Ingredients in Hair Care Products can clean your hair and leave it looking like you just stepped out of a salon. But have you given any thought to what ingredients you have just subjected your health to? Do you know if your body has just received a does of some potentially dangerous chemical? Chances are, you have not given it any thought at all – But you should…
What Do You Put on Your Hair?
We are all aware that we should not use artificial or potentially toxic ingredients in our food. Indeed many of us have made the conscious decision to go one step further by choosing natural skin care products instead products containing synthetic and possibly harmful chemicals.
But when it comes to personal care products such as shampoos, conditioners and liquid/solid soaps, etc., we tend to disregard the concept of remaining with natural products. There’s a simple explanation for this.
We, the consumers, are basically under the impression that washing our hair and body is not likely to poison us. After all, the soap stays on the hair/skin for only a short period of time and gets washed off when we’re finished. How could the chemicals in a shampoo or a conditioner possibly affect us adversely?
Fair question. However, if you think that they don’t, you would be quite wrong.
The skin can absorb chemicals very quickly and easily if the molecules are not too large for it to do so. In addition, the skin is never in perfect condition. That is, there are tiny little tears, cuts and abrasions on our skin almost all the time.
Scratching the skin to relieve an itch, for example, can easily damage the skin. You can’t necessarily see it with the naked eye, but it is nevertheless damaged. Insect bits, clothes rubbing repeatedly against the skin, etc., can all cause microscopic damage to the skin and jeopardise its integrity.
Where the skin is damaged the larger molecules, which would normally not be absorbed, can enter the deeper layers of the skin and may enter the bloodstream access to anywhere in the body.
The problem is that when you use a product that does contain questionable ingredients, which have the potential to cause harm, you inadvertently allow these ingredients to be absorbed by the body, without intention or knowing about it.
Shampoos are a classic example of potentially toxic cocktails we seem to be oblivious to. Below is an example of ingredients used by a well-known manufacturer of personal care products who distributes their products worldwide. It is a typical example of the type of ingredients you would find by looking at the ingredients of shampoos on sale in your local shopping centre or at your hairdresser.
The ingredients below are from a 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner. Where possible I provided some comment after the ingredient that provides some insight into the safety of the particular ingredient for human use.
It must be said, however, that the toxicity of some of the ingredients is related to the consumption of the ingredient and while a shampoo is not consumed as such, chemicals can nevertheless be absorbed through the skin and enter the blood stream, essentially being the same as if you had eaten them.
Example of ingredients found in a 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner
* Diethanolamine – Suspected: Carcinogen (causes cancer), Cardiovascular or Blood toxin, Gastrointestinal or Liver toxin, Kidney toxin, Neurotoxin (toxic to your nervous system), Respiratory toxin, Skin or Sense Organ toxin.
* Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate – no scientific evidence of toxic effects on humans.
* Ammonium Xylenesulfonate – no evidence of toxic effects on humans. Some minor irritation in rabbits to skin and eyes have been reported.
* Cetyl Alcohol – this one is find and dandy,
* Cocamide MEA – derived in part from coconut oil, potentially toxic (International Journal of Toxicology; 18 (Suppl. 2). 1999. 9-16).
* Cetyl Alcohol – not a problem (J Am Coll Toxicol Vol:7, 3 (1988) pp 359-413.)
* Dimethicone – please see: DMDM Hydantoin below,
* Glycol Distearate – no scientific evidence of toxic effects on humans,
* Trimethyl Tricaprylate/Tricaprate – Recognized Carcinogen, Suspected: Neuro- and Reproductive toxin,
* Panthenol – Dexpanthenol is the alcohol corresponding to pantothenic acid (the water-soluble vitamin B5)
* Panthenyl Ethyl Ether – May cause contact dermatitis.
* DMDM Hydantoin – contains Formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen (causes cancer). Causes allergic, irritant and contact dermatitis; headaches and chronic fatigue. The vapour is extremely irritating to the eyes, nose and throat (mucous membranes).
* Methylchloroisothiazolinone – causes cosmetic allergies and potential dangerous neuro-toxic effects.
* Methylisothiazolinone – causes cosmetic allergies and potential dangerous neuro-toxic effects.
* Sodium Benzoate – Suspected: Cardio-vascular or Blood toxin, Gastrointestinal or Liver toxin, Kidney toxin, Neurotoxin, Skin or Sense Organ toxin.
* EDTA – known carcinogen (causes cancer).
I think you get the idea.
Chemicals such as these are not what you would want to put on your body, hair or in fact anywhere near you, I’m sure. Problem is that no one warns us of the potential dangers posed by some of these ingredients and so we use them thinking that regulations and government controls would not permit potentially toxic chemicals to be put into products we use everyday…
In addition to the above ingredients, which basically make a shampoo with conditioning properties, you may also find other ingredients in your shampoo such as vitamin B5. Mostly, this is of a synthetic origin (as in the example above), not natural. This is because a synthetic version of vitamin B5 is much cheaper than using a natural source of vitamin B5.
The same goes for vitamin E and others. If you bought vit E from a wholesale supplier in Sydney, 25ml of vitamin E (synthetic) would cost AUD $11.00 whereas it’s natural counterpart will cost you AUD$18.00 – quite a difference, and remember this is the wholesale price.
Most personal care products such as shampoos have a pleasing smell. This smell comes from either a synthetic or natural ingredient. Most ‘natural scent’ fragrances are however synthetic. Not in every case, but imagine a shampoo that supposedly contains Jasmine. Jasmine oil (the essential oil of Jasmine) cost more than its weight in gold! Do you really think a shampoo that costs a few dollars will contain pure essential oil of Jasmine? I don’t think so. The same goes for Rose and several other popular fragrances.
So chances are, even if the manufacturer does not use Jasmine, that the fragrance is also synthetic. This is simply because synthetic fragrances are cheaper than the real thing.
Considering that most shampoos and conditioners contain many potentially toxic and synthetic ingredients, isn’t it about time we seriously considered what we are putting on our hair?