to solve issues with both in many cases, whether it is used with other products like less conditioner or alone. It can return hair to a frizz-free softness, shine and manageability not seen or felt in years, even if the hair has been chemically damaged and abused and it is antistatic. Allergic reactions can cause hair shedding. Cosmetic mineral oil is not a known allergen or sensitizer. Cosmetic mineral oil is a natural product that has been purified. It is safe to use and does not clog pores.

"Chemical-free" cosmetics are not possible, since everything contains chemicals. It is a matter of whether the chemicals are safe to use in cosmetics. Not all are in the quantities used in a number of products. Safety also depends on where and how the product is made and preserved and whether regulations in place have been applied. Some countries do not have stringent cosmetic regulations. Some cosmetic products at first escape notification and inspection and later can be put on government advisories, as in this post, or as in the FDA Press Announcement linked below are seized and removed from the market.

While government regulations and actions taken regarding cosmetics and their safety are being improved, the allegation often made by cosmetic marketers, that consumers are unprotected by regulations in place is patently false. What is important to help regulations be enforced is consumer reporting of adverse effects and advertising claims, that go beyond what is regulated. Reporting can help others, by preventing them from having the problems you experienced. That is not restricted to informing the appropriate government agencies.

It is not a good idea, when you have a serious scalp or skin problem that needs medically qualified attention, to seek treatment advice via the Internet. The best advice you can get is to inform your doctor or dermatologist about everything you are using and may have used to self-medicate, which is vital to help them and you get to the source of a problem. A number of natural products are known allergens in scientific research literature available online and to medical professionals.

Consumers can experience allergic reactions and sensitization caused by unsuspected sources, like essential oils used in cosmetic products. Such reactions may also be caused by spice ingredients in cosmetics, even though you have not had problems with them used in small quantities, or infrequent use in food, in the past. If the doctor or dermatologist is unhelpful, get another medically qualified opinion. To me, a good medically qualified practitioner keeps up with the latest medical research and opinions, is willing to discuss treatment options with you and make you aware of possible side effects.

You can research information as well, that you can bring to your doctor or dermatologist's attention and ask questions. Do not be afraid to do so, as you ultimately decide what you are going to do and you are in charge of your health. However, self-medicating is not the way to go when medically qualified help is needed. There is a growing number of unscrupulous vendors, only too willing to help you for a price, that can be far too dear to pay.

The majority of cosmetics on the market are safe and are kept so by government regulations, as well as proper manufacturing and marketing practices, by reputable cosmetic companies. You can make a substantial contribution to that. By simply reporting complete details to your doctor or dermatologist and government agencies, you can protect others and yourself, from future cosmetic-related problems.

See Also
This forum thread, this one and this one
Newspaper article 2012
FDA Press Announcement 2012
Natural Standard Article on the FDA Press Anouncement
Alternative Medicine: Mayo Clinic 2011
Essential Oils and Allergic Reactions: Mayo Clinic 2011
Essential Oils and Dermatitis: Research Review 2012
Spices: Allergies and Cosmetics 2012
ACAAI: Newsroom 2012
Abstract 2011
Contact Allergy: Ginger 2011
Spice Allergies: Occurrence 2007
Spices: Contact Allergies 2002
Lead in lipstick: FDA 2012
Lead in food products: FDA 2011
Sulfates and preservatives 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Coconut Oil: Response To Email Questions On Comedogenicity, Shelf Life And Rancidity

While coconut oil can be a great oil to use, there can be a few issues with it. It is considered to be comedogenic, including fractionated coconut oil, on a number of online lists for cosmetic ingredients, supported here, and here regarding acne. Lauric acid is stated to be comedogenic on several such lists as well.

Regarding coconut oil going rancid, in spite of its shelf life being touted as long and it can be depending on the type of processing, shelf life is about unopened oil. Once opened, it depends on how the oil is used, possible contamination and how it is stored. In spite of a number of vendors saying it needs no special storage, there are numerous reports online of various brands of virgin coconut oil becoming rancid or going bad, even the more costly ones. Virgin coconut oil can become rancid.

I store unopened virgin coconut oil in a cool, dark cupboard, away from any heat source and moisture. That linked information on storage is fairly standard for the most part and can be found on several reputable websites that go into detail on the topic. I keep virgin coconut oil in the fridge after opening it, to be on the safe side. I use it in food. For oil shampoo, I scraped off what I needed with a clean spoon, put it into a small plastic scoop to mix with shampoo and melted it, by running warm water on the sides of the scoop and then tilted it, to warm the bottom of the scoop. That worked in less than 30 seconds or so. For use in food, I place the oil jar from the fridge into the same storage cupboard until the coconut oil has softened, spoon out what I need and put the rest back in the fridge.

With any cosmetic, or products for cosmetic use, I do not dip my fingers into a container. I use a clean implement, like a small plastic spoon or spatula made for such use, or in the case of coconut oil, a metal teaspoon, to avoid contamination, even if my hands are just washed. To me, it is a precautionary habit now. Years ago, I had a cream eye shadow palette become contaminated after continuous use with my fingers for application, instead of an applicator and I had a resulting problem with a minor eye lid infection.

I have read quite a few reports on forums and elsewhere online, about coconut oil smelling bad, when it has been used on hair, after a period of time, between hair washes, while in the jar, it may have looked, tasted and smelled perfectly fine. To me, either the coconut oil was close to going rancid, or the conditions once on the hair, promoted that happening. For such conditions, See this blog post.

A comment about coconut oil used topically for treating acne, with results being different seasonally can be found in response to this very interesting article, with a video, on "bio nanotechnology"and lauric acid. The comment supports the information in the blog post, linked above.
Update June 4, 2013. That comment is now gone. The gist of it was that while pure coconut oil worked well otherwise, it had the opposite effect on acne during the summer.

See Also this blog post.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lipoid Pneumonia And Oils: Important Health Information

Lipoid pneumonia is sometimes referred to online as a reason for not using cosmetic or food grade USP/BP mineral oil. I have extensively researched scientific literature on the subject and here are the results.

