Well Told With Joy McCarthy of Joyous Health

The founder of Joyous Health, Joy McCarthy is an award-winning Certified Holistic Nutritionist and best-selling author of The Joyous Cookbook, Joyous Detox and Joyous Health. A trusted nutrition expert, Joy has been featured in hundreds of publications both online and in print; and is a regular health expert on TV. In addition to creating numerous online programs and eBooks, and co-hosting the Joyous Health Podcast with her partner Walker, Joy has also launched a line of natural self-care products, including hair care, skin care and teas.

And because for a limited time customers will receive The Joyous Health Natural Lavender Shampoo with any purchase of $40 or more, we wanted to learn more about the importance of using natural self-care products, some of the ingredients to look out for in conventional products, and how we can be supporting healthy hair through nutrition.

You’ve created a line of all-natural personal care products, which includes hair care. When it comes to conventional hair care products, what are some of the key ingredients we should be avoiding? 

SLS and SLES are the two most common ingredients you’ll find in any product that foams, including shampoo, but not our hair care! It’s in thousands of products from shampoo to toothpaste. However, the real problem with it is the manufacturing process, which is called ethoxylation. Ethoxylation results in contamination of 1,4 dioxane which is a carcinogenic compound. It may also be contaminated with ethylene oxide, which is listed as a cancer-causing substance according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Essentially, any ingredient that ends in “eth” has been ethoxylated. Finally, there is strong evidence that SLS is both an eye and skin irritant according to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments. 

Any product that lists “fragrance” or “parfum” as an ingredient should be avoided. That’s because the word “fragrance” can contain over 3000 different ingredients that don’t have to be disclosed to the consumer. Even products labeled as “unscented” can actually be a fragrance in itself that is made to smell unscented! Fragrant products can pose a number of health issues from organ toxicity and irritation of the skin, eyes and lungs. The most hazardous chemicals are hidden in "fragrance". The smartest choice you can do is to use products that only use pure essential oils or herbs to scent their products, like my shampoo and conditioner which use lavender oil to give them that natural flowery scent. The nice thing is that essential oils don't stay in your hair for hours afterward either.  

And finally, propylene glycol is found in everything from engine coolant to airplane de-icing fluid and it is used in many products as a solvent. It’s in thousands of cosmetics and more than likely in conventional shampoo. It is a strong skin irritant, can cause liver abnormalities and Environment Canada lists it as “toxic or harmful”. Propylene Glycol is synthesized from propylene oxide, a petrochemical.

Can you talk about the concept of hormone disruptors and how they are commonly found in conventional personal care products?

Hormone disrupting ingredients come in many different chemical forms. The definition of a hormone disrupter is a chemical compound that once in the body has hormone-like effects. For instance they can increase the production of certain hormones; decrease production of others; imitate hormones; turn one hormone into another; interfere with hormone signaling; tell cells to die prematurely; compete with essential nutrients and so much more. Scientific research has found that they can affect our reproductive health and have been increasingly linked to the rise of infertility in men. One of the most common hormone-disrupting ingredients is phthalates. This is a tricky one because you'll never see the word "phthalate" on an ingredient list because it's found in other ingredients such as fragrance, parfum, or aroma. BPA, dioxins, fire retardants, pesticides and heavy metals are also hormone disrupters and abundant in conventional personal care products. 

What are some of the key ingredients in your Natural Lavender Shampoo and how do they work to naturally cleanse hair?

There are many ingredients that can be used in natural shampoo that are not harmful to the environment, safe for kids and adults alike. We chose to use clean ingredients that are mostly organic and highly effective! Coco Glucoside is one such ingredient that is used as a foaming, cleansing, conditioning, and thickening agent in our shampoo instead of SLS or SLES. It is derived from renewable raw materials such as coconut oil, and is completely biodegradable. That is the main ingredient for cleansing. We also use pea peptides, which are rich in antioxidants to protect the hair and help to repair it. Pea peptides have volumizing properties too.

As a bonus, we use organic rosemary essential oil because it is known to stimulate hair growth, reduce pain, soothe inflammation, eliminate headaches, strengthen the immune system, and condition hair to make it look and feel healthy. It also has antimicrobial benefits, it’s rich in antioxidants and it conditions the scalp!

Healthy hair isn’t just about the products we use, what are some foods that support healthy hair growth?

I couldn't agree more! The single most effective way to improve the health of your hair is through good nutrition. Your hair grows approximately 0.5 inches every month, which is 6 inches per year! Feed your hair with good nutrition so it grows as much as it is supposed to. There are categories of food that can help support healthy hair including good fats (fish, fish oil, avocados, olive, nuts and seeds especially walnuts, chia and flax). Your hair is made of 90% protein so ensuring you eat adequate protein each day is key. Iron is super important for healthy hair as it affects the growth cycle of hair. Lack of iron typically results in hair loss and lack of shine. Vitamins A, C and B-complex vitamins are all essential for hair growth, healthy scalp and shiny hair. 

What’s been keeping you well these days?

Nature (daily walks in the park), family, and friends! I've made sure to keep all these things a priority in my life to stay joyous!