The truth about the top ingredients in the products you use everyday
When it comes to what we put in our body, the first thing you might think of is food. When we fuel our bodies with the right foods we get the best outcomes, but what about what we put ON our bodies? From lotions, to eyeliners, to sunscreen and shampoo-there are quite a few products that we use everyday that can have some questionable ingredients. What you put on your body, matters just as much as what you put in your body.
Here’s a typical drug store shampoo list of ingredients:
Water (Aqua), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice [Aloe Vera], Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil [Lemongrass], Rosemarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower/Leaf Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Fragrance (Parfum), Polyquaternium-10, Tetrasodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin, Citric Acid, PPG-9, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone
Though we are no connoisseurs in the beauty industry, at RollinGreens our Millet Tots are made with the simple, familiar ingredients that anyone can pronounce, and we believe that the products we use everyday should be the same! We’re taking a closer look at the ingredients found in a basic shampoo/soap that you’d find at the drugstore, and investigating how these everyday products affects us, the environment, and even animals.
- Water-Water is a transparent, tasteless, odorless, substance. It is vital for all known forms of life, though it provides no calories or organic nutrients.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate- Also known as SLS, Sodium Laureth Sulfate is what makes the suds and bubbles in soap and what removes the grime and grease. It was first used to remove oil and grease from floors and cars before it became one of the most common ingredients in shampoos, hand soaps and dish soaps. While SLS can dry out skin and cause irritation to those with especially sensitive skin, there is not definitive research that proves harmful to the human body. On the other hand, obtaining the ingredients to make SLS can be harmful for the environment because SLS can come from palm oil. Harvesting palm oil usually involves massive amounts of deforesting to make room for palm crops. Acres of tropical forests are stripped bare leaving animals without homes or food, causing them to die. Many of these animals losing their homes and lives are endangered or close to being endangered.
- Sodium Chloride- If you remember anything from your high school chemistry class, you might remember your good old friend Nacl, also known as sodium chloride, also known as salt. Salt is needed in shampoos and conditioners to act as a thicker.
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine- Cocamidopropyl Betaine is an ingredient found in most soaps, conditions and sometimes lotions and is derived from coconuts. Cocamidopropyl Betaine acts as the cleansing agent, removing dirt and grease. It can cause skin and eye irruption, itching, blistering and burning depending on the condition and sensitivity of one’s skin. It is also known to be highly toxic to aquatic life, so runoff containing Cocamidopropyl Betaine can pose a huge threat to the aquatic ecosystem. Since Cocamidopropyl Betaine is derived from coconuts, it can lead consumers to believe that this product is “natural” or “organic”, when in fact it can be quite toxic.
- Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil- Eucalyptus oil like other essential oils is made from plants, specifically, the eucalyptus plant. Eucalyptus oil is known to have many positive, healing effects including clearing of the chest, keeping bugs away, better breathing, soothing cold sores and easing joint pain. Originally a native to Australia, the oil derived from this plant can do wonders, not to mention the refreshing, crisp smell it brings
- Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil- Another oil derived from a plant with occult healing powers! This oil is often put into beauty products for its minty fresh smell. This oil can also be used for aromatherapy to help ease fatigue, headaches, migraines and even digestive problems.
- Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil- Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil acts as the moisturizing agent in beauty products. The oil comes from the seed of the Simmondsia chinensis plant. This plant is more of a scrub and comes from southern arizona and California where the conditions are hot and dry.
- Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice [Aloe Vera]-derived from the Aloe plant leaves, Aloe Barbadenis has been known for it’s healing qualities, especially when it comes to inflammation.
- Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil [Lemongrass]-Mainly used as a fragrance in beauty products, this oil actually has anti-aging properties as well! Not only does it provide a fresh lemon fragrance to shampoos and lotions but it can also be found in acne treatments because it’s a great exfoliant.
- Rosemarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil,-You can probably guess by the last few ingredients that this oil comes from a rosemary plant. Whether you use rosemary to season your favorite foods, have a decorative rosemary plant, or have bushels growing in your garden, you might have noticed it has a pretty powerful smell, thus why its used in so many beauty products. Along with its strong fragrance, Rosemary preservatives inhibit the growth of mold, bacteria, yeast and fungus in water based products like lotions and shampoos.
- Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower/Leaf Extract- Chamomilla Recutita Flower extract is often put in beauty products for its anti inflammatory properties. Like rosemary, this oil that comes from the daisy like flower also inhibits the growth of bacteria in beauty products.
- Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract-Probably another ingredient that is pretty self explanatory. The use of lavender plants has been around for thousands of years from the Egyptians, Phoenicians, even Medieval European Kings and Queens used lavender in their everyday lives. “Lavare” means “to wash” in latin, which doesn’t come as a surprise considering this herb has been used for bathing with for thousands of years. Its rich sent can provide relief for headaches, migraines, and nausea. It also has anti fungal, anti-inflammatory properties as well as protective properties from mosquitoes, moths and lice. It’s no wonder this herb was a hit with the some of the crudest kings and queens!
- Fragrance (Parfum), Polyquaternium-10- Fragrance (Parfum), Polyquaternium-10 is responsible for frizz control. Often found in shampoos, this chemical is used to control frizz and keep moisture out. While there is not a ton of research on this specific chemical, it can cause irritation for those with sensitive skin.
- Tetrasodium EDTA-Now that we have finally gone through all the oils derived from plants, we bring out our next ingredient-Tetrasodium EDTA. Tetrasodium EDTA is used for its ability to grab onto free metal ions. This is important in shampoos and soaps so there isn’t scum or residue left after using the soap. There have been concerns that Tetrasodium EDTA could cause cancer, enhanced skin absorption and organ toxicity. This powerful chemical is often tested on animals due to the little knowledge we have about it and is also considered an eco-toxin, “Widespread use of EDTA and its slow removal under many environmental conditions has led to its status as the most abundant anthropogenic compound in many European surface waters … and has emerged as a persistent organic pollutant”(Tetrasodium EDTA)
- DMDM Hydantoin-Used to preserve beauty products and protect against mold and bacteria, DMDM Hydantoin might sound like an intimidating toxic chemical, but you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, “A recent safety assessment published in the International Journal of Toxicology reaffirmed that formaldehyde can be used safely in cosmetics if established safety limits are not exceeded.” As long as DMDM Hydantoin stays under 0.074 percent or less in these products, there are no harmful effects this chemical will have on humans. Unfortunately, that is not always the case when it comes to animals. Organic Chemicals like these need to be tested for obvious reasons, and more likely than not, they are tested on animals.
- Citric Acid-Because soap is naturally alkaline,(having a pH over 7), citric acid is often added to balance out of the pH so it is more inline with the skin’s natural pH. Citric Acid is an organic acid that occurs naturally in citrus fruits, but too much citric acid in the soil of plants can burn the seeds and other nutrients, preventing germination and healthy plant growth. Too much citric acid can also disturb the Krebs Cycle, a process plants through to convert citric acids into phosphates, serving as an energy source for the plant. Often times the citric acid runoff from the shampoo or soaps we use can end up polluting environment and disturbing the natural balance of citric acid in plants.
- PPG-9- Short for polypropylene glycol, PPG-9 is found in moisturizers, shampoos and conditioners for its thickening and binding qualities. It is common to find PPG in packaged foods like crackers and cookies to help keep them together and last a long shelf life. While there is no definitive research that says this chemical is dangerous to humans, again this chemical is often tested on animals.
- Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone -Say that one five times fast. Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone, also known as MIT or MI are biocides, keeping out bacteria and other harmful organisms that can grow and develop in your beauty products. Some studies have found these ingredients to be harmful to brain cells, causing irreversible damage to them,“a brief exposure to methylisothiazolinone, a widely used industrial and household biocide, is highly toxic to cultured neurons….”(AnneMarie). The Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CFTA) claims MIT is safe in low exposure doses, however, “in 2004, the European Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products Intended for Consumers (SCCNFP) suggested that companies limit the maximum concentration of MIT to 0.01 percent, or 100 parts per million (ppm). U.S. companies, however, are not required to follow this guideline”(Annmarie). Another unfortunate fact you’re probably catching onto now, is with the testing and regulations of these chemicals, comes lots and lots of testing and experimenting on animals.
