Should I fear Parabens?

The quick answer: no

For the long answer: I quote the American Cancer Society and the summary is no too.

“Parabens are chemicals used as preservatives and as food additives. They can be found in many types of make-up (like lipstick, mascara, concealer, and foundation) and skin care products (like lotion, shaving products, and sunscreen). Parabens can be absorbed through the skin.

Intake of parabens is a possible concern because studies have shown that parabens have weak estrogen-like properties. Estrogen is a female hormone known to cause breast cells (both normal and cancerous) to grow and divide…

In 2004, a small study found traces of parabens in some samples of breast cancer tumors…there are some points about the study findings:

They looked only for the presence of parabens in breast cancer samples, it did not show that parabens caused or contributed to breast cancer development in these cases – it only showed that they were there. What this meant is not yet clear.

…parabens have weak estrogen-like properties, the estrogens that are made in the body are many times stronger…natural estrogens (or hormone replacement) are much more likely to play a role in breast cancer development.

This study did not contain any information to help find the source of the parabens found in the breast tissue – it’s not clear if they might have come from antiperspirants or from some other source.

Most people are exposed to parabens…studies have found some form of parabens in the urine in up to 99% of people in the US…so far, studies have not shown any direct link between parabens and any health problems, including breast cancer…many other compounds in the environment that mimic naturally produced estrogen”

A few Myths & Facts about Parabens

Myth: Parabens cause cancer.

Fact: Parabens have been extensively studied to address this claim and have been deemed safe.

Myth: Parabens are harmful to skin & hair.

Fact: Some people are allergic to parabens & fragances in cosmetics therefore those who are sensitive will have a negative reaction and should avoid them. It is important to visit your doctor if you have any skin concerns, a physician is the most qualified person to help you with your skin concerns.

Myth: Parabens are bad for the environment or “nasty” beauty.

Fact: In a study published in 2015 parabens were found in Marine life, but there seemed to be no negative effects on the study subjects. The significance of this finding is yet to be determined, and probably more studies will be conducted in the future. As of today no environmental damage can be attributed to parabens, partly because what is known about this compound is that it degrades quite fast so it does not seem to accumulate.

What is the use of parabens, anyways?

Parabens are preservatives and preservatives are important to keep our personal care products free of contamination by bacterias or other harmful agents and extend their shelf life, they are not active ingredients but more of an agent necessary to maintain the integrity of a product from it’s manufacturing process until the moment it reaches the consumer and while it is being used by said consumer, basically all of us.

Preservatives are not a bad thing, fear mongering is.

Let me know if you have any questions and if you would like to see more posts like this one in the comments section or find me on IG: The Hair Lab

Untitled too 

Flawed? Ugly? Weird? Eww yuk? Who told you that?

Society, your boss, a friend, an adversary a colleague or yourself looking at the mirror and hating what you see?
What you think becomes what you feel.
Think right feel right. Think right and you can cope, adapt and adjust regardless of the external forces against, or in your favor. Think wrong and you may become ill and you will suffer. This is not hopeful woo, this is science, neuroscience and in the same way as it took years of “hard work” for your brain to wire itself in a way that it will work against you (depression, low self esteem, personality disorders,etc) it will take hard work and professional help from a doctor, a therapist, a nutritionist, or a fitness instructor to help you improve your life and come to terms with how you look and more importantly, who you are.

Change can begin from the inside out, or from the outside in. I obviously like fitness, facial architecture & aesthetics, and now I like hair appearance and I firmly believe that if you want to improve yourself you are free to pursue it, but be mindful of the thought behind the emotion.

There is nothing wrong with using modern medicine to be better, it is not weak to get medical treatment for acne, it is not vain to get “work done”, it not arrogant to be fit and eat well; but the thought behind it, is what defines whether it is good or bad thing for you X or Y physical change.

Genetics & culture do play a role, in the perception of beauty, that is undeniable we might wish it would not be so but it is.  Do not aspire to be beautiful, you already are, aspire to be healthy.

