Thursday, April 7, 2011

Goldilocks and The 3 Organic Shampoos

By Candice
Part of the Infectiously Optimistic "Organic Goldilocks" Series.

There once was a girl who loved MAC cosmetics, all things vanilla fragranced, and shampoo straight from the salon shelf.

Then she developed Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

So, she became the Goldilocks of organic cosmetics.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is characterized by the development of multiple symptoms in multiple organ systems upon exposure to chemicals at or below previously tolerated levels. (1)

In layman's terms, MCS is the inability to tolerate the now "average" chemicals that we encounter in our environment on a day to day basis. Your head may begin to throb while you're standing in line in the grocery store next to a woman who smells of fabric softener. Your lungs may begin to constrict when you breathe in the drifting fragrance from your roommate's recently used hair products, or you may feel weak and faint while visiting a house that's full of scented glade plug-ins.

This is often a secondary condition to a number of different illnesses that cause the body to be overburdened by toxin or infection. Late stage lyme patients, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, and those exposed to toxic mold are amongst those who are often affected.

Yet, those with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity are not the only ones who should be concerned about the health effects of synthetic, fragranced, and chemical based products.

In 2004, a study done by the Environmental Working Group reported that the average adult uses 9 personal care products per day, exposing them to an average of 126 different chemicals daily. (2)

In the study, one third of the conventional, "average" products tested contained at least one ingredient that has been classified as a cancer-causing human carcinogen. 

Almost 70% of the products were found to have potentially tainted ingredients linked to cancer and other serious health complications. 

54% actually violated safety recommendations set by the Cosmetic Safety Review Board.

According to Skin Deep's Cosmetic Safety Database, no safety testing is required and manufacturers are free to use almost any manmade material as a cosmetic ingredient. (3) Thus, conventional beauty products are brimming with chemicals that have been directly linked to immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive dysfunction, organ toxicity and cancer. Check out the database to look up what you're using and to see what you're specifically putting on your body.

My rule is if you can't pronounce it, and you wouldn't swallow it, then don't put it on your body. What the heck is P-Phenylenediamine anyway? It definitely doesn't sound like something I'd want to drizzle on my salad...or smooth over my skin.

Organic Goldilock's 3 Shampoos

Once I ditched my toxic salon products, my body started to do a bit better. My mind felt clearer, I stopped feeling like someone was smothering me with a pillow all day, and the pressure in my head significantly improved. But what's a girl to do when she's got a head full of curly hair? You can't just use any shampoo, or you'll find yourself waking up to an afro bigger than Lenny Kravitz'.

The first shampoo I dared to try on my curly 'fro was:

I used Aubrey's awesome Hair Type Matrix to figure out which shampoo and conditioner would be right for my curls. I chose to go with something for frizzy/flyaway hair that tends to be try. 

The shampoo smelled great, but not in that over-powering "wow, there must be a perfumed woman hanging out inside of my shampoo bottle" sort of way. The essential oils in the shampoo give it a nice, light, natural fragrance. When using it for the first time, I was a little disappointed though at the consistency and its lack of lather. After a couple of weeks of use, I loved the way my hair smelled, but it seemed to make my hair too oily. 

I would recommend the shampoo for someone with extremely dry hair. I don't personally qualify. If your hair is quite dried out, you might be able get the shampoo to "stick then rinse" a little better during wash, and you may come out with soft shine instead of weighed down oil. It would probably work best for those of African American decent. 

Organic Goldilock's consensus: Lovely smell, but a little too runny.

Now that my hair began to verge on the "bit too oily" side, I did some research and found a product that is known to be good for those with oily hair:

Despite the website's assertion that this product is ideal for normal to dry hair, I had read online elsewhere that it tended to dry out dry hair further, and was actually better for those with excess oil. It turns out, the folks online were spot on.

This shampoo made my hair feel great. My curls were no longer weighed down, but my hair didn't feel dry or like a broomstick hanging from the top of my head. It was a nice balance. Unfortunately though, despite the natural ingredients of Giovanni's shampoo, the smell that wafts from the bottle (and the bathroom when you shower) is quite strong. It isn't a toxic smell, but the florals in the product are intense. Personally, a little too intense for me. After a while, I began to desire something with a softer aroma.

I should probably also note that the people that I was living with at the time also used this shampoo, and complained that their hair started to feel too dry. This wasn't the case for me, but since they both had color treated hair, I do see how this could be an issue.

Organic Goldilock's consensus: Great for my hair, but a little too smelly.

Which brings me to my third organic shampoo trial: 

I guess they aren't joking when they say that this shampoo is "appropriate for all hair types"! My roommate and I both have completely opposite hair. Her hair is bone straight, and mine is quite curly, but we both use this shampoo, and both have come to really like it.

The natural scent is fabulously mild, but quite nice. The texture of the shampoo is great as well, and doesn't slip through your fingers as you try to lather. It leaves my hair soft but doesn't weigh down my curls, and it does help control flyaways and frizz as it mentions on their site. Way to go, Kiss My Face!

Organic Goldilock's consensus: For my head of hair, just right!

So, don't be afraid to ditch the chemicals. After a bit of trial and error, you'll find what's just right for you as well. If your hair is dry and unruly, give Aubrey a shot. If your hair is oily and limp, give Giovanni a shot. But if you've got a combination of it all, try out Kiss My Face. 

Shampoos that this Organic Goldilocks would like to try next:
3. EO

Organic Goldilocks Tip: If your hair tends to dry frizzy and feels brittle, put a little unrefined coconut oil on your fingertips and smooth it through. It'll give your hair a little extra shine and will control any fly aways. Plus, you'll smell great too!



Susanne said...

Thanks for sharing this helpful info. I tried the John Masters organics, loved the smell, etc. But it has wheat in it and being a gluten free gal I soon thought to check the ingredients when my neck started itching regularly.

Keith Smith (themadchemist) said...

I know I'm just a spirodude so take this for what its worth.

For bathing I use Dr Bonner liquid soaps
The almond is yummy smelling if you like amaretto. I also like the tea tree but its is strong smelling, but that tea tree for you. I like it best after working in the yard, it has a clean smell.

The Shampoo I use is a local made organic hempoil soap I get at a local hippie place. Check your local coop. It lathers like crazy and smells edible.

I am bald on top but the rest is shoulder length. I've also found that for dry hair, rub a thin coat of grape seed oil on your hands and massage your fingers thru your hair.

Grape seed oil also make GREAT massage oil, just add a bit of lavender oil. It absorbs great without leaving a greasyness


Elise said...

We are just bombarded with a chemicals everywhere. It's best to read the ingredients label to make sure what you are using isn't toxic.