Is Shampoo a Poison to Us and Environment?

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We all wash our hair to clean dirt and styling products out of it and to reduce the oiliness from our scalp.  While the lovely lather and nice smelling shampoo we use might make our hair feel clean, the chemicals we use to create these effects could be harming ourselves as well as polluting and poisoning the environment.

Take a look at the list of ingredients on the label of your shampoo bottle.  The list reads more like a chemistry class and that’s even for the shampoo products that claim to be ‘herbal’ or moisturizing.

One of the primary ingredients in most shampoos is Sodium Laureth Sulfate, which is known to be a major skin irritant.  Studies and testing have also shown this chemical compound may also cause mutagenic effects in animals.

Another chemical ingredient in many shampoos is Ammonium Chloride, which is also known to be a respiratory irritant.  This chemical cocktail is extremely harmful if swallowed and can cause serious eye irritation if you get it near your eyes.

The chemical compound Methylchloroisothiazolinone is supposed to be a preservative with antibacterial and antifungal properties.  It’s also a potent immune system toxin.  If this compound is used in high concentrations, it can cause chemical burns.  It’s also known to be a skin irritant and is a known allergen.

The strong fragrances used in commercial shampoos are also created using chemicals that cause skin irritations and are frequently produced using cancer-causing chemicals.  Many of these chemicals stem from crude oil derivatives.

It’s rather distasteful to think about putting all these chemicals into our hair and massaging them into our scalp with our hands, but it’s worse to consider that when you’re done, you rinse them down the drain to pollute, contaminate and poison the environment.

When you think about how many millions of people all over the country use personal hygiene products every day, that’s a lot of chemicals flushing into our water systems.

Environmentally Safe Shampoo

There are many shampoo options available in most supermarkets that are labeled as being environmentally safe.  These are generally created from plant oils and are free of petroleum products and contain no synthetic fragrances.  While these aren’t completely chemical-free, they’re a lot less damaging than some of the commercial alternatives.

The best part about cleaning your hair and scalp with a lot less chemicals is that when you’re done, you’re rinsing biodegradable products down the drain and into the water systems.

Another option is to use vegetable soap to wash your hair and body.  While these soaps don’t lather in the same way as you’re used to as they don’t contain the chemically-produced lathering agents, you should find your hair and skin are softer as a result.

Non-toxic shampoo options could mean less skin irritations for people who are particularly sensitive to the harsh chemicals in many personal care products, but they also mean you’re not harming the environment every time you wash your hair.

Related posts:

  1. Eco-Friendly Hair Beauty Products
  2. Natural and Organic Hair Loss Remedy
  3. Soap – How it effects the Environment
  4. Sunscreen, The Real Effects on Your Body – Protection or Poison?
  5. 7 Green Beauty Tips You Need to Use
  6. Formaldehyde Tips You Can’t Afford Not to Know


  1. scottankeny says:

    I really appreciate the full view you bring to the topic of shampoo, not just using less resources but the facts of how toxic many of our products are to our bodies.

    The EWG( Environmental Working Group) has a “watch” list called the cosmetics database that I think is invalubale.

    Do you have a few shampoo product lines you would reccomend?

    This can be taken even farther into all types of personal care products.
    Being me, I often try to consider the steps of change a person goes thru while they start to create new habits.

    In this case, it is either cold turkey and just start to buy better products, there are a ton of them out there…like you brought up.
    Also, there are studies showing that we use more shampoo,conditioners,soaps,etc than we need to get the job done,
    I guess a good first step would be to just plain old use less
    Whatever we used yesterday( I say we cuz I have to do this as well) just cut that in half when pouring out of the bottle. and see if it works.
    This most likely holds true no matter what type of products we are using.
    OK, that’s enough out of me 🙂
    Thanks again for the great article and thanks for letting me throw my 2 cents in.
    Scott Ankeny
    PS, If you ever want to blog for us, just let me know

  2. Delphine says:

    Scott, great point. I remember when I was little the norm was that you washed your hair once a week. Two rinses – so two dollops of shampoo per wash, no conditioner. Gradually as the hair look got more fluffy in the 1970s the norm became once a day, shampoo AND conditioner – particularly stimulated by product names like “Shower After Shower”. And yet many people would still do two rinses – so 14 dollops of shampoo per week PLUS conditioner, multiplied by entire populations.

    I’ve found some great new natural hair products in South Africa which are eco-friendly, great on my hair, locally produced and cheaper than the big brand names. The carbon footprint is also much smaller because of being locally produced. (not to mention creating jobs in a high-unemployment environment.)

  3. Joe Juarez says:

    Dear Sir/madam:

    There is another alternative to regular soaps and shampoo’s. I use glycerin soap to wash my skin and clean my hair, which is 100% natural. Glycerin is a by product of soap manufacturing. The manufacturers take out the glycerin and uses it as a moisturizer for creams and lotions. Therefore, glycerin adds moisture to the skin and hair when applied.

    This is also a cheap alternative to Castile Soap. The cost of a glycerin bar is 99cents at Whole Foods or other health food stores.


    Joe Juarez

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