The Biology of Beauty

A friend of mine surprised me the other day by announcing that she hadn’t washed her hair since October. Given that she did not look like a total grease ball — quite the opposite, actually — I was curious to learn more.

What resulted was a lengthy discussion on the biology of hair.  Until thirty or forty years ago, daily hair washing was rare; shampooing happened weekly or bimonthly.  It wasn’t until marketers got their hands on milder formulas that it became a daily thing and a vicious cycle began.  You see, shampoo strips hair of all its natural oils.  As a result, oil glands in the scalp overcompensate and produce too much, and your hair looks greasy.  But if you wean yourself off shampoo, eventually your scalp glands readjust themselves to only producing as much oil as you need.

Learning about this led me to learning more about Thai deodorant stones, as well.  Deodorant/antiperspirant contains a number of chemicals, including aluminum which has been linked to a number of bad things.  When you look into the real nature of sweat, though, it’s not as simple as sweat=smell.  The BO stench comes from bacteria, not the sweat itself.  (For this reason, if you forgot to put deodorant on and are worried about smelling- hand sanitizer is a quick fix.)  The deodorant stones work by killing the bacteria, thus eliminating the smell.  And those yellow stains on your white shirts? Not sweat stains, but deodorant stains– it’s the aluminum that is ruining your clothing.

It has made me really curious about all those products we use, why we use them, and whether or not there are natural alternatives. So far, the answer has always been baking soda and vinegar, which happen to be my two favorite household cleaning items.  Do you use “natural” beauty or health products? Why or why not?

2 thoughts on “The Biology of Beauty

  1. LinnieGayl

    I don’t use natural alternatives, but am intrigued. I have a friend who only washes her hair about once every two weeks, and it always looks gorgeous. But she has long, luxurious, curly hair.

    A few years ago, at a dermatologist’s urging, I switched from using all of the astringent/oil soaking up pads to a very gentle cleanser. She assured me that my face wouldn’t be dripping with oil. In fact, she said the astringents/oil soaking things that I used throughout the day were actually producing more oil. I didn’t believe her, but gave it a shot. Within a couple days of just using cetaphil twice a day no more oil.

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  2. Rike

    I use a crystal stick deodorant, because my skin doesn’t agree with any other sorts. It consists of minerals (Ammonium Alum) and I was worried when I first started using it that it would not be enough to prevent smell. It is, however. There are no yellow stains, either. Its one drawback is weight, but since I have found a really small stick for traveling, I am very happy with the product.

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