Organic shampoo: a wise choice

Why choose an organic shampoo?

One of the reason why many people turn to organic shampoo is to avoid the harmful toxins and chemicals that they contain and that enter our body, leaving the most sensitive persons with allergies, irritations, itching in the eyes and sometimes worse conditions.

Regular synthetically-made shampoos do not go back far. They were introduced in the 60’s to replace the regular soap people would use on their hair. Shampoo formulations are created in the lab and are carefully thought in terms of colors, smell, texture, purpose to ensure that the product will appeal to consumers. Shampoo formulations include the following:

water: that makes up for 80% of the formulation
surfactants: Surfactants are the detergents or cleaning agents. The common detergent used in shampoos is called sodium lauryl sulfate. Truly organic products are sodium laureth sulfate free shampoo.
foaming agents: also called alkanolamides, are the agents that give the shampoo its foaming action (some shampoos foam more than others). Typical alkanolamides include lauramide DEA or cocamide DEA.
thickeners: They make for the thick consitency of the shampoo and include methylcellulose (derived from plant cellulose) or chloride sodium (salt).
preservatives: they keep away bacteria growth. They include DMDM hydantoin and methylparaben.
modifiers: added to give the shampoo its specificities or to adjust the Ph. Modifiers include citric acid or sodium hydroxide.
additives: additives give the shampoo its color or its smell and include dyes and fragrances.

The surfactant, sodium lauryl sulfate, is known to penetrate the skin and our body easily and cause allergies, skin irritations and is a well-known carcinogenic (gives cancer). This is a common ingredient in car engine degreasers. The foam booster, lauramide is also known to be a carcinogenic ingredient. The preservative DMDM hydantoin is known to be toxic to our immune system and methylparaben can induce cancer and disrupts our hormonal system. The modifier sodium hydroxide can induce cancer and is toxic to the nervous system, the brain and the organs even at very low dosage. The additives, dyes or fragrances can be neurotoxic or harmful to the immune system. So why such ingredients would be used in shampoo formulations? Because shampoos are part of the cosmetics industry, which is not regulated in the United-States and therefore, all kinds of ingredients can be used in the formulations, even harmful ones.

How to know a shampoo is truly organic?

There are alternatives though and one of them is to use organic shampoos that are free of chemicals and toxins. However, the organic products industry is booming and many companies take advantage of it for their marketing and sales pitch and some allegedly organic shampoos also contain harmful ingredients. So how to know which organic product is real and which is fake? For one, it is better to choose an organic shampoo that carries the USDA organic seal of approval. Secondly, always check the ingredients of your shampoo and don’t rely on the marketing blurp of the packaging. If your organic shampoo contains any of the listed ingredients above, put it back on the shelf.

Organic shampoos contain an organic liquid soap base that serves as a detergent, that is made of saponified oils and that is chemical-free. Other organic ingredients are added to the base to give the shampoo its effect, its smell. Natural preservatives are also added to make sure that the product does not get contaminated with bacteria. One common natural preservative is grapefruit seed, known to have anti-bacterial properties.

Also, if you want to make sure that the brand you chose is not harmful, you can consult the Skin Deep website database that will show you the list of ingredients contained in your product and how harmful or harmless they are.

Choosing the proper organic shampoo for your hair type is not only beneficial to your health but also to the environment. Think about all those harmful chemicals that pass through the drains and end up contaminating the water and soils. This won’t happen with true organic shampoos. So follow your organic lifestyle but wisely: always read the labels and the list of ingredients.

Visit our organic shampoo section.