by Susan Walker of DrWalkerWellness
What began as a curious investigation into a technique and system many naturals are using to style their hair ended in anger and frustration and a revelation that as naturals, some of us a don’t feel as though our specific hair texture is “good” enough.
I’m going to preface this post by saying that my own personal bias is woven throughout because of my own personal hair journey and the thoughts, feelings and perceptions of beautiful natural hair I’ve had to fight through when it comes to my hair, to get to the place I’m at right now. It’s candid and to the point. And it may offend. You can stop here or continue to read on.
The Press Release for a new product on the market. Beautiful Textures is not the only product line that is offering these types of products. But it’s the one I’ve chosen to assess since many women are intrigued by the freedom, flexibility and – well read on.
Strength of Nature, LLC the makers of African Pride, Beautiful Textures, Mega Growth, ElastaQP, Soft&Beautful , TCB, and Proline is changing the rules in hair care with a ground-breaking new product: the Reversible™ Straightening Texture Manageability™ System!
Now women can have the hair versatility they want without harsh chemicals and without permanently altering their curl pattern.
Whatever your hair texture – curly, kinky-coily, wavy or frizzy – the Reversible™ Straightening Texture Manageability™ System (TMS) allows you to go from natural curls to straight styles and back again. For relaxed hair, the system extends the time between relaxer new-growth applications.
“We’ve heard what women have been asking for,” says Strength of Nature CEO Mario de la Guardia. “They want styling versatility. They want no harsh chemicals and they want healthy hair. The Texture Manageability™ System provides all three in a simple, at-home, four-step process. This is truly a game-changer and we at Strength of Nature couldn’t be more thrilled to be ushering in a new category in hair care: texture manageability.”
The secret is the Inner-Active™ Leave-In Conditioner, which is infused with essential oils, natural butters and amino acids, and has no harsh chemicals. The Inner Active™ leave-in conditioner penetrates the hair, causing it to elongate and soften while making it easier to detangle. Once the detangling process is complete, the hair is blow-dried and flat ironed, creating beautifully straight, touchably soft hair with unmatched body, movement and shine – all in a fraction of the time of most traditional straightening methods.
It just takes four quick steps:
Step 1: Shampoo and rinse hair 3 times. Towel dry.
Step 2: Apply leave-in conditioner. Wait 20 minutes.
Step 3: Blow dry hair using medium heat.
Step 4: Flat iron for desired results.
TMS gives Reversible™ Straightening that lasts 4 to 6 weeks with the use of the Humidity Defense™ Anti-Reversion Shampoo and Conditioner.
To flip back to natural, shampoo hair several times with a clarifying shampoo.
I’m especially interested in the above paragraph:
“The secret is the Inner-Active™ Leave-In Conditioner, which is infused with essential oils, natural butters and amino acids, and has no harsh chemicals. The Inner Active™ leave-in conditioner penetrates the hair, causing it to elongate and soften while making it easier to detangle. Once the detangling process is complete, the hair is blow-dried and flat ironed, creating beautifully straight, touchably soft hair with unmatched body, movement and shine – all in a fraction of the time of most traditional straightening methods.”
If you’ve learned anything from me and my posts you’ll have basic understanding the of the hair’s chemistry.
So you know that there is NO WAY the hair texture can be modified without changing the hair’s chemistry somewhat. No way. In order for your hair to be straightened – be it temporary OR permanent – bonds need to be rearranged. And how can this be done? There are a few ways:
- Blow drying
- Flat ironing
- Brazilian Hair Straightening
- Japanese straightening system
So part of this straightening process of the Texture Manageability System process is blow drying and flat ironing the hair. We know that adding heat through these processes will straighten the hair. But the effects don’t really last 4-6 weeks unless there is some type of heat damage and the hair won’t revert to its curly state. And everyone knows that blow drying and flat ironing naturally curly hair doesn’t make it resistant to humidity. Moisture is not your best friend. So how is it that this system is able to result in hair that resists moisture?
Let’s take a look at the ingredients of the products included in the kit shall we?
