What’s in Your Shampoo?

I spend a lot of time thinking about what I put in my body (and I’m guessing many of you do to), but what about the things we put ON our bodies?  The skin is the largest organ and every day it’s polluted by products loaded with harmful chemicals.  These chemicals are sometimes hidden behind creative marketing labels that promise anti-aging benefits, thick, silky hair and more, but the reality is they are doing a lot more harm than good.

Today, I thought we would take a look at some of the common ingredients found in our shampoos.  The list below includes some of the biggest offenders in hair care.  When choosing a shampoo, check the label and avoid products with these ingredients.

  • Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate – The synthetic ingredient that gives your shampoo it’s thick, foamy lather.  It’s also used in many industrial cleaning products and detergents.  It’s known to be a possible carcinogen and because of it’s acidic nature it may contribute to thinning hair.
  • DEA – May also be listed as diethanolamine.  This is a chemical wetting agent that is actually harmless on it’s own, but when mixed with other chemicals and ingredients commonly found in personal care products it can create harmful, carcinogenic compounds called NDEA.  NDEA is absorbed through the skin and can be damaging to the stomach, esophagus, liver and bladder.
  • Parabens – These are synthetic preservatives used in just about every traditional beauty product.  They can be found in toothpaste, moisturizers, face wash and yes, your shampoo.  I don’t like to focus on the scary details, but these hormone disruptors were found in 19 out of 20 tumors in women with breast cancer and in the urine of nearly all adults the Center for Disease Control tested in a study.  Any ingredient with the suffix – parabens is one to be avoided.
  • Petroleum – Ingredients ending with the suffix -PEG, -xynol, ceteareth, or oleth are cancer causing petroleum based ingredients.
  • Fragrances – In most cases, fragrances added to shampoos and beauty products are synthetic and have been found to cause a number of health problems from cancer to skin and other allergic reactions.  I love a shampoo that leaves a clean fresh scent, but most of the time we go fragrance free unless it’s a natural product scented with essential oils.

The good news is more and more companies, both small and large, are offering natural, safe shampoos and beauty products that will give you healthy, clean hair without all the harmful side effects.

Be sure to check back later this week for a review of one of our favorite natural shampoos.  If you’re unsure about your own, search for it in the Cosmetic Database to check it’s safety rating.

Do you use a natural shampoo or one that’s made without the ingredients listed above?  If so, please share your favorite brand in the comments.


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