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SAFE HOME 101 - Consumer Guide to Safe Shampoos

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Friday, June 27, 2008 1:40 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Safe Home 101, Home Safety Month, Toxic Substances, Shampoo, Cosmetics

Part of IBs-SAFE HOME 101 Series during June- Home Safety Month


IMAGE SOURCE: iStockphoto/ little girl in the tub/ author: © Texxter

There are several shampoo brands available on the market that claim to have all natural ingredients, but how can you be sure that your “all-natural herbal” shampoo does not also contain any harmful chemicals?

Consumers can get important health information by checking and understanding the ingredient list on the product label. Below are tips to make the process easier.

Understanding the Shampoo Label:

Ingredients are listed on the label in descending order of concentration in the product. For instance, a shampoo with an ingredient listed close to the beginning of the list, would have more of that ingredient than any other ingredient. An item listed close to the end suggests very little of that ingredient is in the product.

For detailed cosmetic labeling information, visit COSMETICS INFO.org.

Shampoo Ingredients to Avoid:

Below are the most common chemicals found in shampoos that are best avoided. While a single exposure to any one of the chemicals listed below is not likely to cause any harm, health officials suggest daily exposure may be potentially harmful to your health.

There are 12 chemicals that should be avoided when possible, of them, the most common are 1,4-Dioxane, Formaldehyde, Fragrance and Parabens and Diethanolamine (DEA). For a complete list, please refer to the Green Guide’s Dirty Dozen.

Third Party Certification of Personal Care Products:

A vast majority of consumer and industry groups are creating certifications specifically for personal care products. Many are located in the United States, while others are located in Australia and Europe. Among the most common certifications are the BDIH, Australian Certified Organic, USDA Certified Organic and the Natural Products Association Certification which are outlined below.

Leaping Bunny - The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics developed the Leaping Bunny, a coalition of eight animal protection groups that include The Humane Society of the United States and the American Humane Association. Leaping Bunny labels are applied to products made by companies that pledge to not commission animal testing on their products or the ingredients used to make the products.

BDIH – the stricter of certifications, the BDIH Certified Natural Cosmetic seal requires the use of organically grown or harvested plant-based ingredients when possible, while banning the use of all petroleum-based ingredients, synthetic fragrances and synthetic dyes. Manufacturers are encouraged to use eco-friendly processes and animal testing is prohibited.

Australian Certified Organic – applies to products made from 95 percent or more of organic ingredients. Manufacturers are not permitted to use any type of synthetic dyes, fragrances and petroleum-derived ingredients and/or additives.

USDA Certified Organic – refers to products that are made from 95 percent or more of organic ingredients and excludes salt and water. The label can include the USDA’s Organic seal, but the USDA does not prevent non-certified products from using “organic” in its product name or on the labeling.

This certification allows manufacturers to also include leftover hydrosol and floral water from the essential oil distillation process as an organic ingredient which can make the product falsely appear to have more organic content than does in truth.

Natural Products Association Certified: applies to products with 95 percent of the ingredients derived from natural sources (i.e. plants, beeswax, minerals) synthetic ingredients are permitted but only when no other natural alternatives exist. No matter the source, the ingredients must not pose any potential human health risk and companies are not permitted to process natural ingredients in any way that could alter their purity significantly. #

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