Thursday, June 26, 2008

Evil Estrogen Shampoo Adventures

Since I am PMS-ing today, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about estrogen.

Did you know that there are a gezillion chemicals out there, in our everyday products, which mimic estrogen? No wonder PMS is so scary!

The most common ones are parabens (found in shampoo and other beauty products as a preservative) and sodium lauryl sulfate (found in shampoo and anything else that foams, like toothpaste and hand soap and the stuff garages use to de-grease engines).

Let's focus on sodium lauryl sulfate.

Last fall, I heard a speaker talk about her experiences with breast cancer and the things she had learned about natural products as a result. One of the substances she mentioned was SLS, and her casual comment about its being a skin irritant found in shampoo caught my attention.

For months, my scalp had been super irritated and itchy and tender, and I was starting to wonder what was wrong with it. Was I not washing enough? But no matter how often I shampooed my hair, I got no relief.

So, when I got home that day, I googled sodium lauryl sulfate. (Thank goodness google is so forgiving of spelling! My guess wasn't quite right.) May I just say, Yikes! I was so upset by what I learned that my husband had to tell me to take deep breaths and calm down.


SLS causes skin and eye irritation. It strips oil away, dries out the scalp and hair, and even made my dry hair frizzier (even though the shampoo says "deep moisture" on it). It breaks down the skin cells and gets absorbed into the body, as well as making an avenue for other nasty chemicals to soak through. It's possible that it can cause eye problems even if it doesn't come into contact with the eyes (since it gets absorbed by the skin). It also, once absorbed, mimics estrogen -- and we all know how important that delicate balance of hormones is!

And get this. This was the kicker (aside from my sore head, that is): since it's an eye irritant, it stings when it gets in your eyes. But do companies take it out of shampoo? No. They add one more chemical that numbs your eyeballs.

I'm. Not. Kidding.

I looked at every brand of shampoo in the drugstore, and they all contained either sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, or ammonium laureth sulfate. Even the kids' shampoos.

Some companies and scientists maintain that SLS isn't so bad, but my tender scalp and I beg to differ. Since switching to my Aubrey Organics brand, my head has gradually healed and is now feeling great (except when I've gone four days without showering because I've been pulling my hair out over my four boys). My hairdresser even commented that my hair is much healthier -- shinier, with much less split ends and less frizz. Yay!

A note on the brand I chose to switch to: It was the only brand in my health-food store whose label contained only familiar-sounding ingredients. You know, things like coconut and allspice. The consistency's a bit more liquidy, but it smells heavenly. And the conditioner! My hair just drinks it right up, and there's hardly any left to rinse out. Pure bliss.

Oh yeah, and even though I'm PMS-ing today (and yesterday. Sigh.), the mood swings aren't nearly as bad as they used to be. It's more like a general case of the blahs with a little bit of teary-eyed sentimentality than a full-blown I-Hate-My-Life-And-I-Need-To-Get-Out-Of-Here surprise attack when my husband walks though the door after work.

Who knew reducing chemicals could be so good for a marriage?

1 comment:

  1. I found your post interesting and did a bit of research on my own. This link also showed up on google, giving you the other side of the story... yet I find hard to believe that SLS should remain in our shampoos and other detergents. Anyhow, the link is interesting for it's defense against the myth that SLS is carcinogen (as it was definetly not backed up in a solid manner in the e-mail myth). Worth reading it... and can't wait to finish my bottle of Fructis to buy your Aubrey's shampoo!