Hair & Now: What To Do About Shampoo

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As the kids and I trekked around the Pacific Northwest over August, we explored West Coast farmer’s markets, snacked on engorged blackberries off the vine, and ate Steelhead or oysters nightly, depending on OUR catch of the day. Heaven on earth—I love vacationing in Washington. However, a small, almost- unnoticeable concern, was a series of swollen, puffy, mid-morning eyes. If my family hadn’t been using kinder shampoos for the last couple of years, I wouldn’t have been able to pin point the problem and probably would have chalked it up to the blooming-flower-du-jour. As it turns out, using the rental property’s conventional shampoo was irritating two of us, leaving us with teary, puffy eyes.

Did our puffy eyes have hypersensitivity to chemicals? No, I don’t think so.
I think we had human reactions to convoluted mixtures of various irritants we hadn’t used in several years.

This wasn’t a drama filled horrible experience, just one that left me wondering how many doses of allergy medicine I served up to my kids when they were younger, back in my more conventional days before my  Choose Wiser philosophy became my second skin.

Uncanny that I returned home, saddled up to my computer to catch up on the latest consumer news, and read about the historical unfolding announcement from Johnson & Johnson that you may have already heard about. If not, here is a capful:

“Johnson & Johnson, told the Campaign for Safe cosmetics it will reformulate its hundreds of cosmetics and personal care products in all the markets it serves in 57 countries around the world. J&J has confirmed to the Campaign that it has set an internal target date of reformulating adult products by the end of 2015, and it will use safe alternatives when reformulating. The company will:

· Reduce 1,4 dioxane to a maximum of 10 parts per million in adult products;
· Phase out formaldehyde-releasers in adult products;
· Limit parabens in adult products to methyl-, ethyl- and propyl-;
· Completely phase-out triclosan from all products;
· Phase out Diethyl Phthalate (DEP) from all products
(no other phthalates are currently used);
· Phase out polycyclic musks, animal derived ingredients, tagates,
rose crystal, and diacetyl from fragrances.”
My phase-one thought process: Allow my reactions to move through, “What-the-heck-holy-crimeny-are-ya-kiddin-me-what-are-these-things-doing-in-body-care-products-anyway?”

Phase two: Questions swoop through my mind, like, “What do you mean phase out? And just adult products? Do they want people to switch brands temporarily and bounce back to them come 2016? Or continue to use their products knowing that in three years they will finally be ‘better for me’?”

Phase three:  I begin to see the incredible enormity of this. If a large company such as J&J willingly reformulates, will L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever follow suit? Have theybeen quietly gearing up already? Maybe, maybe not.From the same article above:
“Today’s action by Johnson and Johnson is another example of a company responding to their customers and the public interest community,” said Nneka Leiba, senior analyst with Environmental Working Group, a co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “Unfortunately, not every company will take similar steps to protect consumers from potentially toxic ingredients. That is why we need Congress and the cosmetics industry to support the Safe Cosmetics Act that will require substances be safe for human health before being used in the products we all use every day.”

One can hope other large companies would reformulate out of altruistic love for health and their consumer, but even if competition for market share makes them change their ways, J&J’s example could begin a massive ripple within the industry. I’ll surely celebrate J&J’s movement forward, but I’m also still going to do my part to keep fighting for ALL our products to be safe. Like they say, “It’s not over till it’s over.” But at least change is happening.

Then, I get back to the present: What do we do NOW?

Mia Davis (you may recognize her name from Little Changes), wrote A Guide to the Most Safe Eco-Friendly Shampoos  which features Be Green Bath and Body among others. Thank you Mia for doing the legwork, I love this snappy go-to list! If you have recently moved over from $1.98 shampoos, my guess is that you pride yourself on being budget focused and may have difficulty lathering-up to the higher prices of good-for-you shampoos. So, rev up your super-shopping-sleuth skills! You can start with sites like for deep discounts on some of the listed products or go in with a girlfriend for super shipping savings at Amazon. (If you know of more drop me an email!)

To REALLY save some money, try out the listed from-the-kitchen products in the article. I’m a long time fan of diluted cider vinegar every other week. Last week, just for you, I tested out the coconut oil technique. Picking a day where I could stay home (hey, some of these experiments backfire on me…), I showered, dried, and then took a glob of coconut oil (which also has become my cooking-best-friend), applied it to the bottom four inches of my hair, braided it, and slept on a towel. In the morning, I shampooed, rinsed with cider vinegar, and my hair has had a wonderful softness for almost a week now. And occasionally when the wind blows it smells like the beach and makes me crave a Pina Colada. Win win!

Now….I am very intrigued with the flax seed styling gel from Mia’s article. Grab a towel and meet me in the kitchen. We can whip up a hair-cocktail and toast to Johnson and Johnson and their willingness to move towards cleaner solutions!

Enjoy the Journey,
Kristi Marsh

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