Buyer Beware: Soft Curls Ahead – Part 2

Desert Essence Coconut Soft Curls Hair CreamA few weeks ago, I wrote a product review post detailing my experience with Desert Essence Coconut Soft Hair Cream entitled Buyer Beware: Soft Curls Ahead, No Lye!

I failed to read all of the ingredients before purchasing and later found out after applying the product that it contained Sodium Hydroxide (Lye).  As a naturalista, I embrace my kinks, coils and curls. I choose to wear my hair in a natural style which has been free from harsh chemicals for several years.

Personally, I felt as if I had been duped.

I sent an email to Desert Essence and submitted a review to their website expressing my dismay.

Desert Essence Product Review Email
I would not knowingly purchase a hair care product that contained Sodium Hydroxide. Most women of color who choose to wear a natural hair style, do not use harsh chemicals, products containing Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) specifically on their hair. The packaging and promotion of a 100% vegetarian product is quite misleading and deceitful.
I received a full refund and will not buy again.

My product review was not approved by Desert Essence, therefore it is not displayed on their website.  However, they did respond to my email.

Desert Essence Product Review Email
We are so sorry to hear about your disappointment with our product. In the Soft Curls Cream, sodium hydroxide is used in hundredths of a percent to adjust the pH. It is natural and vegetarian. In fact, the USDA, NSF, NPA and Whole Foods Premium standards allow this ingredient.  Since you state that you feel you experienced an adverse reaction to this product (tingly sensation), we do recommend you discontinue use and we would like to have our medical consultant, Safety Call, contact you.

Desert Essence offered me a replacement product equal to the value of the Coconut Soft Curls Hair Cream which I could ship back to them (at their expense).

I state in my email that I had returned the product to the place of purchase and received a full refund.  Based on their response I assume one of two things:

  1. They did not read my entire email.
  2. Their response was nothing more than a bad copy/paste on an existing form letter not necessarily unique to my situation.

In either case, they stand behind their product and the use of Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) as an alkali to adjust ph balance.

The new Black Barbie rocking her natural hair since 2006.

I’m not a chemist, so I cannot validate or deny this claim, but I am a naturalista and I will pass on Desert Essence Coconut Soft Curls Hair Cream and any other product containing Sodium Hydroxide.

If I want to eat chicken, I will eat chicken.


I’m Just Sayin’…(Damn!)



Related Posts:
Buyer Beware: Soft Curls Ahead, No Lye!
Black Women, Natural Hair: Trend or Movement

5 comments for “Buyer Beware: Soft Curls Ahead – Part 2

  1. November 17, 2012 at 12:27 am

    OK… I’m confused… maybe it’s because I haven’t been following you… but what do you mean by “If I want to eat chicken, I will eat chicken”?

    • November 17, 2012 at 8:22 am

      Stef,
      The “If I want to eat chicken, I will eat chicken” phrase implies that – It Is What It Is. In regards to Desert Essence’s Soft Coconuts Hair Cream sodium hydroxide (lye) is primarily used as a chemical to straighten black” or “ethnic” hair. Black and other ethnic women of color who choose to refrain from chemical straighteners would never knowingly buy this product because one of the ingredients is primarily used as a chemical straightener. Basically when I say “If I want to eat chicken, I’ll will eat chicken” I am saying don’t try to sell me shit and tell me it’s brownie because shit is shit.

  2. March 14, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    I know I am replying a year later lol But I just want to mention that sodium hydroxide in products is indeed just a pH balancer. Hydroxide (OH) is alkaline, and can adjust the pH if the product is a little too acidic. The concentration of it is what’s important here, which is probably why they mentioned that it is present in hundredths of a percent. In relaxers, hydroxide is present in high concentrations and this is what destroys the hair (I am a fellow natural 🙂

    We come into contact with low levels of hydroxide every day. It is even naturally present in water, in very small amounts because water ionizes itself. The sodium hydroxide present in conditioners and lotions simply becomes a harmless salt in the product. If NaOH is at the bottom of the ingredient list, there is no need to fear.

    • March 15, 2013 at 3:55 am

      That’s interesting and it makes sense and I don’t doubt that we come in contact with low levels of hydroxide daily. However, I would never feel comfortable using a product that contained sodium hydroxide in any amount, there are so many other natural ingredients that can be used to adjust ph aloe vera juice, apple cider vinegar just to name a few. Great comment!

  3. March 23, 2013 at 3:15 am

    You are absolutely right that aloe and vinegar can adjust pH 🙂 they are used to make solutions more acidic (lowering the pH). But if you have a conditioner that is already a little too acidic (aka pH is too low), you have to add something alkaline (to raise the pH). OH is very alkaline, so companies use it to raise the pH. When the OH reacts with already too acidic conditioner, it becomes water and a harmless salt.

    Here’s more about it at curly nikki:

    http://www.curlynikki.com/2012/04/why-is-sodium-hydroxide-in-my.html

    I understand you wanting to be careful though lol I was really careful about avoiding even small amounts of sodium hydroxide too, until I took Organic Chemistry.

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