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What Dangers Lie in Your Shampoo

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Lathering up in the shower can be somewhat therapeutic. There’s nothing like letting hot water run over you as you wash off the daily grime. But what you lather on your head can be quite dangerous- making the experience more like a chemical bath than a relaxing rinse. In this post I’ll shed some light on some of the harmful ingredients found in your everyday shampoo that the FDA will not (or cannot) regulate.

The skin is the largest organ on our body. Whatever we apply to it, will absorb into our bloodstream like a dry sponge. Most cosmetic products won’t show obvious signs of toxicity on our skin but may be poisoning our bodies over time after repeated use. For instance, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are two very common ingredients found in your everyday shampoos. But the alarming thing is you can also find them at a mechanics shop in things like brake fluid, concrete cleaner, and engine degreasers. The American College of Toxicology reports that SLS can build up in your heart, liver, lungs, and brain even if you wash it off right away. Another study revealed that SLS could form dangerous levels of cancer causing nitrosamines particularly when combined with other common ingredients found in personal care products.

When reading the back of the label on your shampoo watch out for formaldehyde (yes, the same stuff people use for embalming the dead.) This nasty toxin is suspected to cause DNA damage and has recently been listed by the U.S. government as a known human carcinogen. You might see Formaldehyde in the ingredients list under quaternium-15 . In 2011, a campaign for safe cosmetics demanded Johnson & Johnson (baby shampoo) remove the cancer-causing toxin from their popular shampoo. After relentless media backlash and persistent campaigning, Johnson & Johnson reformulated their product to a natural version removing the chemicals of concern. This doesn’t mean all infant shampoos have done the same, so beware of the back of the bottle when purchasing any shampoo especially for your kids.

If you have a bad dandruff problem buying head & shoulders may not be the best idea. Many of the specially medicated shampoos contain coal tar dyes. These particular toxins might increase the risk of Hodgkin’s disease and cancer.

So be diligent about reading the labels carefully when picking out a shampoo. If you’re trying to save a buck, you might be a little worse off since the cheaper shampoos usually contain more harsh chemicals than salon brands.

Picking Out a Truly All natural Shampoo

Soap nuts are derived from a tree and are pretty much as natural as it gets. These little nuts get a lot of buzz in the environmental blogosphere and work great for many different uses. On Amazon, you can find soap nut shampoo that is 100% botanical, chemical-free, and USDA certified Organic.

John Masters shampoo has gotten great reviews on their animal cruelty free certified organic products. Of if you want to save some money and go the super green route you can try this girl’s homemade shampoo recipe, which she claims, makes her hair voluminous and sheen.

It’s important you be selective of what you put on top of your head or on your skin in general. Our brain is the hub of our entire body and we need to protect it from dangerous chemically laden products. The FDA either doesn’t have the resources or simply doesn’t care to stop these dangerous products from flooding the market. The great news is we can vote with our dollar and choose the right products that are reflective of our healthy lifestyle. To get a full comprehensive overview of the dangerous toxins lurking in your shampoo and conditioners I recommend checking out this site for more info.

Photo Credit: AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Jaako on flickr

Angie Tarantino
About Angie Tarantino (150 Posts)

Angie Tarantino is a contributor and part founder of The Environmental Blog. She covers animal rights, green tips and general green news topics She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. Follow @EcoChic314


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