natural hair care blog post

Natural Hair Care

For the vast majority, it’s our crowning glory. The natural hair care product market was valued at almost $9 Billion in 2019 and is expected to continue it’s upward momentum. Savvy consumers and new technologies are fueling the growth, as well as issues such as ingredient sensitivities and heightened awareness of the environmental impacts of their product choices.

Hair anatomy

A strand of hair consists of three layers – the innermost medulla, the cortex and the cuticle. The cortex, or middle layer, is where pigment resides, and it contributes to the flexibility of the hair shaft. We’ll be focusing on the outermost layer, or cuticle, for the purposes of our discussion. This is the layer that takes the most abuse.

Our hair consists primarily of keratin protein which is made up of 18 amino acids. It also contains lipids (like sebum) which provides hair with lubrication. The hair shaft itself is not “alive”, which is why it’s so difficult for us to reverse any damage done to the hair.

The cuticle consists of a layer of overlapping cells, which forms a protective layer over the cortex. Frequent use of chemicals is the primary cause of damage to the hair shaft. Things like bleaching, dying perming, heat styling, exposure to pool chlorine and other ingredients can damage the cuticle, leaving it torn, and leaving hair dry and brittle. It’s important to tailor your haircare routine to your hair type. Check out this informative Healthline article on hair types.

Products to avoid

Healthy hair, no matter how curly or how straight, has a closed cuticle – that is, the overlapping cells lie flat. There are many products and ingredients that can damage the cuticle;

  • hair dyes (even “natural” ones like henna can dry out hair)
  • chemical relaxers (anything that breaks chemical bonds is not good)
  • chemical perms (same as above)
  • high-heat styling tools (standard blow dryers and straightening irons)
  • direct sunlight
  • pool chlorine
  • salt water

Products that penetrate the cuticle like hair dyes and perms can cause the cuticle to raise up, making hair rough and prone to breakage. Heat styling can remove moisture from the hair, making it dry and brittle. There are also many hair care products on the market that contain ingredients that do not benefit hair; ingredients like

  • sulfates (e.g. sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate) which strip oils from hair
  • silicones (which can build up and leave hair drier)
  • alcohols
  • mineral oil
  • perfumes (containing hundreds of ingredients like parabens and formaldehyde)

It’s important to read product labels and to know what you’re putting on your hair and scalp, especially if you are allergic to many ingredients. The bottom line is that, much like your skin, you want to use products that provide benefits to your hair without side effects.

Oils and natural hair care

We’re great believers in the benefits of using plant-based oils to nurture hair. Oils penetrate the cuticle to add vital lipids and help slow down moisture evaporation. A few oils that have been shown to nurture dry, brittle hair include Olive, Avocado, Argan and Jojoba oils. Hot oil treatments have been used for quite some time to nourish dry, chemically treated hair. They work well as a treatment mask under a cap or mixed with your regular conditioner. (Before using a new carrier oil, it’s good to test it on the skin to be sure that you won’t get an allergic reaction. This is especially true about nut oils like coconut, almond and kukui nut.)

Dry oils came on the market as a multi-purpose solution for skin and hair. They are absorbed quickly with minimal residue. Some common oils used in dry oils include sunflower, safflower, jojoba, rosehip, olive and others. They can be applied without the need to rinse them out and they add antioxidants like Vitamin C and E, as well as leaving hair with a subtle sheen. They’re great when you are looking for a lightweight oil for regular use. An example is our All Purpose Organic Dry Oil. It’s great on hair, but many customers use it as a post-shower body oil or cuticle oil.

Other natural hair care tips

If you’ve been going “natural” and have avoided things like hair dyes, perms and blow drying, then you may not need to do much. But if you’re like many of us, you’ve spent lots of time and money covering grays, blow-drying and straightening your hair, with resultant damage. If the damage is severe, it may be necessary to cut off the damaged hair and start with virgin hair. For example, does your hair look “fried” with lots of breakage and split ends? Does it feel “mushy” when wet? If so, it may be best to get a good cut.

For the rest of you, seek out hair care products with naturally-derived ingredients that have a proven track record. You can begin your journey with this natural haircare product article by TheGoodTrade.com. Applications containing keratin can help. You can also try these natural hair care tips to keep your hair as healthy as possible:

  • When outdoors, wear a wide brimmed hat – sunlight can literally bleach the hair. This will dry it out.
  • When coming out of the pool or ocean, rinse hair out right away. Or before going in, apply olive oil to the hair to help keep chemicals from being absorbed.
  • Avoid using too many products at a time. If hair becomes dull, use apple cider vinegar or beer before shampooing with a sulfate-free shampoo.
  • Use a satin cap or pillow case in the bedroom. It will reduce surface friction while you sleep, keeping the cuticle intact and preventing static cling.
  • Avoid elastic hair ties or metal clips in the hair. They put stress on the cuticle and, if used often, can pull hair at the root, resulting in traction alopecia. The same goes for teasing and wet-combing.
  • Drink plenty of water. Our bodies need it, and our hair benefits from it, too.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes adequate protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. If supplements are needed, try Vitamin E tablets. (We like plant-derived ones.) Extreme diets, sudden weight loss and certain diseases can cause hair to fall out. If this happens often, see your doctor.
  • Exercise regularly. This does more than put the rose in your cheeks. Increased circulation benefits the scalp, which makes your hair look better.
  • Control stress and anxiety. Constantly touching or obsessing over your hair can become a habit, and can be controlled with professional help. If you tend to over-wash the hair, this can dry it out.

https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/natural-hair-care-products-market

Beauty product ingredients Pinterest graphic

Checking Beauty Product Ingredients

Why Check Beauty Product Ingredients?

There are over 12,000 chemical ingredients registered with the F.D.A. that can be used in skincare products. It is a dizzying array of actives, from acids to stabilizers, emulsifiers, thickeners, pH adjusters, preservatives and so on. While the FDA does not need to approve ingredients for use in the U.S., they do regulate them. Consumers know very little about where ingredients come from, how they’re made, or how many may cause irritation or other side effects. In addition to that, many product labels use INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) names , which are not commonly known.

When you multiply this by the number of products used by the average consumer (approximately 10), the total number of ingredients used on any one day can be substantial. The FDA also lists ingredients that are prohibited in skincare products, like ingredients classified as drugs. However, should a skincare product be found to cause adverse reactions, the FDA cannot order the product off the market – they can merely issue a voluntary recall. (You can read an example of this here.) This often puts the onus on the consumer to verify claims made by skincare companies, and to check its labels for questionable ingredients.

Where can we find some of this information? Fortunately, there are online sources of information on the many ingredients that are in your beauty products. Below are examples of a few of them. Remember, knowledge is power; by knowing what’s going on your skin, you can be empowered to find the skincare products containing only the ingredients that YOU want to use.

Ingredient Resources

  • Skincarisma.com – with a database of over 32,000 products from around the world, this website created by a community of savvy consumers includes an ingredient analyzer and product comparisons.
  • ewg.org – The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database rates over 76,000 products for safety based on available data. They’re more than just a product database, however, the food guides and other helpful articles designed to help you live a green, clean life.
  • safecosmetics.org – not technically a database, but it has a “Red List” of ingredients to avoid.
  • cosmeticingredientreview – this website is sponsored by the Personal Care Products Council, and provides the results of scientific studies performed on chemical ingredients found in personal care products. If you’re into the science, it provides detailed information. (Warning; the majority report on animal testing of ingredients.)
  • incidecoder.com – this website allows you to search by ingredient or by product to get the list of ingredients and what they are used for. What more do you need?
  • cosmeticsinfo.org – this website provides an alphabetical listing of ingredients and what they are used for. Very useful if you have a product in hand and you are checking the label ingredients.

Disclaimer: We are not responsible for the information contained in third-party websites, nor does their inclusion here constitute an explicit endorsement.

Comfrey Blog Post Pinterest graphic

Comfrey – All You Need To Know About This Amazing Herb

What Is Comfrey?

Common comfrey, or Symphytum officinale, is a flowering perennial from the Borage family. It has elongated basal leaves and bell-like flowers which are tempting to bees. It was originally cultivated in Asia, Europe and U.K., and is a common weed throughout North America. In the U.S., the FDA banned the consumption of comfrey roots and leaves in 2002 because of a high concentration of pryrolizidine alkaloids. Elsewhere, the roots, leaves and flowers have been consumed for thousands of years, and it has been used topically as well.

What is Comfrey Used For?

Comfrey has been used as a poultice for wounds, sprains and broken bones. On the African continent it earned the name “boneset” for its ability to help heal broken bones. It contains the ingredient allantoin, which speeds production of new cells and aids in healing.Today, allantoin is an emollient used in skincare products to ease skin irritation.

At WEBA Natural Products, we use olive oil infused with comfrey root and leaf for our https://webanaturalproducts.com/product/all-purpose-ache-away-balm-with-clove-and-sage/, which includes arnica and turmeric extracts as well. Naturally derived and sustainably sourced, this preparation has been shown to soothe bruised, irritated skin.

Reference:

http://herb-gardens.suite101.com/article.cfm/comfrey_the_miracle_herb

What to know about collagen blog post

What To Know About Collagen

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It is the main structural protein in skin, hair, nails and connective tissue, but it is found throughout the body. It is the most common protein in our skin (70%) and its presence helps keep our skin supple and toned. It is also responsible for keeping our joints and ligaments flexible. Its amino acids (glycine, proline, arginine) tend to combine into long strands called fibrils which are very strong. Collagen is prevalent in the skin’s middle layer, or dermis, where it provides structure and support. There are over a dozen types of collagen, but the human body consists primarily of Collagen I, II, and III. Marine collagen is found to be rich in types I and III.

