Friday, November 11, 2011

Horse Shampoo: Yay or Neigh?

Who knew you could walk into the pet store and find your next great cosmetic product? You may have heard of the fad that's started over the past couple of years, probably due to recommendations from daily talk-show hosts and pseudo-doctors: horse products. You may be asking yourself why this would have begun, the reasoning is quite simple to explain. Many claim that the shampoo and conditioner used on a horse's mane causes it to be lustrous, shiny and soft and can have the same benefits on human hair. It's simple to see the correlation, because our hair basically is made out of the same substance: keratin. This post will focus on debunking the myth or giving props to those who have led us into a new age of hair science, depending on which way the evidence weighs the scales of truth.

Reading reviews online of Mane 'N Tail shampoo & conditioner, I have seen numerous posts of African-Americans praising the product because they claim that it is moisturizing and makes their hair manageable. I'm no expert on this matter, so I'm going to take their word for it. I have also heard from people of all other races that they abide by the same principles and the products have proven effective. I'm not here to insult anybody's choices, I just want to get to the bottom of the chemical mystery, what exactly is it inside this product that makes people feel this way about it?

There is no empirical evidence to suggest that hair grows more plentiful or faster, so those claims are off the table. It is important to remember that hair grows up to three quarters of an inch each month in the average person and regardless of how much you damage or treat your hair, this will remain the same because your hair is already dead (technically just not living). There may be a possibility that increasing the circulation in your scalp can help with hair growth, but that would mean you would have to actively stimulate your scalp all the time (ask your significant other for a head massage all day every day? It probably won't help your hair growth so don't bother). Shampoo and conditioner only attach to the not-living hair strands and those aren't growing in and of themselves.

If you think your hair appears fuller from using the stuff, it does. Pet shampoos, more so than humans tend to leave residue in hair (because we don't wash our animals as much as we wash ourselves), so your hair has the appearance of being bulkier because of the product sticking to your hair and not easily washing out. It is important to note that there are no beneficial products in the shampoo, in fact, there is sodium lauryl sulfate (the cleaning agent used in most shampoos) which is a skin irritant and carcinogen. Not to mention, this chemical leads to split ends and broken hair, which is technically the opposite of what you're looking for if you're using the horse shampoo in the first place. Why is a chemical used in shampoos and cleaning products if it denatures skin proteins and leads to adverse side effects? The answer to that is obvious, it is cheap and companies have an easier time making profits using it rather than substituting it for a healthier option. If you want to go truly natural, try Fundamental Earth shampoos and conditioners, but you'll have to pay a pretty penny for them compared to the animal shampoo. To be honest, I'm hardly shocked, if something sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Hoping that this horse shampoo fad was going to be a good practice is folly because if there were some miracle chemical, why would it be used on horses and not mass-marketed to humans? If something great comes along, I'm sure we will all find out about it. Until then, try as best you can to protect yourself from false advertising and untrue word-of-mouth.

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