Gentle Cleansing Shampoo: Aqua , Sodium Olefin Sulfonate , Shea Butter Amidopropyl Betaine , PEG-150 Distearate , PEG-75 Shea Butter Glycerides
Hmm, nothing too out of the ordinary hair. Looks like a pretty good formula.
Inner-Active Leave-In Conditioner: Aqua , Glyoxyloyl Carbocysteine , Glyoxyloyl Keratin Amino Acids, Shea Butter Aminodpropyltrimonium Chloride , CyclopentaSiloxane , dimethiconol , dimethicone crosspolymer , Silanetriol , panthenol , Isopropyl Palmitate, methylchloroisothiazolinone , methylisothiazolinone
Ahh, yes, this is worth coming back to!
Humidity Defense Anti-Reversion Shampoo: Aqua , Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate , Shea Butteraminopropyl Betaine , Cocamidopropyl Betaine , Cocamide MEa , Polyquaternium 67 , Ethylene Glycol Monostearate , Imidazolidinyl Urea
Looks okay. I’m leaving this alone.
Humidity Defense Anti-Reversion Conditioner: Aqua , Cetearyl alcohol , glycerin , Shea Butter Cetyl Esters , Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil , Behentrimonium Methosulfate , Shea Butter Aminopropyltrimonium Chloride , Butyrospermum Parkii Fruit (Shea Butter) , Olea Europaea Fruit Oil (Olive Oil) , Hydrolyzed Glycine Soja Protein (Hydrolyzed Soy Protein) , Mangifera Indica Seed Butter (Mango Butter) , Argan Spinosa Kernel Oil (Argan Oil) , Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein , Cocos Nucifera Oil (Coconut Oil) , Hydrolyzed Triticum Vulgare Protein (Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein) , Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil (Sweet Almond Oil) , Hydrolyzed Avena Sativa Protein (Hydrolyzed Oat) , Citrus Aurantifolia Peel Oil (Lime Oil) , Citrus Limon Peel Oil (Lemon Oil) , Citrus Limon Peel Wax , PHenoxyethanol , TBHQ , Phospholipids , Glycolipids , Glycine Soja Oil (Soybean Oil) , Glycine Soja Sterols , Hydrolyzed Keratin , Creatine , PEG 90M , Butylene Glycol , hydroxyethylcellulose , Imidazolindyl Urea , DMDM HYDANTOIN , Citric Acid , fragrance , BEnzyl Benzoate , BEnzyl Salicylate , Coumarin , d-limonene , Hexyl cinnamal , Lyral , Methyl Ionone Gamma
So how does this entire process work? I found an image that perfectly depicts the experience as well as the emotions you’ll feel once you use the system and your hair is – and I quote – “more manageable”.
You cleanse your hair with the Gentle Cleansing Shampoo and then apply the Inner Active Leave In Conditioner. You blow dry the hair until it’s dry and then flat iron. And voila! Beautiful straight hair. Or – if you choose – more manageable curls.
Sound too go to be true? Not really if you do some research and look up women who have used the product and swear by it. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the system does what it says; that is straightens the hair. But the question is, how is it doing this?
In order to determine what’s going on we need to look at the key product in this entire process. The Inner Active Leave-in that is not to be rinsed out.
Inner-Active Leave-In Conditioner: Aqua , Glyoxyloyl Carbocysteine , Glyoxyloyl Keratin Amino Acids , Shea Butter Aminodpropyltrimonium Chloride , CyclopentaSiloxane , dimethiconol , dimethicone crosspolymer , Silanetriol , panthenol , Isopropyl Palmitate , methylchloroisothiazolinone , methylisothiazolinone
There are a few ingredients in this product but let’s concentrate on the top 5 since it’s these ingredients that determine the effect this product will have on the hair:
Water, Glyoxyloyl Carbocysteine, Glyoxyloyl Keratin Amino Acids, Shea Butter Aminodopropyltrimonium Chloride, Cyclopentasiloxane…
I especially want to focus on these two: glyoxyloyl carbocysteine and glyoxyloyl keratin amino acids.
What are they?
