Do you ever wonder if simple activities like washing your hair or choosing a shampoo could be dangerous to your health? Although cleanliness and personal care are certainly crucial to everyone (especially cancer patients, as feeling clean and put together promotes well-being), the products we use on a daily basis can actually inhibit our recovery process. A variety of ingredients used in favorite shampoo brands have been directly linked to health problems, including skin irritation, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and yes…cancer.
A study conducted by the Environmental Working Group found that 89% of the cosmetic and cleansing products we use on a daily basis have never been evaluated for safety. The group adds that the majority of ingredients used to add volume or shine to our hair (such as cyclopentasiloxane or cocamide DEA) have been directly linked to dangerous diseases in a wide variety of lab studies. So why do our favorite companies continue to use these hazardous chemicals in hair-care formulas? Two words: They’re cheap!
Recent research conducted by the National Institute of Health found that a common ingredient used in shampoos for its affordability (methylisothiazoline or MIT) caused severe neurological damage in rats. The vast list of name-brand shampoos currently using MIT is not only staggering, but study commentators add that “…manufacturers can put practically any chemical they want into shampoos, even if it is a hazardous chemical listed in the RTECS database of toxicity, and even if it is considered a toxic waste chemical by the EPA.”
And it gets dirtier. Perhaps two of the most dangerous shampoo chemicals are Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (“sulfates” or “SLS” for short), which are used in a vast majority of shampoos, soaps and cleansers to create bubbles and foam. Although sulfates can cause severe irritation (or permanent eye damage and liver toxicity in children, as noted here), it can also form nitrosamines (nitrates) when combined with other affordable, formula ingredients. According to “Beware of the Potential Dangers of Preservatives”, nitrates are clinically proven as carcinogens (which are directly linked to cancer development). To make matters worse, a dangerous ingredient list developed by the National Institute of Health recently showed that over 80 shampoo products contain sulfates (in addition to other toxic ingredients).
Have we convinced you yet? The good news is you can protect your fragile strands when dealing with thinning follicles or hair loss-or when hair grows back-with a variety of toxin-free shampoos that work just as well, if not better. “Hair Help, Hair Care” suggests avoiding any products with strong detergents or ingredients that might dry the scalp (such as clarifying formulas; or anything containing alcohol, menthol or strong fragrances). Great formulas to try include shampoos from Eco Bella, Aubrey Organics and Vermont Soap Organics. Our favorite is the range from Avalon Organics. They have an amazing volumizing shampoo for fine hair and it costs the same as drug store shampoos!
In the end, it’s up to the consumer and cancer patient to truly research the products they use for cleansing, and find healthy formulas at websites like Safe Cosmetics, or by reading more at “How Do I Care For My Hair During Treatment?” You can also familiarize yourself with our top 21 ingredients to avoid in your personal-care products.
Have any toxin-free favorite shampoos to share with us? We would love to hear from you.
Photo courtesy of Snap Village.