I first wrote about the topic in this blog post.
"Of the types of oils that can be aspirated, animal oil causes more problems than vegetable oil, which causes more than mineral oil."  
More details on oils and lipoid pneumonia can be found here

The abstract for the lip gloss reference, dated 1984, in other study references can be found here. While there is a second reference here for ChapStick, dated 1972, neither the full text nor an abstract for it is available online. The use of any formulation of lip balm, lipstick or lip gloss on a regular basis has not been reported in recent case studies in research articles, that I have seen for lipoid pneumonia. Here is an overview of lipoid pneumonia, dated 2010, that contains details not in the other links. It does not take the following into account.

This article dated 2005, this one dated 2008, this one, dated 2009, and this one dated 2010. They further illustrate that in a number of cultures, while mineral oil may be recognized to be a cause of lipoid pneumonia because it has been more publicized and studied more rigorously, vegetable and animal oils are still considered to be safe used as remedies for a number of conditions and traditional practices. That is simply not true and the evidence supports this fact.

Mineral oil like any other oil needs to be used with safety in mind. The fact is that any oil can be aspirated or taken into the lungs, by those with an impaired or temporarily impaired swallow response. Giving an oil by mouth, or by other methods to the very young, or the use of one by older individuals, the two most vulnerable categories for such a response can have serious medical consequences. However, the causes of lipoid pneumonia are not restricted to taking oils by mouth directly, or the other methods described in the links above.

Lipoid pneumonia caused by silicone injection for cosmetic enhancement: 2006

Lipoid pnemonia caused by silicon injection to the breast: 2010

Lipoid pneumonia, glycerin oils and Electronic Cigarettes: 2012  from here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Surprising Research On The Topical Use of Cosmetic Mineral Oil Versus Vegetable Oils

I will be adding to this post.

This research article, dated 2012 is an easy read, very well referenced and contains some surprising to me, information. Aside from vegetable oils feeding yeasts, See this blog post, their degradation once on skin can be a potentially serious issue. This information makes cosmetic mineral oil use for hair and skin even more of a better choice and again, its moisturization properties are highlighted.

While the thrust of the article concerns infants, there is information that olive oil for example can and has been reported to cause contact dermatitis. I am constantly reading about and hearing from people with scalp issues. The causes of some of those problems may in fact be the results of products used, they may not have connected to the problems. For any dandruff or suspected dandruff or other scalp conditions that cause severe symptoms, like extreme itching or worse, consulting a doctor or dermatologist is best. I do not give advice when medical intervention is required, except to recommend that if you are unhappy with your doctor or dermatologist, seek another medically qualified opinion. I like the fact that a number of the article reference abstracts are linked and can be easily viewed.

Highlights From The Above Linked Research Article Text

"Not all vegetable oils are appropriate for use on skin [118]. Vegetable oils can vary in composition ... the ratio of linoleic to oleic acid. Some vegetable oils, including certain olive, soybean, and mustard oils, can be detrimental to the integrity of the skin barrier [119]. Some unsaturated free fatty acids can act as permeation enhancers [120], an effect that may cause contact dermatitis in adults [121124]. 

In addition, many vegetable oils are unstable and degrade by hydrolysis and oxidation. Degradation can increase the likelihood of microbial growth and spoilage, especially in hot, humid environments. Cutaneous Propionibacterium acnes and Propionibacterium granulosum secrete lipases, enzymes that hydrolyze sebum triglycerides to free fatty acids [125]. By extension, Propionibacterium acnesPropionibacterium granulosum, and possibly other cutaneous bacteria may hydrolyze vegetable oils present in topicals into free fatty acids, accelerating the degradation of vegetable oils on the skin surface. ... 

Emollients that contain inert, stable ingredients such as mineral oil are preferable for use on the maturing infant skin. Mineral oil, a semiocclusive ingredient that penetrates the upper layers of the SC [126] ... is noncomedogenic [127], has a long record of safe use [128] ... unlikely to go rancid even in hot, humid climates. Mineral oil helps to enhance the skin barrier as shown by a reduction in TEWL following topical application of the oil [126]."

Properly preserved cosmetics are crucial to skin and scalp health.

"Several studies have found very high concentrations ... of microbial contaminants in consumer products that are poorly preserved or preservative-free [135136]."  

"Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)Treatment Skin Care at Home", 2016, bolding added by me, @NIAIDNews
"Lubricate or moisturize the skin two to three times a day using ointments such as petroleum jelly. Moisturizers should be free of alcohol, scents, dyes, fragrances, and other skin-irritating chemicals. A humidifier in the home also can help."  

"Patient information: Atopic dermatitis (eczema) (Beyond the Basics)"
Keep the skin hydrated", 2016, bolding added by me via @sharethis  
"best emollients ... for atopic dermatitis ... Eucerin, Cetaphil ... Nutraderm or ointments ... petroleum jelly, Aquaphor, and Vaseline"

"Systematic review ... What are the effects of different models of delivery for improving maternal and infant health outcomes for poor people in urban areas in low income and lower middle income countries?", 2012 color and bolding added by me
"the use of sunflower seed oil (albeit not as effective as Aquaphor) is likely to be more sustainable as treatments costs are at a level that is much more affordable to people in Bangladesh paying out of pocket for medicine – $1.55 per month compared with $29 per month for Aquaphor (the average monthly salary is $39). There is a strong case, however, for public funding of Aquaphor, given the highly favourable cost-effectiveness ratio.

Further reading on infant mortality rates and the use of Aquaphor and sunflower seed oil: Aquaphor use resulted in a lower infant mortality rate.
World Health Organization International Bulletin 2010, bolding added by me 
"The 26% reduction in mortality with SSO ... translated to 19 deaths averted per 100 neonates" SSO is "sunflower seed oil" ... "Aquaphor reduced mortality by 32% ... 23 deaths averted ... per 100 neonates"

See Also 
Vegetable Oils and Animal Fats | Emergency Response | US EPA", 2016@EPA
"Like petroleum oils, vegetable oils and animal fats and their constituents can:
Cause devastating physical effects, such as coating animals and plants with oil and suffocating them by oxygen depletion; 
Be toxic and form toxic products; ... Form products that linger in the environment for many years." 

