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The Search for Safety – or why chemicals dont grow on trees

This post was last updated on August 12, 2021 by Preethi Sukumaran

Prologue: With great power comes great responsibility
Formulating a consumer product for commercial use places a great moral responsibility on the person creating the product. On an average day, an adult using mobile, internet & TV can be exposed to more than 300 types of advertising messages. A neighborhood supermarket carries over 6000 products (in SKUs) on its shelves.
In the middle of this information overload, the consumer depends entirely on the brand’s key advertising message or the main declaration on the pack to make a decision. Nearly 100% of consumers make a purchase decision without complete awareness of every single ingredient or a complete understanding of the safety of each ingredient. This is why I stress upon the moral responsibility of the formulator or brand owner.
Let me illustrate this with the examples of three commonly used chemical preservatives and how the krya team manufactures genuinely natural products using Ayurvedic principles.

  1. “Green-Washing” the consumer with natural claims

Most commercial hair oil brands in India contain a very high proportion of liquid paraffin also known as mineral oil. Liquid paraffin is a petroleum derivative and is an inert substance that interferes with the normal functioning of human skin and scalp. Liquid paraffin has no place in a personal care product for humans, yet is it very widely used across the world. Even leading global brand baby product brands contain over 90% mineral oil in their hair oil & massage oil formulations.
mineral oil or coconut oil
Mineral oils can be tumorigenic and high levels of exposure to mineral oils can increase the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer. 
In this scenario where there is a significant dialogue amongst consumers on moving away from mineral oils, a TV yoga guru, has launched a hair oil which claims to be a  pure natural oil free from harmful mineral oil. This is at best a partial truth and actually a bit mis-leading. While this “natural” hair oil does contain a number of  herbs like neem , amla , bhringraj and a base of til / coconut oil, it also contains “BHT”, which is mentioned prominently on the pack.
However nowhere is the full expansion or function of “BHT” explained on the pack. BHT is Butyl HydroxyToluene , a very common preservative used in food and cosmetics to prevent rancidity and prolong shelf life. However like other common classes of preservatives like parabens or bromates, there are a number of safety concerns over BHT. Europe, Japan , Canada , Australia have banned the use of BHT in food products. In cosmetics, BHT is a known skin toxicant and allergen 

  1. The Krya hair & skin oils: with zero chemicals and NO preservatives

 So given the norm of adding preservatives everywhere, is it even possible to manufacture personal care products without using synthetic preservatives? Here’s an example from Krya .
For our range of skin and haircare oils, we follow the classical Ayurvedic “Sneha Kalpana” protocol, in which we extract the herbs in water & oil and then finally simmer the herb extracts in the base oils for 6-8 hours to create the final product. The Ayurvedic protocol defines 6 different stages or “paka” of progress and gives us two diagnostic tests (wicking and fire-sparks) that demonstrate that all the water from the mixture has been evaporated and that the levels of anti-oxidants are adequate to give long shelf life.
By cooking our oils on slow heat over 8 hours, and following the protocol to determine that the moisture has been eliminated completely from our mixture, we can ensure that our oils are free from bacterial and fungal contamination. As the base oils are processed along with herbal decocotions, swarasas and herb pastes, their tendency to turn rancid is checked . The herbs we use themselves also have potent anti bacterial and anti fungal action. So the Sneha kalpana process, the time taken to make the oil, and the herbs used, together eliminate the need for a chemical preservative like BHT.
Sneha Kalpana Process resized
However the process we follow at Krya is a very labor, fuel and time intensive process – there are no shortcuts, which is why very few manufacturers use it.
The short-cut process is to blend a very small extract of herbs in a base mixure which is mostly Liquid paraffin to which a small amount of vegetable oil is added along with perfume, and then add a synthetic preservative like BHT. This also helps it cutting costs to ensure a lower priced product- but is it really Natural? Is it genuinely Ayurvedic in thought, spirit and action ?
The Sneha Kalpana process gives a hair oil with a shelf life of 9- 12 months. It does not produce a product with a shelf life of 3 – 5 years. So if you come across a product that claims to be “natural” and indicates a shelf life of 3 years, you should suspect the use of preservatives like BHT.

