Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Searching for Nature in Un-Natural Ways

I read an article on The Natural Haven about a natural ingredient in the Shea Moisture (SM) product that mimics parabens but isn't scientifically defined as such. The japanese honeysuckle extract found in some of their products looks (on a molecular level) and behaves in the same way as a paraben; easily seeping into skin and binding to certain cells.

Shea Moisture products
BTW: Visit The Natural Haven if you haven't already. Its run by JC, a scientist who really knows her stuff! Though it takes me a while to digest all of the information because I'm relying on Wikipedia and memories of past chemistry classes to explain it, I appreciate her honest research. She offers a lot of raw data so that you can form your own opinions about natural hair methods and products.

But where was I? Oh yes- SM! This product line has BLOWN UP in the natural hair community, especially because of its slogan "Culturally authentic products made with indigenous ingredients since 1912." (1912?! Why did it take 100 years for this product line to grow so popular?)

A reader asked JC about the japanese honeysuckle extract, if it was a paraben or not and if the SM manufacturers were being dishonest or deceitful about it. According to JC's research, the extract is indeed natural and parabens are scientifically defined as synthetic products. Therefore SM is not legally required to categorize it as such. However the two substances are nearly identical in properties and behavior which is not implied by the "paraben-free" tag on the Shea Moisture line.

I can understand a consumer's frustration if they had been happily slathering their strands with the security of a paraben-free product and then learned that an ingredient has the same properties as a paraben. Consumers would have to minor in chemistry classes to understand it all! But that's just it, you have to become an educated consumer in order to make informed decisions- about anything.

Another way is to stop searching for nature in a bottle guaranteed to last for 6 months to a year. I mean ultimately isn't that what's happening? We wouldn't expect the tomato we buy at the market to last for a year, but we want natural hair products to have long shelf lives without the compromise of preservatives. Its a little silly, no?

DIY Winter Hair Mask
If you feel duped by Shea Moisture or any other product line you thought was delivering you just fruits and berries in a bottle might I suggest one way to be absolutely sure you know each and every ingredient in your product? CREATE YOUR OWN KITCHEN SALON!