Ask the Experts: A Naturalista's Healthy Hair Must-Haves

Ask the Experts: A Naturalista's Healthy Hair Must-Haves
ESSENCE.COM Jan, 04, 2012

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“Parabens are preservatives found in commercial hair products that stop the growth of bacteria,” says Dickey. “The controversy about them is that they can mimic the hormone estrogen which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancer. As more women desire to live healthier lifestyles, they are now wanting these ingredients to be taken out of products. Nowadays, there are enough replacements and more natural ingredients available to replace products with parabens in them.”

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“It’s a fairly new trend to keep sulfates out of shampoos,” says Dickey. “Sulfates are ingredients in cleansers that make them foam and become sudsy. Women with natural hair should really avoid using shampoos that lather and use a cream-based shampoo instead. They should only use sudsy cleansers as a treatment to remove thick buildup.”

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“You’ll often here silicones shortened to ‘cones’ in the natural hair community," says Dickey. "The truth is there are good and bad silicones. There are the heavier silicones, like dimethicone and simethicone that are usually found in styling products. They coat the hair and prevent any real moisture from getting into the hair shaft.

Good silicones are water-soluble and help make products slick. They are great in conditioners and they don’t build up on the hair. In either instance, you want silicones to be toward the end of the ingredient list which means there are less of them in the product overall.”

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“Isopropyl alcohols are very drying and you should avoid them,” says Dickey. “But there are good alcohols such as cetyl alcohols which are derived from coconut or palm oil and can help conditioners and hairsprays evaporate into the hair shaft more easily.”

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“The myth about mineral oil is that it suffocates the skin, and that’s only true when it’s not in its purest form,” says Dickey. “When I developed my hair care line, my team spent two years researching a replacement for mineral oil but there’s no substitute for its performance. Many people think that it’s a cheap ingredient added to products and that’s not entirely true. The cosmetic grades of mineral oil are considered the safest and most non-irritating."

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“You definitely want to stay away from synthetic fragrances and colors, especially on young children,” says Dickey. “They are a carcinogenic and can cause illnesses in children. They’ve also been linked to certain types of hormone imbalances, especially in young men. Phthalates are the most dangerous, so avoid them at all costs.”

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