How you look does not define you, but the world we live in judges our “look” and that is also a fact. I can’t disclose patient info but I can tell you that the medical profesion is not devoid of sociocultural biases on apperance. A female, beautiful doctor is still expected to be less competent than her fellow men, but so what? It only means she has to work harder to get respect that is all.

The only way to be happy is to be healthy.

InstaCompare? No thanks. Friendship please.

iDisclamer: The only science involved in this post came from the developers of apple that created this iPad and of the creators of the internet, the rest is just my opinion not as an MD or a scientist but as a “Curly Girl”, reader discretion advised.

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Weird disclaimer is it not? Still, I am trying to make a point and I will get there.

I officially joined the Natural Hair Community in March 2016, with my 1st Curly Community fan page post, and my 1st hair instagram account, later on in april the Hair Lab was born.

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I never saw another curly girl IG, or blog or web page until last year after I had cut off all my chemically straightened hair. Why? My 1st contact did not cause a good impression and I left. In 2013 or so I googled about curly hair and the first impression was mostly of a competitive, divided, toxic & overall negative environment, my sources where limited to the USA; but that was my turning point of thinking OK I know medicine, I have the books the journals let’s do this on my own terms, I do not need that negativity in my life. You know what? it was great; it gave me time to understand the anger and decide that to each their own and that there are so many different subsets of Natural Hair Communities not only one.

I never googled about hair outside of google scholar since then until 2016. I did my transition alone and yes I made many mistakes and no I do not know how to braid my hair, yet.

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Finger curling pre hair blog vs post hair blog lol 

Find your Element

I clearly did not belong in the community of the 1st encounter I had, I now understand where they come from though and I empathize with some, but it was not my element as Sir Ken Robinson puts it, now I Have found my hair element the part of the community that helps me grow.

I belong here in what I call the “curly community”, the name is irrelevant but I avoid using certain terms to avoid controversy. I may or may not write about it in the future; but for now about my lovely curly community.

Our community is inspirational, professional in our own individual way it includes hairdressers, students, doctors, restaurateurs, journalists, photographers, models, engineers, moms you name the profession and we can find it, off course bloggers and vlogers too. In this group “our clique” we are responsible in the way we share our journey, we promote self-love and growth instead of comparison charts and above all we strive to be positive, humble and real.

We always cheer for each other no matter if it is something big or small, we genuinely wish the others success, we do not compete we grow together.

Today I can say This hair journey has given me more than hydrated locks, it has given me women and friends I admire from afar and who are great role models for the younger girls out there looking for powerful, positive female role models.

We do not compare each other, we support each other and learn together, we are friends.

Thank you for your friendship my (curl) friends.

The Hair Lab Scientific Method

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Photo credit: Science Buddies

The Scientific Method is so far the best tool we have in science to distinguish fact from speculation and while we don’t all own complex equipment at home to create experimental conditions for our Hair analysis, we do have the most important thing of the scientific method.

That is…OBSERVATION: This is the first & most crucial step, to care properly for our hair we first need to know everything there is to know about it and for that we should observe carefully. Is it dense, does it have a tendency to shed, do I have dandruff? There are so many things we can learn just from observing our hair and how it reacts to the products we apply to it. Observation is key to love and manage our curly hair as we should.

After that first step the “fun” begins…

ASK Interesting QUESTIONS: All questions are interesting when it comes to self discovery and “transitioning” or “big chopping” or curly hair haircare. You will learn (if you don’t already know) that the natural hair journey has a lot about self discovery in it. It’s amazing the surprises our changing hair holds in store for us. Enjoy the ride!

RESEARCH & HYPOTHESIS: OK, this one is tricky but let’s try it out together.  Once you have specific questions about your hair, pick the most important one for you and look for background information from reliable sources it can be a hairdresser, a friend you trust, even a medical doctor and of course serious websites like for example Naturally Curly and well Google Scholar. Once you have your information try to predict what results you could get, thus formulating your hair hypothesis.

