I know you've probably been pondering this question all week (or not). =) So, is there a connection between your hair and your health?
1) First of all, the products you use in/on your hair can certainly affect your health. All you have to do is search "toxins in shampoo" to find a wealth of information about how dangerous "regular" shampoo is. Here's one article that lists 8 specific toxins commonly found in shampoo. The various toxic ingredients in hair products cause allergies, disrupt hormones and the endocrine system, irritate skin, eyes and lungs, and even cause cancer, just to name a few things.
Since shampoo and other hair products are generally used every day, the cumulative effect of all those toxins is serious and dangerous. (Here's another website that lists 10 toxic ingredients to watch out for.)
So yes, shampoo, conditioner, gel, moose, hairspray, etc. are all very toxic products. And using them will have a negative effect on your health. Believe me, I know it's hard to give up those products, even when we know they're laden with chemicals. My shampoo was the last chemical product I used, because I liked having soft, shiny hair. But I did finally give it up. =) And eventually I found an organic product that works well. (I use Karen's Naturals. They offer both "organic" and "natural" hair products. There are other safe shampoo and hair product companies as well.)
Congratulations to those of you who have replaced toxic hair products with natural ones! That's a great step toward better health.
2) Another big factor for health is hair dye. Because of poor diet, genetics, and hypothyroidism (just to name a few), many people now have prematurely gray hair. Most of the women I know regularly dye their hair. Unfortunately, hair dye is extremely toxic and a serious health hazard.
Here are a few comments from Dr. Mercola's post about the dangers of hair dye:
"Your scalp has a very rich blood supply that is more than capable of transporting the toxins in hair dyes throughout your entire body.
The Environmental Working Group has ranked 456 hair colors in their Skin Deep cosmetics database, and roughly 400 of them are considered high hazard because they contain toxins linked to:
- Developmentive and reproductive toxicity
- Immunotoxicity and organ toxicity
- Allergies and irritation of the eyes, skin or lungs
More specifically, in your box of “chestnut brown” or “ash blonde” -- or in the dyes used at your salon -- you may find:
- Para-phenylenediamine and tetrahydro-6-nitroquinoxaline, both of which have been shown to damage genetic material and cause cancer in animals.
- Coal tar, a known carcinogen (one investigation found that 71 percent of hair dyes contain coal tar)
- Formaldehyde, a preservative linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity and more.
- DMDM Hydantoin, another preservative that is a known immune system toxin (and has been restricted for use in cosmetics in Japan).
- Eugenol, a fragrance ingredient that’s associated with cancer, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and allergies.
...one study of nearly 900 people found that women who used permanent hair dye at least once a month were twice as likely as women who did not use permanent hair dye to develop bladder cancer."
Now, I know this is a big issue for a lot of people (men and women). The good news is that there are some natural hair dye options. Here's a good resource that gives instructions and recipes for natural hair dyes, using things like coffee, sage, chamomile, etc. I'm looking forward to trying some of these natural options myself. =)
(Two more articles about toxins in hair dye:)
3) One more thing to mention about hair and health is the possibility of neck strain. I noticed after my last haircut that my head felt much lighter, perhaps putting less strain on my neck. I've also noticed that with certain hair styles, I end up tilting my head at an angle or tossing my head often to keep the hair out of my eyes. These things are not good for keeping a healthy neck and spine.
Depending on the individual and the specific situation, it might be better to have shorter hair or at least to evaluate what style will be most conducive to neck/spine health.
It is also true that your hair can be an indicator of your health. If you have chronically dry, straw-like hair, hair falling out excessively, or other problems with your hair, that's a sign that something in your body needs help. (These things can be caused by a mineral or vitamin deficiency, thyroid problems, parasites, etc.) But that's another post altogether. =)
So what do you think, is your hair affecting your health?