Free From the Nasties: Our Ingredient Standards for Clean and Safe Haircare
At AlchemyTT, we believe that our customers deserve only the best; that's why we're committed to developing natural products that quickly deliver transformational results without you having to worry about the potentially harmful side effects of harsh chemicals and synthetic ingredients.
When it comes to scalp health and issues like hair loss, various treatments are available on the market. Some of these treatments are more effective than others, but many have potential side effects.
That's why we take pride in our formulations, rejecting shortcuts, opting for quality ingredients instead of cheaper ones and consciously excluding harsh chemicals and synthetic ingredients that have gained attention for their negative impacts both on your health and our environment.
We take a mindful approach to our formulations, intentionally seeking natural alternatives for potentially harmful ingredients.
We use "nasties" to refer to ingredients that cause adverse, undesirable side effects with prolonged use.
Ingredients excluded from our formulations
At AlchemyTT, we do not formulate with:
What is Finasteride?
Finasteride is an oral prescription medication introduced in 1992, to treat prostate enlargement [benign prostatic hyperplasia] in men and male pattern baldness. It can also be used to treat hirsutism (excessive hair growth) in women and as a part of hormone therapy for transgender women. It’s most commonly sold under the brand names Proscar and Propecia.
How does Finasteride work?
Finasteride belongs to a class of drugs called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. It works by blocking the production of dihydrotestosterone, DHT (a male sex hormone that contributes to hair loss on the head). Since Finasteride is an antiandrogen - testosterone blocker that specifically targets DHT, it will not help regrow hair lost due to stress, hypothyroidism and as side effects of certain types of medications.
What are some of the Negative Side Effects of Finasteride?
While finasteride can be effective in restoring hair growth, it can also cause some adverse side effects, including:
- Skin Rash
- Birth Defects
- Difficulty Breathing
- Allergic Reactions like swelling of lips, tongue, throat or face
- Increase in breast size and tenderness
- Sexual Dysfunction -
- Decreased sex drive
- Impotence - Trouble getting or keeping an erection
- Ejaculation disorder
- May increase the risk of developing high grade prostate cancer
This drug is not prescribed for use by pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children.
If you are considering taking finasteride to treat hair loss, we believe it’s crucial for men and the women who love them to become aware of the potential side effects and discuss them with your doctor.
What is Minoxidil?
Minoxidil is a drug that was initially developed in the 1950s to treat ulcers but proved to be ineffective. Owing to its vasodilating (a drug that widens blood vessels) effect, the Food & Drug Administration approved it in the 1970s as an oral medication used to treat high blood pressure. Then it was discovered to have an interesting side-effect: hair growth.
Minoxidil, more commonly known as Rogaine, is now marketed as an FDA-approved, over-the-counter drug for treating male and female pattern baldness. It is available as a topical solution or foam and must be applied directly to the scalp twice a day.
How does Minoxidil work?
Whilst the precise mechanism of action is unknown, as a vasodilator, it's thought to improve blood flow to the hair follicles on the scalp, stimulating hair growth.
One potential downside of minoxidil is that it can cause skin irritation in some people. In addition, it may take several months of use before any benefits are seen.
What are some of the Negative Side Effects of Minoxidil?
While minoxidil can be effective in reversing hair loss for both men and women, like all medications, it can also have some potential harmful side effects. Some users have reported experiencing:
- Low Blood Pressure
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.
- Tachycardia (Irregular heart rate)
- Exacerbation of hair loss/alopecia
- Skin irritation, redness & mild itching
- Scalp dryness and flaking to full-blown dermatitis
- Excessive and unwanted hair growth in unintended areas
Rare side effects include: erectile dysfunction, depression, anxiety, decreased libido, skin disorders. It may also pose a danger to pregnant women as Minoxidil may cause fetal malformation.
If you’re experiencing hair loss, you may want to ask your doctor about using minoxidil based on your medical history.
What is Mineral Oil?
