Toxic shampoo!

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How harmful ingredients in your shampoo can permanently damage your hair and even cause hair loss

The hair care indus­try is worth mil­lions thanks to its promise to pro­vide just the right solu­tion for what­ev­er hair type you may have: curly or straight, dry or greasy, nat­ur­al or dyed, there is a sham-poo and con­di­tion­er for every hair type. To have full, strong, shiny and healthy look­ing hair is some­thing both men and women are aim­ing for.

But what the com­mer­cials do not tell you is that using these prod­ucts can lit­er­al­ly turn into a hair care night­mare. Many ingre­di­ents are every­thing but nour­ish­ing and can­not only make your hair dry and brit­tle but can even lead to increased hair loss — the exact oppo­site of what was promised and sure­ly not the result you were look­ing for.


The truth may burst some bub­bles

To give you that extra foamy and bub­bly expe­ri­ence whilst wash­ing your hair, the beau­ty indus­try resorts to one of its most promi­nent clean­ing agents: sur­fac­tants. They are not only able to trap oil and dirt, to then be rinsed away with water, but cre­ate won­der­ful foam, giv­ing us that extra clean feel­ing. They can be found lit­er­al­ly every­where, in all types of deter­gents. There are both nat­ur­al and syn­thet­ic sur­fac­tants, where­by the sur­fac­tants of nat­ur­al ori­gin are some­what less harm­ful than the pure­ly chem­i­cal vari­ant. The more aggres­sive the sur­fac­tant, the more harm­ful for the en-viron­ment and, of course, our body and hair.

One of the most aggres­sive sur­fac­tants is sodi­um lau­rel sul­fate (SLS). Unfortunately, SLS is the most wide­ly used ingre­di­ent as it is cheap to pro­duce. Due to its strong degreas­ing effect, it dis-turbs the nat­ur­al bal­ance of your skin and hair. In an attempt to bal­ance out the dry­ness, the skin pro­duces more sebum, how­ev­er, sur­fac­tants remove the skin’s nat­ur­al pro­tec­tive hydroli­pidic film over and over again.This can lead to itch­ing of the scalp and, in the worst case, even to hair loss. Other poten­tial side effects include dry hair, dry scalp and aller­gic reac­tions such as inflam­ma­tion of the skin. Moreover, sur­fac­tants are also known to inhib­it new hair growth.

Clean hair

But at what cost?

If you want to be on the safe side, it makes sense to take a good look at all the ingre­di­ents list­ed on the back of your sham­poo bot­tle, as not only SLS can be harm­ful to your health and neg­a­tive­ly affect your hair growth but also a range of oth­er aggres­sive sul­fates. Sodium lau­reth sul­fate (SLES), sodi­um myreth sul­fate, sodi­um lau­ryl sul­foac­etate and ammo­ni­um lau­ryl sul­fate (ALS), ammo­ni­um lau­reth sul­fate (ALES), methyl gluceth, laureth‑2 and laureth‑3, methyl isoth­ia­zoli­none, sodi­um cetearyl sul­fate and sodi­um cocoyl sar­cosi­nate are all ingre­di­ents you should avoid. They often con­tain residues of formalde­hyde and are sus­pect­ed of being car­cino­genic.

Although SLES is often praised for being a less aggres­sive alter­na­tive to SLS, its by-product1,4‑dioxane, which is very sim­i­lar to the female hor­mone oestro­gen, has been linked to hor­mon­al imbal­ances in both males and females. It can have a neg­a­tive effect on sperm pro­duc­tion in men, low­er­ing fer­til­i­ty, and stud­ies have also shown menopausal symp­toms in women as lau­ryl sul­fates are absorbed by the skin and then stored in the body.

Check your choice
Numerous apps can help you avoid unwant­ed ingre­di­ents

Most of us are not flu­ent in chem­istry, hence, even if we start­ed read­ing the back of our sham­poo bot­tle, we would hard­ly know what each ingre­di­ent real­ly meant. Thus we are left to believe the industry’s promis­ing com­mer­cials, where ingre­di­ents like milk and hon­ey, creamy avo­ca­dos or expen­sive argan oil sup­pos­ed­ly trans­form any type of hair, no mat­ter how brit­tle and dry, into volu­mi­nous, healthy and shiny hair.

But the truth is just a scan away…

Depending on where in the world you are locat­ed, there are var­i­ous apps avail­able in the Google Play and iTunes Store that can help you make health­i­er choic­es when it comes to per­son­al and hair care prod­ucts. Once down­loaded, you can sim­ply scan the bar­code with your mobile phone when shop­ping and you will get all infor­ma­tion at a glance.

“Think Dirty” is the right app for you, if you are locat­ed in Canada or the U.S. It is free and offers easy bar­code scan­ning of over 850,000 cos­met­ics and per­son­al care prod­ucts, let­ting you know whether a prod­uct con­tains tox­ic ingre­di­ents or not.

“CosmEthics” offers in depth infor­ma­tion on over 140,000 prod­ucts of which the major­i­ty are sold on the European mar­ket. Although the basic ver­sion is free of charge, it does allow for in-app pur­chas­es. By pay­ing a pre­mi­um annu­al or month­ly fee you can have your favourite prod­ucts analysed that are not yet inside the exist­ing data­base.

Using these apps can make your life much eas­i­er by help­ing you select clean­er and health­i­er options as you shop. The above men­tioned apps even allow you to select dif­fer­ent lifestyle options for a more per­son­alised scan­ning expe­ri­ence. You can, for exam­ple, select to be only shown veg­an prod­ucts or ask to alert you in case the prod­ucts con­tain ingre­di­ents you are aller­gic to.

The dose makes the poi­son

When it comes to sur­fac­tants less is more

If you already suf­fer from hair loss, or if your hair is dull, brit­tle and frag­ile, then it is def­i­nite­ly worth tak­ing a good look at the hair care prod­ucts in your bath­room. Remember that your sham­poo is not­the only prod­uct that may con­tain sur­fac­tants. Most clean­ing prod­ucts, espe­cial­ly those that pro­duce foam, use sur­fac­tants as a clean­ing agent. Unfortunately, they are eas­i­ly absorbed through the skin and are then accu­mu­lat­ed in the body.

Moreover, when found in hair care prod­ucts, sodi­um lau­ryl sul­fate accu­mu­lates exact­ly where hair loss begins: the roots. This caus­es for the roots to no longer be suf­fi­cient­ly sup­plied with nutri­ents, inhibit­ing new hair growth. Therefore, long-term use can even lead to hair loss. Hence, every time you wash your hair with prod­ucts that con­tain sur­fac­tants, such as SLS, the risk of pre­ma­ture hair loss increas­es sig­nif­i­cant­ly.

As you can see, adver­tis­ing, as so often, does not quite live up to its promis­es. No mat­ter whether you buy the cheap sham­poo from the drug­store down the road or use expen­sive salon prod­ucts, you should always take a close look at the list of ingre­di­ents and not just rely on the promis­ing pack­ag­ing or adver­tis­ing.

When it comes to sur­fac­tants, less is def­i­nite­ly more.

Important: If you are plan­ning on or are already using Factor Hair Activator for your per­son­al hair care and/or to stim­u­late new hair growth, please do not use sham­poos or hair care prod­ucts con-tain­ing sil­i­cone or sodi­um lau­ryl sul­fate (SLS).


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