Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Reading Is Fundamental

Sounds so cliche, but it's so true. We first heard it in elementary school. As we grew up, we find that reading is just as fundamental at work as it is trying to assemble a file cabinet from Ikea. NOW we have to read the ingredients of our food and personal care products. It started with the food. Apparently, it's perfectly legal to put a derivative of plastic in food (aka margarine) and feed it to unsuspecting Americans so that it can be produced cheaply and sit longer on the shelf before we eat it. Personally, if it doesn't mold, I don't want to eat it. But you can't stop at the food. You have to read what's in your personal hygiene products too. WHY?

Well, let's think about this now. There are medications that are administered through the skin. That means, that compounds that make contact with your skin penetrate it and make it to your blood stream. That's deep. If I can put a Nicotine patch on my arm and it helps curve my smoking addiction. That means that the medication on the patch gets to my blood stream, through my skin. The same thing with the  birth control patch. Then there are poisons and highly addictive drugs that are administered by putting it on the skin. No pills, no snorting, no smoking, no eating. Just by putting it on your skin. With that being said, this is why it's just as important to read the labels on your body as what you're putting in your body.

I'm going to stick to personal care ingredients because I get sick thinking about all of the crap food companies are allowed to put in our food. Ok. Here are a few:

  • Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is intentionally added to some products, such as keratin hair straighteners. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs) such as quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, bromopol and glyoxal are also widely used in personal care products including nail polish, eye shadow, mascara, nail treatment, shampoo and blush for the prevention of bacterial growth. FRPs are designed to release formaldehyde slowly and constantly over time to act as a preservative. IARC, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and California EPA’s Proposition 65 (Prop 65) classify formaldehyde as a human carcinogen. EPA identifies formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also raises concern that exposure to formaldehyde leads to irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory system. Standards for cosmetics in Japan prohibit formaldehyde use in cosmetics,and the European Commission restricts formaldehyde in cosmetics to no more than five percent concentration in the finished product.
  • Phenacetin: Phenacetin was used as pain and fever reducer until banned in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1983 due to its carcinogenicity. Although it is no longer used as a drug, it is still occasionally used in personal care products as a stabilizer in products such as facial hair bleach, hair color and women’s depilatories. IARC and Prop 65 identify phenacetin as a human carcinogen. NTP lists that phenacetin and analgesic mixtures containing phenacetin are reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens. Phenacetin can also cause renal damage and anemia. Exposure to phenacetin has been linked malignant mammary tumors.
  • Coal Tar: Coal tar is a known carcinogen and a by-product from coal processing. It is used in cosmetics containing hair dyes, shampoos, dandruff/scalp treatment and redness/rosacea treatment. IARC, NTP and EPA classify coal tar as a known human carcinogen. Coal tar was one of the first occupational exposures linked to cancer; when scrotal cancer among young chimney sweeps was associated with exposure. It is also associated with cancers of the lung, bladder, kidney, and digestive tract. Environmental Canada classifies that coal tar pitch is persistent and inherently toxic to aquatic organisms. European Commission prohibits coal tar use in cosmetics. Coal tars are complex mixtures that can contain other known carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), such as benzo[a]pyrene. PAHs damage DNA, and exposure to PAHs can lead to tumors on lungs, bladder and skin; and PAHs can also cause non-cancer toxicities like reproductive and developmental toxicity.
  • Benzene: Benzene is derived from coal tar, and exposure routes of benzene are inhalation and ingestion. Benzene is used in the production of plastics and detergents and occasionally in hair conditioner and styling lotion. IARC and NTP classify benzene as a known human carcinogen. Prop 65 identifies benzene as a concern for both cancer and developmental toxicity, and benzene can lead to mammary tumors in female mice. EPA identifies benzene as a known human respiratory toxicant. Benzene is considered a  priority pollutant of wastewater by EPA, which means environmental releases of benzene are regulated. The Endocrine Disruption Exchange considers benzene as an endocrine disruptor. Occupational exposure to benzene is linked to leukemia; and benzene can target organs including eyes, skin, respiratory system, blood, central nervous system and bone marrow. The European Commission prohibits benzene use in cosmetics, and it is restricted in the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Altantic (OSPAR).
