As I make my way through this toxic free journey I have learned quite a bit. The reason I call it a journey is because I, like most Mom’s, am BUSY!! So going toxic free hasn’t happened overnight. As I started my research on shampoo and conditioners, I had a suspicion that my hair products, like many other things, were not going to come out on the toxic free side of things. Honestly my shampoo is one product that I thought would be difficult for me to give up. In fact as I started this research I was thinking that shaving my head might be an easier fix than giving up my shampoo!
So what is so wrong with toxic shampoo, and what ingredients make shampoo toxic. First, shampoo is something that comes into contact with your skin. So if the shampoo contains toxins your skin is going to be exposed to anything in that shampoo. Yes like anything a few times is harmless, but a lifetime of exposure can add up to CANCER, neurological disorders and endocrine issues. Remember that the stuff we are exposing our kids to is taken in at faster rate. With their developing bodies they do not have the ability to excrete toxins as quickly as we do and there for exposure is more harmful. Let’s face it the skin is our largest organ so therefore it is the biggest area vulnerable for toxic exposure. Washing our hair means contact with our skin which warrants caution about the products we are using.
Here are a few key ingredients that can be toxic and should be avoided in hair care products: (to learn more on these chemicals visit my Chemicals in Personal Products blog http://toxicfreekidsblog.org/2011/06/chemicals-in-personal-products/)
Methylisothiazolinone or MIT – Can affect neurological and nervous system ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE PREGNANT THIS CHEMICAL SHOULD BE AVOIDED! Researchers are concerned it can cause abnormal brain development in fetuses! Also a great article on this
Parabens (butylparaben, isobutylparaben, propylparaben, isopropylparapen) – This is a preservative that researchers are concerned with its link to breast cancer, as well as an endocrine disruptor affecting children. (Try using products that use GSE, grapefruit seed extract in place of parabens)
Methylene Glycol – A “formaldehyde solution” and since the FDA has formaldehyde listed as a carcinogen this should be taken seriously and avoided!
DMDM HYDANTOIN, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate – These chemicals are known allergens that have the ability to form cancer causing chemicals. These chemicals are skin irritants, so those with sensitive skin should definitely avoid it!
Fragrances – Fragrances are not tested and are full of dangerous chemicals. Unless the scent is listed as an actual natural fruit or vegetable there is potential for all kinds of harmful chemicals.
1,4-dioxane – This chemical is considered a probable carcinogen and should be avoided, especially in your children’s products.
Triethanolamine (TEA, DEA, MEA) – Can become a possible carcinogen when mixed with other chemicals and long term exposure is not recommended even by the FDA.
Phthalates ( Dibutylphthalate, diethylphthalate, DBP, DEP, also butyl ester)- chemicals used to soften that have been linked to problems with reproductive organs.
I do not expect you to memorize these chemicals, but become familiar with the names, or print off the list. Check your products and make a change if necessary. Also don’t be fooled by products that claim to be natural, these claims are normally false and most likely the products do contain chemicals! Take the time and read the label to really know what is in your products. If the ingredients are not listed there may be a good reason why the manufacturer does not want you to know what’s in it! Hmm… I wonder why.
Also remember that going fragrance free and dye free are great ways to start avoiding unwanted chemicals. My advice is to try to stay as close to chemical free as possible without driving yourself nuts! Exposure here and there will happen but it is all the everyday items that start to add up over a lifetime. Face it things are just not the way they use to be and in order to protect our families we have to make a few changes. For me it is good bye to my favorite shampoo, oh how I will miss you.
Here’s a little tip, I went onto the Wal Mart Website (because that is where I get my personal products) and searched through shampoo for me and for the kids. Some products listed their ingredients so it gave me the opportunity to look at them at home instead of standing in the store for hours! Most I ended up double checking on the http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ to see all of the ingredients, but it was still better than standing in the store reading all the labels. My picks are now Johnson & Johnson’s Natural Kids 3 in 1 Shampoo, Conditioner and Body Wash for my kids, and for me the Juice Organics line also available at Wal Mart (LOVE IT, BETTER THAN MY PANTENE SO NEEDLESS TO SAY I AM NOT SHAVING MY HEAD!).