Hello and Welcome back on Science Is So Sexy. For you, my faithful readers, I have changed the layout to a more sexy one, and you might have noticed I purchased the domain name www.sciencesosexy.com, so it's easier to share the address with your friends!!! Exciting times, indeed!!
For our next post, I will concentrate on a request from Caffeinated OC Mommy.
Here it is:
I'm in the process of looking for healthy alternatives for shampoos, conditioners, body/face moisturizers. I'm learning that the cosmetic industry has no standards and are allowed to package their products with the words, "natural" or good for you type words that are not necessarily true. But because they monitor themselves, they can put what they want.
Soooooooo Darling, I'm constantly spending money on products hoping to find my match in natural, green, and just all around better for me and my family. I look for products that say stuff like...
No:Parabens, Phthalates, Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Methyl Sulfate.
I have NO idea how to pronounce these words let alone know what these even mean.
And I'm also learning about petro in these products as well?
What's a girl to do? Am I on the right track by avoiding these words I can't pronounce?
Following your request, and similar ones from many of my readers, I decided to concentrate my research on shampoos. Please note that many of the ingredients are similar for body/face moisturizers and conditioners so you can still find lots of information here.
I,myself,went to a Natural Food shop and purchased a natural shampoo (from Avalon Organics). And true to your words, the mention NO parabens, phtalates, SLS, SMS were written on the bottle!!
So of course I wondered, as so many of you do, why are they putting these ingredients in shampoos in the first place if we can avoid them?
Are they replaced by expensive/cheap alternatives, how does it influence the efficiency of a product and ultimately its commercial price?
I had a lot of thought on how to present to you what I found out about it all. It turned out that there is so much information, I might have to do a new mini-serie, simply for the sake of keeping post length reasonable - and therefore interest alive!!!
So, the first thing I looked at is the "normal" composition of a shampoo:
Shampoo Making Recipe
Because the demands from a shampoo go beyond cleansing your hair, much of the research carried out in cosmetic laboratory is focused on tailoring the shampoo recipe to variations associated with hair quality, age, hair care habits and specific problems related to scalp condition. Also, cosmetic scientists need to decide on aesthetic features such as how thick it should be, what colour it will be and what it will smell like. Last but not least, they also need to work out how well it cleans, how long is its shelf life, what the foam looks like and how irritating it could end up being.
So it might not be surprising then that up to 30 ingredients go into a formula!
These ingredients can be classified into categories depending on their role:
- Foam boosters
- Conditioning agents
- Special additives
|From Trueb 2007|
|Figure 1. Oily material is represented |
by the beige sphere in the middle and the
detergent by purple spheres linked to blue tails
So apart from Water (which is still the main component), shampoos are composed primarily of detergents. Detergents have the ability to surround oily materials and allow them to be rinsed away by water (fig.1).
Surfactants (another name for detergents) can be anionic (negatively charged), cationic (positively charged), zwitterionic (both charges) or non ionic depending on the charge of their hydrophilic polar group (purple spheres).
For example, natural soap is anionic. But you know that if you wash your hair with just soap, as they did in the old days, it's not exactly pretty. So usually the shampoo base is a mix of anionic and zwitterionic surfactants.
Surfactants are derived from fatty acids which are naturally occurring in various plant and animal sources such as Coconut oil, Palm kernel oil, Soy bean oil.
Common anionic detergents used in shampoo are ammonium lauryl sulfate (HS), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) (HS), sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES) (HS).
Common zwitterionic surfactants are betaine (AO), sulfonate betaine, amphoteric acetate/diacetate.
Cationic and Non ionic are added as additives depending on the type of conditioning that is necessitated.
Example of non ionic surfactants are fatty alcohol ethoxylate, sorbitan ether ester and alkyl polyglucoside (AO).
Other surfactants can be added to improve the foaming characteristics of the formulation. For example, materials called alkanolamides. You might recognise the names Lauramide DEA or cocamide DEA (HS).
Thickener can also be added to increase the viscosity, like methylcellulose (derived from plant cellulose). Alkanolamides can be added, and serve as moisturizer agents such as propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, glycerin (HS) (AO), sorbitol (AO) and lactate. I also found a website that suggests a list of natural, gum and starch based thickeners eg. PEG-120 Methyl Glucose trioleate, Xantham gum (AO), PEG 150 Distearate, Glyceryl stearate (HS)(AO).
Conditioning agents are there to maintain the natural condition of newly grown hair for as long as possible. These include vegetable oils (AO), wax, lecithin and lanolin derivatives (HS), protein hydrolysates (AO) (collagen, silk, animal proteins), quaternary ammonium compounds (eg. quatemium) or cationic polymers (eg. guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride (HS)(AO)) and silicone (eg. dimethicone (HS)).
Preservatives are a "special" category since most of them became cause for concern and induced people into looking for natural shampoo formulations. However, since shampoos are made from water and organic compounds, contamination from bacteria and other microbes is highly possible and therefore preservatives need to be added! You might recognise names such as DMDM hydantoin (HS) and methylparaben, but also salicylic (HS) and sorbic acids, or parahydroxybenzoic acid ester (=other name for Paraben). Other names can be Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate (AO).
Other preservatives/modifiers can be UV absorbers, so they stabilize dyes against light (eg. benzophenone derivatives), anti-oxidants to protect oxidation-sensitive substances (ascorbic acid, Tocopherol (AO), butyl hydroxyanisole), buffers to stabilise the pH (citrate, lactate or phosphate buffers, sodium hydroxyde (HS), hydrochloric acid (HS), sodium chloride (HS)), co-solvents to keep all ingredients mixed together (eg. silicone oils).
Special additives are typically fragrance oils, dyes, and anti-dandruff agents. Anti-dandruff agents are called Active ingredients because they are added for the management of specific problems affecting the scalp (eg. selenium disulfide, zinc pyrithione (HS), piroctone olamine, ketoconazole and ciclopirox olamine, but also natural substances derived from plants).
(HS) = I found those names on the label of my Head and Shoulder - Dry and Damaged Hair Shampoo
(AO) = I found those names on the label of my Avalon Organics - Scalp Treatment Shampoo
Please note that this is definitely a non-exhaustive list. If you look at your labels, as I did, there are many other complicated names, sometimes synonyms of the above like for example parahydroxybenzoic acid ester is another name for paraben!!
Next time, on Science is So Sexy, I will concentrate on those names that have a bad reputation and see if it is possible to find alternatives.
What's in your Shampoo? Part 2 - Parabens is now ready to view.
What's in your Shampoo? Part 2 - Parabens is now ready to view.