What’s in your hair? That could depend on what’s in your shampoo. Too often, we grab a favorite brand or what ever is on sale without really thinking about what we’re taking home. There are some red flag products in shampoo that you really don’t want in your home or on your skin. Find out what to look for and what to avoid when you’re looking for a safe, gentle, but effective shampoo the whole family can use.
Ingredients to Watch Out For
Certain ingredients can harm your hair, making it dry and brittle, or even irritate your scalp and cause hair loss. When picking a shampoo, it’s best to stick with providers like The Honest Company who use natural ingredients that are not harmful to your hair and skin. Natural products not only help in keeping your hair healthy but you can also avoid some of the harsh chemicals present in non-natural based products. Below we will talk about some of the ingredients which are often part of chemical based products and should clear the air as to why using natural products makes sense.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): These are the ingredients that make all that lovely foam and make you think your hair’s getting really clean, according to the AARP. What these ingredients do is to trip your hair of its natural protectant and irritate your scalp, and can even stop hair growth completely by breaking down the proteins that hair needs. It can also combine with other chemicals to form cancer causing compounds called nitrosamines, according to the Huffington Post, and damage lungs and kidneys.
- Fragrance: This is a catchall term created to protect a company’s proprietary formula from other companies that might copy it. This can cover more than 4,000 different ingredients or compounds – and nobody has to tell you what it is or even if it’s safe.
- Phthalates: You can find these listed as an ingredient, or they can come hidden under the category of “fragrance.” Yes, it’s one of those 4,000 secret ingredients that they don’t have to tell you about, and it’s also an ingredient that’s been linked to breast cancer, early breast development, and reproductive birth defects.
- Parabens: Parabens are a preservative used to stop the growth of fungi and bacteria, but it also mimics estrogens. These hormones are absorbed through the skin and have been found in the biopsied of breast cancer
- Triclosan: This popular addition to body washes, hand soaps and even tooth paste, there’s evidence that this ingredient can made bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Additionally, there seems to be no benefit to washing with brands using this ingredient over regular soap and water.
Additionally, these chemicals are now found in the water supply, simply based on their use in millions of homes where they go down the drain every day. Nobody knows the long term effects of their presence in the food chain or drinking water, and their effects are only starting to be understood on the people who have used such products sometimes for decades.
Better for You, Better for the Earth
Using natural products doesn’t mean giving up great scents, effective cleansing, or paying a lot more money. If anything, using natural products for your shampoo and body wash might be a lot less in the long run. Natural products often come from sustainable and renewable resources, and are tested and processed in ways that are kinder to the earth and its inhabitants. A lot of the effects that chemicals mimic are natural processes. For instance, ginger and lemon oil have antimicrobial properties – and they don’t cause bacteria and fungi to become resistant to drugs. Fragrances in natural shampoos and body washes come from distilled essential oils instead of a mix of chemicals. Another point to consider is how the products are tested, since many of the big corporations still conduct animal testing of their products, despite repeated statements that the ingredients and the products made from them are safe.
Very simply, the regulatory atmosphere surrounding cosmetics and personal care products is lax, largely due to the interference of the corporations that provide so many lobbyists and consultants to government. When their paid scientists say that a product is safe, the FDA allows a product or drug to remain in the market place, and only after significant harm has been done will it pull the product. Drugs such as Vioxx, Rezulin, and others remained in the marketplace despite causing outright death. The slow removal of ingredients of BHT, phthalates, and parabens from personal care products and cosmetics has not come because of regulation, but because of scientific study showing them to be harmful. Even with evidence, there is often some banner waving that these ingredients are generally recognized as safe – but in many cases they’ve never been tested. In a regulatory move known as “grandfathering” they’ve been allowed to remain, untested, only because they’ve been in use for so long. Choosing to go with naturally sourced products for yourself and your family can make your home a healthier and happier one.
Do you use natural shampoo? Which brand do you use? Do you like it? Would you recommend it for others?