Before I tackle this question, let me back up a little. Let’s go to Brazil. The beginning of…
The Brazilian Keratin Treatment (also called Breezilian Brazilian Keratin Treatment, BKT, Brazilian Blowout, Escova Progressiva, Keratin Cure orKeratin Straightening)
An attempt to achieve semi-permanent to permanently straight hair that was reversion resistant was used by stylists in Brazil starting in 2003. They used a liquid or lotion containing formaldehyde (1.5-5%) and other ingredients such as keratin, conditioning agents, aldehydes or other catalysts and preservatives. They used a blow-drying system (known as “escova progressiva”). The hair is blow-dried and flat-ironed at a very high heat (450F) while the product is still on the hair. After flat-ironing the hair is rinsed and then styled.
Why formaldehyde? The use of this chemical may be new in hair care but formaldehyde treatments have been commonly used in the wool and textile industry. Since wool and the hair fiber share similarities, the use of formaldehyde on wool can give some insight into how it may work on the hair.
Formaldehyde can form cross-links with protein in specific regions of the hair to form bonds, holding them together in a semi-permanent fashion. The best pH for this reaction is between 6.0 and 7.0. The bonds don’t last forever and are broken through repeated washing cycles, allowing the hair to return to it’s previously curly state.
The smaller polypeptides and amino acids of the hydrolyzed keratin in the active liquid or lotion penetrate the cuticle and help to plump the hair and fill in gaps. The larger molecular weight portions form a film on the surface of the hair and are held there by the crosslinks. The high-temperature (and I do mean high) flat-ironing process straightens the hair and locks in the new straighter configuration. It also seals the cuticle and the keratin film on the surface.
While the hair straightened using this process was silky and shiny, there was one major drawback. Umm, the formaldehyde?!
The allowable amount of formaldehyde in hair and skin care products in many countries can’t be more that .2% free formaldehyde. Note the solutions used contained way more than this amount. 1.5-5% formaldehyde. Exposure to formaldehyde solutions can cause contact dermatitis or skin irritations. The fumes emitted during the straightening and smoothing process containing formaldehyde were cause for concern. They caused irritation of the eyes, respiratory tract, nose and throat. The could also cause burning of the eyes and throat, watering of the eyes, dry mouth, loss of smell, headache and feeling of grogginess. To top it all off, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.
The Occupational Health and Safety Adminstration (OSHA) has three airborne exposure levels for formaldehyde:
- Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of .75 ppm of formaldehyde for 8 hours
- The action level (AL) of .50 ppm for 8 hours
- Short Term Exposure Limit (STEL) is 2 ppm for 15 minutes
In other words, these are the maximum safe exposure levels for specific time periods.
Since the toxicity of these methods has been established, companies have been searching for ways to give women what they want. Whether natural or not, women want to have their cake and eat it too. Am I wrong? Who doesn’t want more “manageable” hair? You know, the truly “wash n go” hair that requires nothing but a light misting of water, the application of conditioner for great curl definition and that’s it. It would save women time, money and a whole lot of stress dealing with their natural hair. They would also have styling versatility without a ton of risk. They can wear their hair straight if they choose and for longer periods of time. Yes, this is what women want. This is what the press release said! Give women what they want. This new “category” of hair care. This so-called “texture manageability”. Are you kidding me? This is the name for it???
In any case, enter the Texture Manageability System. And let’s turn our attention back to the “Inner Active Leave-In Conditioner”.
From the Press Release:
“The secret is the Inner-Active™ Leave-In Conditioner, which is infused with essential oils, natural butters and amino acids, and has no harsh chemicals .”
Really? Let’s look at glyoxyloyl carbocysteine and glyoxyloyl keratin amino acids. Glyoxyloyl carbocysteine is a reaction products of glycolic acid + acetic acid + acetic acid. Glyoxyloyl keratin amino acids is the product obtained by the reaction of oxoacetamide and keratin amino acids.
It’s interesting to me, that if these ingredients ARE NOT chemicals, that they’re found on PubChem, a chemical database. What is Pubchem? PubChem is a database of chemical molecules and their activities against biological assays. Oh but I guess I missed the words “harsh chemicals”. Whatever that means.
