We’ve all had our fair share of ‘bad hair’ days right? And on a superficial level, this can really mess with our self esteem. But have you ever given much thought to the health of your head? Have you read the back of your shampoo bottle and wondered what those unpronounceable ingredients really do? Most of us lather up our locks at least twice a week. And let me tell you, the the list of toxins contained in the products we use and apply directly to our skin is downright scary.
The truth about your hair care…
There are many different toxins that could be in your shampoo and it differs for every brand. But here is a list of the most common ingredients to watch out for:
- Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS/SLES) is a surfactant, detergent and emulsifier used in thousands of cosmetic products, as well as in industrial cleaners. It is present in nearly all shampoos, scalp treatments and hair colours. Studies have shown SLS/SLES to be linked to skin irritation, organ toxicity, developmental toxicity, reproductive toxicity and mutations and cancer.
- Dioxane received a "high hazard" rating from the EWG's and labelled as a cancer-causing toxin.
- Diethanolamine or DEA is used as a wetting agent in shampoos because ti provides a rich lather and favourable consistency. DEA can react with other ingredients in the cosmetic formula and 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 cancer.
- Propylene Glycol is an active ingredient is found in engine coolants and antifreeze, airplane tire sealants, rubber cleaners, paints, adhesives, enamels and varnishes, and in many products as a solvent or surfactant! And guess what? It's more than likely in your shampoo. It’s a known strong skin irritant and can also cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.
- Parabens are preservatives, may be listed on the label as methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, propyl paraben, butyl paraben, isobutyl paraben or E216. Studies have shown that parabens can lead to diminished muscle mass, extra fat storage, male gynecomastia (breast growth) and cancer. In one study researchers found traces of parabens in every sample of tissue taken from 20 different breast tumors. Eeek!
But I only leave it on my hair for a few minutes max… it can’t be that bad right?
Wrong! Even though most hair products are washed out after a few minutes, this is all it takes for the 20 blood vessels, 650 sweat glands, and 1,000 nerve endings on your scalp to soak in the toxins. Can you believe that toxins are often absorbed through the skin even more readily than if you were to eat them?! When you consume toxins in foods, such as pesticides in fruit and vegetables, your saliva, liver and kidneys work hard to break these down and flush them from your body. Toxins absorbed through your skin, on the other hand, bypass these organs and enter your bloodstream and tissues with absolutely no protection whatsoever!
What alternatives are out there?
Thankfully there plenty of natural alternatives on the market to tame those locks! Here's just a few of my preferred tried and tested available on the market!
*Please note that everyone's hair type is different, so you may need to trial a few before finding the winning shamps for you!
Mukti is one of my all time faves when it comes to natural beauty products and their hair care range is no exception. You’ll also get a little more bang for your buck when you get their Botanique Shampoo and Conditioner as a set. The products are plant based and jam packed with botanical extracts and nutrients.
Em's Thoughts - this is one of my favs as it doesn't leave hair feeling heavy or oily. Its great to add a little extra body too.. I do find hair to still be a tad dry after using though, so adding some oil to the roots once out of the shower helps.
This hair care range was developed in NYC and has a bit of a cult following and it’s not hard to see why. Developed by renowned Israeli hair stylist, Mordechai Alvow, the entire Yarok range is 100% vegan, natural, alcohol-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free and animal cruelty free.
Yarok Feed Your Volume Shampoo $38.95 (250ml) is a beautiful herbal aromatic blend of organic and all natural herbs, flowers, vitamins, minerals and essential oils.
Yarok Feed Your Volume Conditioner $38.95 (250ml) contains three superior moisturisers: Jojoba Seed Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, and Aloe Vera. It will condition your hair while keeping the planet safe by by using many of the same sustainable, nourishing and plumping ingredients in Yarok Feed Your Volume Shampoo.
Em's thoughts - I absolutely loved this shampoo when I first started using it as its highly moisturising. I did find after using it for a couple of months my hair felt a bit heavy though, so best to mix it up sometimes!
Rahua Shampoo $41.95 (275ml) is not exactly cheap. But this liquid gold is 100% organic and natural and made from a unique rainforest grown formula. It includes ingredients such as coconut, shea butter and quinoa that will transform your hair from dry, damaged and fine, to shiny, sleek and bouncy.
Rahua Conditioner $42.95 (275ml) will leave your hair delicately scented and smooth from the 100% natural and organic plant extracts and oils.
Em's thoughts - I only trialled samples sizes of the Rahua and loved the scent and finish, though I noticed the shampoo might be a little drying if you need extra moisture in your locks!
Acure Dry Shampoo $19.95 - Seriously, where has this product been hiding for the past 12 months?! So glad I finally stumbled across a decent dry shampoo that’s not packed with harmful ingredients. It’s only slightly more expensive than mainstream brands but 100% better because it certified organic, cruelty free, fair trade certified and vegan friendly.
Acure Clarifying Shampoo $16.96 (235ml) contains organic Argan oil, Argan stem cells, lemongrass and avocado oil and is gentle for everyday use and all hair types.
Acure Clarifying Conditioner $16.95 (235ml) many of the same ingredients as the shampoo with the added benefit of organic cocoa butter for extra moisture.
Em's thoughts - Known to be one of the best reasonably priced natural shampoos on the market that gets the job done! Truth be told, I haven't yet trialled this guy but have heard a lot of decent reviews so wanted to include for those people on a budget.
The Josh Rosebrook range is really great if suffer from either an oily or dry scalp as they have specialised products for each. They are free from parabens, sulfates, petro-chemicals, synthetic ingredients, preservatives, colors, fillers, fragrances or GMOs and are cruelty free.
Em's thoughts - I trialled samples of the shampoo and conditioner and liked them both. Great for those with oily hair or who may need some added body.