Monday, 28 July 2014

Bad Ingredients Label: Kinky Curly Knot Today

So, you must know by now that I really dislike it when products are badly labelled. This is most common in the natural hair industry with small start ups who are keen to keep their ingredients as a trade secret. However, I am actually mightily surprised that a company as large as Kinky Curly is up to some  trickery creative labelling.

This is the ingredients label on Kinky Curly Knot Today

Organic mango fruit extract, organic slippery elm, organic marshmallow root, organic lemon grass, cetyl alcohol, behentrimonium methosulfate, citric acid, phenoxyethanol and natural fragrances   Q1. Where is the water?  If you have read previous instalments on the law of product labelling, you will have heard me harp on about why water should almost always be the first ingredient in a hair shampoo or hair conditioner. I am very perplexed as to how this apparently water based moisturiser has no water, when water can often constitute 80% or more in such a product and should be the first listed ingredient.     Q2. What if you (Jc) are wrong and this product is just concentrated and has little water?  Honestly, you should hope that I am right and the water has been omitted. Why? Cetyl alcohol and behentrimonium methosulfate are solid pellets that need to be dissolved. If that list as printed is correct then this is not a water based conditioner but an alcohol based one with phenoxyethanol as the only possible solvent on the list (To be clear, I think that water has been omitted and phenoxyethanol is a preservative).  Q3: But the Kinky Curly Website says their products do not contain alcohol or silicones 
 Sorry, but- phenoxyethanol which is declared on the label is of alcoholic origin **(please read the comments for clarity on aromatic ether alcohol/ glycol ether vs alcohol). Perfectly legitimate as a preservative and sometimes used as a solvent just as an alcohol.    Q4. But it has so many organic and natural ingredients  I don't think so (my opinion). I am totally against listings of herbal extracts in water at the top of the list. This is often because only small amounts are used (do note that if large amounts were used, the colour of the product would end up more along a brown or green colour - similar to the colour of bark/leaf). This product is white so my theory is that those herbal extracts have a very minor role on the hair but a major role on you as the consumer.   Q5: So what really is in the bottle?  In my honest opinion, I sincerely doubt that we have the full ingredient list. I am fairly certain that water has been omitted and additionally, I also think that oil may also have been omitted from this list.  Here is the breakdown of the declared ingredients:

Ingredient
What is it?
How much would typically be found in a hair product?
Organic mango fruit extract, organic slippery elm, organic marshmallow root, organic lemon grass, Herbal Extract (Normally drop a few herbs in water or oil or alcohol as the solvent, wait for a few minutes/hours, sieve out the herbs, use the water to make the product) Generally less than 1%
Cetyl alcohol Emollient (softens hair), Thickener (makes conditioner more gloopy instead of it being overly liquid)Around 5%
Behentrimonium methosulfateSurfactant (Smooths down cuticle, reduces static, softens hair) Around 5%
citric acid, phenoxyethanol Both act as preservatives - citric acid is a weak fruit derived acid  that stops products going rancid, also adjusts pH slightly and phenoxyethanol is an alcohol which can also be a solvent. Depends on the formula - can be effective from as little as 0.1% but sometimes much more is added to improve shelf life or kill more microbes
Natural fragrances Could really be anything! Manufacturers are not required to define what the fragrance is Should not be much (under 1%) but can be e.g when some manufacturers use fragrance to disguise other ingredients

So if you total up the percentages of expected amounts of the declared products - you get to around 12%. If you even decide to be generous and make it 20 or even 30%....what is the undeclared 70-80%?

The thing I fail to understand is that kinky curly knot today is by all accounts a very much loved product by many naturals, why does the manufacturer feel inclined to have a very poor and even possibly misleading label?

37 comments:

  1. Wow, just wow. You are totally the best...ever.

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    1. Your article is incorrect. You are guessing the formula and we have no idea the breakdown of ingredients used by any company.

      Phenoxyethanol is NOT an alcohol. It is a colorless OILY liquid used as a preservative. It is used in vaccines and many medicines which are taken internally. It is definitely not an alcohol.

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    2. Anon, you are right that I am guessing the breakdown, based on the standard formulation. If a label is not clear, this is what I would recommend. I absolutely stand by my estimations as they are typical for standard formula.

      If you want to be precise, phenoxyethanol is a glycol ether or an aromatic ether alcohol. For clarity, I have adjusted the article to say glycol ether rather than just alcohol. I can appreciate that some scientists would prefer that. FYI, as a solvent, phenoxyethanol is what is used for paint and nail polish that gives off that pungent/alcoholic smell.

      Many alcohols are colourless liquids. I am also not against use of alcohols in products anyway. I am also not against kinky curly products,kckt is quite a loved product and works brilliantly for some people. I am just against lack of clarity and this label is not clear.

      I would love us to reach common ground to expect our hair companies to give us clear labels...wouldn't you?