As we age, collagen production slows. Lifestyle factors like smoking, excess sugar consumption and exposure to UV light can accelerate breakdown. The result is sagging, wrinkled skin, graying hair, brittle nails and stiff joints. Therefore, although older adults tend to experience collagen reduction, lifestyle factors can accelerate collagen breakdown at any age.

How Can You Increase Collagen Production?

We can’t turn back the clock on aging, but there are a number of ways in which we can boost our body’s collagen production; 1) with collagen supplements and 2) with a diet rich in amino acids; 3) with collagen fillers; 4) with skincare products. We will explore all of these below.

  • Collagen supplements – with all of the hype regarding collagen powders, it’s hard to know which products will really deliver. Collagen is broken down in the intestines into its component amino acids, where the body takes what it needs. There are also concerns about possible heavy metal and other contamination from questionable animal sources. Finally, there are companies that make marine collagen available, which may have its own contamination issues. The supplement industry remains unregulated, so let the buyer beware. The best course of action is to choose organic powders that have been tested for contamination. Most effective is hydrolyzed collagen – or collagen peptides – which have been broken down into short-chain amino acids that dissolve more readily in water. These are often called collagen peptides. They are usually tasteless. While there are few studies confirming the benefits of taking supplements, many anecdotal studies have shown some benefit to be derived from ingesting collagen peptides as a supplement to a healthy diet. It remains to be seen whether or not enough human studies will be done to verify its efficacy. If you’re looking for a supplement to try, visit Organic Authority’s list of collagen supplements here.
  • Diet – A healthy diet can go a long way towards providing the necessary building blocks that the body needs to build collagen. Just as there are 9 essential amino acids that our bodies must obtain from food, there are also non-essential amino acids that are needed to build collagen. Here are some foods that provide these amino acids:
  • Glycine – found in meat and fowl (particularly the skin), fish bones, and dairy products
  • Proline – found in meat, fish, gelatin and egg yolks
  • Arginine- meats, dairy, pumpkin seeds, beans, peanuts
  • Hydroxyproline – Found in meats and sometimes used in skincare products

Clearly, by eating a healthy, varied diet, you can provide your body with all of the building blocks that it needs. Vitamin C is needed in order for the body to produce collagen. It also helps prevent free-radical damage. Zinc and copper are also nutrients essential for collagen synthesis. Citrus fruits, nuts, seeds, fish and other foods will boost your body’s store of these nutrients.

  • Collagen Fillers – If you have decided to visit a dermatologist, they will sometimes recommend collagen or hyaluronic acid fillers to fill in deep wrinkle lines or to address other skin issues. This is a pricey commitment, as these fillers are temporary fixes. However, a visit to the dermatologist can help you pinpoint what your skin’s needs are so that you can make an educated decision as to which treatments are effective.
  • Skincare Products – Collagen-boosting skincare products are big business, with many people swearing that they are effective at plumping up the skin. And for vegans who cannot find a suitable collagen supplement, it may be a viable method that avoids animal products. Whether or not they are actually causing a significant increase in collagen is up for debate. However, there are a few ingredients that have been shown to stimulate collagen production in the dermal skin layer:
  • Vitamin C – At the right concentration (10-20%), Vitamin C, or Ascorbic Acid, has been shown to encourage collagen production. In fact, it cannot form without it. This vitamin is also involved in tissue repair and protection via its antioxidant activity. It is highly unstable in solution, however, so including it in your diet is always a good idea. There are also more stable forms of Vitamin C. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, found in our Age-Defying Vitamin C Crème, allows us to use less thereby minimizing sensitive skin reactions.
  • Vitamin B3 – Niacinamide has demonstrated effectiveness in promoting collagen production, as well as ceramide and keratin (found in hair, nails and skin). A 5% solution has been found effective at stimulating collagen production, resulting in less wrinkled, more supple skin.
  • Keratin – Many haircare products contain keratin, which when combined with collagen forms strong, supple hair strands. It is generally derived from animal products like sheep wool and silk.

Skincare products also utilize ingredients that work with these to exfoliate, brighten and plump up skin. For example, AHAs like lactic, malic and glycolic acids are used to help exfoliate and brighten skin. (Choose pure glycolic acid, not a combination product.) Hyaluronic acid and glycerin work by drawing moisture into cells, thereby plumping them up. Some experimentation is required in order for you to find which ingredients work for you and whether or not your skin is sensitive to them. Try them one at a time so that you will know which one works and which one you should eliminate. With a little trial and error, you can find the product(s) that provide your skin with desired benefits.

Want to check out our Age Defying Face Creme? Click here.

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