Mineral oil is a type of oil that belongs to the class of chemicals called hydrocarbons. It is a transparent, odorless, liquid by-product from refining crude oil to make gasoline and other petroleum products.
Alternative names used in place of mineral oil: Paraffin, Liquid Paraffin, Liquid Petrolatum, Paraffin Wax, Petroleum and White Petroleum.
How are Mineral Oils used in hair care products?
Mineral oils are often used in hair oil formulations because they are:
- Much cheaper than higher-quality oils like coconut and sunflower.
- One benefit of using oils in hair care products is their hydrophobic (repels water) properties. When hair absorbs water, it swells. Repeated swelling and drying can damage your hair. Due to its molecular size, mineral oil doesn’t penetrate the hair shaft. Instead, it's used to seal water from hair by reducing the amount of water it absorbs, thus minimizing swelling and preventing damage to your hair.
What’s so bad about Mineral Oils?
Cosmetic- grade mineral oils are generally safe for use. Some of the side effects generally experienced include:
- Acne breakouts
- Allergic reactions
- Eye irritation
- Build Up on Scalp & Scalp irritation
It’s important to mention that highly refined mineral oils are not known to cause any adverse effects like cancer. However, if the mineral oil has not been thoroughly refined, it may include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are carcinogenic.
Thus, European companies only allow mineral oils in cosmetic formulations if they comply with strict purity and safety regulations regarding PAHs.
As a general rule of thumb, avoid buying products that contain mineral oil unless the label states that it is fully refined as white petrolatum or white mineral oil. White mineral oil is highly purified and meets specifications to ensure that it is safe to use in over-the-counter products.
Alternatively, consider products that contain natural alternatives like argan, coconut, grapeseed, jojoba and olive that improve the health of your scalp and hair.
What are Parabens?
Parabens are a group of chemicals widely used as artificial preservatives for their antimicrobial properties to increase the shelf life of many cosmetic and body care products. Common parabens and their synonyms include:
- methylparaben (or methyl 4-hydroxybenzoate)
- ethylparaben (or ethyl 4-hydroxylbenzoate)
- butylparaben (or butyl 4-hydroxylbenzoate)
- propylparaben (or propyl 4-hydroxylbenzoate)
- heptylparaben (or heptyl 4-hydroxylbenzoate)
How are Parabens used in hair care products?
Many cosmetic hair care formulations contain ingredients that can biodegrade; parabens are added to prevent and reduce the growth of harmful bacteria, mold and yeast that can cause products to go bad. These chemicals are used because they're effective and inexpensive.
What’s so bad about parabens?
Several studies show that the biggest problem with parabens is that they are endocrine disruptors, mimicking estrogen and interfering with the way your body works, such as the early onset of puberty in girls, links to reproductive issues and links to breast cancer.
Other side effects of parabens include:
- Allergic reactions
- Skin sensitivities and rashes
- Harmful to fertility and reproductive organs
We suggest looking for paraben-free alternatives whenever possible!
What are Phthalates?
Phthalates are colorless, odorless, oily liquids often used as “plasticizers” - a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable.
They are in hundreds of products, such as vinyl flooring, lubricating oils, and personal-care products such as soaps, hair spray, mousses, shampoos and conditioners.
How are Phthalates used in hair care products?
They help increase spreadability, lubricate and soften other substances, enhance absorption, and help to make fragrances last longer by binding to the product.
What’s so bad about phthalates?
Adverse side effects of phthalates include:
- Irritate your skin
- Infertility in men and women
- Negatively affect hormones and linked lead to early puberty
- Increase the risk of premature delivery and cause genital defects
What are Silicones?
Silicones are hybrid inert, heat-resistant and rubber-like polymers derived from crystal quartz. Silica (silicon dioxide), common in sandstone, beach sand, and similar natural materials, is the initial material from which silicones are produced. The most commonly used types in hair care are:
- Dimethicone has the effect of protecting the hair shaft from abrasive actions
- Siloxysilicates increase hair body.