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    3. I just found this and must say you are so informative. I can't stop reading these articles thank you so much for the info. It's so funny that because a shampoo or conditioner is labeled organic or good for your hair I will rush out and buy it without checking the ingredients and then when I read articles like this I check and what do you know "I've been duped.

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  2. I'd rather use a product that lists all the ingredients than one that claims to be better and doesn't. with that said, I'm glad I never joined the kinky curly hype

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  3. Woow Girl you just busted out my favorite product. I use marshamallow root because of this stuff.
    Thanks for keeping it ONE HUNDRED lol!

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  4. Is it required that manufacturers list the ingredients of the ingredients? To be honest, I just assumed the water came from the fruit extract. Fruit...and the human body...are comprised mostly of water. As a science project in grade school, we allowed an apple to decompose in a jar. Turns out it was about 75% water. No one lists the ingredients of an apple.

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    1. FDA cosmetic regulations do require labelling on every cosmetic.

      Definition of a cosmetic
      A cosmetic is a product, except soap, intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.

      All ingredients which comprise at least 1% of the product must be listed in descending order. If the label had said water containing extracts of blah blah blah as Aveda or Trader Joe products do, you could say they had declared water. This product does not openly declare water. All the extracts listed can be purchased as a powder. You have to know what you will add this powder to, this information is missing. Writing extract does not mean extract in water.

      Full details of the law requirements - http://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/labeling/regulations/ucm126444.htm#clgb

      The apple or human body comparisons are relevant and the reason for the experiment you did is similar to why water should be listed for a cosmetic, it is a vital and large part of the product. It is a basic duty of a manufacturer to know the law and correctly label the product. If KCKT was only being sold in salons, it would not need a label but for sale in target or online to you as an individual customer, it does not meet the standard of declaration.

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  5. This is very interesting. I agree that in order to achieve the creamy consistency there must be water in combination with an oil. I wonder why this label reads this way?

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  6. This product is very similar to the shea moisture detangling leave in which has a longer ingredient list. Perhaps they have some ingredients in common.

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    1. Ooooo, going to look that up now!

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    2. Interesting, the shea moisture product is quite oil based.....convinces me even more that both water and oil may be missing from the declaration

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    3. I believe they are using a pre-manufactured base, have them add a few drops of of what is listed and sell them! VoilĂ !

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    4. Mica C, Can they do that? If they can do that, wouldn't they still have to write down the ingredients of the base? Not only that, if the base is the base for the condition then it will be the most in it, so the base, and all the ingredients above 1% would have to be at the top of the ingredients.

      I had wondered at the lack of water for a while now. It's annoying, since it was the only product that cleansed my hair without irritating my scalp and/or stripping my hair to a haystack. Most importantly, it smells heavenly!

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  7. Ahhh....I'm hurt that the manufacturer would be so decieving. I was considering making this a stable for my daughters hair. I will have to pay attention to any possible build-up before deciding 100%.

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    1. I think that it is wise of you to watch out for build up especially since the ingredient list is possibly not accurate. I would say that many naturals do like KCKT so whatever is in it declared or not may still work well for natural hair :)

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  8. I've read the ingredients list for the Knot Today several times before reading this article and it never crossed my mind that it's not properly labeled for all ingredients. It has to have some type of liquid in it. Thank you for this article. I will keep an even close eye on products ingredients listings.

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  9. When I first tried the product, it actually made my hair dry. I assumed it was because it was mostly water in a TEA-like mixture. I bought it (before I knew that the order of ingredients is important) for the Behentrimonium methosulfate.

    I have used hair products where water wasn't listed as the first ingredients, but there was the TEA mixture, and they gave my hair moisture. Two are popular products: LUSH R&B and Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner. Now for Elucence, the labels state that the extracts are in purified water. Yet the extracts are listed first. For R&B, aqua and Avena sativa are in parenthesis after the first ingredient, Oat Milk.

    I understand that being honest in the disclosure of ingredients is important, and the case of Aubrey Organics (TNHB-Wednesday, 4 June 2014 article) comes to mind. I still use the White Camelia conditioner because in spite of the alcohol,the product still works well for my hair.

    Usually, an outcry and/or complaints to the FDA that are numerous will prompt the companies to print their labels truthfully. Or the FDA continues to go after those companies, such as Aubrey Organics, until they produce honest labels.

    FYI, the ingredient, Triclosan, wasn't always included on liquid soap labels. And the FDA knew about it; as long as the label stated "Antibacterial" or "Drug Facts", it didn't have to be listed. (Ref.: http://www.annmariegianni.com/fda-questions-triclosan-avoid-antibacterial-ingredient/)

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  10. This is an excellent product. I assume the lack of full disclosure of ingredients has to do with a simple formula that could be easily duped. There are many that are similar in performance, but in my opinion this is the best in the class. Will continue to buy and use in bulk. This one of the best leave in conditioners on the market.