Anyway these ingredients are relatively new so there is not much information about them. From what I have found they seem to function as an anti-static compounds and hair straighteners. How do they work? The bonds in your hair that help hold its shape contain an amino acid called cysteine. When you use a product that adds more cysteine to your hair, under the right conditions of pH and temperature, you can rearrange some of the cysteine bridges and force your hair into a straighter shape.
Dr. Ali Syed, an accomplished researcher and expert in cosmetic chemistry and ethnic hair stated this:
“Some companies are starting to employ formaldehyde’s cousins such as gluteraldehyde or glyoxal in their systems and marketing that as a positive attribute. What they forget to mention is that they react with the hair in the same manner that formaldehyde does. The compounds expose the stylists and salon patrons to the exact same health issues. Gluteraldehyde or glyoxal may perhaps be weaker than formaldehyde but the companies may be using as much or even higher percentages to achieve the same effective straightening.”
Recently Dr. Syed conducted a study to evaluate both the effectivness and safety of the new reactive ingredient Glyoxyloyl Carbocysteine (and) Glyoxyloyl Amino Acids on smoothing and straightening the hair, and formaldehyde release on type 2A -3A hair. The reason these hair textures were chosen t0 be evaluated is that type 4 hair is usually easily straightened with conventional chemical relaxers; however type 2 and type 3 hair tends to be resistant.
It’s important to note that there are several “smoothing” systems on the market. While most systems have shampoos and follow up conditioners, the main product is the smoothing liquid or cream that goes onto the hair to do the job of straightening.
In general, the smoothing products will have the following characteristics and steps to take with some variations among brands:
- It is based upon Glyoxylol Carbocysteine and Amino Acids at 15% active levels
- The pH will be low – about 1.5-2.0
- It is left on the hair for 20 to 30 minutes, blow dried in and then flat ironed at 230°C (about 450°F)
- Hair is rinsed with water, shampooed gently, conditioned, and blow dried and flat ironed for final style
According to the study these smoothing systems offer the following:
- Less damaging compared to othaer straightening systems (like relaxers)
- Reduces hair volume for type 2A-3A hair types (the test hair types)
- Hair is easier to comb during wet and dry combing
- Hair has a radiant shine
- Daily styling and manageability is a lot easier
- During the application of the lotion and the time it sits on the hair there’s no formaldehyde detectable. However during flat ironing for about an hour levels were at .14 ppm
Compared with formaldehyde treatments, hair treated with glyoxylol carbocysteine:
- Has less elasticity but better straightening ability
- The ease of combing of Type 2 hair increases significantly after the treatment.
- There’s more shine
- Is more resistant to humidity
- Emits less formaldehyde which falls well within the OSHA guidelines
So why am I angry?
I suppose I should be used to it by now. The shady, deceptive advertising that is done by companies. Preying upon the secret desires and fears of women and to have hair that is “more manageable” without the use of “harsh” chemicals. It’s like a relaxer without the chemicals right?
I guess I’m angrier at the message it sends to women who are natural. Those women who don’t have that desired hair texture. Let call the texture what it is – the “feels like silk” hair strands. The truly wash n go hair. The hair that requires little work to look good instead of spending hours washing, conditioning, detangling and twisting. Just to get the desired style. I feel the anger because my hair texture would be considered to be the “less manageable” texture. And I’ve fought so hard since I embraced my natural hair texture to understand it and appreciate it and truly get it and accept what I’ve been given. And I feel that even though some of us a natural, we haven’t truly embraced this process and we’re not truly free. So it both angers AND saddens me that “we” are asking for a new category of hair care products that chemically alter our hair without the permanence of a texturizer or chemical relaxer in order to make our hair easier to deal with.
And some naturals are truly believing what the product companies are feeding them about these types of products. I saw this on one blogger’s site:
In a nutshell, TMS is an amino acid (protein) treatment that helps you go from curly to straight and back to curly. It helps to manage your texture and helps you to achieve straightness for up to 4 to 6 weeks. BUT Beautiful Textures wants us to know it’s not a keratin treatment —keratin treatments typically have a longer “life span” in terms of how long it’s supposed to keep your hair straight. What makes it different? It doesn’t include any chemicals that permanently change your hair.”
