It seems that when you enter your late twenties, there are a lot of mysterious and shocking facts that seemingly come out of the woodwork to make you feel both old and incredibly stupid at the same time. These can range from hilarious to downright scary.
Here are a few examples of things I’ve learned recently:
Let’s start with this gem: 90’s songs now qualify as “oldies” on the radio. (OMG).
Scary grocery store truths: Those labels like “natural” and “non-GMO” that you see in the grocery store? They mean nothing. Foods with those labels can still have a ton of harmful crap like pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones. (WHAT?!)
Lurking in your medicine cabinet: A lot of the beauty products you’ve loved for years contain harmful chemicals that can lead to hormonal imbalance, infertility, and cancer. (Ummmm?) I’ve been doing more research on this and will be writing more on this later.
Almost as shocking: The same Golden Retreiver who played “Air Bud” played the Tanners’ dog, “Comet” in Full House.
Why your hair and skin is dry: Alas, the one we’re actually focusing on today: Many shampoo and body wash ingredients, despite being labeled as “moisturizing” or “repairing” actually contain what is essentially, laundry and dishwasher detergent–stripping your hair of moisture (this is especially bad for color treated hair.) Fun, huh?
More to love about American Politics: The United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938.
The European Union, however, has banned more than 1,300 chemicals in the product formulas of personal care products (like makeup, hair products, deodorant, and the like) and restricted the levels of over 250 more in such products. Of those banned in Europe, guess how many the United States has banned? Only 30. Partially.
Upon further investigation–remember the whole “hormonal imbalance” and “cancer” thing referenced earlier? Your shampoo, soap, bodywash, and other things you use daily to clean yourself can allegedly cause that too. (Terrifying?)
So–yeah. About that.
The Truth About Sulfates:
It turns out, that almost all cleaning products, such as shampoo and body wash, have these things called “Sulfates”–which I had definitely heard of before, but I ruled out as something that was only applicable to those granola enthused Whole Foods loyalty card holders. (Ignorant? Yes.)
Here’s the thing. The more I dig into this whole “non-toxic” beauty thing, the more overwhelmed I become. I don’t really know what to believe, but I’ve settled on the fact that there is more than enough evidence that using products with known toxic chemicals isn’t going to be good for me. Are they going to cause my untimely death? Probably not, but I feel like maybe we should just do our best to use products with better ingredients where we can. You know–control what you can control.
Here’s what I found out. (After a lot of digging). The most common offender in the “sulfate” family is called Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES for short). There are other kinds too–basically, just look for something that says “sulfate” on the label and try to avoid it, because it’s the same kind of cleaner found in dishwasher and laundry detergent. I don’t know about you, but I was a little aggravated to learn I had unknowingly been pouring Tide and Cascade all over my body for the last 29 years.
Sulfates are a known cause of skin irritation and allergies. For a long time, I had heard this, and thought, “well, my shampoo and body wash don’t give me allergic reaction. Whatever I’m using is fine!” If you’ve been having problems with breakouts anywhere on your body, check and make sure that you’re using is sulfate-free.
Sulfates also strip away moisture from your hair, scalp, and skin, which is especially annoying if you color your hair–a sulfate free shampoo will help extend your color a lot longer than a harsh shampoo with sulfates! Fun facts, huh?
Upon more digging, I found some info that was a bit more alarming–
This article from Goop, for example, was particularly helpful in breaking down these facts in ways that normal people can actually understand.
It says, and I quote:
“The much bigger problem [with SLES] is that in the process of making it less harsh for the skin (ethoxylation), a carcinogenic byproduct emerges: 1,4-dioxane, which shows up on the label as SLES. It’s never listed on an ingredient label because it is a “contaminant,” but it’s often present where SLES appears. Avoid SLES whenever you can.”
If you don’t know what a “carcinogen” is–it’s okay, I honestly didn’t either for a really long time. According to Google dictionary, it’s the official name for “substance that is capable of causing cancer in living tissue.”
IN MY SHAMPOO. That I’ve been using multiple times per week for 29 (TWENTY. NINE.) years.
On the flipside, you will find many studies that dispute the fact that sulfates are carcinogens.
So, really, what do you believe? My view, again, is that if you can find a product you love WITHOUT them, you should!
So, I made the decision, to switch my shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.
And after doing, (what else?) more research on sulfate free shampoos, I was even more overwhelmed. I read that a lot of them didn’t get as foamy as regular shampoo and therefore, didn’t clean as well. Some also claim to be organic yet contain harmful ingredients? GAH! **Cue hair pulling**
…Not to mention the elephant in the room that NOBODY who is drinking the “toxic free” Kool-aid is talking about–doing all this research on which beauty products won’t kill you is, um… EXHAUSTING?
Sorry, but, can I have a life and not suffer from death by shampoo at the same time?
I don’t know about you, but I can barely find the time to feed myself three healthy meals per day. I don’t have an extra hour that I can be spending googling every product I purchase.
And another thing–trying to remember how many “bad things” to avoid was making my head spin.
A Better Shampoo & Conditioner Alternative:
Then, I remembered that I had already tried a few items from Beautycounter that I loved (and no, they didn’t sponsor this post, however, I am a Beautycounter “rep”–full disclaimer–I signed up to be an affiliate because I love it that much!) so I placed a new order–this time, adding shampoo, conditioner, and body wash to my cart–and hoped for the best. (Plus, my friend Meg said she’s used their shampoo for years and loved it, so that was reassuring.)
If you aren’t familiar with Beautycounter, they’re a beauty company that is committed to making safer beauty products. Each of their products is made without more than 1,500 toxic ingredients (1,400 of those are the ones referenced earlier, which are outlawed in Europe. They also have eliminated an additional 100 or so that just plain sketched them out according to their own research, so that’s a plus, too.) If you want to do more internet stalking on them, this is a good place to start.
They make some of my favorite beauty products, and honestly, I think it also comes down to laziness. I don’t have time to pour over ingredient labels!
My new shopping process: if I need to replace a current product, I’ve just started ordering the Beautycounter equivalent.
The best news–it all works great! I love the shampoo and conditioner–it doesn’t leave any residue in my hair or leave it feeling dry and brittle. I actually even like the bodywash better than anything else I’ve used before! It’s way more moisturizing and I find that my skin doesn’t feel as “stripped” as it did before. (Honestly, I didn’t realize that it felt “stripped” at all until I used it and realized what my skin should naturally feel like post-shower, haha!)
All three have a really pretty smelling light citrusy scent, and they are a great price point, too! Note: DEFINITELY go with the “Daily Shampoo” and “Daily Conditioner“–they’ve come out with a new line of shampoos and conditioners but I haven’t heard good things about them. The “daily” products get my stamp of approval, though!
Anyway, if you’re like me and want to start using more “better for you products” but don’t know where to begin–I’d say this is a great place to start!
If you liked this post, see more beauty posts HERE.