Is your shampoo harming your health?

Shampoo and conditioner are personal care products that you likely use every day. As consumers, we tend to make our purchase decisions based on a company’s advertising, package design, label claims or projected results. Companies aren’t completely forthcoming though, because what if I told you that along with shiny, frizz-free and luscious hair came disrupted hormones, an increased cancer risk, organ toxicity and more? That doesn’t sound as enticing, does it?

Did you know that there has not been a major federal law regulating the beauty industry passed since 1938? Companies do not have to submit safety data before marketing or selling a product, nor do they have to report problems or adverse events. They also do not have to adhere to manufacturing standards or register with the FDA. There are essentially no regulations on shampoo, conditioner and other hair care products. Only 20% of the thousands of chemicals found in personal care products have been tested for safety—I am not willing to gamble with the other 80%.

Because there are essentially no regulations, companies are able to put proven harmful ingredients into products. Why would they do this? My guess is because the harmful ingredients deliver specific results at less of a monetary cost. What do you think the company cares about—your health or their bottom dollar? I would put my money on their bottom dollar.

Some very common harmful ingredients used in hair care products are:

Coal Tar Ingredients – Used as an anti-dandruff agent. This is a known carcinogen.

Formaldehyde – Used as a preservative. A known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity and developmental toxicity. This is found under a variety of different names on labels.

Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone – Chemical preservatives. Linked with irritation and contact skin allergies.

Parabens (Methy-, Isobutyl-, propyl- and more) – A class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine disruptors, which may alter important hormone mechanisms in your body.

Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP and more) – Plasticizing chemical used to make products more pliable or stick to skin. Commonly found in hair styling products. Known endocrine disruptors and linked to birth defects.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG compounds) – Used as thickeners, solvents, softeners and moisture-carriers. These may be contaminated with known carcinogens.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS and SLES) – Breaks surface tension and allows for better interaction between product and hair. These can cause skin irritation and trigger allergies.

Fragrance – This can be a combination of one or more of over three thousand chemicals, including endocrine disruptors and allergens. Fragrance formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets and therefore can remain undisclosed.

Cumulative exposure adds up, so when you begin to make safer changes to your personal care products, I recommend starting with items you use daily—toothpaste, face wash, moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, soaps, etc. Don’t let this information overwhelm you, let it empower you.

Here is how you can take your next steps to “clean up” your hair care routine:

  1. Download the EWG Skin Deep app. You can plug hair care products and/or ingredients into this app and it will help you determine their overall health threat.
  2. Email me and request a wallet-size card with some of the worst chemical offenders in the personal care industry. Keep this card with you and begin to check product labels as you are shopping. hello@ginaschade.com
  3. Don’t assume salon brands are safe—the majority are not. Talk to your stylist about safer options for the products you love.
  4. Do brand research before purchasing a new line of hair care.
  5. Opt for a trusted brand like Beautycounter.

Beautycounter bans over 1500 harmful or potentially harmful ingredients from their products, including all of the ones listed above. They are 100% transparent about what is in their formulas and have a 5-step ingredient selection process. They use a combination of organic, natural, plant-derived, sustainable and safer synthetic ingredients to create formulas that are not only significantly safer but still deliver the results you are seeking—you no longer have to sacrifice safety for performance.

I have personally been using Beautycounter’s hair care products for a few months and have been thrilled with the results. Before using Beautycounter’s products, I tried various natural brands but felt like they left my hair dull and limp—there was no sort of shine, luster or volume. I also missed the feeling of a “foamy” shampoo. Beautycounter’s hair care has been a complete game-changer for me: my shine is back and volume is effortless. Plus, the shampoo is super foamy and smells amazing! 

Highlights of Beautycounter’s hair care products:

Purefoam Cleansing Technology. (You guys, the lather is bananas!) This technology provides the rich lather you love without the sulfates—sulfates are generally responsible for lather in conventional brands.

Scented with essential oil blends. (Smells like a spa!)

Offers high-performance, safer formulas that deliver results.

Safe for color treated hair.

No harmful ingredients.

Options:

Daily Shampoo + Daily Conditioner: Beautycounter’s basic hair care line. Great for men and teens or for women who are seeking the basics. 

Volume + Shape: Salon-worthy line designed for fine, flat hair. Contains hibiscus plant proteins to help give you weightless volume and fullness. Scented with a combination of citrus and spearmint essential oils. The Volumizing Mist instantly lifts roots and gives hair long-lasting fullness and touchable texture. (This is the line I use—LOVE!) 

Smooth + Control: Salon-worthy line designed for frizzy, unruly or rough hair. Formulated with wild cotton extract to control frizz and provide a smooth, sleek look. Scented with rosemary, lavender, peppermint and geranium oils. Smooth + Control Hair Oil is a blend of eight oils plus vitamin E and is designed to tame flyaway and add shine while boosting total hair health. This oil can be mixed and matched with the other lines. 

Other hair care products worth a mention:

Style Sea Salt Spray – Your go-to summer anthem for beach waves! Designed for all hair types. Lightweight spray helps to create beach waves, enhance curles, and restore shine. The spray contains Himalayan pink salt and red algae extract. Creates a touchbable, tousled texture. 

Repair and Nourish Split End Serum: Helps seal split ends, repair damaged hair, and prevent future breakage. Made with Brazilian bataua and macadamia oils! (I use this product—it has been a game-changer for my split ends!) 

I hope all of this information was help to you! I would love to hear what next step you are taking to “clean up” your hair care routine – leave a comment below! Xo

Gina Schade

Gina Schade

Gina is a certified health coach, author of The 90/10 Life Cookbook, and the creator of The 90/10 Life Meal Planner. She works with individuals like you to help them incorporate healthy habits into their lives one bite at a time!

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