  1. Paraben-free , Sulphate-free ( But still contains bromates & benzoate)

As a result of a global consumer back-lash to chemical cosmetic products sold by the big brands, a number of new start-ups have emerged to provide “natural” and “organic” cosmetics to discerning consumers. A common way in which they distinguish themselves is by declaring proudly on the their packs that they are “Paraben-free” or “Sulphate-free” since there is a clear global consensus that parabens and sulphates like SLS are not fit for human use.
However if you carefully read the label of such “natural” products, you will find that they use sodium benzoate and potassium bromate as preservatives. Once again you must ask for yourself some simple questions – on which tree does sodium benzoate grow? Is potassium bromate found naturally on the hillsides of Himalayas? Then on what basis do the brands that use bromates & benzoates call themselves natural?
Sodium benzoate is a very common food and cosmetic preservative. Ascorbic acid which is one form of Vitamin C is also commonly used in food and now even cosmetic products. These two chemicals can react to release benzene, which is a known carcinogen. Today with the current research, several brands which claim to be safe and parabens-free are using benzoates and bromates. However once enough research is conducted on the toxicity of such chemical preservatives , we will have to re-evaluate their use in everyday products.
Your suspicion should be further aroused when these so called “organic” and “natural” look and work similar to chemical shampoos & conditioners. A genuinely natural product like Krya which strictly follows the Ayurvedic wisdom maybe presented in formats that are at first a little inconvenient to use – for example the Krya hair-wash range is in the powder format – which is the prescribed format according to traditional medicinal systems which delivers the power of whole herbs to you. Interestingly this is also the most environmentally friendly format for hair-care unlike liquid shampoos & conditioners, which are environmental hazards apart from being a hazard to your hair.
So many of the Krya products will present a learning curve before they become a part of your life but the end results for you, your family and the planet will make it a wholesome win-win solution.In this blog post we are very happy to share the journey of how & why, Savitha from Chennai made the switch to Krya.

We are a Krya Family ! – written by Savitha Saranathan
I had been on a lookout of an organic hair care product for more than 3 years because I felt that the synthetic ones weren’t good for our environment (well I didn’t know that they caused so much harm to our system as well until I read about the posts on the ingredients from Krya).
I was looking to move all my water pipes to the ground and so I was clear that I could not use synthetic products. Traditional homemade shikakai powder wasn’t doing a good job of removing oil and rendered the hair rough. That’s when, more than 2 years ago I bought the first ever Krya hair wash powder. I didn’t really appreciate it at first, because I was finding it difficult to mix the right amount of water and it did leave some kind of fine powder on my hair. And did not go despite repeated washing.
But then once I started using it regularly, I started appreciating the fact that it did a far better job than the other synthetic products that I have used so far.
Things that changed significantly in my case are the hair growth speed, hair texture, and hair density. I used to have thick, black, straight hair until I was in school (because amma was absolutely against shampoo and I had to sneak in a small pack of heads and shoulders. I thought shampoos do a far better job than natural hairwash powders). Post college, there was a significant loss (read: more than 40%) in my hair density. That was my first sign to move out of synthetic products.
My hair texture used to be straight and silky but post shampooing repeatedly for more than a decade, it became dry and wavy and broke frequently. And now, with my switch, my hair texture and density are back to where it used to be.
And this is not a post where actresses on TV with long shiny black thick hair (likely to be a wig) market a hair product. This is something that I have used for more than 2 years repeatedly and I have seen results.
My daughter who was 1 year old when I started using Krya, had sparse hair despite tonsuring more than two times. I was very clear that no synthetic products will be used on her. So, I used Krya (both hair oil and hair wash) and now, it has grown significantly more.
Seeing these results, the husband also has moved away from shampoo to Krya’s haircare products.  We are a proud Krya family! 🙂
Savitha pic Savitha works with a big data start up . She is a passionate advocate of living a life that is light on the planet. She is an enthusiastic gardener, home composter and monitors her home’s water footprint to ensure that she recycles as much of the water that she uses as possible. She lives in Chennai with her husband and two kids.

Krya would like to thank Savitha for several things – for her long term, sustained support of our work, for her environmental advocacy and walking the talk, and for this generous piece despite her busy schedule.
The search for safety can lead you down murky paths to many suspect products. At Krya, we are quite proud of our dark green credentials and the transparency and integrity we follow while designing and manufacturing our natural, good for your goodies.
Hair care is an especially murky path with most companies using toxic, health damaging, suspect carcinogenic ingredients in their formulations for temporary aesthetics.
Krya Hair Olympics challenge FB post Aug 1 2016If you are sick of the toxins and synthetics and are perpetually having a bad hair day, try the Krya switch this month. Throw away your toxin filled synthetic shampoo, conditioner and hair oil and try Krya’s goodness filled hair oils, hair masks and hair wash products instead. Your hair will thank you for this switch.
Every Krya hair care product for adults carries a special discount only in August 2016

  • 10% off if you buy a single piece of any Krya hair care product for adults
  • 20% off if you buy 2 or more pieces of any Krya hair care product for adults or a Krya hair care system for adults

Explore Krya’s huge range of good-for-you hair care products here.

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srinivas krishnaswamy
srinivas krishnaswamy

Srinivas is Krya's Co-Founder. He brings in a unique perspective to Krya with his dual Masters in Physics & Management.

At Krya, Srinivas is motivated by the challenges of crafting the company's DNA - products that delight consumers, manufacturing excellence, a winning team and sustainable profitable growth.

He is deeply committed to defining the first principles of Dharmic Entrepreneurship in order to build a world class organisation rooted in Indian Knowledge Systems.

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