While we often worry about what goes in our cosmetics and skincare, we neglect to check the ingredients of a product we all use every day: shampoo. And unfortunately, almost all commercial shampoos contain ingredients that can harm your health.
The main such ingredient is sodium laurel sulphate (SLS).
With sodium laurel sulphate, dioxins are created – and they are some of the most potentially dangerous carcinogens in the world.
SLS is commonly used, because it’s cheap and has the ability to foam up when mixed with a bit of salt. Unfortunately, many consumers have the perception that lots of foam=cleaner hair, but this is not the case: the foam itself doesn’t help clean your hair much. But SLS does get rid of grease, which is why it is used for cleaning engines and in kitchen floor cleaning products.
If you’ve ever wondered why shampoo labels always warn against getting the product in your eyes, it’s not because it stings–we all know that–it’s because SLS is highly irritating.
It’s also damaging to hair follicles, corroding the follicles and impairs their ability to grow hair. One study showed that if you use pure SLS on your scalp it will cause hair to fall out! Some Trichologist’s (hair specialists) believe that increasing use of SLS and the salt that is added to it to make it foam is leading more women to lose their hair (or to have it thin out) than ever before.
There are however other more profound health hazards associated with SLS. Scientists have studied the effects of SLS extensively, and their studies reveal compelling and alarming evidence indicating that it should be avoided. Among the findings is that SLS is rapidly taken up by eye tissue and retained; this is even more so for children. SLS is absorbed through skin contact, not just through the eyes, and has been documented to enter and maintain residual levels in the brain, liver, heart, and lungs. It can damage the immune system and cause severe inflammation of the skin, but scariest of all, the damage is accumulative, and once your immune system is damaged, it takes a long time for it to recover. This can lead to a form of suppression of your body that allows you to become more vulnerable to viruses or bacteria.
Unfortunately, it’s not only shampoos we have to watch out for. SLS is in a lot of other personal care products as well, including toothpaste, hand and body soaps, bubble baths, facial cleansers, shaving gel. But don’t worry – I will be posting healthier product alternatives for you all over the coming weeks. In the meantime, bin the SLS-laden shampoos in your bathroom and replace them with one of the fantastic SLS-free shampoos, all of which contain at least some organic ingredients, and which I have tried and tested myself, below.
Please note: I was not paid for any of these endorsements.
Faith In Nature
Faith In Nature has an award winning natural shampoo range. Their shampoos contain herbal extracts and essential and organic oils to leave your hair feeling both smooth and glossy.
Their natural vegan shampoos are cruelty free, SLS and paraben free and are vegetarian. They use no synthetic colouring, fragrances or artificial preservatives in their shampoos to ensure that they are as natural as possible.
Price: Around £5.50
Dr Organic Shampoos
Dr Organics uses a combination of bioactive, organic and natural ingredients, such as argan oil, Manuka honey and aloe vera to get your hair clean and soft, but be warned: it also contains some synthetic surfactants like cocamidopropyl betaine, which some may find irritating but which has been given a low hazard rating (4) by the Environmental Working Group. Still, Dr Organic shampoo cleanses and foams up well, and the presence of humectants like Argan oil leave hair soft and tangle free. The shampoos also have a lovely scent based on different natural ingredients such as mandarin peel oil, geranium oil, patchouli and cinnamon. My favourite is the Manuka Honey, which really does smell like you just fell into a honey pot!
Price: Around £6.29
Green People Daily Aloe Shampoo
Apparently a fave of Kate Moss’s, this is a soothing natural shampoo for all hair types, but especially for those with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Green People make a range of shampoos with various ingredients, and their products have no SLS or no foaming agents at all, and are also free of drying salt. I found a little of this lavender scented product went a long way.
Price: Around £12.50
John Masters really is the ‘Master’ of natural hair care. His wide range of shampoos, conditioners, hair masks and styling products are fully based on natural ingredients, with many of these being from organic sources. I’ve tried and tested a good many of these, and have several favourites, including this Honey and Hibiscus Shampoo, which can be used every day. Fortified with soy, rice & oat proteins to renew and reconstruct damaged hair, this SLS-free shampoo permeates the hair shaft with nutrients and of course, the added organic honey and hibiscus make your hair smell wonderful!
Price: Around £20.00
Weleda Baby Shampoo & Body Wash
Looking for a shampoo for the baby? Or just have fine hair? Or maybe you want an all natural shampoo that won’t break the budget, and can also double up as a body wash? This shampoo really does tick a lot of boxes, which is why it’s been a European top seller for almost a century (that’s right – it’s been around for nearly 100 years!).This is a gentle, tear-free formula with anti-inflammatory calendula, and moisturising almond oil. It offers a highly gentle cleanse that will never strip your hair, and is kind to even the most sensitive skins. It leaves your hair with a slightly sweet, chamomile like scent.
Price: Around £7.50