  • Mineral Oils: Mineral oils are derived from crude oil; and mildly refined mineral oils always contain significant amounts of PAHs. Mineral oils are common in a wide array of personal care products, including eye shadow, moisturizer, lip gloss, lipstick, conditioner, hair color and bleaching, facial treatment, styling gel/lotion, blush and concealer.  IARC, NTP and Prop 65 classify untreated and mildly treated mineral oils as a known human carcinogen. NIOSH raises concerns that mineral oils can target organs including eyes, skin, and respiratory system though inhalation, or skin and eye contact.
  • Ethylene Oxide: Ethylene oxide is a possible impurity in personal care products as a byproduct of the process of ethoxylation, which is used to buffer the harsh effects of some sudsing agents; Ethylene oxide is most widely used to sterilize medical instruments. It can be found in tobacco smoke, automobile exhausts, and foods.There is strong evidence that ethylene oxide can lead lymphatic and hematopoietic cancers; and some studies found increased incidence of breast cancer in exposed workers. Prop 65 identifies ethylene oxide as a concern for both cancer and developmental toxicity in both females and males. The Endocrine Disruption Exchange lists ethylene oxide as an endocrine disruptor. NIOSH concludes that ethylene oxide leads peritoneal cancer and leukemia; exposure to ethylene oxide through inhalation, ingestion, and skin and eye contact can disrupt respiratory system, central nervous system, and reproductive system. The European Commission prohibits ethylene oxide use in cosmetics.
  • Heavy Metals: Heavy Metals like hexavalent chromium, and cadmium serve as colorants in eye shadow and lip gloss.  Other metals such as arsenic are impurities in cosmetic ingredients including facial lotion, shampoo, and foundation as a result of arsenic contamination in ingredients such as D&C Red 6, aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and polyvinyl acetate. And let's not forget Aluminum chloride being used as an antiperspirant being directly linked to causing cancer. IARC, the National Toxicology Program and California’s Prop 65 identify cadmium and its compounds, arsenic, and chromium as human carcinogens; in addition, chromium can also lead to developmental problems in both females and males.
  • Cadmium: In addition to its carcinogenic properties, cadmium targets the cardiovascular, renal, neurological, reproductive and respiratory systems through inhalation and ingestion. Standards for cosmetics in Japan and European Commission prohibit use of cadmium compounds in cosmetics.
  • Arsenic (Also allowed in American chicken feed. Like I said, don't get me started on the crap they put in our food): The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concludes that there is sufficient evidence that arsenic is a carcinogen; and arsenic can also lead hyperpigmentation, keratosis and possible vascular complications. EPA lists arsenic as a priority pollutant and regulates arsenic emissions; The Endocrine Disruption Exchange suggests that arsenic can cause endocrine disruption. NIOSH demonstrates that exposure to arsenic leads to lung and lymphatic cancer; because it can target organs including liver, kidneys, skin, lungs and lymphatic system through inhalation, skin absorption, skin and eye contact, and ingestion. The European Commission prohibits arsenic in cosmetics.
  • Chromium: The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) lists chromium as a carcinogen and mutagen. NIOSH indicates that exposure to chromium leads to lung cancer; and the metal targets organs including blood, respiratory system, liver and kidneys. It can cause  increased blood leukocytes, eye injury, and skin ulcers through inhalation, ingestion, and skin and eye contact. EPA considers chromium to be both bioaccumulative and ecotoxic. The European Commission prohibits chromium use in cosmetics.
  • Silica: Silica occurs in two different forms: crystalline or amorphous; quartz is the common mineral in crystalline silica. If you breathe crystalline silica in is an airborne contaminant that can penetrate the lung when it is inhaled. Crystalline silica is widely used in lipsticks, lip gloss, eye shadow, eye liner, foundation, sunscreen, lotion and shampoo. NTP and IARC both list crystalline silica of respirable size as a known human carcinogen, and Prop 65 classifies silica, crystalline (airborne particles of respirable size) as a carcinogen. NIOSH raises concerns about lung cancer in animals exposed to crystalline silica; and this chemical can target eyes and the respiratory system through inhalation, and skin and eye contact.
The FDA has a job to protect us but ultimately, we have to protect ourselves. We haven't even touched phthalates and parabens. The cosmetics industry is not as heavily regulated as someone may think, which is why it's legal for me to make cosmetics in my kitchen and sell them to you. However, because I am a science geek, my products are properly labeled with all ingredients listed. I choose ingredients that come from a plant source because I care. I take advantage of the anti-microbial benefits of my ingredients instead of using harmful additives to prolong the shelf life of Fancy Free Hair & Skin products. Think about it, would you want to eat something that was still "fresh" after sitting for 3 years? If bacteria, mold, and bugs don't want to eat it, you shouldn't eat it. Same for cosmetics and other things you put on our skin and hair.

