Protecting Yourself At The Hair Salon From Those Chemicals
Many of my thrivers are concerned about the need to protect themselves at the hair salon from all of those chemicals, and rightfully so. Conventional hair dyes, chemical straighteners, hair relaxers, bleach, etc are putting us at a higher risk for breast cancer. If you are having any of these chemicals put onto your head of hair, please read this article for some great tips on how to protect yourself, as well as how to detox afterward (if I can’t talk you out of using them).
The Problem Is…
When you consider that more than one third of women over the age of 18 – and plenty of men over the age of 40 – use some form of hair dye, and when you understand that over 5,000 chemicals are used to create these products, many of which have not been proven to be safe for humans to use, you begin to understand the scope of the problem.
Aren’t we protected by the FDA? No, because hair dyes are classified as personal care products and the FDA currently does not require ANY mandatory testing for these products before they are put on the market. You might be interested to know that over its long history of monitoring the cosmetics industry, the FDA has only ever banned 9 personal care products. Disgusting but true. So don’t rely on them to keep you safe.
Not all hair colors/dyes are terrible, but you do need to be proactive and check them out. You can do that on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep database. The EWG has around 600 hair colors listed on their database, the majority of which are considered to be high hazards because the chemicals within them are linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, immune system problems, allergies, skin irritations, eye irritations, lung problems, and the list goes on.
So What’s Best To Do?
Because so many of the chemicals used in hair colors and other hair products have not been proven to be safe for humans to use, indeed some are known carcinogens, I recommend removing them from your life, particularly if you have breast cancer (or any other kind of cancer).
The scalp has a rich blood supply and is quite capable of transporting the toxins in these products throughout the entire body. I’ve said this before and I stick with it now – you really should not put anything on your body that you would not be comfortable eating. Because it will end up in your bloodstream.
Anyone who puts these chemicals in their hair is at risk. Particularly women who are pregnant or breastfeeding – I strongly advise they completely stay away from hair colors because of the impact they can have on the unborn child. If you are a hairdresser, you absolutely must be wearing protective gear like gloves (at the very least) and even a breathing mask would be a good idea, some of these chemicals are noxious for the lungs as well.
Having said all of that, I know what women are like. We want our pretty hair colors and that bit of grey covered up. Please keep reading, all is not lost.
If You Are Using Conventional Hair Dye, Tips For Minimizing Exposure
If you feel you simply must use conventional hair dyes, you can minimize your exposure by following these 4 tips:
1. Try to find more natural hair color brands. For the do-it-yourselfer at home, one brand I can recommend is Light Mountain, they are available on Amazon.com and they have a hazard rating of 0 by EWG. Sante Herbal Hair Colors and Lagona Herbal Hair Colors are also considered safe to use, and are both available on Amazon.com.
2. If you are going to use conventional hair colors (the ones with all the chemicals), try to avoid permanent hair colors, these are known to be the most toxic. If you choose semi-permanent and temporary colors you get less of a load of toxins. You can also avoid the darkest shades – while all of the colors use about the same chemicals, there are more of those chemicals in the dark brown and black shades than in the lighter shades like red, blonde or light brown.
3. If you are using the services of a hairdresser, try to find one that uses herbal products or that caters to people with multiple chemical sensitivities.
4. See my list of detox tips below if using conventional hair products.
How To Detox Your Body After A Visit To The Hair Salon
If you are coming into contact with conventional hair products (the ones with all the chemicals), you are putting your body into a potentially toxic situation. There are ways of decreasing the risk, however, I would not rely upon these alone. Abstention is still the best route. But if you feel compelled to continue using conventional hair products, please know there are things you can do to help minimize your exposure.
In the days just prior and just subsequent to your visit to the hair salon, the following things can be of great assistance to your ability to excrete the toxic chemicals:
1. Antioxidant vitamins minimize the free radicals caused by chemical exposure. Including a high potency antioxidant vitamin containing vitamins C, E and beta-carotene will be extremely beneficial.
2. Fresh green juices or smoothies containing kale, cilantro (esp when combined with chlorella), parsley, ginger and/or alfalfa help to detoxify the system and pull chemicals out of the body.
3. Studies indicate that spices such as clove, cilantro and cardamom all have high antioxidant activity and are able to chelate (latch onto) heavy metals from the body. 1 Be sure to add them to your juices or smoothies.
4. Dandelion root tea (Taraxacum officinale) is a great herb for purifying the blood and for its ability to filter toxic chemicals from the bloodstream. It promotes liver health as well. You can take it in the form of a tea, Amazon has it.
5. Echinacea angustifolia is a well known herb for its good benefits on boosting immunity, but it is also a good blood cleanser and helps stimulate the lymphatic system, enabling it to remove toxic substances from the body. Easily available from Amazon.
6. Licorice root tea (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is an excellent detoxification herb, a blood cleanser and excellent for liver health. Also available from Amazon.
7. Sweat it out. Go to the gym for a workout, ride a bicycle in hilly terrain, do a kickboxing class (insert your favorite form of exercise here!) but aim to increase your activity to a level where you induce a sweat for at least 15-20 minutes. You can also sit in a sauna or infrared sauna where you sweat for at least 15-20 minutes. This is a great way to decrease a toxin overload.
8. Take fulvic acids, they are great natural detoxifying agents and our diet is completely devoid of them. They help to chelate heavy metals and toxins and carry them out of the body, they are also excellent antioxidants. Here is the brand I use, the highest quality fulvic acids product on the market.
9. Drink plenty of water with a little lemon added, at least 8 glasses of filtered, high quality water per day to help your body detoxify and cleanse itself.
10. Take a detox bath. A bath full of hot water with specific things added in is a great way to begin the detoxification process. See my article How To Detox In Your Bathtub for some good tips.
11. Get plenty of sleep – after you have been to the hair salon be cognizant of the fact that the best way for the body to detoxify, restore and replenish itself is when you sleep.
One More Thing…
Why do we feel we have to color our hair to be beautiful? That’s the topic of a whole other article, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with your natural hair color. It’s you, it’s who you are. Be bold and try a year without hair color, you might actually like the way you look even better and your body will love you for it.
1. Free radical scavenging activity, metal chelation and antioxidant power of some of the Indian spices – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18997285
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