Saturday, March 31, 2012

Are you really sensitive to that ingredient?

When we start making our products, we tend to have some preconceived notions we've developed after using commercial products all our lives. I preferred unscented Dove's Sensitive Skin body wash because everything else made me break out. I have no idea what was in that or what was missing from it, but for some reason I was convinced that I couldn't have fragrances. And if you've read this blog for more than five minutes, you know that I love my fragrance oils, so that was such a misconception! It turns out I can use up to 2% of a variety of fragrance oils in my products - both rinse off and leave on - without problem. It was a pleasure to be wrong about being able to use fragrances - I smell like Clementine Cupcake most of the time these days!

Where did you get the idea that you could over condition your hair and end up with build up? Where did you get the idea that using any proteins in your hair care products could end up with over proteined hair that was crunchy? (Something I have never heard of and doesn't seem to have any validity in my textbooks or other literature.) Why do you think you can't use fragrances? And why do you think that you can use essential oils but not fragrance oils? What is a greasy feeling lotion to you? Be open to the idea that you could have a misconception about what you like or can handle and really question where this idea came from and whether or not it's valid.

I'm not trying to negate your experiences with ingredients or imply that allergies or sensitivities aren't something to concern yourself with, but when you are using 1% to 2% of an ingredient like a fragrance or protein or silicone, it's very difficult to come to the conclusion that it was that tiny amount of one ingredient instead of another one. Commercial products use so little of various ingredients - for instance, look for where aloe vera lands on a list of ingredients in a shampoo and conditioner and I can assure you it's not in the "lots of ingredients" part of the list, near the water - that it would be surprising if you knew it was there at all. Yet I see people time and time again say that they can't use proteins in their products because they get over proteined from products that might have 1% protein at most! (I think my issue with fragrance came from the fact that other body washes I had tried contained a lot of SLS or not so mild detergents, which my sensitive skin doesn't like, and nothing to do with the fragrance. But the fragrance was an easy target!)

And consider the interaction of ingredients. If you're making a body wash with loads of glycerin or other humectants, they can behave as mildness enhancers so you'll get a milder body wash with 3% glycerin than you would without it!

I guess the point of this post is to always reconsider what you think is true and right. That's not to say that you're wrong - it could turn out that you really are scent sensitive or that fragrances don't agree with your skin - but it could be that you really can handle something you thought you couldn't!

I have never heard of over proteined hair, and if you have any good information about it - I mean information from a textbook or scholarly publication - please forward it to me because I have searched until my eyes were blurry and have not found this concern, yet I see it constantly on hair related forums! 


Lise M Andersen said...

Hi Susan, I'm also totally interested in info about overly proteined hair. Haven't had al kinds of luck with reasearching that one at all... Look forward to what you come up with and promise to share if I run across anything.

Clive said...

Tiny amounts can make a really big difference, I found. I changed all our skin cream formulations from a parabens/urea preservative used at 0.5% to a non-parabens preservative used at 0.8%. The new preservative noticeably increased 'slip' and made the creams much more viscous than before. I'm not bothered because we prefer the new style, but I never expected a really noticeable change.

Crazy cavy lady's blogg said...

If one uses conditioner as a schampoo one can get build up on the hair. Because conditioners can't wash away all the proteins or silicones or mineral oils. A good reason to awoid all these nasty ingredients.
The hair turns into straw because of the proteins, not litterarly straw but it do feels like it. And if you also use hair products with either silicones or mineral oils it gets greasy too.
A reason to use conditioner as schampoo is because ordinary schampoos, even homemade ones with all the goodies, makes the hair dry. This is a BIG problem if one have curly hair. Howe ever using conditioner as a schampoo isn't restricted too curlies. People with straight hair can do it also.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Crazy Cavy Lady. Can you please provide me with studies or papers that you have found with this information?

