Thursday, October 8, 2009

5 Hidden Hair Care Chemicals

You probably already know the basics of which chemicals to avoid--SLES, parabens, phlalates, and "fragrance," so today I thought I'd go a little deeper and get in to some chemicals you may not be quite as familiar with.

I mentioned this chemical in my article yesterday, so I thought I'd flesh out more details today. A common ingredient in hair coloring treatments, PPD is a strong contact allergen. Some people have severe allergic reactions to PPD, even resulting in death. According to the EPA, PPD "may cause severe dermatitis, eye irritation and tearing, asthma, gastritis, renal failure, vertigo, tremors, convulsions, and coma in humans." Yes, you read that right--coma! PPD is created from coal tar and is used in the manufacturing of rubber chemicals and textile dyes. Certain people have severe allergies to PPD, and can even be sensitive to black inks and clothes. And PPD is sneaky--sometimes companies add it to henna to create a darker hue. So you may think that you're using a safer product, but a "henna" can be just as bad as a synthetic dye. There are also "natural" hair dyes without ammonia, but they still contain PPD. So when choosing a hair dye, even if it's a henna, read the ingredients to make sure you're truly getting a natural product.
Found in: Aveda Hair Colors, Clairol Herbal Essences Hair Colors, L'Oreal Preference, Creme of Nature Hair Color, Dark & Lovely (to name a few).

#2 Butylated Hydroxytolulene (BHT)
BHT is a suspected carcinogen, a skin toxin, an immune system toxin, a neurotoxin, an endocrine disruptor, and is bioaccumulative. It's found in shampoos and conditioners as a masking and fragrance ingredient, in addition to a preservative. And wait a sounds a little too familiar. Dang it--it's in my Trident gum! I guess that's going in the trash.
Found in: Bumble and Bumble Dehydration Therapy Complex, Tigi Bed Head Stick, Africa's Best Organics Hair relaxer Products (to name a few.) It's also in numerous facial creams.

This preservative found in shampoo, conditioner, hair colors, hairsprays, and scalp treatments, is a skin toxin that can cause an immune system response that can include itching, burning, scaling, hives, and blistering of skin according to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments. It was first introduced as a cosmetic ingredient in the 70s, but after it caused chemical burns, it had to be restricted to wash-off products only. A couple products it's found in: Clairol Natural Instincts Hair Colors, Revlon Colorsilk Ammonia-Free Hair color, Huggies Detangler Shampoo, modern organics shampoo, Avon Kids Bubble Bath.

#4 Isobutane
This common hairspray propellant is not only flammable, but can also cause skin, eye and lung irritations. According to the Environmental Canada Domestic Substance List, it's suspected to be carcinogenic, genotoxic, and persistent. It can also be contaminated with butadiene, which is a known carcinogen. It's most harmful when it's airborn, which is exactly the form it's used in with hairspray. Some products it's found in: Aussie Instant Freeze Hairspray, Elizabeth Arden Mousse Foundation, Tigi Catwalk Extra Strong Mousse, Herbal Essences Mousse, Dove Foam Conditioner Volumizing Color.

#5 Triethanolamine
Also known as TEA, this ingredient used in styling gels can be contaminated with carcinogenic nitrosamines. In addition, it can aggrivate asthma, is a skin sensitizer that can cause blistering and burning and is also a known immune system toxin. In addition to being in styling gels, it's found in makeups and facial care products. Found in: Neutrogena Original Formula Facial Cleansing Bar, modern organics molding cream, Vaseline Intensive Care Conditioner, L'Oreal Studio Line Head Lock to name a few.

There are thousands of chemicals out there in hair care products that can cause serious side effects. And while companies claim that they're used at small concentration, or it doesn't matter because you're just washing it off, or that they're only in your hair, not on your skin, you have to think about the daily repeated exposure to these chemicals.

Tomorrow--there is hope! We'll talk about the truly natural alternatives and I'll give you some tips for natural, beautiful hair without all the chemicals.


Shelly said...

#3 Methylchloroisothiazolinone . . . itching, burning, scaling, hives, blistering of skin . . . found in: . . . Avon Kids Bubble Bath. Does this make anyone else furious? I haven't used Avon products since I was a kid & my mom bought the junk. But just knowing it is common practice to use unnecessary and obviously dangerous chemicals in this industry, especially kids' products, really disgusts me. Thank you, Stephanie, for keeping us safe and informed!

JimInVegas said...

Once again, thanks for bringing more knowledge about all the chemicals. Even if a bottle is marked organic, it may not be fully organic!

I have been using your shampoo and vinegar rinse (which is brilliant by the way) for 3 weeks now and my hair is shiny and healthy. My scalp is not dry either; so no flakes!

Anonymous said...

Ugh, BHT IS in gum..
:( That's disgusting. Immune system toxin? Neurotoxin? What is it doing there? It's also added to some cereal packaging to "maintain freshness".

Unknown said...

Once again you take a jab at my long-time hair cleansing and coloring practices!!!! Ouch! Well, we'll have to huddle now about what is safer to use and will still cover that pesky gray. (Not going to embrace the gray any time soon.) So proud of you and
Love ya,