If you’re like me, an average 20-something-consumer trying to be healthy in the midst of false advertising, empty product promises and sneaky trade secrets, you didn’t question any personal care products on the local drugstore shelves nor truly thought about the ingredients because after all, if they can be sold to the public then they’re safe, right?
So very wrong, but my old mindset and educating myself on this topic truly showed me how social awareness is at a shocking low when it comes to knowing more about harmful ingredients in personal care products and why our government and brands we trust have ignored the facts and not taken sufficient action. Just accepting what is placed on shelves is not enough. Reading great books like No More Dirty Looks, listening to health experts and researching ingredients is an eye-opener.
I suggest everyone do their own research and self-education because it is not enough to just expect our lawmakers and billions of profit-seeking companies to control our consumerism. YOU can make your own decisions, so make some healthier ones.
Which brings me to this Friday’s Au Natural Factual: Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) & Sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES).
Did you know that your scalp is the most absorbent part of your body? All of those hair products that you use to tame and clean your mane seep right into your scalp, into your bloodstream and most of those chemicals (though a percentage will be excreted) stay in your body for good.
Two harmful ingredients in many personal care products are Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) and Sodium lauryl ether sufalte (SLES) and because they are so commonly used are often referred to as sulfates. These 2 sulfates are classified as surfactants or detergents (compounds which lower the surface tension between liquids or between liquids and solids) and are the 2 most commonly found sulfates in personal care products like shampoo and conditioner for their cleansing and emulsifying properties and because they are relatively inexpensive to use. SLS and SLES can be found in many other products that foam and cleanse such as, toothpaste, body wash, soap and exfoliators.
Due to their harsh penetration properties, SLS and SLES can strip hair and skin of moisture and are common eye, skin and scalp irritants and can also result in acne, rashes and canker sores. Sulfates are also endocrine irritants and can be a possible carcinogen after repeated and prolonged exposure. The biggest concern with SLS and SLES is that when blended with other chemicals (included in your personal care products), they can produce hazardous by-products. Two contaminants that can blend with sulfates and are of the most concern are 1,4 dioxane and ethylene oxide. 1,4 dioxane is a known carcinogen with research citing it is also toxic to the respiratory system and an irritant to skin, eyes and/or lungs. Ethylene oxide has also been classified as a carcinogen and more specifically, a developmental and nervous system toxin.
Like every chemical and the possible risks, we should try to avoid products with potentially harmful chemicals like SLS and SLES.
There are many good organic and natural hair products in specific, that do not include SLS and SLES in their formulation.
The more we use products with these chemicals, the more we are stripping and corroding our hair and skin of its moisture and natural state.
Avoiding sulfates can reduce your reliance on harmful aftereffects and will result in healthier, vibrant hair and skin.
I love the products the ladies of No More Dirty Looks list for hair that are sulfate-free and are good for your hair! Check out some of their ideas here