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Why You Should Consider Going To An Organic Hair Salon

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Since making the transition over to organic foods and products, I have asked myself many times why I still go to a traditional salon. I didn’t even know organic salons existed until one of our writers, Organic Olivia, raved about her experience at Mauricio Hair, the first non-toxic/organic salon in NYC. Since I don’t live in New York, or even in a large city, I expected to have to travel pretty far to find one. When I learned there was actually one in my own region, I was ecstatic.

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I visited two salons, and the women working in both told me they had decided they simply couldn’t be subjected to the harsh chemicals they were being exposed to daily any longer, and didn’t want to expose their clients to them anymore, either. One woman became so sensitive to them that she had no choice but to use and learn about organic products so she could still practice her passion.

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Naturally, people assume that if a product is used in a salon it is regulated and safe for use (a mistake we make with most things, including our food), but there are many loopholes in the Toxic Control Substance Act (TSCA) and within the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (which hasn’t been updated since 1938) does not require premarket safety approval of products, nor does it require cosmetic companies to disclose the “chemicals [used] or gain approval for the 2,000 products that go on the market every year. And removing a cosmetic from sale takes a battle in federal court,” reports Scientific American. Which in short means that salon workers and clients have no way of knowing which products are safe, allowing them to be routinely exposed to hazardous chemicals. Even now, the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), the agency responsible for establishing and enforcing the maximum exposure limit for chemicals, hasn’t updated its Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for chemicals used in salon products that have adverse health effects.

How Hair Dye Works

Dana Oliver from The Huffington Post asked cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson, chief executive officer of Catalyst Cosmetic Development, and Elizabeth Cuannane Phillips, Philip Kingsley’s trichological expert, to explain what hair dye is really doing to our hair. The following is taken from the interview. 

For hair dye to work, ammonia literally lifts up your hair cuticle…

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Hair dye has a couple of barriers that it has to overcome before it actually deposits the color onto your hair. “It needs to be able to get into the hair shaft, and obstacle one is the cuticle, which is the hair’s protection,” explains Wilson. “If you think how tree bark has that outer covering, that is almost how our cuticle acts. So in order for [dye] to penetrate through the cuticle, it has to be lifted up.” Enter, ammonia. This chemical elevates the pH of the hair, and in doing so, the cuticle relaxes and lifts up. “The problem with that is once you’ve disturbed the cuticle, the damage has started because the cuticle is not meant to be lifted up,” says Wilson.

… and peroxide destroys your current color.

Now that the cuticle is lifted, the next step is to actually dye the hair. “In order to get the color that you wanted, your current color has to be destroyed,” according to Wilson. “That’s where the peroxide comes in, and that breaks down your natural hair pigment. Peroxide is very drying on the hair, which contributes to the damage of the hair. Now the cuticle is lifted, your pigment has been broken down, so now your hair should be straw-like.”

Now the color from the dye has to be developed, and that’s the pre-mix that you do. “You put that in and while it’s sitting, it’s going into the hair strand and beginning to develop. Keep in mind that your cuticle is lifted for however long you have before you rinse, and the dye is penetrating into your open cuticle and hair shaft. The longer your cuticle is lifted up, the more it’s weakening. Once you rinse, your cuticle comes down because the color has deposited, but the damage is already done,” says Wilson.

The result? Your hair is more damaged than before you entered the salon. According to Hilton Bell, owner of International Hair and Beauty Systems, the ammonia in normal hair colouring solutions creates tiny holes in the hair. “In fact the shaft of hair is starting to resemble Swiss cheese.” This leads to breakage, dryness, and overall hair damage.

Effects on Salon Workers

In 2014, Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) released “Beauty and Its Beast: Unmasking the impact of toxic chemicals on salon workers,” a thorough report that “analyzes the unique chemical exposures that salon workers experience, the health impacts they suffer, and the need for greater research, regulation, and innovation to ensure improved health and safety in the salon industry.”

In the report, they revealed the following discoveries:

Hair salon workers have an increased risk of several types of cancer, including breast cancer, lung cancer, cancer of the larynx, bladder cancer, and multiple myeloma. Hairdressers and cosmetologists are also more likely to give birth to low birth weight babies, especially when their work involves using hairspray and permanent waves, and have an increased risk of miscarriage and babies born with cleft palates.

In addition, a significant proportion of salon workers experience skin conditions like dermatitis, and breathing problems, such as asthma and cough, due to chemical exposures from their work. Some studies found that over 60% of salon workers suffer from skin conditions, such as dermatitis, on their hands. Salon workers are significantly more likely than comparison groups like office workers to suffer from cough and nasal and throat irritation due to their work.

