Saturday, March 29, 2008

Does Your Hair Care? Part 1

I am in the market for a new shampoo.

I have had success with what I thought was a 'good' brand, recommended by a stylist (before I started cutting my own hair!) but it is a bit expensive, and not easy to get. What is the difference between cheap and expensive shampoo? I need something that is good for my hair, not too expensive, and readily available. There has to be something out there right?

First Step: What is in my shampoo?

I looked up my current brand, Matrix Biolage Fortifying, in the Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database (I found this website last year while looking for a good sunscreen, see my earlier post). And what did I find? Yikes! My shampoo is in the high hazard category!
  • Ingredients are linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, allergies/immunotoxicity, and other toxic concerns.
  • The manufacturer has Not signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, and Does conduct animal testing!
Going down the slew of bad ingredients, I recognized many that are common in most shampoos you find on the shelf. Shampoos (and other products) contain surfactants, which are used to keep the oils and water in the product from separating, and in the case of shampoo, create a nice lather. The following surfactants are used in shampoos, and they are listed in order of harshness, with the first one being the harshest, and found in the cheapest shampoos.
1. Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
2. Ammonium Laureth Sulfate

3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

4. Sodium Laureth Sulfate

5. TEA lauryl Sulfate

6. TEA Laureth Sulfate

After some research, I found that experts say:
  • A shampoo is made of 10 to 30 ingredients: surfactants, conditioning agents, special care ingredients, and additives (foam stabilizers, thickeners, chelating agents, preservatives, pearlescents, opacifiers, fragrances, and colorants)
  • Shampoos clean hair- claims beyond that are suspect
  • Most expensive products don't live up to their claims, they are usually the same ingredients
  • The FDA only regulates the list of ingredients- not the claims on the packaging
  • Hair is dead; it can't be repaired- any change to the look and feel is temporary. Added ingredients (sunscreen and antioxidants) have no benefits, they are washed down the drain.
  • Lather and foam does not do anything towards cleaning except make you feel like it is working
  • Scientific Resources- Shampoos: Ingredients, efficacy and adverse effects
Step 2: Try some slightly cheaper options that score better
  • Garnier Fructis Fortifying Shampoo- Moderate Hazard- pretty much the only difference is not ingredients linked to cancer.
  • Dove Beautifully Clean Shampoo- Moderate Hazard- same again but no developmental/reproductive toxicity
I bought the little samples of these two brands and tested them. Dove seemed to over clean my hair and dry it out (you know that squeaky clean feeling?). The Garnier Fructis actually worked pretty well, and felt good. If I were going to stick with shampoo I would probably pick that one, but I'm still concerned about the safety and costs of conventional shampoo.

Step 3: So, what to do? Maybe there are homemade options out there that aren't too crazy?

I started looking into homemade options, and found there are many very inexpensive and easy options, and I have most of them in my house already!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of 'Does Your Hair Care' when I experiment with the No 'Poo Method.

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