And this blog post

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Replies To Frequent Email Questions

I reply to emails privately. I reply publicly to email questions that are frequent, to help others with similar issues.

Mineral Oil Baby Oil Use
1. Only use mineral oil baby oil on damp to wet hair if your hair is dry or lacking moisture for the best results. Use it on dry as opposed to damp or wet hair, if your hair is not lacking moisture.

2.Try to find a baby oil with as few ingredients as possible, preferably just mineral oil and fragrance or without fragrance, if you are sensitive to it. In Europe, Johnson's makes one called Natusan. Any extra additives can be sensitizers, create build-up or if they are added oils, leave hair greasy easily. Vitamin E listed is a stabilizer and is not a problem.

3. If mineral oil baby oil is not easily found there are laxative mineral oils in pharmacies and Ikea makes one for wooden cutting boards. That size bottle should last a very long time. Mineral oil has an indefinite shelf life.

4. If cosmetic or USP/BP mineral oil is used, you do not need to separately use a pre-wash oil treatment to help prevent protein loss. When the mineral oil is being washed out, it helps prevent tangles and protein loss from tangling abrasion and helps reduce the amount of water that enters the hair shaft.

5. Usually, mineral oil does not need reapplication between hair washes. However, if sections of the hair have been overlooked during the initial application, redampen or rewet the areas of the hair (misting works well for this) and add the extra amount needed, if the hair is dry (lacking moisture). If the hair has a great moisture level, just apply the extra needed amount to those areas on dry hair.

Coconut Oil
1. Most fractionated coconut oils contain no to almost no lauric acid, making them unsuitable for treatments and oil shampoo, where deep penetration of the hair shaft is the goal. I have added this information as a "Note" in the appropriate posts.

2. Both refined and virgin coconut oils can be used for deep treatments and oil shampoo. It depends on the degree of refining as to the quality of the oil but expensive coconut oil is not necessary. It just needs to be pure coconut oil and food grade is perfectly fine to use. All coconut oil is processed and with a degree of heat, whether it is virgin coconut oil or not.

3. The lauric acid in coconut oil cannot penetrate through barrier ingredients that include: many polymers, waxy ingredients, natural butters and other oils used in any quantity. I do not recommend using mineral oil and oil shampoo at the same time. To get the best results from both, use them separately.

Protein Treatments And Hair Dryness
I learned these facts about protein and how added protein affects hair moisture levels from Redken research, when I worked in the cosmetic industry. Protein binds water. When protein treatments or products are used on hair, whether they are a surface coating only, or penetrating, the added protein acts like hair protein, to bind the water that is in the hair, including in the upper levels of the hair, like the cuticles. If the water content of your hair is low, it is thus further reduced. That is why moisture treatments are recommended and most often needed, after the use of protein products. Protein products and treatments in general are drying

The answer to "protein overload" is to add moisture to hair. That moisture is simply water. The fastest, easiest and most efficient way to do that is to use mineral oil alone on damp to wet hair. Mineral oil holds needed water in hair longer than other products, natural sebum, vegetable oils or silicones and can rehydrate hair. See Also this post.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cosmetics And Marketing

This year alone has seen its fair share of hard times for people. We all need basic cosmetics for hygiene and others sometimes just to feel good, or to enhance our appearance.

I do not understand how incredibly expensive shampoos stay on the market or those marketed primarily for their fragrance. I do understand the marketing strategies for both. One appeals to the false concept some consumers believe regarding cosmetics, that "You get what you pay for." The other appeals to the consumer who thinks all such products are basically the same and fragrance can be very appealing and mean freshness and more. Great marketing to me is humourous, informative but not outrageously so and showcases a product well.

Price nor fragrance determines cosmetic product value or performance. Formulation is the key factor.

The truth is that if marketing really reflected what many cosmetic products were capable of doing, no one would buy them. It is not that the products are bad. It is because other, less expensive products can work just as well and some can work much better.

Updated November 18, 2012
In the United States, the FDA is paying attention and is taking strong actions in response to improper cosmetic marketing claims. A number of claims focus on hair restoration and growth. That means the product falls under the classification of a drug and requires stringent approval under drug regulations and for statements made on labelling, paper and online. Canada has marketing regulations and claims restrictions too, as do other countries. From emails on the topic I receive, the problem is worldwide these days. Government regulations, marketing restrictions and the recent actions taken, reveal the increasing need to protect consumers from such claims. Here is an article on cosmetic marketing problems from within the cosmetic industry.

I admire the entrepreneurial spirit. I am appalled by poorly made, badly or not at all preserved products sold online and elsewhere, just to make a quick dollar at the expense in both cases, of the consumer. Products need to be safe and well made, especially with cosmetics, which many people take for granted are so, if they appear to contain more natural ingredients than otherwise. Not true. It depends on what natural ingredients are used and what they actually contribute to a formulation, other than marketing appeal.

It is tough surviving in poor economic times, while at the same time facing efforts by cosmetic companies to "seduce" consumers to spend hard earned money on products, that at best may do the job but not that well. This is an article from 2009. I got an empathetic chuckle reading about the dermatologist who purchased that expensive cream, only to discover that it did not live up to its marketing claims for him.

While I have never spent that amount of money on a cosmetic and will not, I remember in my early teens waiting "breathlessly" for a hair texturizing or styling cream, I had seen marketed on television and in magazines, become available to me. When my local pharmacy finally got it in stock and I bought it with excited anticipation, the pharmacist warned me that it was not a revolutionary product. He was right! In fact, it added nothing of note to the appearance of my hair.

I prefer to read labels and research ingredients before buying cosmetic products these days and scour reviews, reading the negative ones first, to see what kinds of problems people have had, if any. The latest marketing strategy for many kinds of products, involves paying people for positive and negative reviews posted on forums and other websites. Payment can be made in the form of free goods and discounts, or money. While that may or may not be legitimate, I am appalled by it too. I have seen online job listings for posting positive reviews, when I researched the topic.

