A Word on Product Safety

ANTIDOTESTREET.COM PROVIDES A CURATED SELECTION OF ORGANIC, HEALTHY HAIR PRODUCTS (WHICH ARE EU COMPLIANT), AND THE HAIR CARE ADVICE TO GO ALONG WITH THEM. WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?  

Our mission at Antidote Street is to educate, inform, and empower women to make positive and healthy decisions about their hair, and to help them find and select the best possible products and tools. Not only do we all want to look and feel beautiful, but it's also true that what we put into our hair can have serious and lasting impacts on our lives and health.

The natural hair community in the UK recently received an important reminder of this - as highlighted by Tola Okogwu, a UK-based hair care blogger and author, in her interview on BBC news in connection with a Study by the Silent Spring Institute in the US. The researchers found dozens of harmful chemicals in hair products marketed towards black women - and black girls. Most worryingly, 84% of the chemicals detected were not even listed on the labels.

While the EU has strict regulations for the testing and labelling of cosmetic products, there is much work still to be done, particularly in the regulation of products which are manufactured in other markets such as the US (which to-date form a large part of the natural hair product market in the UK and EU).

The study focused on a selection of hot oil treatments, anti-frizz hair polishes, leave-in conditioners, root stimulators, hair lotions, and hair relaxers - all products that black women and girls use more frequently and in larger amounts than other groups. A total of forty-five (45) endocrine disruptors (or EDCs, which are chemicals that interfere with the body's hormones) were found in the products, and some individual products contained as many as thirty (30) of the EDCs - and as the study's author points out, the chemicals can have an "additive effect in combination", meaning that the potential for harm may be exacerbated. 

Among the known health risks associated with the EDCs are uterine fibroids, infertility, endometrial and breast cancer, and earlier onset of puberty.

WHAT CAN WE, THE CONSUMERS, THE BLACK WOMEN SO NEGATIVELY AFFECTED BY THESE CHEMICALS, DO? ANTIDOTE STREET IS HERE TO HELP! WE WORK ONLY WITH BRANDS THAT WE BELIEVE IN, TO BRING YOU THE BEST PRODUCTS POSSIBLE - PRODUCTS THAT ARE EU COMPLIANT (TESTED, APPROVED, AND SAFE FOR YOUR HAIR). 

The following are some general proactive tips  that we can all benefit from following, based on advice from the Silent Spring Institute:

    • READ THE LABEL WITH CARE. Chemicals of concern are not always listed on product labels, but labels can help point you in the right direction. Look for the phrases "phthalate-free" and "paraben-free." Avoid the following ingredients: -siloxane, cyclomethicone, benzophenone, octinoxate, octyl methoxycinnamate, oxybenzone, diethanolamine or DEA, paraben, fragrance or parfum, and triclosan. 

     

    • CHOOSE PRODUCTS MADE FROM PLANTS, NOT PETROLEUM. Hair products can contain a number of hormone disrupting chemicals including parabens, phthalates, and cyclosiloxane. Look for products that primarily list plants in the list of ingredients or products labeled “made with organic ingredients.”

     

    • INSTEAD OF USING CHEMICAL STRAIGHTENERS, GO FOR A TEMPORARY STYLE: Chemical hair straightening products use harsh chemicals that can irritate and damage skin, damage hair, and even cause chemical burns. Blowout straightening products release large amounts of cancer-causing formaldehyde into the air. Explore using braids and other chemical-free styling options. When using heat straightening tools, always use a good heat protection product. 

     

    • LOOK FOR A HAIR SALON WITH GOOD VENTILATION. Salon products and activities can release a variety of chemicals into the air, so good ventilation is key. A simple sniff test can help you assess a salon’s ventilation system. The stronger the smell, the weaker it is.

     

    • LET YOUR HAIR EXPRESS ITSELF NATURALLY. Celebrate your hair by letting it express its natural texture and style. Not only will your hair be happier and healthier, you might also end up using fewer products. Since each product is an additional source of chemicals, by using fewer products you can reduce the amount of unknown and untested chemicals entering your body.

     

    • AVOID HAIR PRODUCTS THAT CONTAIN PLACENTAL EXTRACTS. Estrogen is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Because estrogen and other hormones are present in animal placenta, it's best to avoid products that list placenta, as well as estrogen, estrone, estriol in the ingredients.

     

    • ASK FOR BEST PRACTICES WHEN GETTING EXTENSIONS, WEAVES, OR BRAIDS. Tight weaves, braids, and extensions can pull out or break hair over time. This can then lead to a cycle of using more hair products to give hair more volume and to repair damage. Constant use of weaves can lead to a buildup of bacteria, therefore it is important to clean your scalp often and have weaves removed after 4 weeks. Hair glue can trigger potentially dangerous allergic reactions, so ask for sewn-in extensions instead.

      Our mission is to arm you with the best products for textured hair and to guide you in finding the best routine for YOU.

      Winnie Awa, founder of Antidote Street