How do Silicones work?
This compound is often used in beauty products like shampoos, conditioners, and styling hair products for their ability to lock out humidity, seal moisture, and create a smooth, shiny finish.
What’s so bad about Silicones?
Despite having many short-term benefits, the longer-term side effects of silicone-based products are a cause for concern. These include:
- The protective barrier it creates on hair blocks other nourishing ingredients from penetrating.
- It can be challenging to wash out if the silicon isn’t water soluble.
- Silicones aren’t biodegradable and, over time, cause build-up that’s hard to remove. This results in hair strands having a heavy, dull appearance with a dry feel. As hair becomes weaker over time, it may become prone to breakage.
If you’re looking for an alternative way to achieve similar results without losing the benefits of frizz control, hydration, and a smooth, shiny finish, opt for natural and plant-based oils to nourish the hair. Look for ingredients like argan, bamboo extract, castor, coconut, castor, and daikon seed extract.
What are Sulfates?
Sulfates are chemicals commonly used as cleansing agents. The two primary types of sulfates to be concerned about are:
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).
Sulfates can be derived from fatty alcohols made from petroleum, although they can sometimes come from coconut and palm kernel oil.
How do Sulfates work?
Sulfates, primarily found in cleaning and personal care products like shampoos, are used to create that sudsy, lathering effect to remove oil and dirt from your hair.
What are some of the concerns with Sulfates?
From the environmental perspective, some of the biggest concerns are:
- The long-term side effect associated with Sulfate production. As we're becoming more mindful of our environmental impact, we can now understand that many Petroleum derived products are related to climate change, greenhouse gasses and pollution.
- Palm oil is controversial due to the destruction of tropical rainforests and Orangutans' habitat for palm tree plantations.
At AlchemyTT, we do not use palm oil in our formulations because we believe that the rainforests and the animals that live in them play a crucial role in stabilizing the earth’s climate.
According to the Rain Forest Trust, “Large-scale destruction of rainforests disrupts these very same systems, and that contributes to climate change”, and our rainforests are one of nature's best defenses against climate change.
Many products containing sulfates are tested on animals to measure the level of irritation to people’s skin, lungs, and eyes. Additionally, products containing sulfates that get washed down the drain may also be toxic to aquatic life.
From a health perspective, SLS and SLES can:
- Irritate eyes, skin and lungs
- Strip natural oils from your strands
- Too harsh for the scalp leads to dryness and irritation.
- Avoid if you have sensitive skin, contact dermatitis, eczema or rosacea, as it can cause clogged pores, acne and irritation.
Due to these concerns, consumers and manufacturers opt for more environmentally friendly alternatives.
Whether you’re a man or woman currently experiencing scalp and hair issues from dry, itchy and flaking to shedding, thinning, or actual hair loss, you’ve probably encountered a variety of options from prescription drugs to over-the-counter remedies to treat your symptoms.
However, the ingredients used in these treatments have potentially harmful side effects in terms of health and from an environmental impact perspective.
Two ingredients that get the most attention are probably finasteride and minoxidil.
Finasteride is a synthetic anti-androgen used to treat male pattern baldness.
Whilst, Minoxidil is a vasodilator (a drug that widens blood vessels) used to treat male and female pattern baldness, as well as alopecia areata.
These ingredients have been linked to various health problems, from cancer to sexual dysfunction to infertility. It's no wonder men and women are now looking for clean, natural alternatives, “free from” ingredients without these undesirable side effects.
A Natural Alternative
If you now wish you had a safe, clean, cruelty-free and effective alternative to help you achieve the fuller, thicker, longer, healthier-looking hair that you’ve been dreaming of without the scary side effects, then you’re in luck.
Nourish lets you harness the power of 100% all-natural, safe and effective plant oils that mimic the mechanism of clinical formulations without the scary side effects. The best part is our customers have reported seeing results in as little as 6-8 weeks with consistent, weekly usage, and so can you!