EXPERIMENT: Here we must be careful, because it’s our beloved hair we are talking about; but with the power of knowledge you can feel confident in testing and trying different things and actually find out that it is a lot of fun! At least for me it is fun 😃. Usually the first experiment would be something simple like replacing your current products in the hypothetical situation, that for instance, your hair is dry for more moisturizing ones. As confidence & knowledge grows so does your hability to experiment more freely, based on observations, good questions and background research.

ANALYSIS & CONCLUSION: This is basically when you decide whether or not your hair experiment was successful for you or not. One thing that can make your journey easier is writing things down, step by step and revisiting these steps regularly and make small or big changes depending on your results.

This is basically how I personally started approaching my natural hair journey, like an experiment.  I have previous experience as a reseacher in the lab and in the hospital, but you do not need to have this background in order to enjoy your hair journey back to your curly true self.

My fun experiment is still ongoing; and now I also blog, run hair Instagram & facebook accounts, participate in collaborations with other bloggers and so on. Just now,  sharing all this with you is another type of experiment for me, that has given me a lot of joy in the form of lots of new curl friends from all over the world.

I hope I will be able to inspire you to make a change too.

If you have questions feel free to ask, all questions are good questions just remember to always “say something nice”.

PS. Just know that even in science we are not limited by our hypothesis or our research questions, sometimes you have one question and find an answer to another question you did know you had. In terms of hair my very personal view point is that “if something works do not change it just because the hype is leaning in another direction”, with your hair you are the CEO, the big boss, you ultimately have the final hair say.

Cheers!

The Hair Lab MD<<<<<<<

5 Errores que cometí durante la Transición

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5 errores que cometí durante la transición a cabello Natural

1. Me hacía y me hacían plancha, ojo yo amo los rizos pero tb mi look lacio, para mi todo cabello natural es bonito, dicho esto plancha en la transición es mucho riesgo de ruptura capilar y big chop obligado yo tuve suerte y con buena técnica pero el cabello es frágil en ese estado. NO NO Lo haga.

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Just say NO asi sea la super Ghd ultimo modelo NO

2. No leer blogs de cabello natural, error grave y por eso 🖕🖕🖕eso pasó. Lea blogs no sea como yo.

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3. Querer complacer a la Jefa, no diré más de esto pero mis colegas me entienden.

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Credito: Tallncurly.com

4. Hacerse alisado en las raíces para que la plancha quede mejor. ¡Cringe! Esto es consecuencia de la 3.

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5. Vivía debajo de una piedra. Nadie nace sabiendo, conecta pregunta en redes sociales todos somos humanos buscando mejorar y juntos somos mas fuertes. No seas como yo en mi transición a menos que te guste hacer todo a lo loco entonces sí lol 😹😹😹😹 no seas una isla se un archipiélago, pero créeme los vlogs y blogs ayudan. No todo es correcto pero para eso esta el señor Google.image.jpeg

 

Is “No Poo” healthy? A medical opinion

One thing that is extremely popular on the internet are mentions to the “No poo”method and products.

The methods:

1. Only water cleansing: Only water

The purest variant is to wet your hair with spring water. Advocates say that, although your hair gets greasy in the first few weeks, its appearance subsequently improves greatly because sebum production eventually regulates itself.

I have nothing to say about this except that water is not a cleansing agent and even if you never use hair products, you are exposed to pollutants, your natural oils or sebum and sweat which water does not have the ability  to cleanse.

2. Baking soda/ apple cider vinegar (ACV)

Natural is not always better. Just because it is in your pantry it does not mean it should go on your hair and skin.

Baking soda has a pH=8, ACV has a pH=2-3 one is too alcaline and the other one too acid.

The alkaline pH causes hair shaft swelling. This swelling loosens the protective cuticle predisposing the hair shaft to damage. It can also cause irritation of the scalp, hair loss and bleaching.

Don’t do it.

Even if it “looks good” a few times, it will eventually have a rebound effect and even increase the production of sebum, defeating the purpose of being a cleasing agent.