The foundation of what I do is because I want people to live a healthier life, whether you buy Fancy Free Hair & Skin products or not.

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you chemical free." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.


Friday, February 23, 2018

We're Off To See Wakanda

If you haven't seen or heard about Marvel's Black Panther yet, I want you to log off this blog, leave the rock you've been living under, and go to the nearest movie theatre to see it. Seriously. However, if you know what I'm talking about, then you can relate. My husband and I did it up in full, Coming to America, ethnic thot, trap royalty regalia for the private screening we attended. Then I went back for a matinee just to make sure I didn't miss anything. I'll probably volunteer to go, yet again, with some school kids too. After it's all said and done, seeing this movie 5-6 times won't be too many times in my book.

Red, black and green
sneakers cuz....
Peep the hair bling though.
This movie most certainly lived up to all of it's hype. Not only was it a great movie as far as story line, cinematics, and special effects were concerned, it was full of beautiful images of Africa for those of African descent. It made me proud to have these images of my people in media.

However, I would be remiss if I didn't point out all of the black girl magic displayed in this movie. The motto of black women in America has always seemed to be "F@#k it. I'll do it." Constantly saving everyone from themselves. Or at least trying to. We always seem to be the best at decision making in tough situations. Oh, how black girls were magic in Black Panther, let me count the ways....
  1. First up, Nakia. The newly crowned king of Wakanda's love interest. Yes, she was sent as a spy but she was not just observing, she was saving the people. Although we did not get much detail about her "mission", it looked as though she had inserted herself into the human trafficking operation and was freeing the helpless. That is, until her needy ex-boyfriend came to get her. LOL! And even after she was offered the throne, she declined. Essentially saying, yeah, this is nice but I have things to do. Nakia was beautiful, fearless and honorable. Just doing it. 
  2. Then we have Okoye. The general of Wakanda's royal army. Leading a band of bad-ass bald women warriors. She was wise and intuitive. Always calm, she never appeared to make decisions out of emotion. Always calculating and loyal. Even to the point of being willing to off her own man in order to save the people. 
  3. The one who stood out to me the most was Shuri, the genius princess of Wakanda. There were so many things about Shuri that I could relate to. Obviously, she was brilliant. But she was funny and relatable. Not your typical princess, she clearly wasn't fond of rules but would follow them when absolutely necessary. She was always tinkering with and finding ways to improve a process. That's what I'm talking about! WORK! 
My girl, Shuri!

Yes. There were other women in this movie with stand up rolls but these three were my favorite. 🤷🤷 They worked together to save Wakanda but they also helped the king see that the Wakandan way is not the best way for the sake of humanity and progress. So they helped to save the rest of the world too.

Seeing this imagery on the big screen, not only made me proud of my heritage but it was also confirmation that I am on the right path. I am free to do as I please, to develop new products, to improve what I have but also to help other's while I'm doing it. I'm so excited about the growth of Fancy Free Hair & Skin and the plans I have to save the Qmunity while I do it. I am so thankful for this blessing of an opportunity to help others. Yes, you can give someone a job but to help them believe in themselves enough to create opportunities for others is the real blessing.

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you chemical free." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.


Friday, February 9, 2018

The Best Products to Promote Hair Growth

Long locs of love. That's what you want. That's what a lot of women are seeking when they are
caring for their hair. Hair care companies know this and they market their products to you based on this. I'm sorry but I have bad news. I hate to break it to you but products do not make your hair grow longer. That's right! They are LYING TO YOU just to make a couple dollars. Aren't you so glad you found me?

As a scientist, I know the biology behind it. Growing up in a salon and having many years of natural hair care experience, I can tell you with all honesty that everyone's hair grows. The length it grows is determined by genetics. The hair follicle is genetically programmed to grow to a certain length before it sheds from the follicle or hair root. Most people shed 50-80 strands of hair per day. Yes. Biotin and other supplements do promote hair growth. TOTAL BODY hair growth. You may see more/thicker hair but if you're not taking care of it and yourself properly, the length will stay the same.

