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Is Your Shampoo Slowly Killing You?
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Is Your Shampoo Slowly Killing You?

Have you ever really thought about what is in your personal care and cosmetics products? Have you ever really questioned what all those impossible to pronounce ingredients listed on your shampoo bottle really are and what they could potentially be doing to your health? No? Well, today might be a good day to start, because your shampoo most likely contains ingredients that are not just harsh and chemical based, but might actually be slowly killing you.

It does not matter where in the world you may live, we as a society are bombarded everyday with literally thousands of chemicals. There are currently over 50 million chemicals registered in the American chemical society today, with more than 10 million of those newly registered in the last 9 months. But have you ever stopped to think about how many of those chemicals may be in your cosmetic and personal care products?The Cancer Coalition states that 884 chemicals have been reported to the government as being toxic substances, but are currently still being used in the manufacturing of cosmetics products and sold on the market. No resources for safety assessment have been issued nor have any regulations been put in place.

To put it simply, government bodies designed to protect us through implementing and enforcing regulations do not actually have sufficient regulations in place. In fact, the cosmetic industry is classified as "industrial" and is the least regulated industry of all, resulting in known toxic ingredients being bottled up and shipped off to retail shelves for us to purchase and smother on our body. Think of it this way. The manufacturing company of your shampoo has been given no rules regarding what they may use to produce their products. Do you propose they are concerned about formulating a product that is going to provide you with beautiful, shiny hair using toxic free ingredients that are pure and safe for your health? Or do you think they are going to opt to use the cheapest ingredients available on the market to ensure optimal profit for their business?

It's a scary fact that no one really knows what the long term health affects are from all the synthetic substances we are subjected to daily. And it's not just our lack of knowledge due to insufficient testing that is worrisome. What about chemical reactions? It's common knowledge that chemicals react, so what happens when you throw together a cocktail of possibly thousands of various chemicals and put them all together in one little bottle? Potentially thousands of little chemical reactions, that's what.

One example is the common, industrial ethoxylation process. The ethoxylation process is commonly performed on sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) and sodium laurel ether sulfate (SLES) which are wetting and foaming agents found in almost every personal care and cosmetic product available on the market. The process involves adding ethylene oxide to the SLS which makes it less abrasive, resulting in the contamination of 1,4-dioxane a known human carcinogenic. Exposure to 1,4-Dioxane can also cause liver, kidney and central nervous system damage and several deaths have been the result of accidental work exposure. (source: Wikipedia)

Still not convinced? Okay, so no one has reportedly died recently from washing their hair, that is true. However the issue at hand is not the immediate exposure to these chemicals that poses a threat, however it's the constant, repeated daily exposure of these chemicals which may accumulate over time inside your body's vital organs, blood stream and immune system that is most disconcerting.

One example is a study conducted in 2004 by researches at the Yale School of Medicine. An article published on the Yale News website stated that "Yale researchers have found that lifetime users of hair coloring products have an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), a cancer that attacks the lymphatic system, part of the body's immune system."The highest increased risk was found predominantly in women who had been using hair colour products for more than 25 years. Repeated, prolonged exposure.

By this stage we understand that we are exposed to a myriad of chemicals on a daily basis, many of them which can be found in our personal care products. The question at hand now is, if our government bodies fail to protect our health due to a lack of regulations, and the companies which are providing us with these products are more concerned with the profit they are generating, then who is looking out for our wellbeing?

The sad but undeniable truth is that your only defence against these issues is you. You have the power to educate yourself and the power to choose. Making the choice to use products which do not contain these harsh chemicals is a sure way of minimising your risk. Opting instead to use natural and organic skin care and cosmetic products will be far more beneficial not only for your health, but also for your skin and hair. Being an informed consumer will also help minimise your risk, after all how will you know which ingredients to avoid if you don't know what they are, what they are used for or their associated health risks? The Environmental Working group has developed a cosmetic database which is extremely informative regarding potential toxic chemicals. You can also find a lengthy list of known toxic chemicals to avoid at the Safe Cosmetics Australia website. Use these tools to shop smart and shop safe.


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