Don’t be fooled by fancy stickers and attractive packaging that says words like ‘healthy,’ ‘natural’ and ‘herbal’ – the majority of commercial shampoos, even ones claiming to give you naturally healthy hair, use an array of toxic chemicals.
The FDA has very loose regulations on what is allowed to be included in shampoos. Many known carcinogens, and other dangerous substances, are in the mix.
These are absorbed into your scalp every time you lather up. They enter your bloodstream through your pores, and from there, affect every system in your body.
The following are just a few of the commonly-used shampoo additives to watch for:
Parabens: Parabens are preservatives found in many skin and hair care products, as well as an array of cosmetics. Studies have linked them to elevated estrogen levels, hormonal imbalances and cancers.
Methylisothiazoline (MIT): Used in many brand-name shampoos and conditioners, this preservative has been found to cause neurological damage in humans by the National Institutes of Health. It has also been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and, perhaps most frighteningly, it has been linked to an increased risk of brain defects in unborn children.
Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate (SLS and SLES): These two are surfactants that give shampoos that luxurious lather. Organic shampoos with real, natural ingredients do not foam like the commercial types that we are used to. Along with potentially causing eye and skin irritation, SLS and SLES have been linked to genetic mutations, disruption of the endocrine system and cancer.
Propylene Glycol: This moisturizer can be irritating to the skin and has also been linked to an increased risk of immune disorders and respiratory problems in children.
Artificial Fragrances: Many of these can cause rashes and other allergic reactions, as well as nausea and headaches in some people. Some fragrances have been found to be carcinogenic.
Artificial Colors: Many artificial colors have been linked to allergic reactions, sometimes severe, and to behavioral disorders in children. Some have been linked to cancers. Yellow 5 is an especially widely-used color compound linked to many potential adverse reactions.
When choosing a shampoo, your best bet is to choose something organic, plant oil-based, and petroleum and paraben-free. Be sure to read your ingredient labels very carefully to avoid the above-mentioned offenders.
However, many other dangerous chemicals are included in shampoo, so it is important to make sure that you know what all the ingredients are. Organic shampoos sometimes cost more, but it is worth it in the long term to avoid the dangerous side effects of that foamy lather, bright color and artificial perfume smell.
You can also try washing your hair with baking soda and rinsing with white vinegar. Not only will this natural shampoo clean your hair thoroughly, but it is a safe and inexpensive alternative to commercial shampoo.