ACV is not as harmful as baking soda but still is not a good idea if you want tight curls.

3. Cleansing conditioners or cowash products and regular conditioners:

They contain cationic (positively charged) surfactants such as stearalkonium, cetrimonium, behentimonium chloride, behentrimonium methosulfate, and stearamidopropyl dimethylamine which soften the hair and stick to it (because hair has a slight negative charge), which in theory could lead to more buildup. But at the same time, they do possess some capacity to gently lift dirt and oil.

*Also another worthy molecule included in cowashes is cocamidopropyl betaine (amphoteric), but this one deserves it’s blog post.

My opinion as a medical doctor:

The no poo trend is probably not what it is hyped out to be and can be harmful, but using conditioner or cowash products to cleanse the scalp can be an aid to refresh hair in between shampoos, that can be as separated as 4 weeks depending on lifestyle and baseline dryness of hair.

In fact there is an old “guideline” from the american asociation of dermatology for afro hair care recommends washing it every 1-2 weeks, with the option to cowash you can still enjoy the benefits of cleansing your scalp and hair without drying it out more.

Natural is NOT always better.

Please don’t put baking soda and apple cider vinegar (undiluted) on your scalp and hair, it may look good at first but you will in general have problems down the road and it will take a while to solve it.

They may be in the pantry but they are not good for the hair or scalp.

Water never hurt anyone but all it can do is hydrate, it really does not clean properly.

In principle it is not harmful to only use conditioner (regular or the more expensive cowash products) and they can mildly cleanse the scalp and hair if left on and massaged in the scalp and then rinsed out as any other shampoo would be, yet eventually you should shampoo (succinates are a great alternative to sulfates, if you dont like sulfates look for this) for clarifying.

If you want to “no poo” prefer cowashing with products (I cowash sometimes because I work out regularly), either with high end cowash products, if you have big pockets or an ecofriendly condish (like the one From bodyshop) or a good ole cheap condish like Aussie and shampoo at some point.

A mix of dedicated cowash & conditioners

Is it necessary to buy a special cowash product?

Probably not, I compared a few cowash ingredients on various products and the cleansing agents are the same the difference are the specialty ingredients and the formulation (cream, foam etc) same as in any cosmetic product a part of the effective marketing, and better performance.

You dont need to buy a conditioning cleanser, but if you can afford it and want to do so you totally can.

Conditioners that work well as cowashes ingredient wise and that I have tried:

Aussie Moist, Tresseme Naturals, rainforest coconut oil by the bodyshop. The absolute on a budget condish with great smell the white rain Coconut or even better the lavender one, I cant get it in Germany but its so good.

Cleansing conditioners I have tried:

Macadamia cleansing cream.  I liked the fact that it is a foam and smells so fresh but the price of about 20 euro for a 100ml flask it’s not worth it in comparison to less than 10 euro for 400ml of aussie or 200ml of coconut rainforest for the same results.

Trying this product will be my guilty pleasure

What do the experts say about shampoo?

The Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV)

“… shampoo removes the oil produced by the sebaceous glands that traps dead scalp cells, dirt and other substances we apply, such as sprays, gels, etc. This oil or sebum must be removed periodically for reasons other than the merely aesthetic, as it is an important source of microorganisms that could induce infections.”
The Dermatolology times Dr. Zoe Diana Draelos (she has written really good scientific review papers about hair care products)

“The frequency of hair washing depends on the sebum and sweat production of the individual and the geometry of the hair. Hair that is straight will rapidly wick the sebum and sweat from the scalp while tightly kinked hair wicks very poorly. For this reason, individuals with very straight hair usually prefer to shampoo daily while individuals with kinky hair shampoo once every one to two weeks. It is likely that most Americans shampoo their hair too much, accounting for the huge sale of hair conditioners designed to replace sebum with a more cosmetically acceptable synthetic ingredient.”

Dr. Robert Dorin, a board-certified hair transplantation surgeon in New York City.

