What’s In Your Shampoo; A Horror Story

In an effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle, many of us are dedicated to watching what we put in our body.  Discussions with friends and family about gluten free, fat free, sugar free, low cholesterol and/or low calorie are daily occurrences.  Reading food labels is now the norm and no longer the exception. Seeing so many people make an effort to be the best they can be is very inspiring.

But let me ask you this, are you giving as much consideration to what you put on your body as you are to what you put in your body?   When was the last time you read the label on your face wash, shampoo, conditioner, body wash or makeup?  Don’t bother!   With the ingredients list looking more like an alphabet filled horror story, there is no way that the average consumer can understand exactly what ingredients are in the products that they are using.


To help you out, here are 5 common ingredients that you are likely to find on your favorite product labels:

  1. DEA Diethanolamine (aka DEA), momoethanolamine (aka MEA) and triethanolamine (aka TEA) is a combination of ingredients that often show up on the label as Cocamide DEA.  This additive is often found in body wash and shampoos in order to produce the foaming action that we all associate with “clean”.   The National Toxicology Program conducted a research study the late 1990’s.  The study concluded that the use of these chemicals can affect hormones and were also known to produce nitrates/nitrosamines in laboratory animals which can be a cause of cancer.
  2. Fragrance:  The word “fragrance” is a term that applies to close to 4,000 different ingredients. The majority of fragrance used in products is synthetic and can be found in most body care products, deodorant, shampoos and sunscreen. Exposure to fragrances can be toxic, cancer-causing and has also been linked to negative affects the central nervous system (CNS).
  3. Isopropyl Alcohol:  A staple in many American homes, Isopropyl Alcohol is commonly called “rubbing” alcohol due the product originally being used for medicinal purposes in patients with high fever (this practice is no longer advised).  The (pure) isopropyl is considered to be a toxic substance due to the fact that the body readily absorbs it through the skin. Effects of absorption could include dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting and even coma. Death can occur due to central nervous system depression if medical treatment is not sought.
  4. Two common preservative used in cosmetics are colmidazolidinyl Urea & DM Hydantoin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, these two preservatives are known to release the chemical formaldehyde (the same formaldehyde used by morticians to embalm the dead).  This chemical release can cause skin irritation, allergies, depression, fatigue, migraines as well as respiratory ailments such as asthma.
  5. Methyl, Ethyl, n-Propyl and Butyl Paraben:  These preservatives are often used in items such as cosmetics, shampoos, shaving products, body lotions, face wash, body wash and other skin cleansers.  It is estimated that over 90% of all cosmetics and other body products on the market today contain paraben preservative.  Some beverages, jams/jellies and syrups also contain the ingredients to delay spoilage. A very common ingredient in products due to being both economical and effective, these preservatives have come under great scrutiny.  Known to mirror the effects of estrogen, paraben preservatives have been found in breast cancer tumors.                                                                                                                                                                                          (Note: Early puberty in girls may also be linked to the estrogen-mirroring aspect of parabens. The paraben concerns are not just female based.  The British Industrial Biological Research Association has reported that the effects of parabens may be responsible for reduced testosterone levels and decreasing sperm counts in men.)

The question we all have now is “Which products are okay to use?”  The key is to do your homework.  By researching “toxin free” or “chemical free” mascara, shampoo or whatever product you are looking for, you will be able to find many healthy alternatives.  You may also want to research “vegan” and “cruelty free” health and beauty products.  A few worth mentioning (and no this is not an endorsement in any way) are:

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group are two environmental health groups who are working to educate consumers about the dangers of their everyday beauty regimen products.  One “green” brand that is offering safe cosmetics and other products is Acure.  This company is dedicated to keeping toxins away from consumers while also being earth friendly.  Acure offers a shampoo that is safe and effective made by using an innovative plant stem-cell technology. Did I mention the product is made from amazing ingredients such as acai, argan oil, avocado, lemongrass and quinoa protein?

For a non-chemical foundation, Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation may be just what you need.  Made up of 70% certified organic ingredients and 30% natural mineral pigments and vitamins; it is toxin free. The Organic Pumpkin and Papaya Complex nourish the skin while Organic Camellia brightens your look. Lotus flowers are used for both calming and moisturizing.  Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation also contains a face-specific infusion of anti-inflammatory Frankincense and the antioxidant, Tulsi.

Aunaturaleglow.com is another online venue where consumers can find the products they need with none of the worries.  Lipsticks can be a big health risk as recent research has shown many brands contained toxic metals including lead.  Au Naturale lipstick gives lips a great color all while being gluten-free, organic, paraben-free, non-toxic and vegan.  It is also made in a facility in the United States that is certified USDA organic.

Don’t forget everyone’s favorite online information station, Pinterest!  Pinterest has a huge amount of information on green, non-toxic and vegan products.  There are boards that can direct you to online sales outlets as well as information on some DIY (Do It Yourself) safe alternatives to shampoos, make-up remover and many other products.  If you have daughters, it is never too early to educate them on the potential dangers in our beauty supplies.

Why not pick a DIY project and make a girls night out of it.  There is nothing better than being healthy while making memories.

By Michele Lawson