Exotic chemicals leave sensitive skin feeling Bunsen burned

I’ll just come straight out with it: I don’t use shampoo. I’m not ashamed of it, nor am I about to go and hug the nearest tree. This isn’t some protest against corporations or cleanliness; it’s about taking a stand against chemicals. More specifically, it is about the chemicals manufacturers actually will tell you about as well as the ones they aren’t telling you about. You don’t have to be a smelly hippie to understand that maybe the shampoo you’re washing your hair with or the lotion you’re putting on your skin might not be as nice as you think.

My foray into natural products began with my first year at Oswego State. My skin has always been kind of sensitive; I already had to swear off fruity-smelling deodorant due to allergies in junior high. Other than that I used any soap, shampoo and lotion that I wanted to. I switched brands whenever I felt like it. As soon as I got here, though, my skin started to go crazy. My legs were so dry and no amount of name-brand lotion, whether it was sweetly smelling or cocoa butter-enriched, could stop it. I was also developing rashes after I put the lotion on. My scalp was itchy and drier than it had ever been before.

I would go home and feel fine, so it took me two more years until I had enough. I went online and bought handmade lotion with shea butter and other niceties, but it still did nothing to help. I would itch all over from fall until summer. Then I stumbled upon the “No-Poo” movement. Instead of shampooing and conditioning, you could use two teaspoons of baking soda in a cup of water. That’s it. Guess what? I look fine, and so do the rest of these women.

But why were these people so adamant about this method? They had crazy hair, from thick and curly to thin and stringy. What we realized was that the manufacturing companies were putting some strange things in our products. What shampoo really does is strip your scalp of all oil, good sebum and bad grease, and conditioner leaves a residue that makes it look nice and shiny.

Propylene glycol, methylparabens, phthalates – those long words in long lists on cosmetics are normally just glazed over. Consumers like to see the phrases ‘natural product’ and ‘luxurious lather,’ not ‘filled with formaldehyde.’ Just take a look at that lotion you use everyday – I did. Diazolidinyl urea was in my favorites and in the handmade ones I bought on Etsy, and it releases formaldehyde into the air for you to breathe in. In case you don’t recall, that’s used for corpse embalming and is a known carcinogen. Some others are known carcinogens and endocrine disrupters. Forget about fragrance. Cosmetic companies can withhold every chemical that goes into fragrance from the FDA in the name of trade secrets. The book “No More Dirty Secrets,” published just last year, is an insight into just what these chemicals are doing to you.

The skin is the body’s largest organ, and it is ingesting toxic chemicals daily. The European Union has banned over one thousand ingredients for use in cosmetics; as of June 2010 the FDA has only banned nine. Get yourself educated on what you’re using. Go and grab your favorite potions and look up those chemicals, you’ll probably cringe just like I did. Think about what your skin is soaking in; why do you think they tell you to call poison control if you accidentally drink them?

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