“the scalp beneath the hair needs to be regularly cleaned of oil, dried sweat, dirt and dead skin cells, Those using “no-poo” products “aren’t really cleaning their scalp,”.  “They’re not taking off the environmental impurities.”People who don’t use detergent shampoo to clean the scalp run the risk of developing fungal and bacterial infections”

Stop using too much shampoo😂😂😂

The bottomline:

Eliminating shampoo from the hair care routine is probably a bad idea, but reducing its frequency of usage (instead of eliminating it) might be beneficial and all you need to do.

Choose the right shampoo for you (even if it has sulfates a pH balanced for dry hair shampoo can be good, the mix of ingredients is more important, don’t like sulfates then use a different surfactant)

Shampoo correctly with small amonts of product also, only your scalp needs a cleansing massage, the hair just gets cleansed with the foam.

No poo in its purest form( all natural no product)is unhealthy, since it can lead to sebum, dirt, oil and environmental pollutants build up which then can lead to scalp diseases such as fungal and bacterial infections or can cause damage to the hair shaft by exposure to caustic agents such as baking soda ultimately causing breakage.

Hair Experiment #1: Coconut Oil 

Coconut oil and its hability to penetrate the hair shaft in order to improve appearance and reduce hair tangling.

The original study investigated 4 oils:

  1. Coconut oil
  2. Olive oil
  3. Sunflower oil
  4. Mineral oil

Today I will try coconut oil.

What they measured was the capillary adhesion(CA) of hair fibers, while we can not measure this at home, today we follow more or less this guide for “testing the feel” of coconut oil infused hair fibers which is basically what CA measures, the hability of the oil to penetrate the hair shaft.

Who can benefit from this type oil pre treatment?

I found this quite useful when my hair had a lot of heat damage as the porosity of my hair was higher than it is now. I no longer use raw coconut oil in my routine.

Anyone doing the transition from chemical relaxers/keratin straighteners or with damage due to heat tools can benefit from this type of strengthening pre treatments.

Dyed hair also tends to have higher porosity so it will be great for you too if you have a nice balayage or other coloring process regardless of hair texture.

Commentary: In case of low porosity or fine hair I think that it might not be such a good idea since most oils and all butters will form a film and just sit on top of the hair contributing to product build up.

As with everything curly hair there is a learning curve, but knowing the science behind of what we do and why we do it can help with the decision making process.

I have not revisited the olive oil “test” but I will probably do it again as my hair is feeling a little dry after the summer fun.

Updated: September 2017

The Hair Experiment 

  1. Apply coconut oil to dry hair, this will help the oil to enter the hair cortex, finger detangle & cover with a plastic cap.
  2. Apply moderate heat for 10-20 minutes and let product sit and cool down (you can use the blow dryer in low setting, cover with warm towel or spend sometime in the sauna as part of a spa night). I used the blow dryer/ warm towel set up.
  3. Style as usual (I used the macadamia hair smooth curl step by step that I posted previously).

You could follow the same procedure with sunflower oil if you wish to try it, since in the study both oils when exposed to heat lowered even more the capillary adhesion, meaning that more oil penetrated in to the hair shaft which in turn protects it from Hygral fatigue one of the culprits of breakage.

The Same principle also applies for Olive oil but the use of heat provided no further improvements, so no need to use heat (in this case what you can do is mildly heat the olive oil in itself, it is quite pleasant and was one of my first “tests” and I loved it).

Mineral oil is ineffective in reducing capillary adhesion and that’s the reason why you will always find online advise against it, so yes I won’t use mineral oil, but this also means it can potentially be a good sealant of moisture by forming a film so it could be effective in theory to protect the hair from external aggression (sun, heat, etc) although it serves no purpose within the hair shaft in itself.

What does this mean in Practical terms?

In summary coconut oil, olive oil and sunflower oil can penetrate into the hair shaft helping to prevent breakage, strengthening the hair fiber and improving overall appearance of hair health, done in moderation (every 1-2 weeks) it might help to reduce breakage which in turn can potentially help preserving existing hair growth.

