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Hask Placenta is an “instant” hair treatment meant to improve the look and feel of extremely damaged locks. Hask Placenta has diehard fans, but others, like Beth Shapouri of "Glamour" magazine, have trouble getting over the yuck factor of using a product that contains an animal placenta. You apply it after you shampoo, and massage it thoroughly into your hair and scalp. You can then style your hair after waiting for 3 minutes, according to the manufacturer.
This product contains “placental protein.” This comes from animal, not human, placentas, says Shapouri. The theory is that, because the placenta nourishes a developing embryo, it also can nourish and rejuvenate your hair. However, Dr. Nelson Lee Novick, author of “Super Skin,” says it does no such thing. New York Univesity dermatology professor Ronald Brancaccio is skeptical, too, telling reporter Julie Rawe of "Time" magazine that there’s nothing magical about placental extracts. Generally, proteins are used in hair care products due to their emollient and water-binding properties, says Paula Begoun, author of “The Original Beauty Bible.” Emollients are thickening and lubricating agents that prevent water loss, and have a softening effect on hair. Placental protein is not an ingredient that’s approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration, Shapouri notes. Placentas are not allowed to be used in products in Canada, notes Deirdre Imus in “The Essential Green You.” Imus says that placenta products raise concern because they can contain estrogen and other hormones. “Blue Skies for Afrikans” author Paul Ifayomi Grant theorizes that the estrogen in placenta products may increase the risk for breast cancer.
SD Alcohol 40
The SD Alcohol 40 is the second ingredient listed in this product, after water. It is a solvent and can also serve as an antifoaming agent, according to the Cosmetics Info website. It can be irritating to skin as well as drying when it is a top ingredient in a formulation, advises Begoun.
Centrimonium bromide is a quaternary ammonium salt. It keeps static electricity from building up, according to the Cosmetics Info website. This ingredient also may prevent odor because it can destroy or inhibit microorganism growth. These salts aid in forming emulsions as well by reducing surface tension among the substances, and they assist in distributing or suspending insoluble solids in liquids.
Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that is extracted from milk, says Begoun. It exfoliates cells on your skin’s surface by breaking down the material that holds these cells together. It may cause irritation, according to Begoun.
Stearamide MEA stands for stearamide monoethanolamine. It is a waxy solid used to increase the thickness of the water portion of personal care products, according to Cosmetics Info.
The cetearyl alcohol in Hask Placenta is an emulsifier that keeps the product from separating into its liquid and oil components. It’s also used to alter the thickness of liquid products, according to Cosmetics Info. Polysorbate 80 is another emulsifier. It is among the polysorbates often derived from lauric acid, which comes from coconuts. Polysorbates are considered safe and non-toxic in the concentrations that are used in cosmetics, says Begoun.
Phenoxyethanol is a commonly used cosmetic preservative. It’s one of the less irritating preservatives, and does not release formaldehyde, says Begoun. The methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben and butylparaben in this product are also preservatives. Parabens also cause less irritation than many other preservatives, Begoun notes. They also provide broad spectrum activity against mold, bacteria and fungus that can contaminate cosmetics.
Dimethicone is a silicone-based polymer. Silicone’s unique fluid properties give it a “slippery” quality, and it may feel like silk on your skin or hair. It also can act as an emollient and be a used as a water-binding agent, says Begoun.
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Linda Tarr Kent is a reporter and editor with more than 20 years experience at Gannett Company Inc., The McClatchy Company, Sound Publishing Inc., Mach Publishing, MomFit The Movement and other companies. Her area of expertise is health and fitness. She is a Bosu fitness and stand-up paddle surfing instructor. Kent holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Washington State University.
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