Wen is it time to say when about what’s in your shampoo, beauty products, lotions, cosmetics, sunscreens, personal care products? The FDA is being schooled about something many in the general population already knew. The personal care products we put on our body matter, and they have health harming potential. Europeans have learned this and have outlawed many of the components in personal care products still allowed in the US.

Trending update: I am not one to invite unnecessary government regulation into my life, but here’s an area where the FDA is finally getting involved, and it may be too little too late. In late 2015 women began complaining about Wen shampoos and conditioners created by Chaz Dean. Women are upset when the healthy hair care system, as it is touted on its company website, meant to be used in lieu of shampoo led to skin and hair problems, including rashes and bald spots. The complaints slowly grew in number, and now the FDA realizes that investigation is warranted.

The Wen hair care line has earned more than 127 consumer safety complaints, and more than 21,000 registered directly to the FDA.  The FDA joins the class action lawsuit investigation, while the company still claims its products are safe. If you have used the Wen hair care system, or another product, and want to report adverse effects you can do so voluntarily with this link.

The whole issue has renewed the debate about whether or not the FDA should regulate the personal care products we put on our body. Until now the governing body has declined to regulate these products because we don’t eat them. Nevermind, that we put them on our body, and, at the very least they do harm, if not kill us with dangerous components.

The original post follows:

This week we’ll be introducing a variety of personal care products and the surprising chemicals contained in them. Most people get up and get ready each day without giving a thought about the chemicals they use on their body. These products are commonplace, and the harm goes unnoticed, unless you read the label. I won’t spoil what I have in store for you the rest of the week. You’ll have to come back to learn more. Let’s get started.

It is a household staple, but rarely a thought is given about what ingredients are in it. We know food is full of toxic ingredients, but have you read the ingredients to see what’s in your shampoo?

Have you read The FDA is Killing Us?  You might want to, or you might be relieved, the FDA does not regulate most of the personal care products we use everyday. Here’s the rub. Why? Because we don’t eat them. Since we don’t eat them they skip the digestive tract and go straight into our bloodstream.

Health advocate Dr. John Mercola says putting these chemicals on your skin may be:

“Worse than eating them. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down and flush it out of your body. However, when you put these chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into the bloodstream without filtering of any kind, going directly to your delicate organs.”

Here’s a list of chemicals to avoid:

  1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
  2. Parabens
  3. Fragrance
  4. Polyethylene Glycol
  5. TEA and DEA
  6. Synthetic color

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and it’s more evil big brother Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are not carcinogens. Glad we don’t have to worry about that, because everything causes cancer these days. There are plenty of reasons to stay away from SLS and SLES, but it got my attention when the Agricultural Marketing Service says these products are in herbicides and insecticides.

Herbicides kill plant parts they come in contact with in a few hours. Insecticides work by washing away the protective coating of the insect disrupting normal membrane functions inside, causing death. They’re great if you want to get rid of weeds and insects, but not so great if you’re rubbing that stuff on your head daily.

SLS and SLES are also known as surfactants, which aid in cleaning and lathering properties.  

Parabens have been used since the 1950’s as a preservative and for the prevention of bacterial growth. If they are so widely used, what’s the big deal? They disrupt estrogen, and cause an early onset of puberty. Read more here.

Another dangerous preservative is formaldehyde. Excessive exposure can produce hair loss. Governmental bodies in the US and Canada label it a human toxin, allergen, and carcinogen. Sweden and Japan have banned it altogether. If ingested it can cause death. In building materials it causes respiratory problems. In shampoo it is massaged into follicles on your head. Probably not a good idea to use it on a regular basis.  

Fragrance in shampoo is often from an ingredient called linalool. The Swedish study reveals it is naturally found in lavender and mint. And natural is good, but it breaks down when it comes in contact with oxygen. To reduce chances of eczema and other allergens replace the lid when you are done using shampoo. That’s using your noodle.

Polyethylene Glycol is used in antifreeze for, you guessed it, it’s anti freezing properties before shampoo reaches store shelves. It’s also a stripping agent. It strips hair of its oils and wax while causing skin irritation and dryness. I guess that’s why we sometimes use conditioner, but be wary of the ingredients in there too.

TEA and DEA (triethanolamine and diethanolamine) are on the ingredient watch list as a carcinogens. There is no invitation to lather these onto your head and slip into a bubble bath with a cup of tea because these can do serious danger. The Center for Environmental Health launched a lawsuit to stop four major chain stores from selling the cancer causing products. CEH Director said,

“Most people believe that products sold in major stores are tested for safety, but consumers need to know that they could be doused with a cancer-causing chemical every time they shower or shampoo.” 

Synthetic colors may look pretty coming out of the bottle, but you won’t be singing “I feel pretty, oh so pretty,” when they cause cancer from repeat use. They’ll be found in the ingredients as FD & C or D & C. Examples include FD&C Red No.6 / D&C Green No. 6. They’re not good to put on your noggin.

Here’s a snip it on what to do with products containing these chemicals: Knock ’em down/throw ’em out.

Make your own. If you are serious about chemical free shampoo you can find 9 natural recipes to make your own here. If you enjoy old time remedies a baking soda wash, followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse might for you. A beer wash might be fun. Milk and honey are natural and easy attainable. If water is scarce maybe a dry shampoo will do. If chemical elimination is the goal you’ll find other options in there too.

As you go down the supermarket aisle which shampoo will you put in your cart?


Other articles in the series:

What’s In Your Lip Balm?

What’s In Your Cup of Joe?


Like the series and want to suggest a topic for discovery? Comment below or use the contact form from the main menu.

Don’t forget to join the Facebook community to continue the conversation, share recipes, and engage on trending news articles.