I like to understand how an ingredient works and see if it can "play outside the box" or be used differently or on its own. It may if it is one that has a good, sound, reputable history. However, first and foremost to me is it safe to use alternative ways? Then are there adverse effects if it is used in certain proportions, or from methods of use? Finally is it economical and easily available to purchase?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Using Oil Or Conditioner As A Pre-Wash Treatment

Traditionally in some cultures, vegetable oil was used as a pre-wash treatment to offset the harshness of the plants used to wash the hair. Herbal washing can be great but it can remove too much natural sebum. Why? The saponins in plants are natural detergents. They remove natural sebum very well but vegetable oils not as easily. When this was discovered long ago, a tradition was born.

Traditions tend to prevail and be applied today, although the reasons for them may be less understood or forgotten. Today, there are many choices of shampoos and other cleansing methods like conditioner only washing, or a return in some cases, to using soap to wash hair. With the variations in strengths of the different cleansers, a pre-wash treatment with oil, or these days with some conditioning treatments is not necessary.

If conditioning treatments or conditioners are used for that purpose, the build-up they cause, in addition to other product build-up can create problems, like tangling and dryness, causing split ends. Such build-up needs to be removed sooner than later. The same thing applies to using drying oils. Anything you apply to hair, shampoo, oil, conditioner, styling aids and many botanicals used on their own or in products has the potential to cause problematic build-up.

Hair care does not need to be the ongoing exercise in frustration that it can become.

You need a good shampoo or other cleanser that is not too strong or heavy on the hair. If you use most of what is available these days, it will cause build-up too. All conditioners and styling aids cause build-up on hair, including those that are botanically based. That simply means for most people, that clarifying needs to be added to their hair care routine. Clarifying should not be done too frequently because doing so can be harsh and drying for hair. If your hair is not over washed or overloaded with product after each wash, clarifying can be needed every so often, not often.

Using products differently can make a difference too. I have written here about cosmetic mineral oil, which used on its own has many benefits. It can replace other products like conditioners, styling aids and treatments. It usually does not need reapplication between hair washes, washes out of hair easily not creating build-up and it can do even more for hair and skin.

There is much to gain with simplified hair care. You also save money, by not buying extra products you do not need that can cause hair problems.

See Also

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Oils, Shampoos, Hair Protein Loss And Hair Dye Colour Fade

When hair is excessively swelled with water during washing, the cuticles are raised to the point of being more prone to tangling and being damaged, by being chipped and eroded when they are most vulnerable, while wet, resulting in hair protein loss. Coconut oil can help prevent that from happening, when used certain ways.

The lauric acid in coconut oil can penetrate hair to the cortex level of well clarified hair and bond to keratin there, during washing with shampoo after a pre-wash oil treatment, or when coconut oil is added to shampoo. The rest of the fatty acids in coconut oil can help prevent excess water from entering the hair shaft, reducing hair swelling. The shampoo used needs to be one that does not cause build-up and allows the lauric acid to penetrate the hair.

However, enough of any oil used in shampoo, or on the hair when it is washed, can help prevent too much water from entering the hair shaft and reduce hair swelling too. The prevention of hair protein loss by coconut oil was defined by lauric acid hair penetration to the cortex level, in research. Note: Most fractionated coconut oils contain no or almost no lauric acid. They are not suitable to be used for the prevention of protein loss.

Conventional shampoos for colour-treated hair often have added silicone emulsions or added oils to help prevent excess water from entering the hair shaft. Why? Hair colour fade is caused to the largest extent by too much water entering the hair shaft and washing away added hair colour molecules deposited there, not by shampoos in general or oils stripping hair colour. Oil used on its own as a grooming aid or on its own as a treatment is not known to lighten hair colour.

If oil is used as a treatment and washed out with a strong shampoo and there is resulting dryness, more water can enter the hair shaft. If a strong shampoo is used on its own, it can dry out the hair and that allows more water to enter the hair shaft too. Water being the biggest cause of hair dye colour fade has been stated by P&G for years.

As much as oil shampoo with coconut oil can be a great hair option, the fact remains that coconut oil or any vegetable oil or serum cannot moisturize hair as well for as long as mineral oil is able to do. Silicones are often much harder to remove than mineral oil and can require a sulfate or clarifying shampoo to do so. They cannot moisturize hair as well, or for as long as mineral oil is able to do.

Cosmetic mineral oil used on hair can help prevent too much water entering and excessively swelling hair during washing, reducing tangling and hair damage. It can do so without making the hair greasy, being difficult to remove by shampoo or conditioner only, complicated to apply, or requiring a specific type of shampoo to be used. When hair does not have too much water in it, it dries faster than usual because there is less extra water in it to evaporate.

While mineral oil is best used over not too much product or residue, the hair does not need to be clarified first, unless it is necessary for a better look, behaviour and feel. Small drops of mineral oil, evenly distributed throughout the hair are all that is needed. Mineral oil can replace conditioner and other products.

To help prevent hair dye colour fade and help moisturize or help keep hair moisturized, cosmetic mineral oil use is an easy option. Use it as a moisturizer on damp to wet hair, or on dry hair that has a good moisture level. It has excellent slip or detangling properties. Mineral oil can reduce or elimiinate tangles during and after hair washing, helping to prevent protein loss two ways and it can do so better than other oils, or silicones.

Mineral oil cannot chelate iron and copper like coconut and argan oils can, to help prevent damage from hair dye that contains peroxide, or hair damage from peroxide or bleach. Mineral oil needs to be washed out of the hair before using coconut and argan oils as a pre-treatment for those applications, to allow the oils to saturate hair most efficiently.

Cosmetic or USP/BP mineral oil can do far more for hair than other oils or silicones are able to but not quite everything, with regard to conventional hair colouring and lightening. It can be used to help prevent hair dye colour fade.

See Also

Thursday, November 1, 2012

USP/BP Mineral Oil And UV Hair Damage

I wrote about UV protection for skin and hair here. I have not changed my mind that the best protection for both is to use a good product with a high enough SPF, which is usually about 30. That is much more difficult to do for hair. While sun or UV filters are used in hair care products and can help protect hair, the best protection for hair is still covering it, with a tight weave, or SPF treated: hat, scarf, or umbrella.

What I did not expect to read is this research study, which shows that mineral oil applied to hair may actually reduce UV hair damage.

