Monday, June 28, 2010

Finally-a natural shampoo I can love!

I'm one of those people who's been wanting to love an organic or natural shampoo and body wash for a long time.  But they made my hair and skin feel funny or didn't clean the way I wanted.  On closer inspection, many of these so called "natural" body products contain harmful chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), or sodium myreth sulfate (a newer derivative of SLS and SLES that companies use to get away with the "SLS-free" label).  SLS is a cheap, readily available chemical that makes soaps, detergents, toothpastes and other products foamy.  It is also valued as a commercial cleanser because of it's ability to strip oils from surfaces including skin and hair.  This is why sodium lauryl sulfate and other chemicals related to it are known to cause eye and skin irritations in concentrations as small as .5% and are considered dangerous in concentrations of 10-30% which is the level commonly found in many household products.  One of the other negative aspects is that dioxane, a known carcinogen, is one of the byproducts of creating SLES so dioxane contamination is possible in products made with SLES.

Since I couldn't find anything better, I was using the 365 brand of "natural" shampoo, conditioner, and lotion from Whole Foods.  They are inexpensive, dye free, paraben free, and use essential oils for fragrance, but they still contained SLS/SLES or related chemicals.  But I ran out about two weeks ago, and decided to give all-natural bath products another chance.
I stumbled upon a great shampoo at Vitacost that doesn't make my hair crazy, smells great, and is free of all the major toxic chemicals used in personal care products.  The chemicals mentioned (ethylhexylglycerin, sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate) are preservatives with antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties that are either plant-derived, kosher, or naturally occuring, cause irritation/allergies only in rare instances, and are among the last on the ingredient list, which means they are the smallest concentrations.  The line is the Beauty Without Cruelty shampoos and conditioners.  For those interested, they also make facial cleansing products and cosmetics.

Another all natural bath product I'm loving is the Hugo Naturals shower gel in the Vanilla Orange fragrance.  It has a relaxing vanilla undertone, and the only ingredient I didn't immediately recognize as coming from nature was decyl glucoside.  It's an SLS alternative made from vegetable oil and sugar.  The Hugo Naturals line of products includes hand soaps, lotions, body scrubs, shower gels, and more in a variety of fragrance options including unscented.

I haven't decided on a final product for the baby, but here are a few I'm considering.  The Weleda Baby Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash, Burt's Bees Tear Free Shampoo and Wash, and Nature's Baby All Natural Shampoo and Body Wash are all economical choices that pass initial inspection.  They also all make natural baby lotions.  A few days ago, my aunt and uncle gave me the Aubrey Organics Natural Baby & Kids Body Lotion to try.  I used it on my son this evening after his bath.  It smells good, moisturizes well, and meets my expectations for an natural/organic product.  The downside is that it is on the more expensive side, a little greasy, and the fragrance is stronger than I like for a baby lotion.  I will probably try something else when this bottle is gone.

Other alternative household products free of harmful chemicals and additives are Earth Friendly Ultra Dishmate, Mrs. Meyer's Liquid Dish Soap, Biokleen Automatic Dish Powder, Tom's SLS-free Toothpaste, Kiss My Face Aloe Vera Toothpaste, and Charlie's Soap Laundry Powder.  For you Seventh Generation and Avalon Organics users, sorry!  They didn't make it to the "clean" list.

To learn more about the effects of sodium lauryl sulfate and its derivatives, click these links:

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