The WVE is especially against the Brazilian Blowout, a popular straightening treatment which, along with other straightening products, contains high levels of formaldehyde (up to 10%!) even when labeled “formaldehyde-free.” Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen and is so toxic that it continues to expose customers and salon workers to toxic fumes for months after its initial application.

Salon worker Jennifer Arce performed just one Brazilian Blowout treatment that exposed her to what her doctor suspected was “possible chemical poisoning.” She suffered breathing problems and migraines, bloody noses, blistery rashes, and bronchitis.

“Exposure to formaldehyde doesn’t end with the treatment—the fumes are reactivated every time heat is applied to the hair,” says Arce. “So when a client who’s had a Brazilian Blowout done elsewhere comes into the salon to get a haircut or color and has her hair blowdried, flatironed, curled, or processed under the hood dryer, the fumes that come out of her hair make me and several of my coworkers sick all over again.”

After hearing similar horror stories from other salon workers, Jennifer took to gathering letters to send to the FDA. When the California Superior Court ordered GIB, the makers of the Brazilian Blowout, to stop selling its product in California after finding that it emits smog-forming pollutants at levels higher than allowed by the California Air Resources Board, GIB was asked to present a new, reformulated product to meet California Air Quality Standards.

Other countries, most notably, Canada, France, Ireland, and Australia immediately recalled hair smoothing products containing formaldehyde, based on their own testing results.

Effects on Customers

Horror stories abound of people whose home hair dying experiences turned ugly, such as that of 17 year old Tabatha McCourt, who suffered a rare allergic reaction and died 20 minutes after applying the dye despite having coloured her hair plenty of times before. One Reddit user posted about his brother John, who suffered a terrible head swell from applying at-home dye. Such anaphylactic reactions, believed to be sparked from the chemical ingredient para-phenylenediamine (PPD) which is present in 99% of all hair dyes, can even cause people to go into a coma.

Asthma
Persulfates are chemicals found in bleaching agents and hair dye and comprise 60% of most commercial hair products. Continued inhalation of persulfates can lead to persistent cough, throat discomfort, wheezing, lung inflammation, and full-blown asthma attacks. Ammonia is another common contributor to asthma attacks when using hair dye. In high concentrations, it can easily exacerbate pre-existing breathing conditions.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
According to data retrieved from the National Cancer Institute, 30% of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cases are caused by regular use of commercial hair dye. 4-ABP is a hair dye byproduct that has also been proven to have carcinogenic effects. The byproduct is commonly found in blonde, red, and black hair dyes but may not be listed on the label.

Multiple Myeloma
Men who use hair dye every once in a while to cover up their greys may still be at risk for developing this cancer of the bone marrow. Research has shown that multiple myeloma risk is greatly increased in Caucasian males who use commercial dye products.

Alternatives With Quality

So what are your options? We hear it all the time. While natural may be better for us, it doesn’t seem to produce quite the results we’re looking for.

Huffington Post writer Rebecca Adams documented her experience going to an organic salon that used Organic Color System. She visited New York City’s Yarok Beauty Kitchen and was taken care of by Mordechai Alvow. “The process was exponentially more enjoyable, since the anti-oxidant blend of aloe vera leaf, comfrey root, orange peel and grapefruit seed in the organic dye didn’t have the same headache-inducing effects of the harsh-smelling, ammonia-filled dye you get in most salons.” In the end, she decided that this treatment was the best for her: “After Alvow was done with me, the color was the most striking shade of copper red I’ve ever had, and I didn’t have that pesky line of demarcation that always gives me what I call ‘fire roots’ (freshly dyed roots that never seem to blend properly until after a couple of washes). The best part: My hair felt 10 pounds lighter and as soft as an 8-year-old’s. Needless to say, I’m an organic hair dye convert.” (Check out her full experience, pictures and all, here).

Hilton Bell, the owner of International Hair and Beauty Systems and an exclusive distributor in the U.S. of Organic Color Systems, not only claims that organic products are better for everyone involved, but that they work better, too. A website dedicated to organic salon products explains just why his system is so great:

Bell is the exclusive distributor in the U.S. of Organic Color Systems, a revolutionary hair coloring product that, until recently, was only available in Europe. Unlike the old versions of organic color that merely coated the hair with semi-permanent tint, Organic Color Systems is a permanent color that uses modern advances in color technique.

By using a conditioning substance with a lower pH, Organic Color Systems gently opens the hair cuticle to color it. It’s simply a gentler way of altering the hair’s color. And, with less damage to the hair, the color comes out more vibrant, the hair more lustrous.