This research supports a report from a friend of mine here, where mineral oil, in her case mineral oil baby oil, helped protect her hair from sun damage. At the time I could not reply with scientific literature to back that up.

The more I research cosmetic mineral oil and more possible uses of it for hair, the more I am pleasantly surprised to find positive, reputable, scientific research, that tells me it may have benefits that are not widely known.

Added in response to an email inquiry:
While in the study, they soaked hair in mineral oil, that is not what is being suggested for its use to reduce hair UV damage. My friend had mineral oil drops in her hair and not many of them. The research study says,
"... the tryptophan decomposition rate was found to be substantially slower in mineral oil-treated hair, compared to water-treated control. These data suggest that hair care formulations containing non-chromophoric material may also reduce photodamage. ... we show that conventional UVB sunscreens in hair care formulations can provide photoprotection. ... our data suggest that non-chromophoric compounds, such as mineral oil, also reduce hair photodamage."

Added in response to another email inquiry:
Your hair is drying faster than usual and you have less tangles with using mineral oil baby oil instead of conditioner because there is enough oil on your hair during shampooing, to prevent excess water from entering your hair and swelling it too much. Less excess water entering the hair shaft = less hair drying time. The baby oil is also helping to prevent tangles while you wash your hair. Silicone is added to shampoo for the same reason, extra slip.

It does not take too much baby oil to do all of that as your hair is not greasy and you have not had problems with build-up or residue, so your shampoo is removing the baby oil sufficiently each wash. If you do use too much baby oil or not wash it out well enough one wash, your regular shampoo should take care of the excess, the next time you wash your hair.

When you then apply the baby oil after washing, its slip or detangling properties help prevent friction and hair abrasion. Hair abrasion causes hair damage as cuticles get chipped and eroded, when hair is tangled and stressed. 

Html cached version of the research study pdf linked in the above text
See Also

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The "Skinny" (details) On Mineral Oil Baby Oil

My condolences to any and all who have lost love ones and property in the devastation caused by tropical storm Sandy. Its effects hit here in Canada too and have had lasting repercussions.

I use Johnson's Original Baby Oil and I have also sometimes used a generic, unfragranced store brand baby oil. The generic brand is somewhat heavier. I have also tried a sample of a laxative "heavy" mineral oil on my hair. Results from all three compare equally, in terms of lasting moisturization or in my case, maintenance of the good level of moisture in my hair and slip or detangling. All three have washed out of my hair easily. My hair is mostly fine, wavy and thin.

However, the Johnson's washes out the easiest. The shampoo I always use is a little different this new batch that I bought the end of last year and I have found that I now need less than I normally used, to clean my hair and scalp and remove enough catnip not to have it build-up. I am not sure what has changed. My hair and scalp are not dry or reacting differently to account for it. The shampoo does not appear to have any different ingredients and I checked that out to be sure. It is a bit thicker than it used to be but not by much. When I used the other mineral oils, I did need to use my previous normal amount, which is not a lot of shampoo at all and I needed no extra amount in addition to that. With the Johnson's, I can use less shampoo to remove it completely. Johnson's is the most lightweight of the mineral oils I have tried.

The more lightweight a non-drying oil is in consistency, the easier it can be removed from hair with shampoo. I have had no problems with any of the mineral oils tried but I do prefer the lightest weight version. So, for those of you with finer hair, the more lightweight a mineral oil baby oil is in consistency, the easier it can be to remove completely, when the hair is next washed. Not all mineral oil baby oils are equally lightweight, even without extra ingredients.

I recently needed to be out in very humid weather and while I prefer to use baby oil and catnip separately, I tried something different. I used less than one small drop of the Johnson's in total, to "polish" my catnipped hair, used on the length and top and canopy or the top layer of the back of my hair. It worked perfectly to give my hair just that extra bit of style. I used it on mostly dry hair.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

How To Avoid "The Winter Hair Blues"

Spring is the traditional time to clean your home more thoroughly and get it ready for warmer weather. Now is a good time to prepare your hair for winter and the negative effects it can have on your hair.

1. If you have not clarified your hair in a while, it is a good time to remove any hair product residues.

2. Do not overload your hair with product because of drying indoor heating or low outdoor humidity or both. Use less product on your hair, not more, to help it stay in good condition and delay build-up becoming a problem.

3. If your hair is lacking moisture, moisturize it with water, which is what it needs. Apply a non-drying oil on damp to wet hair, to help keep the water your hair lacks in your hair as long as possible, by delaying its evaporation. Your hair will still dry but the needed water can be retained in your hair and rehydrate it.

4. If your hair is lacking moisture, do not apply any oil on it when it is dry. The oil will help maintain the poor moisture level.

5. If your hair is not lacking moisture, do apply a non-drying oil on dry hair. The oil will help maintain the good moisture level. Oil applied on dry hair helps maintain whatever level of moisture is currently in the hair. Oil does not add moisture to hair.

6. Do not use a drying oil frequently on your hair because it builds-up and usually requires clarifying to remove it and can require repeated clarifying to do so. Clarifying hair too often is harsh and drying.

7. USP/BP mineral oil is an excellent choice of oil to use. Results last longer than those of other non-drying oils and other products. It is inexpensive and it does not build-up, nor is it heavy or greasy on hair, when not too much of it is used. As baby oil, it is a lightweight oil. If it is overused, it can still be washed out of your hair fairly easily and does not require clarifying to do so. It is not sticky. It is antistatic. It has superb slip or detangling properties. It should not need reapplication between hair washes.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Some Types Of Hair Damage Are Reversible And Hair Can Heal

In this study, reversible hair damage was observed. What was the key factor in the observations regarding healing? The presence of water.

This explains to me even more why the use of cosmetic or USP/BP mineral oil has been so very helpful to stressed or damaged hair, even bleached and damaged hair, in being able to grow out stronger and have a healthy appearance. The hair is no longer being mechanically stressed or tangled because friction is reduced to a minimum, while the mineral oil helps keep needed moisture in the hair longer than other products like vegetable oils, silicone and natural sebum. The mineral oil is also filling in gaps in the cuticles. The water is vital.

