Shampoos Causing Skin Irritation & Chemical Burns

I have always had sensitive skin to start off with, however I only recently experienced the dirty secret conglomerates like Procter & Gamble and company don’t warn you about. After going through a time of very oily hair due to a hormonal change, I had to wash my hair every day in order to look presentable. After a while I noticed my scalp looking a bit flaky and immediately Head & Shoulders came to mind thanks to persistent advertising throughout the years. I grabbed a bottle in the store and applied a small amount on my scalp, massaged it in for a minute and showered it off. One thing I definitely noticed was the intense chemical scent that gave me a very faint hint of nausea. After the shower my face had red splotches that I didn’t give much attention until the area around my eyes stayed red and I developed what looked like eczema. It was an itching sensation that also felt like a bur and was sensitive to the touch. My eyes started itching intensely for almost 2 weeks which drove me crazy. I took antihistamine, applied eye drops, shea butter, virgin coconut oil (which ironically made it worse) and prescription eye cream, all to no relief. Over the course of the night my eyelid started swelling and the eye irritation wouldn’t go away until 2 months passed and I visited an eye doctor (after the dermatologist was no help) who treated me with another prescription cortisone/antibiotic cream specific to the eye area, which I applied for one week. It finally got better, however my body is now over-sensitized to even the smell of Head and Shoulders or any other of the widely common shampoos on the market – which to my surprise are being sold without a warning, despite the fact that they contain harmful chemicals.

Apparently I am not the only one experiencing the issue with other regular products with household names.

I started researching this issue further and opened a can of worms. How could I have been fooled for so long?!I came across SKIN DEEP, the database by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) – that makes safety profiles for cosmetics and personal care products accessible to the public. As their website clarifies, “companies are allowed to use almost any ingredient they wish.”What a scary thought! Further:”The U.S. government doesn’t review the safety of products before they’re sold. Our staff scientists compare the ingredients on personal care product labels and websites to information in nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases. Now in its eighth year, EWG’s Skin Deep database provides you with easy-to-navigate safety ratings for a wide range of products and ingredients on the market. At about one million page views per month, EWG’s Skin Deep is the world’s largest personal care product safety guide.”

Let’s take Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Dandruff Shampoo as an example:

Active Ingredients: Pyrithione Zinc (1%)

Inactive Ingredients: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Glycol Distearate, Zinc Carbonate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Fragrance, Dimethicone, Sodium Benzoate, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Magnesium Carbonate Hydroxide, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Blue 1, Red 33

And here some of the ingredients and adverse effects:

Sodium laureth sulphate (SLES)

Purpose: Detergent
Adverse effects: Skin dryness, eye irritation, penetration enhancer. Laureth compounds can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen linked to breast cancer.  Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive).

Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)

Purpose: Detergent and foaming agent
Adverse effects: SLS is a harsh cleanser often used as an engine de-greaser. It’s added to toothpaste to make it foam, but is not necessary to clean your teeth. Irritating to the mucous membranes in the mouth, can cause mouth ulcers, canker sores and contact eczema. Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive).

Cocamidopropyl Betaine:

Purpose: Synthetic surfactant
Adverse effects: Skin, eye and lung irritation, contact allergies. Animal studies show damage to immune system and organs. Has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, reactions that could be due to the ingredient itself or to impurities present in it, such as 3-dimethylaminopropylamine.

Zinc pyrithione

Purpose: Antidandruff Agent; Cosmetic Biocide; Hair Conditioning Agent; Preservative; ANTISEBORRHOEIC
Adverse effects: Skin irritant. Animal studies show damage to immune system and organs. Persistent and bioaccumulative in the environment.


Purpose: Conditioner, film-former
Adverse effects: Skin irritant. Film-formers coat the hair to make it feel smooth, but confer no real moisturising properties.

Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride

Purpose: Antistatic Agent; Hair Conditioning Agent; Viscosity Increasing Agent – Aqueous; Film Forming; Skin Conditioning; Viscosity Controlling
Adverse effects: Unknown. Low hazard.


Purpose: Fragrance compound
Adverse effects: The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.
Some perfume ingredients, such as artificial musks and phthalates, are hormone-disrupting. High hazard.

Needless to say, I spent a good amount of time researching the products in my bathroom cabinets which later ended piled up in the trash. It is not acceptable. With all the lobbyists for these mega companies one can’t help but feel disappointed and angry. This also applies to the food and drug administration – but that is a whole topic in itself.

RESEARCH your own products, toss the toxins and start fresh, with all natural ingredients. Be mindful to your body, your family’s body and the environment.

Be mindful


Cocamydolpropylbetaine and contact dermatitis

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