And, contrary to the common belief about natural hair products, this product can achieve all the results of traditional color. Even stubborn grays don’t stand a chance. All the ranges of the color chart are possible, from fiery reds to frosty platinums. Salon owners rave about their increased business as word of mouth spreads.

Here is another list of organic hair dyes you can check out if you want to scan the market.

Needless to say, the world is changing, and people are looking for healthier alternatives to common products which will work as well, if not better, than their chemically-laden and harmful counterparts. You might feel like a kid again trying to find that one salon you can call ‘yours’ and you may encounter some stylists who don’t quite meet your standards, but few things worthwhile in this life come easily!

I highly encourage you to seek out organic salons in your area and inquire about their methods and why they chose to make the switch. Their answers may inspire you. Or perhaps, armed with this information, you can convince a traditional salon to go organic, too.

Sources

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/01/hair-dye-process_n_4181186.html

http://www.stewartlonky.com/uncategorized/toxic-hair-salons-the-high-price-of-beauty/

http://healthscamsexposed.com/2013/05/5-deadly-reasons-to-stop-dying-your-hair/

http://www.greenamerica.org/livinggreen/how-to-go-nontoxic-at-the-salon.cfm

http://simplyorganicbeauty.com/more-hair-salons-going-green/

 

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Autistic, Alzheimer’s & Multiple Sclerosis Brain Tissues Have Significant Amounts of Aluminum In Them

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CE Staff Writer 5 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A 2020 study found that the aluminum content in brain tissue of people with Alzheimer's disease, familial Alzheimer's disease, autism spectrum disorder and multiple sclerosis is significantly higher compared to tissues used in the study as controls.

  • Reflect On:

    Could aluminum be playing a role in these, as well as other diseases? How does it get into our brain?

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There is no shortage of studies demonstrating that aluminum is present in human brain tissue. This is a problem given the fact that aluminum is neurotoxic and wreaks nothing but havoc on biology. This is firmly established in scientific literature. There is no debate on whether or not aluminum exists within human brain tissue, the science is settled. The debate is now focused on how much aluminum is too much. How much aluminum does it take to impact the health of a human being in a negative way?

A study published in the journal Nature compared the aluminum content in human brain tissue of people with Alzheimer’s disease, familial Alzheimer’s disease, autism spectrum disorder and multiple sclerosis with healthy controls. According to the authors, “detailed statistical analyses showed that aluminum was significantly increased in each of these disease groups compared to control tissues.” They go on to mention that,

We have confirmed previous conclusions that the aluminum content of brain tissue in Alzheimer’s disease, autism spectrum disorder and multiple sclerosis is significantly elevated. Further research is required to understand the role played by high levels of aluminum in the aetiology of human neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disease.

The researchers used tissue from twenty control brains of healthy individuals to compare against the brain tissue of people who have had a diagnosis of the neurodegenerative conditions mentioned. The fact that all disease groups had significantly higher brain aluminum content than the control group is quite concerning. That being said, it’s not proof that aluminum actually plays a direct role in each of these diseases. The important takeaway from the study and what we know about aluminum toxicology is that there is absolutely no debate, at all, as to the neurotoxicity of aluminum in humans. It’s just not a good thing to have in your body.

The study emphasizes,

Animal models of aluminum intoxication reproduce the neuropathologies and neurodevelopmental effects of human neurodegenerative disease, if not the diseases per se. Cell models and in vitro studies demonstrate mechanisms of aluminum toxicity known to be involved in human neurodegenerative disease. Perhaps the information that is still missing from understanding of aluminum’s role in each of the diseases compared herein is how much aluminum is too much in human brain tissue. The comparison we have made herein between control brain tissue showing no signs of neurodegenerative disease and the disease groups…is beginning to answer this question. Only further measurements on more donor brains will enable a definitive conclusion to be reached on the role played by aluminum in human neurodegenerative disease.

The authors make it clear that aluminum and its presence in human brain tissue “cannot be without consequence” given everything that’s been discovered about aluminum toxicity. There is a great need for further study here and to determine how much aluminum the brain, and other organs for that matter, can tolerate before there are detrimental effects. These effects may be short term as well as long term, and they may play a role in neurodegenerative disease like the ones the study examine. It’s hard to think that the high aluminum content in the brain tissue of people with these diseases  is simply a coincidence, especially given the fact that the aluminum content in “normal” brains is significantly less.

Once you start to see these sort of data together, once you start to see the levels of a known neurotoxic metal accumulate to these levels, it is absolutely inevitable that they will contribute to disease. – Professor Christopher Exley, lead author of the study, taken from the interview below.