In more than one case I know the details of where mineral oil alone has replaced conditioners and treatments, heat is still being used on the hair damaged by bleach and hair colour. No pre-treatment was used prior to the chemical processing. Results are still great. Mineral oil can help protect hair from thermal damage.

So, in some cases, hair can heal after all.

Note added in response to a blog email: The number of mineral oil drops needed and the size of drops actually used vary with the person and their hair. The idea is to use the least amount you can to not overuse it. Less mineral oil than many people think at first is required for the advantages over other products it can provide. More can be added to make up the difference, if enough has not been used in the first application and areas of hair have been overlooked. Those sections of hair can be rewet or redampened if necessary. Mineral oil does not usually need to be reapplied between washes.

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Forum post

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hair: Moisture, Frizz And Build-Up

Moisture in hair is its water content. Moisture is what hair needs in the right amount to stay soft and supple and looking its best. Products that help keep moisture in the hair often contain emollients and detanglers and sometimes styling ingredients, or you can simply use USP/BP mineral oil.

Hair needs access to moisture in the air or water vapour, to help keep it soft. Too much water vapour in the air and hair can become frizzy because there is not enough moisture in it and it swells with the excess water vapour. Too little humidity can draw out moisture from hair and it can become frizzy too. Hair that is lacking moisture needs to be moisturized and have its access to high and low humidity restricted, whether the conditions are atmospheric, or artificial, like indoor climate control.

Genetics play a role in frizzy hair too but the remedies can be the same, moisturization and restricted access to humidity extremes. Do not try to seal hair from moisture in the air or seal moisture in the hair. That often has the opposite effect and dry hair becomes even drier.

Mineral oil used on its own can work very well to prevent frizz. It is safe to use. It keeps moisture in hair longer than silicones, vegetable oils and other products. It slows down or restricts hair access to humidity conditions. It can rehydrate dry hair, used on damp to wet hair. For hair with a good moisture level, used on dry as opposed to damp to wet hair, it can maintain that level. Small drops of it, evenly distributed throughout the hair are all that is needed.

As baby oil, fragranced or unfragranced, without extra ingredients, it is inexpensive, lightweight and available. It does not require a clarifying or sulfate shampoo to wash it out of hair and leave no residue. It is antistatic and protects skin. It is not sticky. It does not seal hair from water vapour and it does not seal water in hair. Oil does not seal hair from water vapour. That has been demonstrated in research.

Product build-up on the hair restricts access to moisture in the air which in some cases is not a bad thing. However, build-up also stresses hair because it eventually causes it to tangle and creates other problems. Too much build-up on the hair is never a good thing. Hair does not require multiple layers of residue on it to look healthy and be strong. Multiple layers of residue on hair can have the opposite effect.

The same products that can make hair "stronger or straighter or shinier in x number of days", based on frequent use, means that the hair is being progressively layered with ingredients that not only are not entirely removed with the shampoo that is part of the regimen but the shampoo itself can and usually does cause build-up. And after that time period? Build-up can dehydrate hair by restricting access to moisture in the air too much and not allowing products applied on top of it help keep moisture in the hair.

Enough dryness causes breakage and split ends. Cosmetic companies know that ingredients in many of their products cause build-up and often include a clarifying shampoo in their product lines. Hair should not need to be clarified too often. That can be harsh on hair. Products that cause build-up should not be used exclusively for extended periods of time without clarifying though.

Hair products need access to the hair to work well. When hair has build-up or residue on it, other products added sit on top of it, instead of being in direct contact with the hair. A detangler for example, used on top of build-up is not going to be that effective. It is designed to work on the cuticles of the hair, not on layers of residue. An oil used on top of a lot of residue is not going to be as effective either, as it can be with more or complete access to the hair.

Products that cause build-up, like all conditioners, styling aids, which include natural ones like aloe vera gel and juice and other botanicals, drying oils and many shampoos, need to be used in lesser amounts and less often than many people use them. Doing that cuts back on and delays build-up causing problems. For conditioner, using smaller amounts of a lighter one as opposed to a heavy, thicker one can be an option.

Added in response to an email inquiry: When you use something lightly on hair, it allows for natural volume. The reason many people get flat, heavy hair is from too much of the product they use or the wrong product. That adds weight to hair and build-up. Course hair benefits from moisture too and does not need to be weighed down by product, as many people think and attempt to do. 

Mineral oil can reduce or eliminate "poofy looking" hair or undesirable excess volume, because it smoothes hair and softens it, when it is used to moisturize, applied to damp to wet hair. It is the water kept in the hair that is doing the softening. Water, not oil, softens skin and hair. Mineral oil also restricts hair access to the humidity level which causes the hair to look that way. "Poofy looking hair" is an indication that the hair is lacking moisture. The hair is often frizzy as well. Any type of hair can become "poofy looking".  

Updated in reply to another blog email: If you washed your hair and forgot to use mineral oil to fight frizz and will not be washing your hair for a while, mist your hair to redampen or rewet it and then apply the mineral oil. Frizzy hair is lacking moisture. If your hair does not have too much product on it or residue, the mineral oil should help in two ways, one, by helping to keep the added moisture in your hair until you do wash it and two, by restricting your hair from the level of humidity that is causing the frizz.

Updated in reply to a blog email inquiry about baby oil and extra ingredients: Some baby oils contain added ingredients like vegetable oils and botanicals. These ingredients and others added can make the hair greasy and heavy easily and cause build-up on hair. They are intended for use on skin, where build-up is not the same issue. Some vegetable oils and butters are sensitizers and can clog pores. 

It is better for the hair and scalp, if it is just mineral oil and fragrance, or without fragrance for those sensitive to it. Tocopherol acetate or Vitamin E is sometimes listed as an ingredient. It is used to stabilize mineral oil and is often not listed separately. It is not a problematic ingredient in the amount used. USP/BP mineral oil is not considered to be a sensitizer or allergen and it does not clog pores. I added a reference regarding that statement. It is the mineral oil that can give the desired results, not the extra ingredients, some of which are added for marketing appeal but can have undesirable results used on hair and skin. 

