Organic Shampoo Providence RI
North Attleboro, MA
East Greenwich, RI
By Michele Meyer
Choosing whether or not to go with a natural shampoo has typically boiled down to one question: How much do you like suds? Until recently, going the natural route meant living without them, because the chemicals left out also happen to be the main source of lather. Still, as good as you may feel in sparing your scalp a chemical bath, it’s hard to feel too smug when you wind up with limp, lank, or even greasy hair.
And that probably explains why most all-natural shampoos really aren’t. Many shampoo makers actually keep the sudsing chemicals, toss in some botanical ingredients, and call it “natural.” But consumers are getting more demanding: These days, they want something safe and sudsy. And a number of companies are obliging by trading harsh sudsing chemicals, like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, for gentler vegetable- and coconut-based latherers.
The result is a milder shampoo—with lather. “Customers expect a great sudsing, foaming shampoo,’’ says Morris Shriftman, senior vice president of marketing at Avalon Natural Products in Petaluma, California, “so we gave it to them.”
Avalon, which recently teamed up with the Breast Cancer Fund (breastcancerfund.org) in San Francisco to spread the word about environmentally safe cosmetics like its own, isn’t the only one charting this course. Blinc, Shikai Color Reflect, and Dr. Hauschka are among others that have kept the lather while removing what Shriftman terms “objectionable ingredients.’’
So what exactly is the problem with these ingredients? Plenty, says Timothy Kropp, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit research organization that focuses on health and environmental issues.
In a review last year of 413 shampoos, it found that 11 percent of products contained a known probable or possible carcinogen (including selenium sulfide and coal tar, found in some dandruff shampoos), 17 percent had ingredients that may be linked to breast cancer, and 82 percent had ingredients believed to help carcinogens penetrate the scalp (including EDTA, propylene glycol, urea, and PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate). There’s also the possibility that certain preservatives called parabens might present a health risk. (To learn more, check out the EWG’s website at ewg.org/reports/skindeep.)
The standard rejoinder to such concerns has been to ask whether any of these chemicals is on your head long enough to actually penetrate your skin and produce health problems. In a report three years ago, the industry-supported Cosmetic Ingredient Review found that the lathering laureths, and other ingredients, are nothing to worry about.
“The levels used in shampoos are not harmful,” says Wilma F. Bergfeld, head of clinical research in the department of dermatology at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “And with ten to 16 ingredients in every shampoo, the laureths are diluted. None of these ingredients has been shown to cause a problem in studies. ...
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