Exley is a Professor at Keele University, and arguably the world’s leading expert in aluminum toxicology. Exley and his work is supported by many scientists from around the world, yet he is facing a potential set back with regards to continuing his research on aluminum and disease. One hundred scientists came together and recently wrote a letter of support, stating,

We are writing to express our concern over the possible interruption of research on aluminum and disease conducted by Christopher Exley and his group in your (Keele) University. We feel that Christopher Exley’s work conducted for so many years in line with the previous research of late Pr Birchall at Keele University has been an important service to the scientific community, patients and society in Europe and globally. We firmly declare that Pr Exley has always defended rigorous research independent of commercial conflicts of interest, and has freely carried out his research without any control by any of his sponsors.

You can read more about what’s going on with regards to this situation, and access the correspondence that’s happened between Keele University (Exley’s employer), Exley, and the academics who support his work, here.

Below is a very informative interview with Exley if you’d like to learn more about aluminum and its accumulation within humans. On a side note, ask yourself, what products and substances may contain aluminum that could be contributing its accumulation in various human organs like the brain?

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Lebanese Hospital Becomes The World’s First To Go 100 Percent Vegan (Food)

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CE Staff Writer 7 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A hospital in Lebanon has become the first in the world to adopt a completely vegan menu.

  • Reflect On:

    Are people aware of the physical and emotional torture the majority animals we eat go through? Are people aware that a diet free of animal products can be very beneficial for human health. Are people aware that animal agriculture is destroying Earth?

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At the beginning of March, Hayek Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon became the first hospital in the world to serve 100 percent vegan only meals. Prior to this change, patients had a choice between animal based meals and vegan meals, and included with that was information about the health benefits of choosing plant-based foods versus the dangers of consuming animal products. The hospital made the announcement via their Instagram page, stating that “Our patients will no longer wake up from surgery to be greeted with ham, cheese, milk, and eggs…the very food(s) that may have contributed to their health problems in the first place.”

When the World Health Organization classifies processed meat as a group 1A carcinogenic (causes cancer) same group as tobacco and red meat as group 2A carcinogenic, then serving meat in the hospital is like serving cigarettes in a hospital. When the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) declare that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious disease comes from animals. When adopting a plant based exclusive diet has been successfully proven not only to stop the evolution of certain diseases but it can also reverse them. We then, have the moral responsibility to act upon and align our beliefs with our actions. Taking the courage to look at the elephant in in the eye.

Their various statements also point to the role that animal agriculture plays in spawning infectious diseases, citing the Centers for Disease Control’s estimate that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals. “We believe it’s well about time to tackle the root cause of diseases and pandemics, not just treat symptoms,” they note.

This was a great statement. The modern day medical industry only seems to be focused on medications, and only medications that can turn a hefty profit, to treat and cure disease instead of addressing root causes. It’s good to see things changing, but a big problem remains. If a plant that grows in abundance, for example, has the potential to cure a disease, will we ever hear about it? Will the medical industry be interested in it? Probably not, but when a drug is made and patented from that plant in a specific way, that’s when we will. This is not to say that modern day medicine is useless, but today now more than ever a big problem exists, and this problem may be killing more people than it’s helping.

Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), a Harvard professor of medicine and also a former Editor-in-Chief of NEMJ, was frustrated that “the medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.” (source)

According to Forks Over Knives,

While Hayek is the first hospital to completely purge animal products from its menu, a number of hospitals have begun offering more plant-based options in recent years. Both New York and California have enacted laws requiring hospitals to offer a plant-based option with every meal. In 2018 NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue launched the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program to help patients transition to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.

The American Medical Association passed a resolution in 2017 calling on U.S. hospitals to provide healthful plant-based meals to promote better health in patients, staff, and visitors. The American College of Cardiology has issued similar recommendations.

In my opinion, “veganism is a very fine form of nutrition” (Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, heart surgeon), and as mentioned above, there is plenty of science to back up that statement.  I’ve written about it many times before from a health perspective.

Here’s an article that goes into more detail and science if you’re interested, it also addresses history, and how our teeth and guts are designed and more. Here’s another one regarding a study that found a strong association between eating animal protein and a premature death from all causes, including multiple cancers and type 2 diabetes.

The studies cited in that article note that meat eating is strongly associated with up to a 75 percent increased chance of early mortality, and that protein from animals may cause harm, while protein from plants may help reverse disease and have a protective effect.

There are hundreds of these studies, and the ones I cite are just a few examples.

