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Parabens: Here is what you need to know


Parabens are a common ingredient in hair products



Parabens are highly effective preservatives used to guard against microorganisms that cause mold, mildew and fungus. They are the most widely used preservative and have been used for many years in beauty products as well as foods additives and supplements that we consume daily. There are normally several types of parabens used within any given product and they are easy to identify such as: methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. Besides protecting against the growth of microorganisms, parabens save us money by extending the shelf life of products. Some products in the beauty industry that contain parabens include makeup, deodorants, toothpaste, spray tans, shaving gels, moisturizers, shampoos and other hair care products. But are they harmful?



Parabens have gotten a bad rap over the years being that they also are phytoestrogens, which produce a similar effect to estrogen in our bodies. It was indicated that parabens in products can be absorbed into the body and mimic estrogen, so deodorants (containing parabens) were pointed to as a probable culprit in breast cancer. Parabens were detected in breast tumors in a study in 2004 by Darbre, in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, but according to the Food and Drug Administration, the report didn’t show that parabens cause cancer or that they were even harmful at all.

Another study (Routledge et al., in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology) reported that ” butylparaben, the most potent paraben in the study, showed from 10,000- to 100,000-fold less activity than naturally occurring estradiol (a form of estrogen.)”  Some of these studies conducted on animals suggested a “very weak estrogenic effect” after exposing them to extremely high doses of parabens, much more than anyone would actually ever be exposed to.

The parabens in products are significantly weaker than natural phytoestrogens in foods and supplements we consume regularly. Furthermore  there have been no direct links made to parabens in products and cancer. The bottom line is as of today the FDA hasn’t found parabens to be a threat to anyone.



Worldwide every study to date has concluded that parabens in cosmetics are safe to use, still many companies have made the decision to make paraben free products. Most deodorants and antiperspirants are now paraben free. The oxymoron – Dr. Ranella Hirsch, dermatologist and past president of American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, says whether it be a paraben or some other preservative, every product requiring a shelf life needs a preservative to stop the growth of bacteria.

Some hair care companies that have lines of paraben free products include, Aveda, Aveeno, Clean & Clear and Johnson & Johnson.  If you want to go the paraben free route with your hair care products, check the labels for a “use by” date and product ingredients. Hair care product companies are required by law to list all ingredients on the label. But, could it be that “paraben free” has just become the next new marketing tool?





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Dry Shampoo…your new best friend


Dry Shampoo, Don’t Leave Home Without it 

We’ve all been there. The alarm clock doesn’t go off so we are running late for work with no time to shower. Or, we just finished a great workout and receive a text that the new neighbor’s are over to greet us. Or something like, your mother has just had surgery and can’t wash her own hair but wants to spruce up as friends come by to visit. What’s a girl to do?

There is one little thing that can help reduce your stress and it is small enough to fit in your purse; dry shampoo. I know you have heard about it and maybe you already use it, but if not, you should. It’s a BIG time-saver and certainly the savior of many a bad hair day. So, what is a dry shampoo and what it can do for your hair?

Dry shampoo has been around for years and used to only be available in a powder form (like baby powder) that was sprinkled on the scalp and rubbed into roots and hair. This is still available today, but it can tend to be messy. Dry shampoo’s are now available in aerosol – just like your favorite hairspray- so they’re less mess and much easier to apply.

Dry shampoo is a great styling product to have on hand. It’s formulated to be used in between washes, to absorb excess oils, boost the hair’s body and give a fresh clean look and feel to the hair. It’s perfect for those pesky power outages that interfere with our alarm clocks and a must for any household with teenagers.

Dry shampoo is a great gift idea. It comes in handy for just about anyone; for someone recovering from surgery to a new mom that doesn’t have a lot of time on her hands. Just spray it onto the scalp, rub it in a bit and VOILA!, no more greasy roots, no more untamed locks. It really is that easy. Do wash your hair though in between each couple of uses (to keep product build up at bay).

There are a lot of good dry shampoo’s on the market and almost all professional salon brands offer a dry shampoo. The following are dry shampoo’s that I have used personally and are popular with my clients and customers.

