The world Hair Care product industry is a huge global business, having generated nearly $49 billion in 2010 and expected to reach $58 billion by 2015.* That’s a lot of product literally going down the drain!
And what exactly happens to the ingredients in the products after they wash down the drain? The ingredients don’t just go away. We know that there are toxic chemicals in cosmetics that interfere with hormone function which may cause cancer. We already know that these chemicals are harmful to fish and other wildlife. All in the name of beauty?
The good news is that there are simple, toxic free ways to groom oneself. Aquarian Bath
is an ecologically friendly business, running their website on just 3 Watts of solar power. They only use natural ingredients and promote plastic free alternatives. They are an example that it is possible to provide a safe and effective product in a sustainable way, while considering all the details from start to finish.
I began to wonder about this $50 billion industry. Each country has its hair care specialty geared to different ethnicities encouraging assimilation in order to sell more product. Is there really such a difference in hair types that require all these different gels and balms, sprays and so on? Over the years I have been somewhat aware of the different products available for African hair but because I don’t have African hair I never delved into learning about it. However, upon experimenting with natural shampoo bars for me and my family, I began to wonder if everyone could get accustomed to shampooing hair more naturally, like this, thus on a global scale, reducing the need for plastic bottles and cutting down on the amount of harmful chemicals we unwittingly expose ourselves to on a daily basis, which in turn pollutes the very environment we depend upon.
And so began my quest for deeper understanding. I came across Lauren’s blog: La Coco Bella
and decided to ask her some questions. She seemed like the ideal person to ask because as she explains on her site, that after years of chemically treating her hair, she made the transition to natural hair products. From reading her blog and watching the video “You Can Touch My Hair”
, it became clear to me that there is a lot more to African hair than all the work that goes into managing it.
Which begs the question: Why are we spending all this time managing hair? What is the big idea behind ‘managing it’ and the need for chemicals and ‘treatments’ to transform ones hair into something it isn’t. And I think this goes for a lot us…wanting the opposite of what we’ve got and fighting nature tooth and nail to get it. Poor nature.
Kathryn – Q: How long have you been using natural shampoo bars?
La Coco Bella – A: I’ve been using natural shampoo bars and products for about 2 years now. I don’t see myself ever changing that :o) The first brands I ever used were Bobeam Naturals and Henna Sooq bars.
Kathryn – Q: Do you make your own hair products?
La Coco Bella – A: I haven’t quite delved into the realm of making my own products consistently but I have experimented here and there with a few raw ingredients like butters, oils, essential oils, etc. I do enjoy doing DIY hair treatments though! I hope to some day make and perhaps sell my own products because I have realized that the simplest, most natural products are the most effective and I don’t need to rely on large manufacturing companies to help me maintain healthy hair! For now, I’ve been sticking to small business/boutique vendors.
Kathryn – Q: How did you learn to make your own products?
La Coco Bella – A: I was inspired to play around with a little mixology by paying close attention to what ingredients were in products I love and then checking out YouTube and Google for recipes to get the right measurements. Again, I am no pro and most of my “products” were just mixtures of different raw ingredients! Oh and coconut oil is a MUST have for anyone interested in healthy hair!
Kathryn – Q: How did your hair feel when you switched to natural shampoo?
La Coco Bella – A: Since I had been using shampoos and conditioners that contained silicones, sulfates and other synthetic ingredients, my hair had to go through a brief detox stage because synthetic ingredients leave a coating on the hair. Natural shampoos break through all the synthetics and can take a few washes. I first switched the natural shampoo by using Terressentials Mud Wash and followed their protocol for detoxing.
I think the term detoxing freaks some people out but it’s really not as harsh as it sounds lol, its just that your hair can feel rubbery or straw-like during the detox stage. Natural shampoos open the hair cuticle so you have to ensure to properly condition it afterwards to close and seal the cuticle back down. Your hair usually feels amazing right away! The key is to be patient in the transition process and you will soon see how healthy, strong and shiny your hair becomes! Another MAJOR benefit I have found from natural shampoos is how well it cleanses and clarifies my scalp. When you have a healthy scalp, you create a healthy environment for hair to breathe and grow!
Kathryn – Q: Was the positive effect on your health and environment part of your decision to stop using chemical products?
La Coco Bella – A: The positive effect on the health of my hair was the main decision for me to switch to natural hair products but if it helps the environment while I am at it, then hey, even better!
Kathryn – Q: What made you switch to natural shampoo bars and hair products?
