Many of you try to avoid toxins in food – and that’s great. But did you know that it’s also important to avoid toxins in your body care items like shampoo? As I mentioned in my article on shower filters, the hot water coming from the shower opens your pores and your skin then functions like a sponge, soaking in all the toxins into your bloodstream. When toxins are absorbed through your skin (instead of through your stomach, like with food), they bypass your liver and enter your bloodstream and tissues directly, without any protection!

Chemicals to Avoid in Shampoo

Some of the chemicals to avoid in shampoos are the same as those found in other body care products, so you may be familiar with their names by now. I have described the following chemicals, and the concerns with them, in my articles on toxic ingredients in hand soap and sanitizer and safer sunscreen:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Dioxane
  • Parabens
  • Propylene glycol, Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
  • Synthetic fragrance

There are two more dangerous chemicals found in shampoo that you should avoid:

Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Cocamidopropyl Betaine is a surfactant which gives shampoos and liquid soaps their cleansing and lathering properties. It is derived from coconut oil and dimethylaminopropylamine and is sometimes used by companies instead of SLS. Despite being made “from coconut” it can contain traces of nitrosamines, a possible human carcinogen.

Diethanolamine (DEA)

Diethanolamine (DEA) is used as a wetting agent in shampoos, lotions, creams, bubble bath, and other cosmetics. From, a recent FDA report showed that approximately 42% of all cosmetics were contaminated with NDEA, with shampoos having the highest concentrations.

  • DEA readily reacts with nitrite preservatives and contaminants to create nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA), a known and potent carcinogen.
  • DEA seems to block absorption of the nutrient choline, which is vital to brain development. Pregnant women actually require extra choline so they can pass it onto their fetus.
  • It is also linked to developmental/reproductive toxicity, allergies/immunotoxicity, and organ system toxicity.

Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) created a huge database of cosmetics chemicals and ranked them, giving them a hazard score. On their site, you can:

  • Enter specific chemical names to find information.
  • Look up a specific product and see its ingredients.
  • Look for safe products by type.

So go grab your bottles of shampoo, look up the ingredients, and see for yourself their hazard score.

Safer Shampoos for Adults

We have used Aubrey Organics shampoo and conditioner (several varieties) over the years and like them a lot. They have a lot of different types of shampoo and conditioner for a wide variety of hair types; they even have a swimmer’s shampoo. I really like the Blue Camomile Hydrating Shampoo; it cleans well and foams up nice.

We also use plain ol’ Dr. Bronner castile soap; we decided to try it as a cost-saving measure. We pay about $8 for an 11 oz bottle of Aubrey Organics shampoo; our 32 oz bottle of Dr. Bronner castile soap was only $10. It foams up nice and you don’t need much; in fact, you want to use less rather than more. It is oily and if you use too much, your hair can feel greasy; and mine did feel greasy after several days. So after experimenting, I now use the Dr. Bronner castile soap for two or three days and then use Aubrey Organics shampoo for one day. I figure I am still saving money going this way. Men, and little kids, may have different results if their hair is shorter.

Since Dr. Bronner castile soap is thick and will clog travel-size shampoo bottles, I recommend you buy an 8 oz bottle because it has a wide opening. When that runs out, you can always refill the smaller bottle from your bigger bottle of soap.

Some other brands of shampoo I would use:

Safer Shampoo for Kids

We have been using Aubrey Organics Natural Baby & Kids Shampoo since our son was a baby. We love it and it’s worked great for us., one of my favorite sites, has compiled a great list of safe baby skin care products. They are organized into groups that include the Best, Better, Good, and Gluten-Free.

Some other brands that I would use are:

Always Read Labels – Even For ‘Natural’ or ‘Organic’ Products

After reading about all those toxic ingredients, you may decide to switch to a product labeled “natural” or “organic”. But you need to be aware that many toxic ingredients are still in products mislabeled natural or organic. ALWAYS READ THE LABELS!

What Would MamaWendy Recommend?

If you are ever wondering what types of products I would recommend, you can go to my Amazon store. I created this store to easily list various products that I think are good. You can go there and look for many types of items. purchases made through my link help support the continued development of this website – thank you!

Wendy –

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