NEW DELHI: Since the market is flooded with face, hair and body care products labelled and advertised as herbal, people get lured and buy them. But experts say that expensive herbal or natural creams also have chemicals in them and that these rarely have any added advantage over other locally available shampoos, face creams, lotions, or even toothpastes. Navin Taneja, Founder of The National Skin Centre, South Extension 1, says people usually assume a particular brand of shampoo is herbal if the frontal image is of ingredients like avocado or aloe vera.
“But the information on the backside of the container says it has sodium lauryl sulphate and is a detergent-based shampoo, which means it’s not completely natural. For example, Head and Shoulders is a detergent-based shampoo, and there is a shampoo costing Rs 3,000 that is detergent free, sulphate free and PH balanced. There’s a huge difference between the two.”
Those who get lured by such marketing strategies are susceptible to contracting skin allergies and dermatitis from products labelled as herbal. Taneja says, “People shouldn’t think that ‘we have used a lemon-based product, which will make hair good’. Even herbal henna has chemicals.
There’s no added benefit of herbal products over other. Rather than differentiating on the basis of herbal and non-herbal, check the ingredients for sulphates, PH balance, and the base should be a surfactant.”
Such gimmicky products are available in both the economical and expensive range. Doctors, however, are of the opinion that only using natural ingredients is the herbal way to go. For oily skin, Multani Mitti (Fuller’s Earth) paste can be used and for hair, largely a mixture of shikakai and fuller’s earth.
Anup Dhir, Cosmetic Surgeon, Apollo Hospital, Delhi, says, “These DIY things take time and effort but are the most reliable. The government should make strict regulations, so that companies make 100 per cent herbal products. All shampoos have sodium salts, which are not good for hair. Even toothpastes have chemicals. Only if the toothpaste has a green strip on the packaging, it is natural. But in India, one will find very few such brands. In case of oils, if we take example, Bajaj Almond Hair Oil has just two per cent almond oil, and rest is paraben. People should check the product before buying.”
While buying toothpastes, people should check the mark. Green means natural, blue means it contains a mix of natural ingredients and medicine, red stands for natural and chemical ingredients, and black one has all chemical ingredients. In old times, people used to go for datuns (teeth cleaning twigs) and natural henna leaves for colouring hair. Lipy Gupta, Dermatologist, Max Hospital, Saket, says, “Either people should be sure about the composition, otherwise using totally natural products is the best. Sometimes, ayurvedic products have steroids and whitening agents that are not good for skin. And the packaging doesn’t even mention these ingredients. They should make sure the products are free from SLS, parabens, and hydroquinons.”