Unfragranced USP/BP mineral oil without additives is usually available at pharmacies for laxative use and is often sold as "extra heavy" or "heavy" on the label. I compared a "heavy" one to a lightweight baby oil and it was not that heavy or thick to me. The "heavy" one worked well on my hair without any issues. Lightweight grades of mineral oil spread somewhat easier but there was no difference in the slip provided or results. My friends who have tried both kinds agree. None of us tried "extra heavy" laxative mineral oil on our hair.

USP/BP mineral oil unfragranced and without extra ingredients is also sold for use on wooden utensils and cutting boards and it can be used on hair and skin as well. 

Full text pdf

Happi Household and Person Products Industry, "Truly Natural"
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Forum thread

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mineral Oil And Dandruff Update 2012

I wrote about mineral oil (cosmetic or USP/BP) being recommended for cradle cap previously. Now there may be another reason to use it, to not exacerbate dandruff. The same way mineral oil does not support bacterial growth and go rancid, it cannot feed the yeasts that cause dandruff, like vegetable and other organic oils are able to do.

This research article that made the news in August of this year, makes sense to me.

Using a dandruff shampoo or treatment and then oiling the hair from root to tip with a vegetable oil to deep condition it, or as an addition after conditioning may also be counterproductive, given this evidence. The same would apply to using any products containing vegetable oils to condition or style hair, while such dandruff or other scalp problems are present. It is about the saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in the oils.

Update in reply to recent blog emails: Any oil that is overused, lightweight or otherwise, can make hair greasy, in spite of marketing claims to the contrary. Mineral oil is harder to overuse than vegetable oils because it spreads so easily and usually does not need reapplication between washes. Mineral oil can need reapplication to make up the difference if enough has not been used the first time (on areas of hair that have been missed). It has proven superior longer lasting moisturizing effectiveness, compared to silicone and vegetable oils. I added a reference regarding this topic, specific to vegetable oils.

Using a product as often as every day on hair between washes to keep it moisturized and oiling, accelerates build-up on the hair and that is counterproductive to hair being moisturized. Using a drying oil on its own that frequently, creates build-up that usually requires clarifying out of the hair.


Friday, September 28, 2012

My Hair Washing And Detangling Basics

I have been asked about my hair washing and detangling routines several times lately in blog emails. My hair does not tangle wet or dry, thanks to using catnip or cosmetic USP/BP mineral oil. I use baby oil. It can snag sometimes but that is not the same as a tangle as snags for me release easily. My hair is wavy and can curl around itself at times. I gently pull a snag apart sideways and if the hair starts to tighten at the ends, I pull individual hairs up, so that they slip easily out of the other hairs because the cuticles are still down. My hair length presently is almost to my waist.

It does not matter whether you wash your hair as I do, all forward or back behind you, washing hair in one direction I have found, works to help reduce hair stress and breakage. This is what I recommend having done both routines successfully for several years.

1. Before washing, gently detangle dry hair first. You can use a wide tooth comb or your fingers, very carefully. I gently separate my hair length and finger comb the top of my hair. The point is be gentle.

2. Do not detangle hair with a brush. It is harsher on the hair and can cause more breakage than using a wide toothed comb or hands. 

3. Do not pile all of you hair on top of your head when washing it. That creates tangles.

4. I start by gently separating my hair length under shower water with my hands, releasing any clumps the water may have caused. This can be done at a sink too. I wash my scalp after first lathering a small amount of shampoo with my hands. I apply such small amounts to sections of my scalp to ensure even distribution. I then add more water to my scalp and proceed with shampooing. The lather is then worked through my hair length in one direction to not create tangles.

When hair is wet, it swells and the cuticles are raised. Washing and rinsing in one direction, down in the direction the cuticles naturally go, helps keep them aligned. Hair does not need to be "scrubbed" or massaged like the scalp does. Manipulating hair too much when it is wet roughens up the cuticles and that can cause mechanical damage through tangling too. Hair does need to have the shampoo lather worked through it to remove coatings, even catnip, which does not build-up for me since I shampoo every time before reapplying it.

Only if needed do I add a small amount of extra shampoo to the length when washing my hair, lathered with my hands first to make distribution easier and more even. I simply squeeze the lather through the length, right down to the ends. I need enough lather to to that and I have usually have enough to make sure all of the length is covered each time, by pushing the lather down from the scalp through the length. It does not take a lot of lather to do that and I do not use a lot of shampoo each time I wash my hair. Less is more with hair care. I only shampoo once. I do not "Lather, rinse repeat." Two shampoos at one time are rarely necessary for anyone and the direction on shampoo bottles for that is mostly for marketing. Now many shampoo bottles just say "Repeat if desired".

5. By washing and rinsing out shampoo this way, loose hair releases easily. When rinsing, I gently separate my length, section by section, to further help this happen. It is perfectly normal to lose some hair during washing if you are massaging the scalp. I would worry if no hair shed during washing or detangling as hair naturally sheds and new growth replaces shed hair. It is considered normal for humans to shed up to 150 hairs per day from the scalp. That number varies with individuals and can be more or less.

6. Do not use a brush to detangle wet hair at any time, no matter what kind of brush it is that you have. That is old news for hair care and is a truism. Wet hair is more fragile and can be easily stressed and tear more easily than damp or dry hair.

7. Using catnip or mineral oil to condition, I find it is easier to simply use my hands and fingers to apply either and distribute them. I squeeze the catnip through my hair length, and apply it repeatedly to top hair, parting hair with my fingers to get to the hair underneath. After my catnip treatment, I rinse it out and gently separate the length the same way I do after shampooing. Since trying mineral oil as baby oil, I apply it with my fingers and hands, rather than than using a wide toothed comb for distribution. I can gently undo a snag that way and I have more control if there is a snag. I leave the baby oil in my hair and do not need to reapply more until I use it again between catnip treatments. It washes out completely with my next shampooing.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sulfate-Free, Paraben-Free Versus Conventional Hair Products

Updated, and I will be adding to this post. 

The ideal of using the most natural hair care products is a very appealing one from a number of perspectives. The reality can be quite different. With any cosmetic product it comes down to formulation, ingredient choices and proper, safe manufacturing practices regarding results. Even all natural soaps need to be carefully made to avoid caustic free alkali causing problems in the end product.