Quantum Refresher – an invisible dry shampoo (no powder residue) it’s awesome for brunette/black hair and it brushes out easily.

AG FastFWD – a cruelty free line (no testing on bunnies.) No CFC aerosol – environmentally friendly and it brushes out easily.

KMS Hairplay Makeover Spray – smells like the beach and brushes out easily.

Big Sexy Hair – Volumizing Dry Shampoo – adds volume and texture and U.V. protection an awesome product to use for teasing.

Joico Instant Refresh – a fast drying spray that brushes out easily without leaving a white residue. Adds volume and lift.

Dry Shampoo can give you one less thing to worry about, and one less thing is always a good thing.

Contributing author Sara Stancu is “That girl in the red coat”. Sara is also the manager of a salon and retail shop with over 20 years of customer service and sales experience. Her tell it like it is approach is aimed at educating and enlightening clients, stylists and salon owners. She has also been the woman locked in the bathroom hating her hair. You can follow Sara on her website That Girl in the red coat and Twitter.

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Celebs Who Trash Their Hair for a Headline

Celebrity Hair

Celebrity Hair; Anything for a Headline

It feels like everybody lately has had their say on Miley Cyrus, and it’s without a shadow of doubt one of the big topics of the past few years. It is a cautionary tale; the young Disney starlet with beautiful, glossy tresses cuts them right off, and goes into a self-destructive spiral, seeking ever more sensational ways to court publicity.

Like Samson, in one of the saddest of all the Biblical stories, so many young starlets drastically change their look, only to discover that sure, they might get a brief hit of publicity, but their career, and often their life, then takes a sudden lurch for the worse.

But Jon, what does all this have to do with hair? Well, from Samson down through the ages, I believe great hair has always been at the very core of having great strength, whether that’s physical, intellectual, or musical. Changing your look radically can be enormously unsettling.

Miley’s now doing everything she can to sustain the initial burst of attention, licking everything from sledgehammers, to statuettes, to her own shoulder, where will it end? The girl’s outta control, and her hair is now more of a twerk in progress (if you’ll pardon the pun!) than what you’d expect of an A-list level superstar.

Mark my words, when her hair is back to normal, so too will she be. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some history. What came first, Britney going off the rails, or Britney shaving her head? You tell me. Now her hair’s back, she’s back. Coincidence?

Lindsay Lohan is another fine celebrity hair example. Lindsay overused non-organic hair colorings against my best advice – some of those non-organic dyes can seep into the scalp and do untold damage to starlets’ lives. Her only positive spells since have come when she cut all that stuff out and concentrated on what she was good at in the first place – having great hair. And don’t even get me started on asymmetrical ‘styles’. Rihanna? Ipso Facto.

But Jon, are you seriously claiming that bad hair can lead to personal problems and the breakdown of once-promising careers? Well, I’m no doctor, but it seems to me the two are intertwined like fine hair that hasn’t been brushed in weeks. It’s a knotty issue, but the proof is out there for all to see – drastic isn’t always fantastic.

People get comfortable with their style, and the public gets comfortable with seeing them that way. Not everybody is a celebrity yet, but that’s a rule you can apply to everyday hair choices too.


Celebrity Hair


This advice isn’t just for ladies, by the way. Look at one of the most successful people in the world – Donald Trump. You can criticize Donald all you like, but only do that if you can recognize the inalienable truth – year in, year out; Donald has one of the most talked about celebrity  hair styles on the planet. He knows better than anyone he can pull that hair off, and he sticks to what he knows. Don’t tell me that confidence isn’t linked to his success. The exact science in all this may not be proven, yet, but why take the chance?

So look guys – take really great care of your hair, don’t do anything too wacky without really talking it through with an expert, and at the same time, you just might be taking really great care of your mind, and your career.

That’s a risk I’ll happily take.

Contributing author Jon Van John  12 Time Swiss Hairdresser of the Year JVJ is an international celebrity hairstylist, and is “Executive Stylist At Large” for a string of salons across Europe. You can see more of Jon’s work on his website and follow him on Twitter @reallygreathair.

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