1 100% Pure: 100% Vegetarian – Great for chemically treated, dry hair
2 John Masters Organics: No animal testing, no GMOs or parabens – Great for rehydrating
3 Skinny Skinny: Great when you don’t have time to shampoo
4 Morocco Method: Raw, Organic and Vegan — Great for dry, damaged hair
Did you know that one of the most common ways we expose ourselves to toxic chemicals is via our scalp? According to the Hair Shaman, Anthony Morrocco, the harsh chemicals and toxins in traditional hair care products soak into our bodies through our hair follicles and scalp, causing serious damage to our bodies. And even though manufacturers are required by law to print the product ingredients on the label, consumers seldom read or understand what’s there. Instead we rely on ads and commercials to tell us what to buy.
First, let’s discuss the ingredients to avoid:
• SDS or NaDS(Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, also known as Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate) “A study at the University of Georgia Medical College indicated that SLS penetrated into the eyes as well as brain, heart, liver, etc., and showed long-term retention in the tissues. The study also indicated that SLS penetrated young children’s eyes and prevented them from developing properly and caused cataracts to develop in adults.
In its final report on the safety of sodium lauryl sulfate, the Journal of the American College of Toxicology notes that this ingredient has a “degenerative effect on the cell membranes because of its protein denaturing properties.” What’s more, the journal adds, “high levels of skin penetration may occur at even low use concentration.”*
• MIT (Methylisothiazolinone) – “In laboratory studies, the bacteria-killing agent/preservative methylisothiazolinone (MIT) was shown to restrict the growth of immature rat nerve cells. Studies in live animals are needed to confirm the findings. But researchers say the early test tube evidence suggests that prolonged exposure to MIT, or exposure to the chemical at high concentrations, could damage the nervous system.”**
• DEA (Diethanolamine) – “DEA is diethanolamine, a chemical that is used as a wetting agent in shampoos, lotions, creams and other cosmetics. DEA is used widely because it provides a rich lather in shampoos and keeps a favorable consistency in lotions and creams. DEA by itself is not harmful but while sitting on the stores shelves or in your cabinet at home, DEA can react with other ingredients in the cosmetic formula to form an extremely potent carcinogen called nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA). NDEA is readily absorbed through the skin and has been linked with stomach, esophagus, liver, and bladder cancers.”***
• Fragrance – The “good smell” of almost all beauty products is achieved by adding chemicals that mimic scents found in nature. Therefore, the term “fragrance” can mean a plethora of separate chemical ingredients. A large number of these chemicals are likely derivatives of petroleum and can cause cancer, birth defects, and are known to be neurotoxins. To avoid being exposed to toxic chemicals in perfumes, any scent should always be from a non-synthetic source.
Simple suggestions for selecting a non-toxic hair care product
1) Avoid shampoos/conditioners with synthetic fragrances. As noted above, fragrances may seem innocuous, but they can be one of the most harmful ingredients in any product. If your product is fragranced, make sure the scent does not come from a synthetic source.
2) Avoid any shampoo/conditioner (or any beauty product for that matter) with ingredients you don’t recognize or are difficult to pronounce. Sometimes the foreign sounding ingredients are the Latin names for botanical ingredients; but most often a hard to pronounce ingredient is a man-made chemical. Still not sure? Use this resource to help you decipher the good from the bad: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep
3) Don’t be fooled by label branding, i.e. “XXOO Organics”. Surprisingly, adding “organic” to a product name does not always designate organic ingredients, and is likely more likely a manufacturing ploy to get you believe a product is organic, when it isn’t.
4) And last of all, it goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) read the label, read the label, read the label!
What does Natural, Raw, Organic or Really Mean?
Here are a few guidelines to help you decipher the most commonly used terms in personal care items:
• Natural — there is no governing body or standard of certification for the term “natural” so any product that claims to be “all natural” is really defining the term themselves for the product they are selling to the consumer. It is typical to see some botanical products mixed with well-known toxic chemicals in a “natural” product.*
• Raw – Ingredients that are considered “raw” are unprocessed, uncooked and organic. See definition below for “organic”.
• Organic – “Organic” is a voluntary term — there’s nothing to hold a company accountable to prove their “organic” status. In other words, companies voluntarily submit themselves to the FDA (rather than being required to report to the FDA) as to how their products comply to an organic process.
• Certified Organic — “Certified Organic” means the product ingredients have been grown according to strict uniform standards that are verified by independent state or private organizations. Certification includes inspections and processing facilities, detailed record keeping, and periodic testing of soil and water to ensure that growers and handlers are meeting the standards which have been set. This certification means the ingredients are truly organic.
• Vegan — the Vegan Society defined veganism as: “A way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom, and includes a reverence for life. It applies to the practice of living on the products of the plant kingdom to the exclusion of flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, animal milk and its derivatives, and encourages the use of alternatives for all commodities derived wholly or in part from animals.”
We believe that “when you know better, you do better”, and we hope this information empowers you to make healthier choices the next time you purchase any beauty product – especially hair care products.