BY STEPHANIE MCCLURE

How do you feel about your hair? Do you love your locks, or hate them? The top of my head is full of big, loud fiery curls; crazy hair that roars for freedom. However, almost my entire life I have felt the need to tame my mane. Hold it back; smooth it down; confine it with gel, lotion, mouse, pomade, spray; the list goes on. I once even tried to use chap-stick to try to put down the flyaways that just wouldn’t stay–all in the name of beauty. Looking good is a good thing, right? Well, not if it’s killing you.

All the time I was busy sculpting my hair into the perfect do that never stayed anyways, I should have been spent busying myself over what I was putting in my hair and on my body. The average woman applies about 200 manmade chemicals to her hair and body every single day. Sixty percent of those chemicals are sucked directly into our bloodstream, spreading to all of our organs 26 seconds after application[1]. At the age of 24, I potentially have soaked up 1,752,000 synthetic chemicals! Where in Hades did all these manufactured chemicals come from, and how come no one warned me about them?

Remember when you were a kid and you were rummaging around the kitchen cabinets and you found Mr. Yuk all over the colorful bottles of toxic cleaners and roach sprays? Why isn’t our trusty green friend on the back of the all the toxic hair products we find at the store?  Then at least we would remember – “Mr. Yuk means no! Stay away!” All that danger looming in those colorfully deceptive bottles would be rendered powerless. Nevertheless, not only is Mr. Yuk missing from these harmful products, but it seems that even the Food and Drug Administration is knowingly allowing hazardous chemicals to stay in these products – they don’t review or regulate them at all[2]! Seriously people, some of the chemicals that have been allowed into our hair products can damage the brain and nervous systems, induce DNA mutations, and cause breast, ovarian, uterine, and testicular cancer[3]. Folks, listen up: some of these synthetic toxins accumulate in breast tissue and can even move into breast milk, passing this toxicity on to the next generation at birth[4]. And I ask again, where is our friend Mr. Yuk?

Call me radical, but I think it’s bull that we even have these harmful chemicals in our hair products to begin with. I mean, is there no other option? Oh wait, there is a TON of non toxic, non disease-causing hair products out there. The Corvallis First Alternative Co-Op carries several options. Y’all should check out these products: shampoo (Aubrey Organics, Giovanni, Nurture My Body); conditioner (Aubrey Organics, Earthscience, Desert Essence, Goodness Essentials); soap/body wash (Aubrey Organics, Esert Essence); gel (Aubrey Organics, Giovanni); styling wax (Giovanni); mousse (Giovanni); hairspray (Noni Care, Cedar Spring); hair color (Aubrey Organics); shaving lotion (Aubrey Organics); lotion (Aubrey Organics, Goodness Essentials); deodorant (Aubrey Organics).

Since the law prohibits me from sticking Mr. Yuk all over our local stores toxic merchandise, I’ll just share with you some of the worst health offenders: shampoo (John Frieda, Redken, Nexxus); conditioner (Nexxus, Back to Basics, Ojon); hairspray (Sebastian, Jonathan Product); hair color (Colorsilk by Revlon, Clairol Herbal Essences, Creme Of Nature, Superior Preference, LOreal); hair gel/lotion (Biolage, Jonathan Product, Luster’s SCurl, Curl.Life, Got 2b Styltini); styling mousse/foam (Frederic Fekkai, Sexy Hair Concepts)[5]. Check out the toxicity of your hair care at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com; this is a phenomenal resource that assesses the safety of 55,534 personal care products[6].

Folks, we can create change with every purchase we make, so let’s stop supporting companies that refuse to support us. I won’t hold my voice back; I will not compromise my health for some corporate ass who doesn’t give a fig about me or my sisters and brothers, and you shouldn’t either. We must create the change we want, and if we want to live in a safe, toxic-free world, we must speak out and demand it. Come on, let your mane down and roar with me!!!


[1] “Toxic Essences.” Dudley News, Dudley Sport, Dudley Leisure – From The Dudley News. Newsquest Media Group, 13 Sept. 2008. Web. 21 Apr. 2010. <http://www.dudleynews.co.uk/newsxtra/3657273.Toxic_essences/&gt;.

[2] Guynup, Sharon. “Beautifying Ourselves to Death | HoumaToday.com.” HoumaToday.com | The Courier | Houma, LA. 13 Feb. 2009. Web. 22 Jan. 2010. <http://www.houmatoday.com/article/20090213/ARTICLES/902139918?Title=Beautifying_ourselves_to_death&gt;.

Pierce, Eleanor. “Beauty, Naturally; Get Face-to-face with Your Organic Cosmetic Choices | | The Bulletin.” The Bulletin. BendBulletin, 20 Jan. 2010. Web. 05 Feb. 2010. <http://www.bendbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100120/NEWS0107/1200308/-1/RSSNEWSMAP&gt;.

[3] “Toxic Essences.” Dudley News, Dudley Sport, Dudley Leisure – From The Dudley News. Newsquest Media Group, 13 Sept. 2008. Web. 21 Apr. 2010. <http://www.dudleynews.co.uk/newsxtra/3657273.Toxic_essences/&gt;.

Guynup, Sharon. “Beautifying Ourselves to Death | HoumaToday.com.” HoumaToday.com |The Courier |Houma, LA. 13 Feb. 2009. Web. 22 Jan. 2010.<http://www.houmatoday.com/article/20090213/ARTICLES/902139918?Title=Beautifying_ourselves_to_death&gt;.

Fitness. “Why You Should Apply Paraben Free Hair Care Products And Skin Care Products.” My Health N’ Fitness. Health Fitness, 7 Sept. 2009. Web. 21 Jan. 2010. <http://www.my-health-n-fitness.com/1624/why-you-should-apply-paraben-free-hair-care-products-and-skin-care-products/&gt;.

[4] Fimrite, Peter. “Study: Chemicals, Pollutants Found in Newborns.” San Francisco Bay Area — News, Sports, Business, Entertainment, Classifieds: SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle, 03 Dec. 2009. Web. 21 Jan. 2010. <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/12/03/MN5I1ATVS2.DTL&type=health&gt;.

[5] Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database. Environmental Working Group, 2008. Web. 21 Jan. 2010. <http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/browse.php?maincat=hair+care&gt;.

[6]“About.” Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database. Environmental Working Group, 2008. Web. 21 Jan. 2010. <http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/browse.php?maincat=hair+care&gt;.



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