Deciphering the labels of cosmetic products is often likely to cause headaches – or some pretty high-count words at Scrabble. Luckily our production crew here at GROOM can make sense of this plethora of latin words and molecule names.
As we’re inaugurating this blog we’re gathering some of their prized knowledge in order to read through this confusing nomenclature pertaining to men’s styling products.
Moreover, we state why GROOM has decided to produce a hair pomade out of waxes, butters and oils that are 100% natural.
Not natural, then harmful?
First of all let’s make sure we stay clear of greenwashing. Synthetic and artificial ingredients that make up most cosmetic products will not harm you. Granted, that third arm growing on your forehead is unsightly, but it can’t be blamed on your hair gel.
Despite having names that redefine tong-twisting and look more appealing to your car engine than your scalp, these ingredients have been homologated. Their use is tightly supervised by health authorities but it’s relevant to mention that the list of prohibited ingredients varies considerably from country to country.
So what is deemed good by your government might have been blacklisted elsewhere, and for a reason too.
For instance some ingredients (such as Cyclopentasiloxane, better known as D5, which as been rated as a potential carcinogen and prohibited in Europe) are still tolerated in Canada, although we’re more than skeptical over the benefits of spreading some crude oil on your head.
Wait, you said crude oil?!
We sure did. To be more accurate, it is transformed and/or refined petrolatum ingredients that you will find in a huge majority of gels, pomades and waxes. These substances act as a conditioner to untangle and soften hair, making it easier to style. And let’s face it, they are fantastically efficient at it too, and damn cheaper than their ecological counterparts.
More efficient, cheaper, not downright harmful… so why bother?
Simply put, if their use lowers the production cost, their environmental cost goes through the roof. On top of the list is the ecological crisis caused by the extraction and transformation of oil, which compromises the integrity of ecosystems the world over.
That’s why we chose to use high-quality vegetable oils for our products (castor, hempseed and grapeseed) to tackle the untangling and conditioning you need for your hair.
Make it hold!
And please do! That’s why we put stuff in our hair in the first place, right?
Here again, however, some mean-sounding ingredients are about. Polyvinylpyrrolidone is one of them (short name PVP). It’s a synthetic polymer that excels at sculpting hair, but that is also extracted from a highly toxic compound : N-vinylpyrrolidone.
Going through the details of what is a polymer would be rather tedious, but the simpler solution we went for is to select natural ingredients that offer a sculpting effect, such as beeswax, castor wax and lanolin. Unlike their synthetic counterparts that hold the hair in a tight grip, these guys allow for a natural flow to the hair.
But why a « grease-based » pomade over a « water-soluble » gel ?
Excellent questions, Reader, which calls for an excellent answer. Products that are more liquid (gels, creams, etc.) or water-solluble are often made with a large portion of water. While there’s nothing wrong with water, it creates a perfect environment for bacterial activity, which comes hand in hand with preservatives.
That’s when the infamous parabens – which have been criticized as endocrine disruptors- join the party.
While there are some preservatives of natural origins, the process often involves extracting a natural molecule for synthetic processing. That’s why we’re going one step further and opt for an older type of formula, one that pre-dates the cosmetic labs themselves. Since they combine in a way with virtually no ground for bacterial activity we can skip the addition of preservatives altogether.
Is it natural or not?
It’s all good writing « NATURAL » is huge font on your labels. But when you think that everything lately seems to make such a claim – from mock chicken to bottled water – what is it worth?
Since there is little legal value around these words it’s fairly easy to promote something as « natural » despite containing numerous synthetic compounds and additives. And you see, « pure », « organic » or « natural » make great sales arguments.
Developing a product entirely natural, however, is time- and cost- consuming, requiring a great deal of care. If time is money and that money is, well, money, you know this process is not the most talked over in executive meetings.
In our fast-paced and cost-cutting economy, deciding to develop a hair pomade made in small batches, using only noble and natural ingredients has a value of commitment to us : certain things are simply worth the time and effort.
On a side note if you’re having a hard time reading the ingredients on our labels – what in the world might Cera Alba be?- stay calm and read along. The reason is that we follow Health Canada’s requirements and list our ingredients in the INCI (pronounced « inky ») language, being the international language for cosmetic ingredients.
Back to Cera Alba : it’s beeswax! Butyrospermum Parkii Butter is long for shea butter, and you can probably guess that Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil is hempseed oil.
In a word, here at GROOM we decided to go the full length to offer a responsible product, miles away from dodgy oil derivates, sinister polymers and obscure preservatives.
Get your style on in the best way : one that respects that environment, our core values… and your health!