La Coco Bella – A: I started to educate myself by doing research online and seeing what the benefits of individual ingredients did. I also researched on the negatives of synthetic ingredients. This helped open my eyes and dispel a lot of the “myths” major hair product companies have been putting out there. I realized that the simplest, most natural ingredients were the most effective (and consistent!), not the products that had the best marketing ploys or cute packaging. God put everything we would ever need on this earth before man created chemicals in labs so that fact was more than enough for me to completely give up on synthetic hair products.
Kathryn – Q: I don’t know very much about African hair. Can you briefly explain the difference between African hair and other types of hair?
La Coco Bella – A: I love that God created His children so uniquely. We all come from the same roots but we do have physical differences, our hair of course being one of them, so I don’t classify hair by race or ethnicity. Women of African descent can have thin, fine strait hair to super thick, dense, course hair. Hair also comes in difference textures, densities, porosity, thickness, etc. but women with thick, textured, curly hair, like myself, have to battle with dryness and breakage. Our main concerns are typically keeping our hair moisturized free of frizz. Curly hair in general is especially prone to dryness because it is harder for the natural oils from our scalp to reach the length of our hair. This means we have to take extra care in supplementing moisture by washing less frequently, sealing in moisture with butters/oils and doing deep conditioning treatments often. But when it all comes down to it, all hair types and textures really need the same basic essentials and natural hair products can cater to every type of hair regardless of ethnicity. The beauty of nature :o)
Kathryn – Q: I love how you explained that – to “not classify hair by race or ethnicity.” Which completely knocked the wind out of my next question: Does African hair require different care from other types of hair? What I have learned from you is that really curly hair has different needs from straight, wavy or mildly curly hair. I find it so interesting and equally disturbing how industry invents a market.
La Coco Bella – A: Just like any ethnicity, everyone’s hair has different needs and requires different types of care but women with thick, course, textured hair tend to need more moisture. There are lots of factors when it comes to the needs of any type of hair. Things like porosity (the way your hair absorbs and retains moisture) play a major role as well, so it can be a bit hard to pinpoint particular needs. I guess it boils down to becoming intimate with your own hair and being in tune with how it responds to what you put in it. The more you learn about your hair, the more you will be able to discern its needs. This means spending more time in your own hair rather than paying someone at the salon :o)
Kathryn – Q: Thank you so much for sharing your hair wisdom with us. I have been thinking about that last sentence, which makes perfect sense: “Spend more time in your own hair rather than paying someone at the salon”, which is the same way I think about one’s body when it comes to exercise or healthy eating.
Do you have a page on your blog where people with very curly hair can follow a step by step program to wean themselves off of the chemical processing? Do you have a FAQ’s page as well?
La Coco Bella – A: I don’t have a step by step page or FAQs but I do have a page about my regimen as of last year. Although my current regimen is a bit simpler than what appears on my site, it does contain in depth descriptions of what works for my hair type. Also, I give lots of tips and information in my product reviews so readers can use the search tool on my site to see if I touch on any particular topic, ingredient, etc.
Kathryn – Q: How long did it take you to transition to natural products. Was it gradual, or did you do it all at once?
La Coco Bella – A: I pretty much switched to all natural products all at once because I had detoxed my hair and didn’t want to revert the effort I had put in lol I didn’t see it as a huge, earth-shattering change, it was more of a hey, this looks cool, let me give it try! I just started buying all natural products and have ever since. Experimenting is the fun part! I also get giddy reading and learning about the benefits of all the yummy ingredients in natural hair products lol
Kathryn – Q: Now that you have been natural for a couple years, I imagine that you would have some pearls of wisdom to share with people who are just starting to contemplate this change for the better in a variety of ways? Are there one or two points that, if you could go back in time, that you would do differently? Some advice that might save someone from getting turned off the concept?
La Coco Bella – A: I would recommend for anyone interested in improving the health of their hair to not be afraid to try all-natural hair products, I wish I had sooner! It can be a bit intimidating because there are so many options out there but just start with a couple items and build up your regimen. You really don’t need a bunch of different products, that’s the beauty of it! Because once you nourish your hair to health, it requires less maintenance.
Also, stick with products that are pure and organic, they all work well together so you don’t have to worry about chemicals reacting to each other or anything like that. It’s like nature’s chemistry is perfect.
Give your hair some time to adjust to the change and don’t be discouraged if you don’t have AMAZING hair overnight (although you just might!). You will be glad you made the change and will wonder why you hadn’t sooner, trust me :o)
If you have any questions for La Coco Bella, you can leave her a message on her site.
“You Can Touch My Hair”
“You Can Touch My Hair Part 2”
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