Sulfate-free shampoos are marketed to be preferable for hair care because the cleansers are more mild and less irritating than sulfates. Are they really though? I have read many reviews of sulfate-free shampoos and there are multiple reports of very dry hair and irritated scalps. It is about the sulfate-free cleansers used and their combination with other ingredients that determines the outcome of product use. That applies to sulfate shampoos too.

Sulfate shampoos have been used for many years without problems and continue to be available today through many companies that offer sulfate-free options. Sulfate-free, paraben-free products are big business right now.

However, sulfate-free can be tricky to define at times. C14-16 olefin sulfonate is used in a number of "all natural" shampoos and it can be a harsh cleanser that is not what I would call natural. In fact, shampoo cleansers while derived from natural sources in many cases, including the mild sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate are created in laboratories, with processes that vary in artificial additives.

A less publicly known problem with the most popular sulfate-free cleansers, alkyl glucosides is that they can be potent allergens, causing allergic contact dermatitis. Botanicals used in conjunction with these cleansers, plus fragrance and other additives, individually and in concert can cause one to react to a shampoo and not have a clue as to what exactly may have caused their reaction. Allergy tests can be done. Showing the ingredient list to a dermatologist can be a good idea too, as he or she may spot other known allergens to test first, saving time.

Parabens and sulfates came under a lot of controversy because of certain research studies, and concerns regarding cosmetic ingredient contamination. Specific parabens have recently been reaffirmed for safety as used in cosmetics in Europe, two with a recommendation that they be used at less concentrations than previously allowed and restricted in use, while others have been banned until further assessment has been made. See updated References below. 

The contamination issue, regarding 1,4 dioxane, a by-product of the manufacture of a number of cosmetic ingredients has been and continues to be monitored by governments regulating cosmetics. Government regulation stringentness of cosmetics varies in some countries. However, the safety of cosmetic ingredients makes the news and is online too from reputable sources, as well as from scare tactic marketing hype sources, that want nothing more than to sell you their products.

Preservatives are a necessary part of cosmetic formulations to prevent the growth of bacteria and yeasts that can cause problems for the user if not present. I for one am not fond of of a shampoo or other cosmetic product going off and I toss the product if that occurs.

Other preservatives have come under scrutiny for safety, like phenoxyethanol for example, widely used in cosmetics, including those that claim to be all natural. The point is that cosmetics ingredients are monitored, scientifically studied and regulated, and consumers are not victims. Are there improperly formulated cosmetic products on the market? Yes. Some "fly under the regulations radar" and are homemade but sold online and locally. Some are smuggled into countries from countries with few cosmetic regulations on safe cosmetic manufacturing. These are exceptions and many of the latter can be found on government Advisories and Recall lists in the United States, Canada, and other countries.

"Antiperspirants and Breast Cancer Risk", 2014, bolding added by me

"so far, studies have not shown any direct link between parabens and any health problems, including breast cancer."
"Parabens", 2015

"European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - Consumers: Commission improves safety of cosmetics", 2014!hU34kN
"Propylparaben and Butylparaben, other parabens ... Methylparaben and Ethylparaben, are safe ... Commission limits the maximum concentration of ... Propylparaben and Butylparaben, from currently allowed limit of 0.4% when used individually and 0.8% when mixed with other esters, to 0.14% ... used individually or together. They are being banned from leave-on products designed for ... nappy area of young children below ... age of three since existing skin irritation and occlusion may allow increased penetration than intact skin ... new rules ... apply for products ... on shelves after 16 April 2015 ... Commission banned ... five other parabens in cosmetic products - Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Phenylparaben, Benzylparaben and Pentylparaben ... due to ... lack of data necessary for reassessment."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fabric Treatment You Can Buy To Add SPF Protection To Clothes

Updated, and I will be adding to this post.

I was asked in a blog email about a specific product, RIT Sun Guard, now just called Sun Guard. I had never heard of it, so I checked it out.

There is a fair amount of information about it online, some of it conflicting on certain websites. The manufacturer's website has a fact page that seems fairly clear to me. Product formulations and information can be subject to change for a number of reasons and the manufacturer's website should have the most current information. If there are concerns regarding product safety, I think it is best to contact the manufacturer and ask for the current finished product MSDS if it is not available on their website. I did find such an MSDS dated 2005 elsewhere but that may not be most the current one and I have not listed it below.

From all I have read, the amount of SPF protection this product provides can be limited by how it is used, and the fabrics it is used on. There are specific directions to follow that apparently can be affected by the type of washing machine used too. I have not been able to read the caution on the front of the box on the lower left corner. I always read any cautions or warnings on product packaging very carefully. They are there for good reasons.

If I have any concern about a product and access to a manufacturer toll free contact telephone number or an email, I make use of either to ask the questions I need to ask and hopefully get the required information. I recommend doing that. Product reviews can be very informative. However, I want as much reputable, factual information as possible. I do not shy away from asking for links to such facts or research when I am curious while making inquiries to any source, to back up information. I have gotten such information in the past. See the Mayo Clinic link too, that has information on sun protection and clothing and on treated for SPF clothing.

I have always sought some sun protection as I do not tan. I am a great shade seeker when out in the hours between 10 am and 4 pm. I recently had to be out quite a bit during those hours. The tight weave, untreated for SPF clothing I wore that was still light enough to keep me cool, did not result in my very fair skin getting any colour. I also wore an untreated, tight weave, light coloured and light fabric, satin like kerchief to cover my hair (my new umbrella for sun protection would have been awkward to use because I was carrying packages). That worked just fine as well. My scalp did not get sunburned and my hair did not become lighter in colour or damaged.

Australian Government

"UPF rating indicates how effective a fabric is at blocking out solar ultraviolet radiation ... Factors that contribute to the UPF rating of a fabric are: Composition of the yarns (cotton, polyester, etc) Tightness of the weave or knit (tighter improves the rating) Colour (darker colours are generally better) Stretch (more stretch lowers the rating) Moisture (many fabrics have lower ratings when wet)" 
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