Hair spray, mousse, wax and gel

September 20th, 2012
| Filed under

First published September 2007, last updated September 2012

Memories of my mother spraying her hair liberally with countless cans of hair spray over a number of years , followed by the mousses and gels that then became popular stay with me.

I vividly remember the little hand held shield she used that prevented the hair spray from getting in her eyes. I can still smell the throat-catching fragrances of the various sprays and potions she applied, that wafted out of the bathroom and throughout the house. I shudder to think how many hours she spent of her life in a hair products chemical fog.

My mother died of kidney failure when she was just 51.

The hair sprays and gels she used over the decades didn’t kill her, but they certainly didn’t help. My mother took great pride in presenting herself nicely, so cosmetics were a big part of her life until the disease that lurked in her since childhood took hold and then she started reacting to many synthetic chemicals. The fact that she had these strong reactions shows that these cosmetics were toxic – they hastened her demise.

So what’s actually in this stuff and aside from the effects on humans, what is the impact on the environment? It not only sits on your skin and soaks into it, but once you shower, it winds up down the drain in into our waterways.

For starters, most come in elaborate packaging; cans and plastic spray bottles. The plastics will be with us for a long time to come; breaking down into toxic chemicals that poison the earth and groundwater. Most of the plastics are made from crude oil; the industry which has wreaked so much havoc on this planet.

I’m not sure what the average person consumes in terms of hair sprays, gels and waxes a year, but it would be safe to say my mom added hundreds of plastic bottles and jars to landfill during her life. She absolutely adored nature, the consequences just really weren’t on our radar in those days. As my mother neared the end of her life, these things became more apparent to her.

As for the ingredients in these product, here’s the laundry list of chemicals in a few products I looked at. I haven’t used this sort of stuff since the amazing 80′s. Memories.. brrrr :).

Hair spray

Butane/Propane – human toxicant

Octylacrylamide Acrylates – Banned in the EU; not sure why

Butylaminoethyl – Banned in the EU; not sure why

Cyclopentasiloxane -  Persistent, bioaccumulative in wildlife. Animal studies show sense organ effects at moderate doses

Propanol – animal studies show reproductive effects at moderate doses; possible carcinogen, skin irritant

Fragrance – always unsettling as fragrances can be made of all sorts of toxic chemicals. They aren’t required to be specified in this country as they are “trade secrets”

Hair wax/fudge

PVP/PA Copolymer – petrochemical

Polybutene – used as pesticide inert, with potential toxicological concerns

Tribehenin – animal studies show broad systemic effects at high doses

Phenoxyethanol -  animal studies show sense organ effects, neurotoxin, carcinogen

Diazolidinyl Urea – Known human immune system toxicant, irritant, neurotoxin in animals

Butylcarbamate – animal studies show brain and nervous system effects at moderate doses

Fragrance – see hair spray

Hair gel

Polyquaternium-11 – possible carcinogen, respiratory toxin

Panthenol – animal studies show broad systemic effects at high doses

Benzyl Nicotinate – Broad systemic toxicity in animals

Zinc PCA – Persistent, bioaccumulative in wildlife

Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate – May contain harmful impurities

Phytic Acid – animal studies show brain and nervous system effects at moderate doses

Dipropylene Glycol – animal studies show sense organ effects at moderate doses

Polysorbate 20 – animal studies show reproductive effects at high doses

Methylchloroisothiazolinone – human immune system toxicant

Tetrasodium EDTA – animal studies show sense organ effects at low doses

Methylparaben – possible carcinogen, neurotoxin, skin irritant

Fragrance – see hair spray

Hair mousse

Isobutane/Propane – human toxicant

VP/PA Copolymer – petrochemical

Panthenol – animal studies show broad systemic effects at high doses

Hydroxylsolexl-3-cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde – animal studies show sense organ effects at moderate doses

Butylphenyl Methylpropional – Possible human immune system toxicant. Animal studies show respiratory, reproductive brain and nervous system effects

Alpha Isomethyl Ionone – Possible human immune system toxicant

Polyquaternium-11 – - possible carcinogen, respiratory toxin
 
Oleth-20 – animal studies show sense organ and skin effects at low doses

Fragrance – see hair spray

As with other cosmetics, the number of ingredients and chemicals that are made from petrochemicals (originating from crude oil) is astounding.

If you don’t see the chemicals above in your hair products, it doesn’t mean that nasties aren’t lurking in them. The above were single product samples and not all the ingredients from each as the printing on the labels was so small, my eyes were starting to bleed trying to read them.

You don’t need any special knowledge or hours of research to track down what’s in your hair care products. Run them against a database such as the excellent application available at Skin Deep. If you decide that the risk to your health and the environment is too great; consider looking for earth friendly products based on vegetable rather than petrochemical ingredients.

These can be found on the web using search engines by simply entering terms such as:

earth friendly hair spray
hair spray natural ingredients
environmentally friendly hair gel
organic hair wax

.. and other related terms. Products based on plant ingredients are certainly out there, reasonably priced these days and are better for you and our planet! Do be cautious though as some products may contain natural and organic ingredients, but also have other chemicals mixed in as well; yet still be marketed as “earth friendly”. It really pays to read the labels.


Michael Bloch
Green Living Tips.com
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