Clean hair – it’s as easy as using a bit of shampoo, and washing the dirt and grease away. Or so the advertising agencies would have us believe – but whether you have bought a cheap shampoo from the supermarket, or a high-end product from the salon, they are probably not getting your hair as clean as you think they are.
Physical Characteristics of Hair
Whether you’ve got curly or straight, red or blonde hair, the basic characteristics of your hair remains the same. The hair shaft is made primarily made of keratin and contains three layers: the cuticle, cortex and medulla. Each strand of hair grows from the follicle, which are embedded in the skin; these are also associated with the sebaceous glands.
The cuticle is the outside layer of your hair, made up of scales that overlap like roof shingles. If these scales lay flat over one another up going up the hair shaft you have straight hair, if these scales do not lie as flat your hair will be curlier. The job of the cuticle is to protect the internal fibers of the hair shaft. Make sense?
The second layer is the cortex, which makes up the bulk of the hair. This is also where your hair color is formed. The amount, type and density of melanin found in your cortex determines your hair color and intensity. Still with me?
The final internal layer of the hair shaft is the medulla. The number of medullar cells you have determines how thick your hair is. So I’m guessing I have lots of these.
As new hair grows, the follicle provides nutrients to aid growth, and as this happens any substances that might be in your blood stream – drugs from medication, heavy metals, environmental toxins etc – enter into the hair shaft along with the nutrient supply.
Hair grows about 1/2inch to an inch each month. As the hair shaft grows, any chemicals that entered from the initial growth stage are carried along in the keratin as the hair continues to grow. In a hair follicle drug test the entire hair shaft is tested as a whole, but because of this system of growth a forensic toxicologist is able to determine the timeframe of exposure to chemicals or drugs.
Properties of Detoxifying Shampoos
There are lots of shampoos on the market that claim to provide a deep clean, but many are referring to their ability to remove traces of hair wax rather than penetrating deep into the hair shaft. A detox shampoo like Aloe Rid Shampoo is able penetrate deep into the hair shaft in order to cleanse traces of drugs, chemicals or environmental toxins that may be present. Click here for more information.
As some shampoos work better than others, and the genuine products are usually not cheap, there is a market for imitation brands, so make sure that you are purchasing from a trusted source if you decide to try using a detoxifying shampoo.
So, What’s In A Good Detoxifying Shampoo?
Obviously, no one is sharing trade secrets here, but in the range of shampoos on the market or in DIY videos you will see everything from apple cider vinegar to hydrogen peroxide. One popular shampoo (Philip B) extols the virtues of peppermint oil and extracts of Geranium, Gardenia, Sweet Almond and Ginseng.
However, to remove traces of drugs and toxins from deep within the hair shaft, rather than the built up reside on the outside, one of the most popular ingredients is propylene glycol. This chemical is increasingly used in personal care and cosmetic products in the United States in particular. Propylene glycol is also used in food products such as liquid sweeteners, some ice creams, soda. some coffee-based drinks, and in recent times has been growing in popularity due to its use in e-cigarettes and vaping. However, in haircare products propylene glycol helps smooth and soften the cuticle, particularly in curly hair, as it works to introduce moisture to the hair shaft.
As propylene glycol is completely water soluble, so it doesn’t build up in your hair, and generally will break down in the body within around two days. In the few people who have an allergy to propylene glycol it may cause mild irritation to the skin, occasionally with some redness. However, most people seem to use the product with only the positive effect of removing traces of toxins from their hair.
Toxins In Your Hair
Although drugs and toxins enter the hair through your blood stream when the hair cells first develop, and through sweat and the oils in your skin after the hair starts to grow, they can also enter the hair after it has started to grow out of your skin through environmental pollution. This may mean anything from being in a room full of smokers, through to carbon monoxide from walking along a busy road can be detected long after exposure.
The way that hair grows means it becomes particularly useful in testing where a timeline or history of exposure is required. This is why it can be used by employers to detect long term drug habits, by sporting bodies to detect recent use of performance enhancing drugs, or by the justice system to determine levels of chronic addiction. Hair is a crucial factor in ploting events over time.
This is a scientific field of study that is able to analyse your hair and determine what your recent exposure to toxins has been. Levels of marijuana, cocaine, exposure to heavy metals or environmental toxins are all able to be detected by a laboratory specialising in forensic toxicology. Primarily this field uses hair samples to detect the use of recreational drugs, such as marijuana, or enhancement drugs used in sporting endeavors. This is a field of study that is still developing, although hair analysis has been popular since the 1980s.
Have you used a detoxifying shampoo before? I often feel that shampoos don’t get my hair as clean as I’d like but I’ve never really appreciated why that could be.