I’ve often extolled the virtues of my favorite Lush shampoo bar, so I regret to report that, after looking more closely at the ingredients list, Lush uses Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) in their shampoos.
I’d heard about the dangers of SLS before, but hadn’t really researched it until recently, when I wrote articles about natural hair care for both Green Diva Mom and AltGlobe. I’m hoping the Green Diva Mom post will be live soon; here’s the one I wrote for AltGlobe:
SLS and its close relative Sodium Laureth Sulfate are foaming agents found in shampoos, detergents, and toothpastes. They are also skin irritants that are sometimes tainted with carcinogenic dioxins during the manufacturing process. They can cause skin and eye irritations, contribute to frizzy hair and split ends, and build up in the internal organs, doing who knows what kind of damage.
In my search for a safer shampoo, I ran across Ohio-based Chagrin Valley Soap and Craft Company, which offers an extensive line of all-natural, SLS-free soaps and solid shampoos. I ordered a few samples, which start at $2.40 and are a decent size at 1.5 to 2 ounces. Full-size bars are 6.5 to 7.5 ounces and range from $6.50 to $6.80. So compared to Lush’s 1.9 oz bars that sell from anywhere to $7.95 to $14.95, they’re a much better deal. Even better, they contain all natural ingredients and essential oils such as coconut, lavender, clove, and ylang ylang.
I tried my Café Moreno sample bar today, which contains fresh brewed coffee to add shine and luster to brown hair. Washing with SLS-free shampoo takes a little getting used to. It doesn’t foam like traditional shampoo, but foaming isn’t actually necessary to achieve cleanliness. A good foam just makes us feel like a product is working better. Manufacturers know this, which is why they put these dangerous chemicals in their products in the first place. Some testimonials on the Chagrin Valley Web site even state that the natural shampoo bars deliver so much moisture and nourishment that separate conditioners aren’t even necessary, so I experimented today and skipped the conditioner. Although my curls don’t have as much definition as I usually like, my hair is soft and frizz-free, and has a nice herbal scent.
I also ordered a Chamomile and Citrus shampoo bar, so I’ll probably alternate the two. I’ll post the GDM article as soon as it’s live; it contains links to other SLS-free solid soaps available for order online. And if you don’t want to pay for shipping, check your local health-food store for locally made or other smaller brands. Burt’s Bees offers a Rosemary Mint shampoo bar, which is listed as 99.9% natural and is SLS-free. Just read the ingredients and opt for short ingredients lists with recognizable names. The general rule for natural beauty products is, if it contains anything you wouldn’t eat, don’t put it on your skin! Your skin absorbs whatever you put on it, and dangerous chemicals go directly into your bloodsteam.