Go grab your shampoo out of the shower while you read this. Take note on the first ingredients (besides water) and see if you can pronounce them. This is what makes up the majority of the shampoo. Do you really trust using this every time you shower? These chemicals are not regulated by the FDA. Most of them are highly toxic and known carcinogens (cancer causing).
These are the main ingredients to look out for:
Sulfates: Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), ammonium lauryl sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulfate. These are all strong detergents and are very irritating to the skin, eyes and mouth and should be avoided at all costs.
Alcohols: Stearyl, cetyl, and cetearyl, and benzyl alcohol. They are all very drying to hair and skin. They will require you to use more moisturizer. Just another product the company can sell you for problems they are creating.
Parabens: The most common are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. They are used to preserve the product. They can cause allergic reaction. Parabens have even been found in breast cancer tumors because they mimic estrogen. There is no direct link but it would be wise to just avoid these. A lot of companies use NO PARABENS as a selling point.
Propylene glycol: This is a strong irritant. Although it is not as dangerous as most, inhaling it is known to be very bad. Think of all the steam in the shower while you are washing your hair. It is also terrible for the environment because it exerts high levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and adversely affects aquatic life.
Why are these ingredients used?
Over the years the water in most cities has become very hard, which means it contains a lot of minerals. That makes it hard to wash you hair with it. In the 1930’s a new formula was developed to make it easier to wash. So instead of using a bar of soap (yes, people really used bars of soap) you could now easily pour it into your hands and suds it up nicely on your head. The problem with this new shampoo was that it was drying to the hair because it stripped it of all its natural oils. So conditioner was made to put the oils back in the hair. That is how shampoo is to this day.
Ever wonder why we need to wash our hair every day to keep the oils at bay? The natural oils called sebum are secreted by the pores on our scalps and are meant to protect the hair shaft. 99% of shampoos on the market contain some sort of sulfate (including baby shampoo). That harsh detergent is used in many products including dish soap, laundry detergent, engine degreasers, and even industrial cleaners. This detergent strips the oils and the body fights back by producing extra oil to make up for it. That in turn will give you greasy hair faster. You will need to use more shampoo more often. Great for the shampoo companies, bad for us (and the environment). You could spend $1 or $20 on a bottle of shampoo and I can guarantee the main ingredients are going to be the same, even with some organic shampoos.
So what can you do?
Use EWG.org and READ THE INGREDIENTS! I can’t stress that enough. Stop letting the media decide for you. The brand names you thought you could trust are not what they seem. There are some great shampoos out there you just have to know where to look. Start with health food stores and health/organic sections of the grocery store. Even in the small town I live in I have found a few options. Trader Joe’s also carries a great peppermint tea tree shampoo. Your best bet may be online though. Don’t be afraid to purchase online. You will have so many choices and endless knowledge about the product right at your finger tips.
I know this seems like a lot to remember. So, just jot these four down and keep it with you when you go to the store.
Lastly I present you with an option not very well known. You can avoid all these nasty ingredients without having to memorize the names. You can be 100% sure that you are using a safe product for your hair and the environment… Use baking soda and apple cider vinegar to wash your hair! I know it sounds crazy but it works and it saves money. You probably already have these items in your kitchen. The journey is different for everyone so I will be posting tips to making the NO POO transition easier.
What kind of shampoo do you use?