SLS Product Intervention: Is Your Shampoo Sabotaging You?

New Year.  New Looks.  We primp, we crimp, we gussy-up.   We slather, we scrape, we scent.  Wash, rinse and repeat.

You know the drill.

But are the products we use actually HARMING us in the long run?  Even slowly KILLING us? This is the PERFECT  time for an Intervention – a PRODUCT intervention.

Why do we need a product intervention?  Well, ya wanna be around to see the NEXT holiday, dontcha, girl?

Sister, there are massive amounts of toxins in everyday products!  SLS is one of them.

Toxic Anti-Aging Analyst

If you are a regular Anti Aging Arsenal reader, you remember my article on harmful chemicals in sunscreen.  But I’ve sluethed out, they are in EVERYTHING and ain’t nobody regulating this stuff in our good ol’ USA.

Welcome to Part 1 of Product Intervention.  Today, I want to focus on SHAMPOO.

So I’m laying in bed at a late hour watching an infomercial for a hair cleanser called WEN.  What’s the diff about WEN?  Well, it’s expensive as gold, but it contains no Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and is all natural/organic.

What’s the fuss about SLS?  I found out it’s a caustic detergent in our shampoo and shower gels and a SLEW of other products… it’s ALSO in engine degreasers and in car wash soaps.  All in all, it makes things foam and companies use it because it’s CHEAP.   SLS is found in over a whopping 95 percent of our shampoos.

So, the real bad news about SLS is that it’s potentially cancer-causing.  You are applying it to your scalp, and then the suds rinse down your body, so it’s absorbed into your skin…  not a good thing.

The Western Daily Press says that SLS is a “harsh skin irritant that may also result in the formation of potentially carcinogenic nitrates and dioxins. Animals exposed to SLS experience eye-damage, central nervous system depression, laboured breathing, diarrhoea, severe skin irritation and even death.”

SLS has a close relative named Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) which is less irritating to skin, but since our livers can’t metabolize it, its effects are even longer-lasting.

What effects are we talking about?

The Natural Health Information Center says that both SLS and SLES are known to have many potentially detrimental effects to health.

Possible dangers include:

Skin irritation/ skin corrosion
Hormone Imbalance
Eye irritation / eye deformities in children
Protein Denaturing – This is damage to existing proteins and new proteins – this can lead to early stages of skin cancer.
Carcenogenicity (potentially cancer-causing.)  SLS is what is known as a “mutagen” – it can damage the genetic material found every cell in your body. Mutagenicity has been strongly linked to cancer.

Of course, put SKIN AGING on this list, but the above hazards kinda out-weigh the aging effects, don’t they?

Sorry for the buzz kill……SLS is not only in shampoo — you can also find it in:

Bubble Bath
Dishwashing detergent
Laundry soap
Hair coloring

Here’s The National Institutes of Health “Household Products Directory” List of Products containing SLS.  One step at a time here, folks, let’s not wig….but there’s more.   SLS is a HUGE concern, but it’s NOT the only chemical in our products.

How about Dove Advanced Car Therapy Shampoo?

Toxic ingredients like SLS in Dove Shampoo

This SHOULD be relatively safe, right?  Afterall, it’s “DOVE.”

Dove rates a score of 6 in the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Database.  6 means MODERATELY HAZARD, out of a score of 10, which is WICKED hazard.

List of chemicals besides SLS in Dove Advanced Care Therapy Shampoo that were rated a 4 or above, and the related health concerns:

DMDM Hydantoin  – Allergies/immunotoxicity, irritation
Fragrance – Neurotoxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity
PEG-180 – Developmental/reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity
EXT D&C VIOLET 2 – Cancer, Allergies/immunotoxicity
METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE – Allergies/immunotoxicity
COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE – Allergies/immunotoxicity, Contamination concerns
SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE – Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Contamination concerns

Read more here:

Got kids?  Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo has a rating of a 5 out of 10.  Remember, 0-2 is SAFE.
Suddenly, a little baby in a tub with a bunch of suds on her head is not so cute.

Toxic Ingredients Like SLS in Johnson's Shampoo

I’m still kind of flabbergasted that our governing bodies ALLOW SLS in products.  So, what choices are out there?

* Go to and type in your brand of shampoo (or whatever product) to see if it has harmful ingredients.

You can type in a product, ingredient or company name.  Remember, you are looking for products with a LOW score — the higher scores are MORE HAZARDOUS.

* Get an SLS-free shampoo.  I personally like Miracle Anti-Aging hair care formulated by Robert Heiman who formulated Epicuren skincare products.  No SLS, dyes, parabens, GMO’s or bad stuff.

Some Zero ratings (good) on this database for shampoos are:

Healing-Scents Shampoo/Body Wash
Coastal Classic Creations Vista del Mar Body Wash & Shampoo
Pure Nuff Stuff normal hair cleanser unscented
Poofy Organics Naturally Unscented Shampoo
Jonathan Product Green Rootine Nourishing Shampoo

* Join the movement and go completely “no-poo.”

The “no-poo” procedure uses a baking soda and water paste for washing and an apple cider vinegar rinse cut with water.  Users say it takes a bit of time to get the right combo — the consensus is you might want to try 1 part baking soda to 3 parts water….and one part ACV to 3 parts water first and play around with the combo a bit depending on your hair type.   For example, if you have dry hair, use less baking soda and more ACV.   I haven’t tried the baking soda yet but did try the apple cider vinegar rinse and it was an immediate turbo SHINE BOOST.

* You can get involved in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

This group is trying to change legislation necessary to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products.  Check them out.

So here we go….I decided to poo poo my shampoo and headed toward Trader Joe’s, a store known for it’s organic goods.   I picked up Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Shampoo.  DRAT, it’s NOT in the cosmetic database!  It has organic rosemary oil, organic valencia orange citrus, organic mango, lemongrass, etc.  $2.99 for a 16.9 oz bottle.  SCORE, right?  Well, after close examination of the ingredients,  I found a couple wild cards and entered them into the search engine.  Cocamidopropyl betaine is one, and the cosmetic database says:

“linked to immunotoxicity, or harm to the immune system, and may be contaminated with toxic impurities, many which are linked to cancer.”

This ingredient gets a score of 5.  It also had methylparaben and propylparaben, both preservatives with a score of 6, and believed to be to endocrine disrupters.  Mind you, these ingredients appear at the END of the list, so I believe this Trader Joe’s to be a better alternative to what I was using (Garnier) which had a total PRODUCT hazard score of 6.  WTF?

Alas, all in all, best to stick with the list:

So, dear readers, at the start of this brand new year, I urge you to:   Nix the Nexxus!!  Pitch the Pantene!!  Drop the Dove!!   You can do this.  Let’s be smarter, healthier consumers.  And look good while doing it.

We’re all in this together.

~ Here’s to A New Year…New, SAFE products….

The Anti-Aging Analyst

The Anti-Aging Analyst

About the Author:

Eliza is an anti-aging journalist, coach and skincare/wellness consultant who has written hundreds of articles on anti-aging products and procedures, beauty and skincare. She writes regularly for The Los Angeles Examiner, and has been published in Hawaii's Inspiration Journal, and Hawaii Wellness Magazine, and quoted in various beauty blogs and newsletters including New You Magazine and more. A former Chicago reporter and analyst by nature, Eliza created Eliza's Anti-Aging Arsenal ( a blog for people over 40, where she shares anti-aging tips, tricks and tools, vents a lot, and is known as "The Anti-Aging Authority With Attitude." Connect with Eliza at

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