The causes of thinning hair have been studied for a long time. Heredity, diet and health have all been cited as culprits. But lately studies are indicating that chemicals in our shampoo could be at fault for losing hair.
It’s hard to find a bottle of shampoo that doesn’t have these two ingredients: sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS.) They are classified as detergents and surfactants.
SLS and SLES are in shampoos, soaps, facial cleansers, shaving creams and toothpaste. They work well as foaming agents. Both of these chemicals are used in cosmetics for their emulsifying and cleansing properties. The foaming is just for show.
Studies have been done on SLS and SLES that show they can irritate the scalp and damage hair follicles. SLS is the worst of the two and can form nitrate compounds that damage cells. However, it is popular with manufacturers because it creates lots of suds in our soaps and shampoos due to its foaming power.
But skin care experts point to the fact that SLS is such a harsh chemical that it is used to degrease engines in industrial plants. It has caused health problems and skin irritation in animals. They say it strips the hair and scalp of natural oils. It removes the “good bacteria” from our scalps, leaving it open to harmful germs and causing allergic reactions and hair loss.
With numerous reports coming out about the harmful effects of chemicals such as SLS and SLES, many people are searching for more natural shampoos. This may take some effort because nearly every bottle in the shampoo aisle has the SLS and SLES surfactants.
Health food stores are one place to look for natural shampoos. Read the label carefully. Some shampoos that are advertised as being natural have chemicals in them such as SLS and SLES. Chamomile shampoos are a favorite with many people. You will notice right away that the natural shampoos do not lather like the mainstream ones. This is not a problem. Remember, the foaming action of regular shampoos and detergents is for looks only.
Another option is to substitute shampoo for products in your home. These may sound awkward at first, but a lot of people use them and love the results.
Hair can be washed with baking soda. It does not harm the hair and it gets the hair clean. Make a paste with water and apply to scalp just like shampoo. To make sure all the residue is rinsed out, you can mix a tablespoon of vinegar in a glass of water for one of your rinses.
Aloe vera is said to effectively get the hair clean when used in place of shampoo. It’s good for the scalp and hair that is dry.
When switching from commercial shampoos to natural products, there will be a period of adjustment for your hair and scalp. At first it might not feel as clean because you are accustomed to the harsh detergents of your regular shampoo. But be patient, and you will likely notice a big improvement in the way your hair looks and feels.
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