If you’ve made it this far down and read through this entire lengthy list of ingredients, congratulations! And if your self confidence wasn’t ruined by trying to pronounce some of those chemical names, added bonus. While every ingredient on that list was not necessarily a harmful or toxic ingredient, it can be concerning to some when they need google to pronounce the name of a chemical that could be going on you or your family’s skin. It is also important to recognize the environmental effect we contribute to when we use some of these products. Many of these ingredients listed above in excessive amounts can thoroughly disrupt and destroy an entire ecosystem, and since the concept of using soap is still extremely prevalent in modern society, we need to be mindful of our contribution of toxic chemicals to the environment.
If the idea of less is more when it comes to ingredients in beauty products intrigues you, check out some of these amazing beauty products that are free of toxic chemicals and are also environmentally sustainable!
If none of those products are exactly what you’re looking for, customize your own shampoo by making it yourself! This is not only a great way to save money, but allows you to put only the ingredients you want into your shampoo. The usage of Castile soap instead of sulfates is much better for healthy hair. Sulfates (the second ingredient in commercial shampoo) can strip the hair of its natural protective coats. It can also strip hair that has been colored of its brightness, causing a more dull color.
Basic Shampoo Recipe
1/2 cup of distilled water
1/2 cup of liquid Castile soap (unscented)
1 tbs of Jojoba or Grapeseed oil
Directions- Shake ingredients in a bottle together and shake before using. The shampoo will have a watery consistency but lathers up just like regular shampoo or soap!
-For dry hair- Add a half cup of aloe vera gel. This can also help with boost hair growth and make your hair thicker and add volume!
-Also try adding avocado oil or even blended up avocado
-To lighten or add highlights- Add the juice from one lemon to your shampoo mixture for a natural looking highlight
If making or even reading about homemade shampoo has you on a homemade high, try out this super cost effective all natural laundry detergent recipe. At only 6 cents a load, you’ll never go back to commercial detergent. Huge Thank you to clark.com for this amazing recipe!
Ingredients (full prices are listed):
- 1 bar soap = $3.49
- 1 box Washing Soda (55oz) $3.19 – Cost Per Cup = 46 cents
- 1 box Borax (76oz) $4.49 – Cost Per Cup = 47 cents
- Optional Essential Oil: Tea Tree Oil (1oz) $8.99 – Cost for 40 Drops = 72 cents
- Total Cost for 5 Gallons or 80+ loads of laundry Detergent = $5.17
- Total Cost Per Load: Approximately 6 cents
Now, just imagine if you got these items on sale, how much this would cost you! You could be saving a ton of money by making your own laundry detergent at home. Genius. right?
- Using a cheese grater, shred your bar of soap.
- Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil on the stove and reduce the heat.
- Slowly pour in the grated soap and stir until melted.
- Slowly add in 1 cup of washing soda, but be careful. This is the part where a chemical reaction takes place and it could boil over. Place a wooden spoon across the top of your pot to prevent it from boiling over.
- Add in 1 cup of borax, and stir until everything is dissolved.
- Pour contents into a five gallon bucket, and fill the remainder of the bucket water.
- Add in your optional essential oil (ie. tea tree oil or lavender), and stir.
- Cover with a lid, and let sit overnight.
By the next day you’ll have an awesome goopy mixture that gets your clothes clean and smelling wonderful. Plus you saved money, too!
By now, you’ve probably forgotten that you’re reading this article on a natural food website. While we have no intent on entering the natural beauty product industry anytime soon, we do believe in the importance of the utilization of the highest quality ingredients whether that’s on your dinner plate or on your shower loofa. This means no fillers, binders, thickeners or long chemical compositions that we can’t pronounce! Less is more, and the simplicity of natural ingredients is something your body and your planet will thank you for.
Annmarie Skin Care. (2018, March 26). Ingredient Watch List: Methylisothiazolinone, the Toxic Ingredient That Could Cause Nerve Damage. Retrieved from https://www.annmariegianni.com/ingredient-watch-list-methylisothiazolinone-the-toxic-ingredient-that-could-cause-nerve-damage/
Tetrasodium EDTA. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.truthinaging.com/ingredients/tetrasodium-edta