See this statement above is why you can’t just take hair care advice and recommendations from just ANYONE. What does this mean anyway? An “amino acid treatment that helps you go from curly to straight and back to curly”… What is that?
Because this ingredient right here: Glyoxyloyl keratin amino acids
Tells me that there is keratin in the product. And if this blogger understood her ingredients, she would know that this is in fact a keratin treatment.
Yes, I’m a bit harsh and forgive me for being so. It’s just the that natural hair care misinformation is so pervasive that confusion, frustration and desperation is inevitable.
So where do I stand?
DO YOUR RESEARCH and know what you’re getting yourself into. You’re altering the chemistry of your hair! I don’t care how temporary or permanent it is, this is what you’re doing. The product is rearranging bonds, forming new ones and causing the hair to stay in a specific configuration.
I’m all for styling versatility and wanting to manage your hair a little easier if you find it difficult to be natural. I get it. And I’m not judging you if you want to use these systems. My only issue is you not knowing what you’re putting on your hair and how you’re taking care of it. Again it goes back to taking someone else’s word for it and not doing a thorough investigation yourself. If you’ve done the investigation, understand the risks associated with it and you’re okay with them then go ahead! And what are the risks? According to the Beauty Brains
“These…straightening products are safer than formaldehyde-based products. However, they can damage hair by making it dry and prone to breakage. If you like the straightening effect you get from these products you may be willing to put up with some degree of damage.”
The use of these systems depends on your natural hair philosophy. You know, that driving concept that runs through all of your decisions when it comes to your natural hair. The purpose of having natural hair is to truly enjoy the freedom that comes with it. And that may mean straightening once in a while. Just don’t be fooled by companies and stylists that understand the fears of many women who are natural.
I get it. Most of you have embraced your natural hair in order to NOT put chemicals on your hair. You were tired of the breakage, damage and likely concerned with the health issues that came with it. You tried “being natural” and it may or may not be what you thought it was going to be. Perhaps certain expectations weren’t met. Maybe you’re tired of spending tons of money trying products that don’t seem to work for you. And you’re desire for easier manageability has you trying different techniques to accomplish this without “chemicals”. Because that is the fear. Chemicals. So companies are going to market their products as being “chemical free”. The reality is, they’re not.
Oh, and they have a system for children too. What are we teaching them? A loaded question and one I don’t really want to tackle right now. But it’s something to think about. My view is skewed since the main reason I embraced my natural hair was because of my daughter. To set an example and ensure she loved her hair. So my personal philosophy prevents me from trying this system. That would go against everything I believe in about being natural even though I would love to run a comb through my hair when it’s wet with no tangling or breakage!
So what’s the bottom line?
- The Beautiful Texture Hair Manageability System (I hate the name BTW) is a new generation keratin treatment. Don’t get it twisted or believe the marketing jargon. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck then (fill in the blanks).
- It IS a chemical treatment system that works by altering the chemistry of the hair through rearranging bonds and forcing the hair into a straighter shape…even if it is temporary.
- The process requires the correct pH and heat in order for it to be successful. The heat application required is blow drying and flat ironing at 450F. Is this a problem? Maybe or maybe not. But one thing is for sure. Heat can damage the hair. Read this to find out how.
- The leave-in lotions contain a lot of silicones. These silicones act as heat protectors to reduce damage from the application of heat during the process and to protect the cuticle from damage.
My take on it? It offers options. Styling options and texture flexibility. Just know what the product is all about and what you’re using on your hair. Don’t be fooled by marketing hype and persuaded by people who don’t know what the product is really about. If using the product allows you to embrace your texture more readily then I say go for it. Remember being natural is about freedom to choose how you want to style and care for your hair. For me at this point these products just don’t line up with my personal natural hair philosophy. I’m not a purist by any means, nor do I follow conventional “natural hair rules”. But I need to do this for myself and for my beautiful daughters.
So there you have it. A new class of products designed to improve your hair’s manageability and softness and to give styling versatility. Does it do what is says? I have no doubt. It’s up to you to determine if a system like this is right for you.
I am re-posting this very detailed article by Susan Walker of DrWalkerWellness because I have told my natural hair group many times before to beware of the disguised straightening systems.