Shampoo and Conditioner (Toxic Free Emily)

It feels so good to finally be starting the first of several blog posts in this series- Toxic Free Emily. It has been on my heart for such a long time and I am so excited that I am finally taking action! We are using so many harmful chemicals in every day products and enough is enough.

As I mentioned in my little introduction on Instagram, the kids are pretty much taken care of in terms of safe ingredients. Diapers, wipes, toothpaste, lotions, etc.. nothing touches their body until it is researched to death by me and gets my clean and safe seal of approval. I am always looking for new stuff for them to try, so they will not be left out of this journey completely- but (for once) me and my products are priority right now. I have a long list of products I am using (household, skin care, bath and body, makeup) that I really need to take a long hard look at and see if it meets the health and safety standards we should all be using.

I had become aware enough to know that most (if not all) of my makeup products are probably not the best for my health but was not motivated enough to replace anything (also, money is always an issue.) So I have come to a place where I literally just never wear makeup anymore. I wore some for our family portraits in April and can literally not remember the time I wore some before that. And I don’t mean barely any makeup, I mean none at all. A good part of me feels good about this: I love being confident in my skin alone with no makeup on (I also stopped dyeing my hair four or five years ago.) Twenty year old me would have never left the house without at least foundation on, and I like that it is something that doesn’t bother me at all now. Every time now I think maybe I will put some on, I then think, “Rub nasty chemicals all over my skin, for no good reason?” And then I pass. A small part of me feels like a bum for never “trying to look nice” or “get ready.” And I used to have so much fun with makeup! So I do plan on researching what I have, and finding safe alternatives for it all one by one. However, since I have already put makeup on the back burner for several months, I am going to start replacing things one by one in priority order. Priority for me is what I use most and I will start with what I use in the shower.

I actually feel really vulnerable telling everyone the products I have been using, because I do desperately want to already be in a safe and clean place. I love the planet, I haven’t eaten meat in over a decade, I only want the most natural things for my kids, and think every single person should be using the safest products that don’t have any health and safety concerns. So I kind of feel like I am “outing” myself here. But here we go! What I use in the shower is the following:

TRESemme Smooth & Silky Shampoo

TRESemme Conditioner Smooth & Silky Touchable Softness

Dove Beauty Bar, Gentle Exfoliating

Gillette Venus & Olay Women’s Razor

So, for today since this is already lengthy enough explaining a little background- I am going to just be going through with you guys what I find in my shampoo and conditioner, as I find it.

TRESemme Smooth & Silky Shampoo is rated at a 4 on EWG ‘s website (love this site, I have used it for years to rate stuff like sunscreen and deodorant.) The conditioner gets a rating of 5. Products are rated 1-10 for overall health hazard (the lower the number the safer it is!) The four and five is colored yellow which puts it as a moderate health risk (green good, red bad.) So what exactly should I be worried about?

FRAGRANCE- This is EWG’s top concern with both the shampoo and conditioner, and I am just now learning how scary fragrance can be (and it is in everything it feels like!) Something that makes synthetic fragrances especially alarming is there is no way to know what is actually in them since they are considered “trade secrets” and companies are not required to disclose that information (there are up to 3,000 different chemicals that can be used for fragrance, many have not been tested for safety!) Of these 3,000 chemicals, many are potential triggers for things like allergies and asthma (which explains why walking through the perfume department at Macy’s would send me into a coughing fit when I was younger and struggling with asthma.) As for the hormones- many of these chemicals that make up fragrances (and therefore do not have to be disclosed) contain phthalates. Phthalates either mimic or block the body’s natural hormone functions which completely messes with our body’s ability to function normally. Girls are entering puberty earlier than a generation ago, and difficulty in conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy rose 40% from 1982-2000. SOMETHING is making that happen, and our answer could be right here, in fragrance and all the other junk we have been using in our personal products. (Quick note- that doesn’t mean we can never use anything that smells nice again! We just have to make sure we are using natural sources of fragrance, not synthetic. And luckily the planet knows what is is doing and there are plenty!)

–Can I just take a moment to say, this is REAL STUFF people. The US has not passed a federal law regulating what is in our cosmetics in almost 80 years! The FDA doesn’t have the power to recall dangerous chemicals from our products like this. There are so many chemicals we are using every day that are banned in Europe because they are considered unsafe. This is real. People are getting sick. Cancer is on the rise. We can’t wait for the government, we need to take matters in our own hands. Now. Our health is worth it, and I don’t need to tell you our babies’ health is worth it. Okay, whew. Moving on.–

DMDM HYDANTOID- This is another alarming chemical found in both my shampoo and conditioner. Can anyone say formaldehyde? Eek! We all know that’s bad right? Besides being linked to things like skin irritation and respiratory problems, when formaldehyde is ingested or ABSORBED THROUGH THE SKIN, it has been linked to leukemia. Now, to be clear DMDM HYDANTOID is not formaldehyde itself, but when this chemical breaks down it releases formaldehyde (not that it is any better that way.) Bottom line- scary, bad, stay away.

SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLS)- I think reading more about this chemical has been the most interesting for me so far because I have learned how it not only affects us specifically, but also how harmful it is in terms of pollution and how toxic it is for sea creatures (definitely felt like a big jerk the more I read.) This stuff (SLS) is in everything, seriously- shampoos, soaps, cleaners. etc. because it is a very common foaming agent. (Side note for those of you who have tried natural shampoos, this is why they typically don’t lather up as much because SLS is wisely left out.) SLS is a known skin irritant and is most likely the culprit when you feel like a certain soap or face wash dries you out. Part of what makes SLS so bad is how it is made- one of the worst offenders being Ethylene Oxide. This is a toxic flammable gas used TO MAKE SLS (and other products) and traces of it can be found in SLS and the other products it makes. Chronic exposure to Ethylene Oxide has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, and neurotoxicity. Holy crap. And finally, SLS itself is toxic to fish and other aquatic life. Thinking of all the shampoo I have been using (my whole life) going down the drain, this one made me especially sad because I had been ignorant to it. As someone who has always been sensitive to the well-being of animals, I hated reading that.

That’s all I am going to go in detail about or else this blog post would go on forever. But, some other chemicals to look into that are found in my shampoo and possibly/probably yours.. tocopheryl acetate , polysorbate 20 , and cocamidopropyl betaine .

Feeling freaked out? Me too. I wish I had done something about this years ago, but we can change today. We NEED to change today, our health is worth it. I really encourage you look up the shampoo and conditioner you are using and join me in finding a safer alternative. I am so excited to start looking for new shampoos that are not a threat to my health, and I look forward to sharing with you what I find! And after that, it we need to tackle the body soap I have been using!

Thank you so much for reading.

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