So why isn't you're hair getting longer? In my experience, people who feel like their hair isn't growing are probably experience breakage before it grows to it's maximum length. So, I have a few tips to maximize hair growth that doesn't include buying products....unless you'd like to buy Fancy Free products. I'm totally fine with that. LOL!

5 Tips To Grow Your Hair
1. Drink water
Dry hair is brittle. Brittle hair is more likely to break before it reaches maximum length. Yes, you can apply moisturizing products but water is the best moisturizer. Let it come from the inside. Take your weight and divide it in half. That's how many ounces of water you should be drinking daily. For example: If you weigh 150 lbs., you should drink 75 ounces of water each day. If drinking that much water is overwhelming, try drinking the bulk of it in the morning as soon as you wake up and sipping through out the day. I have taken to drinking flavored sparkling water to break up the monotony. Drink your water however you like but drink it. Your body and hair love it.

2. Take a multi-vitamin and eat right.
My morning routine along with the capsules
There may be nutrients that you aren't getting from your diet. Take a daily multi-vitamin. I have one that I prefer. The whole family takes it. Avoid processed foods. They are full of preservatives and lab experiments. If it doesn't grow from the earth or come from a butcher, avoid eating it. Jehovah has place everything we need on this earth. Processed foods tend to be high in calories and low in the nutrients that we need for our bodies to function properly. I try to get well rounded meals by using the
following guidelines:
  • 4 servings of protein
  • 4 servings of green vegetables
  • 4 servings of fruit
  • 3 servings of unprocessed carbs (sweet potato, corn, carrots, etc.)
  • 1 serving of oil or grain (I use 2 tablespoons of flax seed meal in my morning smoothie to cover this)
Now, I'm not strict with this. I do have the occasional slice of cake or piece of candy but this is my guideline.

3. Let your scalp breathe.
Just like every living thing needs water to survive, it also needs oxygen. Shampooing your hair regularly cleanses the scalp of residue from products and sweat allowing oxygen into your hair follicles. If you like to wear weave, make sure you are getting to that scalp with a witch hazel swab or something. Avoid shampoos that dry the hair out because, remember, dry hair tends to break due to damage more often than moisturized hair. I recommend Apple Cider Vinegar rinse (Click HERE for ACV Rinse instructions) for the scalp, followed by a sulfate free shampoo (if you must shampoo), and/or a conditioner (Conditioners can be used in place of shampoo. They have cleansing properties without the drying effects). Make sure you read the ingredients of your shampoo before your buy it. Some products will claim "Sulfate free" on the front but the ingredients include a derivative of sulphate in them.

4. Keep your hair moisturized.
Yes. You are drinking half of your body weight in water daily. Now, we have to address the products. If you are using products that are oil based, like Fancy Free Shea Pomade, and other shea butter products or oils, these should only be applied to wet or damp hair. Why? Well, they are designed to seal moisture - aka water - into hair. When oil based products are applied to dry hair, it's just oil sitting on top of dry hair. Water based products, like Fancy Free Milk, have water in them and can be applied to dry hair as a moisturizer. Again, pay attention to the ingredients on products that you're buying. Ingredients like mineral oil and petrolatum are not designed to moisturize and can actually leave your hair feeling more dry than it did before you used it.

5. Use "low manipulation" styling techniques.
KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF YOUR HAIR!!!  I can't say this enough. Have a professional install your weave. Find a style and products that work for your hair so you don't have to re-twist or roller set your hair more than 2 times a week. Only detangle damp or wet hair. If you want super long hair, let your hair loc. Have you ever noticed that people with locs have the longest hair? That's because locs are low manipulations. You're only twisting the newest hair, at the roots. And those 50-80 strands that shed everyday? Well, they're literally loc'd in. So the hair appears to grow longer because those strands that would normally come out in the comb or brush are still attached.

All hair textures can grow long. I've seen it. I am a witness. It just takes learning your hair and sticking to your routine. One bad heat styling experience can ruin all of your hard work. It's like losing weight. You can diet and exercise but if you don't make the required lifestyle changes, the weight will begin to creep back on. Nourish your hair and it will grow long and flowing, no matter how kinky the coils are.

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you chemical free." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.