Black women love a scapegoat. Since hair forums and blogs became popular and we learned from each other exactly how black hair can be grown long, we’ve been looking either for that 1 product that will guarantee us long locks or that 1 evil product that stunted our length retention efforts in the first place.
Scapegoats for our breaking locks have been named and shamed over the years, from mineral oil and it’s sidekicks petroleum and paraffinum liquidum to silicones and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). We sing the praises of overpriced cosmetics that are free from either one or all these ingredients telling anyone who’ll listen that avoiding them is the reason for our sudden success in hair growth.
I won’t pretend otherwise, in the past I was just a fearful of using some of these ingredients as the next person but I quickly debunked the idea that mineral oil is as evil as all that and I have even mentioned in previous articles that silicones can be used as part of a good hair regimen. I’ve personally used silicones throughout my hair journey.
I’m not giving the green light on mineral oil* per se, many products containing this oil are of inferior quality and natural oils* will always be superior anyway, I’m just saying that mineral oil* in and of iteslf is not the cause of black women’s length retention issues. Neither are silicones or any other suspect ingredient that comes to mind.
With that thought, SLS is the next item on my list of myths to debunk. Among the ‘dangers’ assigned to SLS are the following:
1. It’s a skin irritant that some people may be allergic to.
2. In animal studies, SLS penetration and uptake is much greater in neonatal and young animal eye tissue, compared to adult animals, and shows “penetration into the eye, as well as systemic tissues (brain, heart, liver, etc.). SLS also showed long-term retention in tissues, up to five days after a single drop. This has not been researched in humans.
3. It is a possible carcinogen.
4. It strips the hair of natural oils* making it more likely to break.