Clean Hair at What Cost?

Many of us buy our shampoos, conditioners, hairsprays and serums based on their promises to give you soft, shiny hair. We’ve tried our share of different hair care products and brands and admit, we are sometimes persuaded by ones that smell good, look pretty, lather, and leave the hair silky right out of the shower. But the chemicals that make products capable of these very things can be very damaging to our health (among others commonly found in hair products). We took a look at the ingredient list on our shampoo and researched what each ingredient is really capable of and we gotta say, we’re pretty shocked at the hazards of these chemicals; cancer causing? skin irritant? hair loss? What have we been doing to our head?

Read the possible harms of each ingredient listed on our Herbal Essences bottle of shampoo…..

Fragrance – Most fragrances come from a synthetic origin and that one simple word can actually indicate the presence of up to 4000 toxic ingredients (which are considered a company’s trade secret and not required to be disclosed). Possible symptoms of these ingredients can cause dizziness, headaches, skin rashes, irritation and discoloration, coughing and vomiting as well as affecting the central nervous system.

Color – the pigments used to color your shampoo or conditioner are made from coal tar which, in animal studies, have been found to be carcinogenic (cancer causing). Skin sensitivity and irritation is caused by the coal tar’s heavy metal salts which deposit toxins into the skin. Yikes!

Ammonium/Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – this is what causes your shampoo to lather or foam. It’s a de-greaser and often used for cleaning garage floors and engines, so it must be good for our hair right? ;p It is an eye and skin irritant and has also been linked to hair loss. Men, check your shampoo bottles!

Sodium Chloride – this is basically used to make a cheap watery ingredient look thick and rich. If the concentration is too high it can cause skin and eye irritation. Even if the concentration weren’t high, I’m sure using it day after day would cause irritation, no?

Cocamide MEA (momoethanolamine) – it may also show up on your bottle as DEA (diethanolamine) and TEA (triethanolamine) and my God! these hormone disrupting chemicals are also carcinogenics! A study at the University of Illinois found that repeated skin applications of DEA-based detergents contribute to liver and kidney cancers. TEA can cause eye problems and dryness of the hair and skin.

Propylene Glycol – this is a solvent that is commonly found in brake and hydraulic fluid and industrial antifreeze. Workers have to wear protective gear when handling this toxin and it must be stored in plastic drums because it dissolves through a stainless steel tank in 48 hours. It’s put in your shampoo to hold moisture in but it is also a strong skin irritant and can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone – this is used to kill bacteria and fungi and extend the shelf life. It has been linked to organ system toxicity and may be another carcinogenic which is why it is either restricted or prohibited in Japan and Canada. In large doses it can cause chemical burns which is why it was removed from many cosmetic products except for those with short duration of skin contact.

Methylisothiazolinone – also used to kill bacteria and may have a risk to unborn babies. A US study found that the chemical may damage the developing nervous system. Similar to the chemical above and is also restricted in Canada.

These are just the chemicals found in my shampoo bottle, there are others that are very harmful including Mineral Oil, DMDM Hydantoin, Triclosan and I’m sure many others. Although I’m sure these ingredients are used in small enough doses that they are considered “safe” we’re still a little on edge about these findings and are out to test some hair products that are a little less toxic and see what the results are…

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