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  11. quand j ai lu cet article, j ai ressenti du mecontentement envers KCKT et leur gamme en general. mais apres severe reflexion j ai l intuition que leur strategie est identique a COCA COLA. on aime le gout mais on doute de laliste des ingredients.... meme si ca fait peur d utiliser un produit dont tu ignores 70% d ingredients...j ai la chair de poule, n empeche que j aime bcp le resultat sur mes cheveux.

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  12. Thanks for posting about this products and what I have thought all along has been confirmed.

    I have always wondered about the ingredients. I know that the ingredients that are listed first are probably not the active ingredients that make this product work. I am always suspicious of companies that list the good ingredients/herbal extracts first, because I know those are not usually the ingredients that make the product work.

    This product has never worked for me and I have bought it more than one time only to end up giving it away. It always left my hair dry and it was not a good detangler.

    I wanted this product to work on my hair because of the good reviews it receives, but I'm thankful it doesn't work, because it is a little too pricey for my pockets.

    Very interesting!

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    1. Interestingly this product never worked for me either, although a lot of my friends rave about it. Maybe my hair is just plain old fussy.

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    2. Hello: I saw the ingredients and realized the same thing. I never openly discussed it, but knew it was all about marketing strategies. I do think that small companies should stick with be straight forward as natural are going to buy the product to give it a try. When you look at the ingredients it is very basic. I believe that the extracts are down to 0.5% due to costs now days.

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    3. If this is true JC then the manufacturers/importers have blatantly breached UK law and EU regulations.

      Unfortunately I don't live in a location with a trading standards department which is big enough otherwise I would be sending my left over product to them to investigate.

      Sorry companies blatantly breaching laws that are there to protect consumers annoys me especially when some of their would-be competitors realise they have to stop trading to avoid doing the same.

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    4. Shelley Davis of Kinky Curly was in touch with me last week so I will update this further when she responds.

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  13. love this! youre so smart. thank you for this. i honestly never realized that water wasn't listed. i always went by the blogs and youtubers who doted on the ingredients and never looked for myself.

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  14. This is why I love this blog. Always breaking down the information for us. I was never really a fan of KKKT, tried it and never understood the hype. I always wondered why water wasn't listed tho. Thanks!

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  15. I love when other Bloggers calls out major hair companies that are misleading other naturals. I;ve always thought I was the only naturals who likes to dig deep. This is why I enjoy coming to your site for well research info
    www.themanecaptain.blogspot.ca

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  16. JC, did Shelly Davis of Kinky Curly ever get back to you? I'm waiting to hear what she had to say.

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    1. You and me both lol. I asked some exact questions to Shelley but she never wrote back despite promising to clarify some details, maybe I will write again to her.......

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  17. i absolutely love this product! it is my staple. it works well for my hair & best used when hair is wet

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  18. It may not have water in it. It says to use when hair is wet. Could it not be using the water from your hair to reconstitute itself? I mean it's pretty "gelled" and thick to me. Regardless...its def a great product. I don't get too caught up on ingredients if a product works..but to each his own.

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  19. im sorry but having worked in formulations, you dont know what you are talking about and read this label incorrectly. you are slandering this product.

    you confused the extracts with concentrated oil extracts. they probably extract the mango, marshmellow root, slippery elm, and the lemon grass in water or alcohol. but that extract stays dissolved in liquid form which is then used as a base. id bet they removed the alcohol once the extraction was finished, lemon grass extracts into an oily substance. making this product water based. the surfactant then allowed all of these to be made into an emulsion.

    they list the product in order of which is greatest. just because some products typically make extracts 1% does not mean everyone does. they also provide batch records to the FDA before they can sell anything, which says exactly what was put in. also these places are frequently inspected

    most of your post is speculation and not based on any facts.

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    1. I have to say that as someone who works in formulation, it is actually quite interesting to me that you would be unaware that some of these extracts in greater that 1-2% concentration can be extremely irritating to skin. Additionally, you should know that it is a requirement of ingredients that any ingredient greater than 1% in the formula needs to be named starting with the greatest concentration. The elimination of water is a serious probelem as consumers do believe they are getting a very concentrated non-water based product which is not true. Also, cosmetic companies do not have to be registered with the FDA or submit batch records to the FDA, this is again something I would expect someone in formulations to know. Batch records are certainly part of good manufacturing practice (GMP) but cosmetic companies are only given guidelines and have the choice to follow them or not. FDA rarely ever inspects cosmetic companies unless there are complaints, it is actually one of the worst regulated industries out there as preventative measures such as record or physical inspections rarely happen.

      Finally I have been contacted by Kinky Curly (Shelley Davis) about this article and I asked specific questions about the ingredients labelling, none of which received a reply.

      As a scientist, I am very happy to publish an erratum should I have written something incorrect but I am not in any way willing to do so without my questions being answered. Slander is not my business, science and facts are.

      Instead of being annoyed with me, why not ask Kinky Curly to answer the questions I have raised. Why not push for the water to be included and a complete ingredients lable.

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