This is obviously a very controversial topic in the eyes of many, and it’s not hard at all to find conflicting information on the subject. I am no doubt bias in my beliefs and opinions here.

One thing is for certain, the way we treat animals on this planet is extremely heartbreaking and unnecessary. Animals are separated from their families, raised for slaughter and are kept in torturous conditions on a daily basis. It’s truly unbelievable and horrific. It’s the biggest genocide and example of both physical and emotional torture the world has ever seen. I don’t think anybody can witness what really goes on in most slaughterhouses can come out not being impacted.

On top of this, animal agriculture is one of, if not the greatest contributer to environmental degradation and pollution on our planet. Animal agriculture is actually the leading cause of deforestation. Every single day, close to 100 plant/animal/insect species are lost because of this practice.

Final Thoughts: At the end of the day it seems that, from a health perspective, processed meats, and other meats are no doubt harmful to human health. People can make the argument that other animal products may not be and that we are meant to consume them. People can also make the complete opposite argument. One thing that can’t be argued is, again, the torture, physical and emotional abuse that comprise the source of where animal products come from for the majority of people who eat them.

There is a big split, as with many other topics, amongst people on this issue. There are even vegan influencers who are creating splits within the ‘vegan community’ itself, which is unfortunate. I personally believe that, from a health perspective, animal products are not at all required for anybody and are again, overall, harmful to human health.

The more pressing issue, again, is the treatment of our animal brothers and sisters, and how we are constantly using and abusing them. It’s indicative of world that lacks empathy, compassion, understanding and love, as well as our inability to see ourselves in another. This can be seen in many aspects of the current human experience, be it war, human trafficking and more. That being said, it’s great to see human consciousness shifting towards a more compassionate, empathetic type of awareness. This is evident by the “vegan” movement alone, as it’s become quite large over the past few years and will continue to grow. Some of the biggest animal food producers have already gone out of business, and it’s great to see more people in the health community as well recognize that it’s a win for health, a win for environment, and most importantly, a win for the very emotional, intelligent, animals, who are similar to us in so many ways. We have so much to learn from them.

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Caloric Restriction vs. Fasting: Why One Can Result In Weight Gain While The Other Helps Burn Fat

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CE Staff Writer 3 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In the video below, Dr. Jason Fung explains the difference between caloric restriction and sending the body into "starvation" mode compared to fasting.

  • Reflect On:

    Fasting has been used as a health intervention for thousands of years, and is being used today by doctors who are educated on the topic. Why is it completely ignored by mainstream medicine? Is it because "big pharma" can't make any money off of it?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Some would say that the best solution to weight gain is eating right and exercising. I couldn’t agree more. Obesity is one of the deadliest problems humanity faces today, and just as important as diet and exercise is for addressing this issue, even more important are the emotional and personal reasons as to why so many people damage themselves and make themselves more prone to serious disease.

Apart from diet and exercise, initiating a proper fasting regimen can have tremendous health outcomes, especially for overweight people. It wasn’t but a decade ago when fasting to lose weight was considered unhealthy and dangerous. Today, we have a tremendous amount of science that’s been published clearly showing that fasting can be an effective health intervention for people of all body types, especially for people who are overweight and suffer from certain diseases. It’s an excellent way to help your body burn fat. Fasting has been used and is currently being used as an intervention for type two diabetes, cancer and more. Fasting has been shown to trigger stem cell regeneration, autophagy, which in turn can help clear out toxins and damaged cells, repair DNA, improve metabolism, lower blood sugar, boost brain function, reduce the risk of age related disease, lessen inflammation which improves a wide range of health issues from arthritic pain to asthma and more. It’s no wonder why so many ancient cultures from different parts of the world used fasting as medicine and as a health intervention.

As shown in the science, fasting is generally safe for everybody. This many not be true if you already have underlying health conditions or are taking certain medications. This is why it’s important to consult a health professional about it, but the issue is, the majority of health professionals are not well educated in fasting interventions. Those who have educated themselves have been treating their patients with fasting and are drawn to it due to its ability to provide so many benefits.

One of these doctors is Dr. Jason Fung, who on his blog and his YouTube channel, as well as the books he’s written provides a wealth of information and science regarding fasting. I often refer people to the work of Fung, or others like Dr. Valter Longo if they want to begin their own research about fasting. Again, there is a wealth of science and “scholarly” articles available on the subject for anybody who wants to search for it as well. It’s not heard to find.

In the video below, Fung explains why fasting is much different from caloric restriction or having your body go into “starvation mode.”  You can also check out his article, “The difference between calorie restriction and fasting” for some great information as well.

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