Shopping for skin and hair care products takes skill. With labels, guarantees and stunning models, we get caught up in a feminine nature of trial and error. There’s simply nothing better than finding your favorite facial cleanser or foundation.
Trust is a great quality to have, there’s no doubt about it. But when choosing products you use every day, how often do you turn the bottle around and investigate what’s really being put on your body? In an organic era of all-natural everything, it’s time to get curious about what those crazy ingredient names actually mean.
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
These two chemicals are found in almost every popular shampoo brand and body wash. They are responsible for making the soap foamy and creating the bubbles that lather your hair and skin. It’s often the agent that does the cleaning. Its effects, however, have been proven to cause severe eye and skin irritation.
In shampoo, ALS and SLS cause the scalp to be itchy; people with sensitive skin should avoid these ingredients. ALS and SLS chemically strip the hair of essential moisture. This is typically why shampooing your hair too often causes dry, damaged hair.
What’s even worse? SLS is also the leading detergent used in engine degreasers and floor cleaners. Hm, interesting. Luckily, L’Oreal has an entire collection of sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners. Most organic products don’t contain sulfates, as well. Your hair and skin may not get a bubbly lather without them, but that doesn’t mean it’s not getting cleaned.
For such a long name, this ingredient simply does one main duty: it acts as a preservative in makeup and shampoo. It keeps bacteria from growing and allows the products to last longer, but there seems to be great doubt about its safety. In Canada and Japan, its use in cosmetics and personal care products is completely banned. In the United States, however, it’s regulated according to concentration levels. It’s mostly used in small portions and products that rinse off. High concentrations of it cause chemical burns of the skin. Methylchloroisothiazolinone commonly causes allergic reactions that result in redness, swelling and itching. It’s also the preservative used in paints, glues and fuels.
Parabens are also used as a preservative that kills bacteria in many personal care products. It’s found in shampoos, makeup, facial moisturizers, deodorant, shaving gel and spray tans. Parabens have recently been a huge research debate. Traces of parabens have been discovered in breast cancer tumors. It still hasn’t been proven whether or not these estrogen-mimicking ingredients cause cancer, but they haven’t been ruled out.
When it comes to your health, there should be no if’s, and’s or but’s. Many ingredients in our favorite products may be dangerous. Do your research and stay healthy!
Photo by Grace Shyu