natural-hairI’ve been natural since 1994, way before there were 50 billion blogs and YouTube tutorials dissecting the natural hair “movement”.  Everything I learned about my hair was done through trial and error. Plenty of errors, as a matter of fact. Up until this past year, I rarely made a visit to the hair salon, unless I was too lazy to do my own wash and sets, and even then I always brought my own products that I knew would work on my hair. I’m particular about the products I use in my hair because of allergies. As a kid, I discovered I was allergic to plenty of fresh fruits and was labeled with having oral allergies. Till this day, there are fruits and nuts that I know I can’t eat fresh, or I’ll go into anaphylactic shock.

Two weeks ago I paid a visit to a natural hair specialist to have my hair washed and retwisted. I actually forgot to bring my own shampoo and conditioner, but was familiar with the products she used. After I sat under the dryer for a about  30 minutes, she rubbed oil on my scalp. I was happy with my hair when I left the salon.

About 24 hours later, I was covered in hives.

When I started  seeing my stylist, I made mention of the various “natural” products I could not use because of my allergies. Shea butter, lemongrass, and tea tree oil are all on that list. Unfortunately, the oil she used that day had tea tree oil in it. It wasn’t anything benadryl couldn’t handle, but it could have been prevented. I would advise anyone to test out a product before they use it to make sure they’re not allergic to it. In countless hair forums, I’ve seen women complain about rashes, hives, swelling, only to find out it’s an allergic to reaction to their new favorite natural hair product.

Below are a list of common symptoms to a few popular ingredients in natural hair products:

Tea Tree Oil:

One common side effect of tea tree oil is skin irritation, especially if applied to broken or dry areas of the skin. Skin irritation can include stinging, burning redness itching or inflammation. In some cases, full strength tea tree oil can also cause mild to severe rashes to develop on the treated skin. Performing a skin patch test is recommended before applying. Tea tree oil can also cause a mild to severe allergic reaction to those who are allergic to the plant. If you are allergic to ingredients from the same family as tea tree oil, such as cloves, guava, eucalyptus, or allspice, you may be at a greater risk for having an allergic reaction to tea tree oil, states the American Cancer Society. The longer tea tree oil is allowed to sit and age, the more it also has a chance to break down into components that are more likely to cause an allergic reaction. Signs of a mild allergic reaction may include hives, rashes, itching, or congestion. More serious allergic reactions can include the same signs as a mild reaction plus possible cramps, diarrhea, light-headedness, flushing, vomiting, swelling, or life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Coconut Oil:

Allergies to coconuts and coconut oil are considered rare. They can take two forms: a food allergy or a contact allergy. A tree nut allergy isn’t necessarily related to a coconut allergy. Chances are higher of developing an allergy to touching things that contain coconut oil than developing an allergy to eating things with coconut oil in them. In both cases, your body is reacting to certain proteins it thinks are harmful. Your immune system responds by releasing an antibody called immunoglobulin E, and it tries to fight off the “dangerous” coconut invaders. When it comes to a food allergy to coconut oil, your likely symptoms are itching, hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing and swelling in your lips and tongue. A contact allergy to coconut oil — which is often found in moisturizers, shampoo and other cosmetics — can result in an itchy rash or blisters that develop within a day or two of touching the allergen.


Tags: ,
Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter
  • Medinah

    Hi, I use to have allergies to a lot of fresh fruits and dairy products and nuts.I thought it was something that would remain permanent and id have to avoid those foods for the rest of my life. But allergies are the result of a “leaky gut”. You can get rid of every single one of your allergies by healing your gut. Do research into leaky gut, GAPS Diet, Dr mercola articles etc.

  • Barbara

    I don’t know what to use on my hair accept olive oil but it doesn’t keep my natural curl pattern moist and my hair gets frizzy and dry. I have multiple chemical sensitivities snd allergies. I’m allergic to environmental and foods. I am also allergic to nuts. I know what caused my illness but it a slow process to detox my body. My doctors said I will always be allergic/sensitive because of my exposure it triggered a gene in my genetic makeup. I can’t wear nail polish, mskeup or lip stick. All this causes anaphylaxis.

  • imani

    I’m wondering if my excessive hair loss is due to shea butter, coconut oil or Tea tree oil, all of which i use! Since I’ve gone natural, my hair shed has doubled & i have an itchy tingling scalp & occasional scabs! Never thought shea, tea tree or coconut could be the culprit.i scalp sweat a lot so i thought that could be the cause.i have no nut allergies so how could it only affect my scalp?

  • kayla

    How can you tell if your allergic or your scalp is just going through the transitioning stage of switching to a natural shampoo?

  • Latashia Ann Nix

    I am severely allergic to coconut and tea tree. My scalp breaks out really bad. I’ve only been natural for about a year and I’m having a very hard time finding products… All the creams are way too heavy for my very fine, thin hair. I created a mixture of a couple different mousses that give my curls definition and moisture but I have to apply daily; with winter coming I can’t go out with a wet head daily. I’m on the verge of giving up because my scalp is really suffering!! If anyone can suggest products please help