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Natural and Sensitive Are Not the Same

Natural and Sensitive Are Not the Same

As “natural” as you might think your shampoo is, it may not be the right fit for your sensitive scalp. You’re doing all the right things when it comes to taking care of your hair: staying away from SLS, Parabens, sulfates, etc but still you have an itchy, reactive scalp.

“Natural” or “green” or “eco” on a label does not increase the probability that there will be less of a reaction. One of the most commonly used “green” cleansers in shampoos and body washes is cocomidapropyl betaine-which was named Allergen of the Year in 2004. You might be surprised to know that this controversial ingredient is hiding in your supposedly “green” shampoo. If you Google this ingredient you can read all about how it commonly causes eyelid dermatitis among other issues.

Why do companies continue to formulate with it? It solves a number of problems that were difficult for natural shampoo formulators to solve. To start with, it is classified as a “green option”.

  • When chemical manufacturers are selling their products they have them categorized into industrial cleaners, personal care, personal care natural. If you choose the options from the natural category you get to label your finished product in a certain way.
  • It’s  a medium strength surfactant/that blends well with others (you generally need to have more than one surfactant because they suds differently/rinse differently)that foams well.
  • It also helps to thicken formulas easily which decreases the need for PEG’s -the thickener of choice for conventional shampoos.

It solves formulating issues, but unfortunately, it is a really reactive ingredient for people who are sensitive.

How do I know so much about this ingredient? Years ago, I used to formulate with it. And relatively quickly I started to have reactions to the shampoo I was making. After putting so much research into formulating and coming up with what I thought was a really great/clean formula, I was devastated to learn that it was causing my rashes.

Determined not to be fooled again, I really did my research this time and chose ingredients that were Ecocert approved and specifically for sensitive skin. Simply put, Ecocert is the European standard that is followed for ingredients in cosmetic manufacturing. They take a big picture view of how the ingredient is farmed, processed, manufactured and it’s effect on people and the environment.

I’m very proud of the ingredients we have chosen to include in our formulas. I looked for safe, low residue, gentle ingredients for people who are sensitive. Here are the ones that I choose:

  • decyl glucoside-is a mild non-ionic surfactant used in cosmetic formularies including baby shampoo and in products for individuals with a sensitive skin. Many natural personal care companies use this cleanser because it is plant-derived, biodegradable, and gentle for all hair types.
  • sodium lauryl sulfoacetate- NOT sodium lauryl sulfate! The two ingredients look and sound very similar. Unlike SLS, SLSA is completely safe for most skin types, including sensitive skin. It removes oils and bacteria without irritating the skin. What throws people off when they look at these two ingredients is the first two words being identical, and from there it’s assumed that they must be very similar. But the molecule size makes a big difference. The smaller molecules of SLS penetrate and irritate skin and over time can damage hair by being too harsh. SLSA has larger molecules that gently wash away with little to no residue, rinsing cleanly away.

The feedback that I get from people who have struggled in the past is that they have great results-and no reactivity from our hair care. As someone who understands the struggle to find hair care that checks all the boxes, this means the world to me.

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