Hidden chemicals in your everyday products…Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

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images (1)Our world is filled with chemicals and ingredients that do nothing other than to make the experience of what you are currently doing more “exciting!”  We are a society of people who need “razzle dazzle” when we brush our teeth, and we don’t feel like we are clean enough, unless the soapy suds from our shampoo and body washes are three inches thick!

I am one of those women who has always felt like they were born in the wrong generation…probably the influence of my Grandmother Hazel.  She was a frugal woman who could make needed things appear out of nowhere.  As someone who lived through the depression, you never (and I mean NEVER) would have gotten up from her table and walked away with food still sitting on your plate…food was there to be eaten.  If you didn’t eat it at lunch, you can bet that it would be sitting on the same plate for you to eat at supper.  The choice was yours as to enjoying it when it was freshly made, or freshly warmed up or brought out of the fridge.  That part was kind of rough for us kids, but she had a resourcefulness about her that really resonated with me.  Everything was used, reused and then repurposed to be used in a brand new way.  If it wasn’t necessary right now, it was put on a shelf…with the intention that it would be necessary one day in the future.

I guess that is why I feel that some of the “old” ways of doing things are a little bit more healthy for my family than the stuff that we leave for scientists in large laboratories to develop.  Because we are such a particular group of people who do not like unpleasant experiences, our daily routines are filled with extra chemicals and “stuff” that are purposefully designed to make people feel really great using them.  There are many products that would curdle your stomach if you knew how they were used in your everyday life.  If you knew more about them, I wonder if you would feel the same about using them?

downloadSodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) – Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant, detergent, and emulsifier that is used in thousands of cosmetic products, but can also be found in your run-of-the-mill industrial cleaners. This is the inexpensive foaming agent in dish soaps, hand and body washes, cleaning products, and even toothpaste.  We might see this as a luxury, because it would “appear” to us unknowing consumers that the thick and fluffy soap bubbles that it is producing MUST be better than those lesser bubbling products that seem to disappear in a minute. However, studies have shown that this may not be such an innocent luxury. This substance is very powerful, and it may surprise you to know that it is strong enough to scrub garage floors and degrease engines, and that it is considered to be carcinogenic over time. It is present in nearly all shampoos, scalp treatments, hair color and bleaching agents, toothpastes, body washes and cleansers, make-up foundations, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents, and bath oils/bath salts. Although SLS originates from coconuts, the chemical is anything but natural.

So, if it is so bad, why do we find it in all these products?  Hmmm…it kind of makes you wonder!  Actually, this stuff is very cheap. What is freaking funny, if you ask me, is that this powerful degreaser can remove oil from an engine, but is supposed to be gentle on your skin???  How can it do anything other than break down your skin and remove all the essential oils that your body needs to be its own healthy, vibrant and alive self?  It has also been said that once in the body, SLS mimics the hormone estrogen, which can bring on health problems like PMS, menopausal symptoms, decreased male fertility, and increased female cancers…yikes!

A study found that in children under six, the absorption of this ingredient, on a daily basis through their scalp, prevented the proteins in their eyes from properly developing. Furthermore, it is said that the SLS in toothpaste contributes to prolonged and more frequent canker sores in the mouth, and the SLS in shampoo causes hair to become more brittle and break easier. So, not only is it a harmful additive, but it is a beauty product ingredient that is creating a not-so-beautiful situation.

We use several toothpastes in our household, from pure baking soda, to the kind that you find in tubes from the store. Immediately after reading about SLS, I went to look at my own toothpaste, which is a brand of Tom’s.  Tom’s, as you may or may not know, is supposed to be a version that is made with more healthy ingredients.  Sadly, I noticed that it was listed as number seven in the listing of ingredients…”sigh” of despair! That really bothered me, as I have been purchasing that for years, thinking that I was doing us all a favor.  I immediately when to their website, which I am sharing a link below, and learned that they do offer another product that is without SLS, called Clean & Gentle and Botanically Bright toothpastes.  I will look for this the next time that I am in the store, as toothpaste in a tube seems to be the preferential one that my family likes.  I know there are homemade products that I can make for my family, but I have not made any as of yet. I don’t feel the need to make anything more complex that baking soda, or a combination of baking soda and coconut oil, as it gets the job done for me.  My children, however, would probably prefer to grab their tube, use it, and then put it back in the drawer. I will point out that my youngest daughter is finding the out-of-the-box baking soda to be a healthy option for her, and I hope that she continues with it.

So what should you do?  Sadly, I cannot tell you what “you” need to do.  I will tell you that I found sodium lauryl sulfate listed as the second ingredient in our shampoos, which “I” found intolerable.  I guess I would feel a little bit better if it were the 9th, 15th or 30th ingredient…but number two???  I plan to check alternative products and ingredients out the next time I go to the store.  I will either find an alternate that I can live with, or I will resort to finding a recipe and making my own.  My sister made me a lovely coconut milk and rosemary shampoo last year, and it was divine!  Just for fun, I am including links to a few homemade versions that you may want to think about making, just in case you cannot find shampoos with ingredients that work for you. Please note that you can Google just about anything, and recipes will pop up and make themselves known to you.  It is not hard to do!

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is just one of the many ingredients that are in all kinds of products that we use daily.  I am a busy woman, so I do not have time to research every single thing that is hidden in the ingredients of my family’s health and beauty aids. I need to start with one thing, so I can become familiar with the word, what it is “supposed” to do in the products, and then I can learn how I can find it in my home.  Once armed with that, I am better prepared to find alternatives that “I” can live with, because knowledge is power for me!  Be warned, because these chemicals are everywhere.  Be prepared to have to make decisions about all kinds of things, if that is what you decide you need to do. You may not be able to fix everything, so you may have to decide which products are acceptable, and which products are intolerable.

I encourage you to go to the EWG.org, which is a website that educates you on all the products available for purchase. You can enter your own products into their program, just to see what the scores actually are.  The best products have scores that are low. Find your brands and see if they are fine, or figure out which brands would make better alternates. Either way, you will be more knowledgeable about what you have in your house than you were before.

toothpaste

IF YOU WISH TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE, PLEASE CHECK THE LINKS TO THESE SITES:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/13/sodium-lauryl-sulfate.aspx

Ingredients you don’t want in your toothpaste:  http://www.rodalenews.com/toothpaste-chemicals

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate:  http://www.nutopia.cc/the-collective-co-op/open-door-wisdom-blogs/shedding-light-upon-the-darkness-blog/item/common-household-product-sodium-lauryl-sulfate

Info on Tom’s toothpaste:  http://www.tomsofmaine.com/ingredients/overlay/sodium-lauryl-sulfate

EWG facts on toothpaste:  http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/search.php?query=toothpaste&search_group=everything&&showmore=everything&start=0

What the chemical companies don’t want you to know: http://www.ewg.org/research/what-chemical-industry-doesnt-want-you-know

Make your own shampoo:  http://wellnessmama.com/3701/natural-shampoo/, and at http://www.eatgood4life.com/home-made-coconut-shampoo/

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