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Is your shampoo affecting your health? Top toxic ingredients in shampoos and personal care products

It’s almost impossible these days not to notice the deceptive advertising about products that actually destroy your health. Common shampoos and conditioners happen to be one of the products that promise shiny and silky hair, but can contain toxic ingredients and chemicals that are harmful to your health.  

Some organic and baby shampoos can be an exception if they contain organically grown herbs or essential oils without any preservatives. I think even adults should start using good baby shampoo brands because they have less toxic chemicals and preservatives.

Here are some of the toxic chemicals and preservatives used in many common shampoos and conditioners:

Shampoos conditioner herbal fragrance Lavender Rosemary

1. Diethanolamine (DEA), MEA (momoethanolamine),TEA (triethanolamine):

Diethanolamine is a toxic chemical used as filler in many personal care products such as shampoos, hairsprays, bubble bath, soaps and sunscreens. The studies by researchers at University of North Carolina shows that DEA blocks the absorption of choline (a nutrient necessary for brain development) essential for pregnant mothers and growing babies.

The recent report also shows that both DEA and MEA are hormone disrupting chemicals that are absorbed through the skin and are linked to cancer. “Repeated skin applications of DEA-based detergents resulted in a major increase in the incidence of two cancers - liver and kidney cancers", says Dr. Samuel Epstein, Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Illinois. He also mentions how children are more at higher risk of being affected by these hormone disrupting chemicals.

In fact, recently, an independent test by the Center for Environmental Health revealed that 98 different shampoos, soaps and personal care products sold by big retailers contain cancer-causing chemicals that violates the California Law. In 2012, the State of California listed DEA as a known carcinogen and required warning label for consumer products that contained cancer-causing DEA. Click here to find out how the four companies who sold cocamide DEA in their products are now under lawsuit by Center for Environmental Health.

2. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES):

Both SLS and SLES are used in many personal care products including toothpaste, shampoo, hair conditioners, soap, facial cleanser and deodorants. Mark Fearer in his article called “Dangerous Beauty” says that "In tests, animals that were exposed to SLS experienced eye damage, along with depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation and corrosion and death".

Both SLS and SLES can also cause damage to children’s eyes and immune system. Researchers have also discovered that SLS is transformed into nitrosamines (a dangerous carcinogen) when it’s combined with other chemicals in personal care products. Many Studies have linked SLS to organ damage (damage to brain, liver and heart), irritation of eye, gums and hair follicles, depression, asthma, diarrhea and even death. 

3. Methylisothiazoline (MIT): 

MIT is an ingredient found in most common shampoos and conditioners such as Head and Shoulders, Suave, Clairol and Pantene Hair Conditioner. The researchers at the National Institutes of Health have linked MIT to Alzheimer’s, brain damage, neurological damages and problems in nervous system.

According to researchers exposure to MIT can put pregnant women and their babies at high risk of brain damage. Unfortunately, the regulatory agencies such as FDA do not spend any time performing any studies on their own and they completely rely on the studies that are presented to them by the manufacturer of personal care products.

4. Polyethylene glycol (PEG):

PEG is used as filler in many personal care products including shampoos, conditioners and soaps. Studies have linked PEG to impaired immune system, damages to central nervous system and organs such as heart and kidneys. According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, PEG is a dangerous carcinogen that is broken to other toxic compounds in the body. Studies also suggest that PEG can be toxic to children’s health and cause autism. 

toxic ingredients in personal care products5. Chlorine:

Chlorine exists in tap water as well as many other products such as laundry detergent, cleaning agents, conditioners and shampoos. Chlorine has been linked to many health problems such as anemia, hay fever, diabetes, irritation in eyes, nose, lung, skin, mouth and stomach, asthma, bronchitis, delirium, nausea and high blood pressure.

6. Phthalates (fragrance):

Most shampoos, skin care products, baby products, deodorants and sunscreens have synthetic fragrance in them. The fragrance in shampoos can contain dangerous chemicals that have been linked to lower immune system, damages to central nervous system, headaches, rashes, hyperactivity, depression, dizziness, allergies, vomiting and failure in productive system.

Synthetic fragrance in shampoos and conditioners can be found under different names including paraben, propylparaben, glycol, Polyoxyethylene, methylparaben, propylene glycol, cetearyl alcohol or distearate.
Healthy organic shampoos use natural herbs or essential oils instead of synthetic chemicals as fragrance. Some of the best natural fragrances in shampoos that can help with hair growth are known to be nettle and rosemary.

7. Formaldehyde:

Formaldehyde also known as methanol or methylene oxide is a toxic flammable gas used in the production of fertilizers, bleaching agents, food preservatives, hair straightening products and personal care products like baby shampoos and soaps.

Formaldehyde can damage human cell and long term exposure to Formaldehyde can lead to leukemia and cancer, and short term exposure can cause watery or burning eyes, asthma, headaches, skin irritation, and nausea.

8. Isopropyl Alcohol:

Isopropyl Alcohol is a substance that’s driven from petroleum and is found in many personal care products such as hair colors, body lotions, cosmetics and shampoos. The inhalation or ingestion of Isopropyl Alcohol can cause headaches, flushing, vomiting, narcosis, coma dizziness, mental depression, and nausea.

9. Coal Tar:

Many studies have linked coal tar used in many common personal care products to many health problems including asthma, cancer and ADD and ADHD.

10. Dioxane:

Toxic dioxane is a by-product of ethylene oxide commonly used in many personal care products including shampoos. Dioxane has been linked to cancer, brain damage, damages to central nervous system and kidneys and liver problems. 





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