Following up the questions I came across on my Instagram about safe vs unsafe chemical ingredients in shampoo and skin-care products I decided to dedicate this article about the chemistry behind products.
In a world of social-media, endless references to read from, rumours, claims, commercials, supplements and oh the list goes on- it’s hard to discern between scientific evidence and anecdotal claims or fallacies. Pro-tip, always GO to the peer-reviewed studies and science behind it all. I remember in 2014, I started hearing about carcinogens and being in medical school, I was well aware of the term being used to refer to chemicals which are “cancer-causing“. Forward a few months later I learned about oncogenes and the science behind cancer. In recent months i’ve come across endless amount of misinformation and claims that certain food or supplements can cure/prevent cancer (Really crazy I know). I even found myself coming across more of this content especially on Instagram and it’s alarming to see the lack of scientific evidence and research behind these claims. Keep in mind that Cancer has a huge genetic correlation and perhaps environmental factors such as smoking have been proven to be the cause of cancers such as lung-cancer. Anyways, my point is there is a lot of junk out there and it’s really important to read the science and facts behind a claim, Consider peer-reviewed studies and sources
Let’s talk about the most obvious thing, Chemicals. E V E R Y T H I N G is made up of chemicals, even Water (H2o) which is “natural”. So this brings me to the next point I want to address, just because a chemical or a compound isn’t “natural” it doesn’t mean it’s toxic! Can we say this again? Chemical =/= toxin. Ever heard of “The dose makes the poison”? Yeah this is actually a scientific phenomena we use in medicine especially when it comes to treatment and medication. Over the years, several chemicals and compounds have been demonized and labeled as “toxins” but are these claims backed up by any science or evidence? Most of them are marketing-techniques in order to direct you to a new product developed or introduce you to change your “comfort” zone with one product in order to pick up THEIR brand. This marketing approach isn’t new and meanwhile science is constantly ADVANCING, we have access to endless research and conclusions to either back up a claim or debunk it. How can you differentiate between a safe ingredient and a harmful one? Firstly, Brand’s don’t matter (as much, trust the science), ingredients do. Secondly, FDA.. If you’ve heard of her (an organization that is strictly dedicated to approving safety and efficacy of FOOD & Drugs) is in place in order to ensure the legal side of product approvals. Thirdly, patch test it. Patch-testing products can help you better assess sensitivity of your skin and you can have an understanding of any possible reactions your skin may have to specific ingredients. So let’s discuss Shampoo
Sulfate & silicone.. Are they safe?
Firstly, i’ll begin by citing my peer-reviewed source here: Human and Environmental Toxicity of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): Evidence for Safe Use in Household Cleaning Products
This study discusses “The dose makes the poison” describing the chemical and scientific background to assess safety of sulfate ingredients in shampoos. The study concluded that sulfate is safe to use and is recommended by dermatologists for oily-hair and excess sebum production skin types. Due to sulfate-compounds in shampoo, this causes the lathering effect you notice while washing your hair and this is the chemical works to wash away excess oils, dirt and dead skin cells. Sulfate-shampoos are also recommended for people who have a more dandruff-prone type of scalp – backed up by a study here DANDRUFF: THE MOST COMMERCIALLY EXPLOITED SKIN DISEASE. For dry hair, it’s recommended to use sulfate-free shampoo and considering moisturizing components as well as anti-frizz.
Silicone is not carcinogenic either! Silicone-products contain a chemical known as dimethicone. This chemical helps in “conditioning” hair. Dimethicone helps protect hair shaft from breakage and also excess heat. This ingredient is safe to use for damaged hair, dry scalp, oily hair, chemically treated hair, hair extensions, as well as dry hair and frizzy hair
If you have any questions, feel free to comment or DM me on instagram where I do my best to reply!