Personal Update on coconut oil 2017

My personal experience is that when my hair had heat damage it worked quite well but as it got healthier coconut oil ceased to be effective for me & even caused my hair to alter it’s curl pattern in a way I did not like, it loosed up my curls instead of giving me any of the above mentioned benefits. Also I had skin issues with coconut oil.

I still use some products that contain coconut oil in moderation but I no longer use it as an oil treatment.

Let me know if coconut oil works for you and which other oils would you like to learn about, if I can find a peer reviewed study and discuss I will try and share.

Kindly,

Dr. L. aka HairLabMD

Hair twins? Perhaps, maybe

It’s not all about the curl pattern. In fact that is the least important factor when deciding routines and Haircare protocols.

Things that can help us get to know about our hair a little better:

  1. Porosity
  2. Density
  3. Texture
  4. Curl Pattern

Texture and porosity have a higher impact and correlation with hair health.

This info graphic is a great example of why curl pattern is not the all so important thing we think it is.

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The Hair Lab: Se habla Español

imageBienvenidos a The Hair Lab:

Este es un espacio para compartir tips de cuidados para cabello en transición de alaciados químicos a naturalmente rizado. Sigo consejos de bloggers y peluqueros que admiro y además le doy un twist científico buscando las evidencias en “journals” médicos que apoyan esos tips o los contradicen, según sea el caso.

Aquí experimentamos, cuestionamos y sobretodo nos divertimos aprendiendo cómo amar nuestro cabello en todas sus formas. En Panamá es muy común utilizar el cabello alisado químicamente por muchos medios y esta página quiero compartir mi re-descubierto amor por los rizos 100% naturales.

En general me es más fácil escribir en inglés, debe ser porque desde que tengo memoria trabajo en inglés; pero haré mi mejor esfuerzo por escribir también es español. Todas las sugerencias sobre temas para compartir son bienvenidas.

Esto para mí es también un experimento porque es mi primer blog e igualmente sigo aprendiendo algo nuevo de mi cabello básicamente todos los días y es simplemente fascinante.

Sobre qué tema te gustaría que escriba en Castellano? Da una vuelta por el blog y ayúdame a escoger qué tema traducir para tí.

Go Team Natural!

Dr.L

The Hair Lab is open for Research

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Photo Credit: Afroscientist by Dionisius Samuel

Welcome to The Hair Lab!

A place to experiment, question, study and learn about hair. My sources range from popular beauty blogs and hairstylists I admire, to not so popular medical and scientific journals; which I will try to share in practical terms in order to understand at home hair care of non chemically straightened hair aka Natural hair a little better.

I hope this site can help you have a relatively easy transition from chemically straightened hair to naturally curly hair, with simple tips and scientific facts to keep your hair healthy and your mind sound in that process. All change is good, but it is even better with the power of knowledge.

I am a Medical Doctor with experience in Neuroscience and Advanced facial rejuvenation. I’m no stranger to the world of beauty as I used to work with all sorts of beauty experts from hairdressers, to cosmetologists, to fitness trainers and learned a lot from all of them. This mix of scientist, clinician and beauty enthusiast has helped me feel comfortable in my own skin (or hair?) while I was transitioning to naturally curly  (at least that’s what I think).

I know how intimidating change can be and how important it is to know that we are not alone in the road to change; be it our hair, our physical appearance, place of residence, line of work and so on.

In the Hair Lab, I will mostly post about hair; but you will also see some references to neuroscience, fitness, aesthetic medicine and general healthcare. I hope you don’t mind the variety.

My natural hair journey started almost by accident when I relocated to Asia in 2012, so there you have it, I’m a hair aficionado with a medical/scientific background that used a little science to have a relative “painless” transition to Natural Hair and is still on the look out for better ways to keep her hair as healthy as possible. There is no such thing as a dumb question when we are learning something new, so feel free to ask.

Go Team Natural!

Dr. L.