- Salicylic acid is poison if swallowed.
- Coal tar, one of the ingredients used to help reduce flakes, is a known carcinogen according to the National Cancer Institute.
- Parfum (a cocktail of undisclosed scent chemicals) can cause hormone disruption and even central nervous system disruption.
- Paraffinum liquidum is basically mineral oil. It's supposed to moisturise, well it does temporarily but then causes dryness. Worst of all it is often contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer.
- SLS (Sodium lauryl sulphate) is added as a foaming agent in shampoos (also in soaps and toothpastes). It is a harsh chemical used in industrial cleaning products including engine de-greaser. According to most studies it is safe to use in “rinse off” products that won’t stay on your skin for long. Personally I’m not sure I want to take the risk. Plus it’s made with palm oil.
My search for a plastic-free shampoo wasn’t only fueled by the desire to go plastic-free. Some time ago, I was suffering from an itchy, flaky scalp. It was getting bad, to the point that it was clearly visible to other people. Every time I brushed my hair, big flakes of skin were coming off. Sorry, a bit gross I know! And do you know what shampoo I was using? Head and shoulders shampoo for dandruff. You know, that one that's supposed to help an itchy, flaky scalp!
I checked the ingredients thinking I might be allergic to something, and what I found shocked me. I wrote down the ingredients and it came to two and a half pages, the vast majority of which I couldn't even pronounce. What was I putting on my body? No wonder my skin was screaming at me to change.
Here’s a breakdown of just a few of the harmful ingredients:
I could go on and on and list the harmful properties of almost every one of the ingredients on those two and a half pages I looked at. But do I really need to? Even if there was just one ingredient that contains chemicals known to cause cancer, that's surely enough to put you off using these shampoos, I have mentioned two above and there are more. Many more of the ingredients are irritants especially for the eyes and can cause rashes. It's quite scary when you look into it.
My Natural Shampoo Journey
A few years before I made this shocking discovery, I had used plastic-free Lush shampoo bars and Lush conditioner bars. My motivator was because I was going travelling and wanted to avoid having liquids to save on weight and space. (The fact they were plastic-free was an added bonus, I always recycled and reused plastic for different things but I wasn't as aware of the scale of the plastic crisis back then.) While backpacking in Mexico, I accidentally left my Lush bars and tins in a hostel shower! There were no plastic-free shampoo options there, so I obliviously went back to chemical laden shampoo in plastic bottles. I planned to go back to plastic-free shampoo bars when I returned, but a three-month trip turned into three years so it was a while before I thought about it again.
When I eventually did return home, I started searching for a natural, plastic-free shampoo and discovered a whole host of new options. I was bought a plastic-free shampoo bar for my birthday. It was by AASkincare. I really liked it, my hair felt clean and was soft and shiny, but it didn't seem to last long and for the price, it wasn't great value for money.
Then I tried Beauty Kubes and I absolutely loved them. My dry, flaky scalp improved immensely and people actually commented on how good my hair looked. The fact that they are individual cubes means you just take out what you need, and the rest stays dry in the box, so I feel like there's less of the waste which can happen with bars left to dry in a soap dish.
Even though I was really happy with them, I decided to try out a few of the different plastic-free shampoo bars on the market but I got a bit of a shock. I had heard of “The Transition Period”, but until then, I had been one of the lucky ones and not experienced it. But suddenly it smacked me in the face. You can read more about the transition period, and how to overcome it here. I tried a few different shampoo bars and while it got better, none of them were really working out for me so I went back to Beauty Kubes. The relief was immense, I could actually wear my hair down again!
One thing is for sure, I will never go back to chemical-ridden shampoos again. You might think by swapping to a natural, plastic-free shampoo, you have to sacrifice having lovely, shiny hair but that's just not the case. My hair looks and feels better than ever and I am safe in the knowledge that there's no nasties, only natural goodness. And of course, no plastic!