If you want natural products, you have to be willing to search them out. Learn to read labels, and refuse to settle for half-natural hair and skin care. Below I've listed and described my "ten most wanted" I most want to see off the labels of so-called natural hair and skin care products.
1. imidazolidinyl Urea and Diazolidinyl Urea — These are the most commonly used preservatives after the parabens. They are well established as a primary cause of contact dermatitis (American Academy of Dermatology). Two trade names for these chemicals are Germall II and Germall 115. Neither of the Germall chemicals have a good antifungal, and must be combined with other preservatives. Germall 115 releases formaldehyde at just over 10░. These chemicals are toxic.
2. Methyl and Propyl and Butyl and Ethyl Paraben — Used as inhibitors of microbial growth and to extend shelf life of products. Widely used even though they are known to be toxic. Have caused many allergic reactions and skin rashes. Methyl paraben combines benzoic acid with the methyl group of chemicals. Highly toxic.
3. Petrolatum — I see this on lip products from time to time, which is humorous to me because they're usually advertised as protecting the lips from sunburn, chapping and so forth. Petrolatum is mineral oil jelly, and mineral oil causes a lot of problems when used on the skin photosensitivity (i.e., promotes sun damage), and it tends to interfere with the body's own natural moisturizing mechanism, leading to dry skin and chapping. You are being sold a product that creates the very conditions it claims to alleviate. Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably cheap.
4. Propylene Glycol — Ideally this is a vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural. Usually it is a synthetic petrochemical mix used as a humectant. Has been known to cause allergic and toxic reactions.
5. PVP/VA Copolymer — A petroleum-derived chemical used in hairsprays, wavesets and other cosmetics. It can be considered toxic, since particles may contribute to foreign bodies in the lungs of sensitive persons.
6. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate — This synthetic substance is used in shampoos for its detergent and foam-building abilities. It causes eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, and allergic reactions. It is frequently disguised in pseudo-natural cosmetics with the parenthetic explanation "comes from coconut."
7. Stearalkonium Chloride — A chemical used in hair conditioners and creams. Causes allergic reactions. Stearalkonium chloride was developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softener, and is a lot cheaper and easier to use in hair conditioning formulas than proteins or herbals, which do help hair health. Toxic.
8. Synthetic Colors — The synthetic colors used to supposedly make a cosmetic "pretty" should be avoided at all costs, along with hair dyes. They will be labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number. Example: FD&C Red No. 6 / D&C Green No. 6. Synthetic colors are believed to be cancer-causing agents. If a cosmetic contains them, don't use it.
9. Synthetic Fragrances — The synthetic fragrances used in cosmetics can have as many as 200 ingredients. There is no way to know what the chemicals are, since on the label it will simply say "Fragrance." Some of the problems caused by these chemicals are headaches, dizziness, rash, hyperpigmentation, violent coughing, vomiting, skin irritation by a cosmetic that has the word "Fragrance" on the ingredients label.
10. Triethanolamine — Often used in cosmetics to adjust the pH, and used with many fatty acids to convert acid to salt (stearate), which then becomes the base for a cleanser. TEA causes allergic reactions including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.
To Summarize: Look for natural ingredients in the products you buy. Do not use cosmetics that are artificially colored. Is the shampoo bright green or blue? Very likely it contains a coal tar color. Does the product contain synthetic fragrances? Don't buy it. You may find that some of your allergy problems will suddenly disappear when you no longer use cosmetics formulated with petrochemicals and other synthetics.
By Aubrey Hampton