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THIS JUST IN: Humans Hunted by Killer Shampoo

Submitted by Emily Snedecor on April 27, 2010 – 9:50 pmComments

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Photo by Clean Wal-Mart via Flickr

By Emily Snedecor at Reasonably So

Women are presented with so many options these days, for example: breakfast cereals, cars, men, and shampoo. I think I’ve tried about 35 different kinds of shampoo and conditioner in my lifetime. I remember the first time I tried a fancy shampoo as a child and my hair was so silky smooth. It was a revelation. If only it were as simple as silky hair…

How a shampoo makes your hair feel is important. Ladies with curls want them under control, oily headed mavens need some moisture balance, gals with fine locks need a volume boost. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of formulas— some work, some don’t. Some boost your confidence, some add something special, and some just smell like candy. But did you know some might give you cancer? Others have ingredients that are toxic to your nervous system. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never even imagined anything like this while scrubbing my tresses.

The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit organization that uses “the power of public information to protect public health and the environment,” (from EWG’s website). They have developed a Cosmetics Database where you can look up many thousands upon thousands of cosmetic products, each rated on a scale from 1-10 in toxicity. The Database lists every chemical in a product that might be toxic to humans and the ways it can affect us. Each product search yields plentiful information — and that’s where my question comes in: How much information is too much information?

I searched my shampoo and its rating was a 5. Ok, not too bad, right? But then I see the specific areas where it could affect me: Neurotoxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity,  Organ system toxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes. YIKES. Do I really need to be worried about these kinds of things? Will washing my hair 3 times a week really make me sick? It certainly brings up some questions, but maybe the whole thing is a little dramatic.

I know I’m not going to throw out my shampoo today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. I will, perhaps, think twice before I buy the next bottle. It’s nice to know the information is there for me to use, but I’m not sure what to do with it. Some of it is a bit obscure — I scanned down the list of safest shampoos, and the first hippie-chic brand name shampoo I recognized was #80. The first mainstream brand shampoo was at #129. I’m not interested in frightening myself into a tizzy, but it’s hard to ignore the nagging part of me that says I should only be putting healthful things into and onto my body.

I’m still rolling this debate round and round in my head. What will you do with this information?

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