Your shampoo bottle that is. As well as your body wash bottle or bar of soap. And while you're taking a look, look at what is in your toothpaste, your moisturizer, your chapstick, your deodorant, and all those other little necessities we need to stay clean and pretty. Since you probably aren't going to get up right now to look at any of these products, I've taken a picture of my OLD shampoo bottle.
Let's talk about just a few of these ingredients:
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) - This detergent and surfactant gives your favorite products the rich lather and foam we all love so much and associate with clean. It is also found in other products such as mascara, soap, shaving cream, lotion, and stain remover. It is an irritating chemical that can be very dangerous. Even though it is not ingested, it still gets absorbed through the skin and scalp. In the body it mimics the hormone Estrogen and can lead to various health problems such as PMS, male fertility problems, and female cancers. It can also lead to skin damage, eye damage, and liver toxicity because the liver cannot metabolize it when it gets absorbed.
Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate - This is a very mild co-surfactant that is highly water soluble and is used for its cleaning and foaming properties. It is known to be very gentle and non-irritating to the skin. The problem with this ingredient is not so much the chemical itself but the chemicals that are used with it and the risk of contamination with dangerous chemicals. These two chemicals are ethylene oxide and 1,4 - Dioxane, which are both known to cause cancer, problems with allergies, and developmental and reproductive disorders .
Methylchloroisothizolinone - This chemical mix is used as a preservative used not only in cosmetics for its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties but also in many other products such as air conditioners, polishes, pesticides, jet fuels, and metal working liquids. In pure form it can cause chemical burns and be a skin and membrane irritant. Because of this it has been removed from many cosmetics, except for ones that are rinsed off. It is still used in various other forms as a solution for sensitive skin users, however. There are also many concerns surrounding this chemical because of increased allergies, organ toxicity, and cancer.
Tetrasodium EDTA - This chemical is known as a chelating agent. This means that it strips your hair lightly before a chemical process. This is what is used for that "clarifying" effect. It also acts as a preservative so your cosmetic product does not go rancid. The concerns with this chemical are that it is easily absorbed by the skin and can cause bioaccumulation, which means that a toxic chemical is absorbed by your body faster than it is lost. This can lead to non-reproductive organ toxicity and irritation. This "safe" chemical is also cojnsidered an occupational hazard, meaning that those who are exposed to and handle this chemical at their job are at an increased risk of health hazards. This chemical can also lead to, you guessed it, cancer.
Sounds nice, huh? After reading that the ingredient label should really just be:
All of these chemicals are considered safe since they are used in small amounts, but think but think of all the products you use on a daily basis that contain these chemicals and more. You are definitely getting exposed to these chemicals in much larger doses than the FDA considers safe. And aside from all the nasty chemicals I would just like to point out that the first ingredient in this shampoo is water. Water. The largest ingredient is the first one listed, so you are paying a hefty price tag for something that you pay pennies for at your own home. So that makes most conventional shampoos ungreen and unthrifty :)
This is the first post in a series I am doing on natural beauty products. Stay tuned for more information on what is really in your cosmetics and beauty products as well as alternatives that won't cost you a fortune.