In my post Shampoo Day, I mentioned that I had stopped using store bought shampoo and had switched to black soap. I invited anyone who wanted to know why I had made that decision to leave a comment saying so. That was because as I did not want to make the Shampoo Day post too long by explaining my transition to black soap. Adaeze left such a comment so here’s the post.
In my journey as a “naturalista”, I find that I am constantly adjusting my choices. One such adjustment was the decision to stop using commercial shampoo for my hair. At the time I made this decision, I was using Motion’s Lavish Conditioning Shampoo.
Here are the ingredients that this shampoo contains:
Aqua, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PPG-5-Ceteth-10 Phosphate, Disodium Cocoamphodipropionate, PEG-30 Glyceryl Cocoate, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Hydrolyzed Silk Serica, Cocotrimonium Chloride, Glycol Distearate, Sodium C14-17 Alkyl Sec Sulfonate, Propylene Glycol, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate , PEG-12 Dimethicone, Polyquaternium-10, Citric Acid, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Diazolidinyl Urea, Linalool, Fragrance Parfum.
Although, I dumped this product because of almost all of their ingredients are unsafe, I will just take a minute to talk about the ingredient highlighted in red: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). I will also speak on its close relation: Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES).
They are known skin and eye irritants. They are also known to be drying to skin and hair. You may ask why manufacturers still use them in formulating body products since they are known irritants. The quick answer is that SLSs and SLESs are used because they are cheap surfactants. They give you loads of suds for a penny. For that reason, any concerns regarding the health of consumers are chucked out the window.
There have been several published reports in scientific journals about SLSs and SLESs. They are known to make the proteins on the skin more soluble thus leaving the skin more permeable and making the skin a corridor through which environmental contaminants get into the body. That is like leaving the door to your house open for all and sundry to come in at will.
SLESs are less irritating than SLSs but stay in the body longer because they cannot be metabolized by the liver. Just by gaining contact with the skin, they enter the body and maintain residual levels in the heart, the liver, the lungs and the brain. This is scary when one learns that SLS and SLES are also linked with a known carcinogen (a substance or agent causing cancer) called 1, 4-Dioxane.
Now if you are merely interested in the beauty side of things especially regarding shampoos, SLSs and SLESs dry your hair out by stripping it of its natural oils. This leaves hair weak and may even cause hair loss.
By the way, if you think that washing off the shampoo really well will save your hair, the very next ingredient on the list: Cocamidopropyl Betaine is what is known as a penetration enhancer which means that its work is to ensure that the active ingredients (along with other ingredients of course) are delivered efficiently to hair/skin. That way, the product is not just left on the hair shaft, it penetrates into the hair shaft.
Here is a short list of products that contain our SLSs and SLESs. You will begin to get a real idea of how difficult it is to avoid them because they are in:
• laundry detergent
• skin and facial cleansers
• children’s soap and shampoos
and much much more. Also, they can be listed with different chemical names depending on the manufacturer. I believe SLES and SLS have about 150 other names they are known by.
There are now shampoos commercially available that do not have any SLS or SLES in them. These are however not available in Nigeria (at least I have not found any here).
I use black soap (which is a great soap) as a shampoo and for bathing. It is sudsy without the help of irritating SLSs and SLESs and best of all it is all natural. Barks, stems and leaves of plants like plantain, cocoa are used in the preparation of black soap and they impart their goodness to the soap.
I tend to buy the local one that is wrapped in paper and then mix it with ingredients that I specifically want in my soap, depending on my mood when I am mixing. The last batch I made, got some coconut oil, aloe vera gel and lavender essential oil mixed in….smells good and feels great on the skin.
References: Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF TOXICOLOGY, Volume 2. Number 7, 1983.