Not everyone has dry hair. Those of us with oily hair shouldn't use the no shampoo method as the conditioner method simply can't remove all the oils from our scalp, and bad things happen you get too much oil on your scalp. I recognize that many people enjoy the conditioner washing method, but to put forth an opinion that everyone should do it is simply bad advice. And to say that every shampoo makes hair dry is simply not backed up by science or anecdote.

I admit, I'm not a fan of conditioner washing and I think there's too much myth and opinion and not enough science behind the idea. I think there are some hair types that could benefit from it, but they don't seem like a huge majority.

Anonymous said...

I gave a solid shampoo bar and a solid conditioner bar to a friend of mine who always claims that she can't use synthetic products. Yeah she loves it...can't stop talking about how good her hair smells and feels. Oh and what do you know, no negative side effects. She knew it wasn't a "natural" product but wanted to try it because her so called natural shampoo didn't work well.
Just sayin,

Evik said...

Dear Susan,

very nice article, indeed! You inspired me to search for protein build up scholarly papers, although I have never heard about it before.

One of the first matches I found is this paper (although you might not have the permission to see it)

Rita de Cássia Comis Wagner,
Inés Joekes: Hair protein removal by sodium dodecyl sulfate. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces. Volume 41, Issue 1, 10 March 2005, Pages 7–14

Where they actually say, that proteins from hair are removed by SDS (sodium dodecyl sulfate), and summarize that:
"From these data, it can be estimated that daily care shampooing at room temperature will cause opacity and combing difficulties in 1 year and split ends after 3 years by removal of all cuticle layers."

Full Discussion part of the paper is here:

"Protein loss data shows that human hair immersed in water loses less protein than in 5% SDS solution, by about half. This difference increases with increasing temperature. No plateau was observed in the isotherms, which indicates that protein loss could continue until the entire degradation of the fiber. Initial preservation of the hair influences protein loss, which is higher when hair is more damaged. The values found are very close to absolute values and indicate that the damage was restricted to the cuticles. SEM images indicate that rubbing hair is responsible for the major protein loss during daily shampooing, causing cuticle detachment in a physical process. Immersion promotes a chemical process of proteinaceus structure dissolution and also damaging.

There were some small changes in color. The silicone added to the SDS solution showed no effect on protein loss or the color changes caused by SDS. The estimated activation energy values were greater for water treatment than for SDS. According to the range found, 7–70 kJ mol−1, protein loss is controlled by diffusion through the fiber.

Altogether, to evaluate cosmetic treatments on human hair through protein loss measurements it is necessary to consider the preservation conditions of the fiber. It cannot be done on only one type of hair, since cosmetic treatments could generate different effects on hair with different levels of damage. The preservation conditions are intimately related with the chemical properties of the fiber, such as the hydrophilic/hydrophobic character. Thus, it is necessary to obtain adequate controls."

So this rather shows the opposite - proteins get removed by shampooing only already! Of course, if it contains SDS. That would mean that you first remove your proteins, than you add them in conditioner, than you shampoo and remove, than conditioner add, remove, add....

I know this was just a first hit, and I am searching for more, but I believe it is worthy the discussion...?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Evik! Interesting reading! I'll have to study it more later today!

Hi Clive! I agree that small amounts can make a difference - I wrote a series of posts on this last year. My question is how does one come to the conclusion that one is sensitive to small amounts of ingredients?

Crazy cavy lady's blogg said...

I don't have a scientific paper to rely on, I just have my own observation and other conditioner washing curlies experiences to rely on.

If one use a conditioner with no veg. oils added, then the conditioner can indeed remove oil from the hair and scalp. My hair gets clean every time, and if I repeat it gets too dry.

I simply make a conditioner and leave out the jojoba oil and other fats/oils and of course add no proteins to it.

The conditioner already contain an emulsifier, and this emulsifier can indeed remove oil from the hair since there is no oils added to the recipe. But it will take a little longer time for the conditioner to emulsify/remove the oils than it does for a schampoo (a simple "cleansing conditioner" recipe can be found in my blog, you might need to translate it with google translate unless you know Swedish).

So if I leave this "cleansing" conditioner in my hair for about 10 minutes, the conditioner emulsifies the oils (it's also very important to massage the scalp to mecanically remove dirt). And after I have washed it, I use a more ordinary conditioner with veg oils but with no proteins, mineral oils and silicones added.

I used to have problem with oily scalp before I started with this method (and itchy scalp and dry split ends). Now I can go up to four days without washing it. The curls wont look that good on day 3 and 4 but I don't have a problem with oily scalp any more. Today I mostly wash my hair because I need to mosturize the hair and I want to get the springly curls.

Clive said...

My question is how does one come to the conclusion that one is sensitive to small amounts of ingredients?

And a difficult question it is. I can only speak from experience; for many years I was dangerously allergic to black or white pepper, but it took several episodes to pin it down. I imagine that consumers, when experiencing a reaction to some product, might probably change the manufacturer as a response, but that doesn't result in learning what caused the problem. I don't suppose many consumers go as far as I did with aspartame. I used to drink lots of diet cola. One day I decided to test what effect it might be having on me so I stopped. I lost 2 Kg in 24 hours. From this I deduced that aspartame causes fluid retention (there, you see, I am back on topic, retaining fluid!)
Two weeks later I drank one small bottle and became afflicted with a terrible thirst that couldn't be assuaged. I gained 2.5kg and then lost it again. Needless to say I don't consume aspartame in any form these days.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lise! I'm still on a search. The paper Evik references below is interesting, but it doesn't address the so-called overproteining people talk about.

Thanks for that paper, Evik! I'm going to be referencing it in the near future in a blog post, and I'm sure we'll get quite the discussion going! I think it interesting that the authors note that rubbing during shampooing is the major cause of protein loss, so really the message here is about doing less scrubbing of our hair, not that shampoo is bad for us. At least that's what I got out of it! Friction isn't our friend - I've been saying that for years!

Hi Cora! You just made my point! I have a friend who is scent sensitive and goes on and on about how he can't be near artificial fragrances - he's fine with essential oils - but he managed to stay in my workshop after an ounce of strawberry lemonade fragrance oil was spilled on a tablecloth. It stripped the pattern off the plastic tablecloth, and neither my husband nor I could stand the smell, but he was just fine with it. It was definitely NOT an essential oil, but he was just fine with it. I've asked him in the past how he knows he's scent sensitive, but he just knows...

Hi Clive. I found the posts in which I wrote about small changes. Not exactly what I meant with this specific post, but relevant to your comment.

Small changes in the water & cool down phases
Small changes in the heated oil phase
A few small changes to consider...

DuhBe said...

This post made a good point and I wanted to add: The moment we stop questioning ourselves is the same moment we cease to be thinking individuals. We should ALWAYS continue to questions our beliefs about ingredients or anything else.

It looks like the comment section may have been over run by fans of some blog somewhere? The comments got off topic pretty quickly. :-)

Nancy Liedel said...

Bismuth. I know for sure, I did a knock out test. Oh and roses, pine and...I can't remember. It's something I work with because the benefit outweighs the risk to me.

Bismuth and the little points on my sensitive skin. GACK. I've done several blind tests too. Husband did't tell me, we put on my primer and ran swatches up my arm from 0 to 15% bismuth in every formula. I can't use it. I want to. It's fine on me, if it's fine in general and it's fine, but allergies? I have to draw the line. You should see my funky breathing mask I wear for even rose scent. I'd take a photo, but it would scare the little children.

Evik said...

Hi Susan,

I have found some more, but nothing on protein build up. However, I still believe this paper is connected to the build-up probleme. If SDS shampoo is able to remove proteins, than you cannot have a build up over time even if you use protein enriched conditioners. The SDS shampoo will just remove them. Or not?