Tag Archives: shampoo

Not Puppy Love: Why is Formaldehyde in Shampoo

When you last went to the store, did you buy soap or shampoo? Have you recently purchased shampoo for your dog or cat? If so, did you even consider that there might be formaldehyde in shampoo, soap, and other skin care products you use every day for your pets, your baby, or yourself? This is the sad, but sometimes true reality of the products we have in our homes. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Really, there’s formaldehyde in shampoo?!

By now you’ve probably seen the adorable pictures that blogger Jessica Shyba took of her son Beau napping with the family dog Theo.

Puppy and baby got us talking here at Soap Hope about what goes into products for kids and pets.

We picked up a bottle of dog shampoo at the local pet store and had a look at the ingredient list. It started off fine – water, honey extract, and chamomile extract seemed like winners to us — but why was artificial fragrance, DMDM Hydantoin, and Tetrasodium EDTA in dog shampoo?

Formaldehyde is for the Dogs

DMDM Hydantoin is a preservative that works by releasing formaldehyde into the product continuously over time. Formaldehyde does a great job inhibiting the growth of mold; but it’s also a known carcinogen, and most people don’t want it on their bodies or on their pets – especially when the puppy is snuggled up with the kids.

The consumer goods industry in the U.S. has a lot of leeway. If they want formaldehyde in shampoo, for example, but you don’t want to tell their customers, they can just add DMDM Hydantoin instead. The DMDM Hydantoin will slowly break down into formaldehyde in the shampoo throughout the life of the product. Problem solved!

(In the European Union, companies can’t get away with this trick: if an ingredient in their product breaks down into formaldehyde, they have to write “contains formaldehyde” on the label.)

In the Dog House

It’s not just Theo’s shampoo we think about at Soap Hope, it’s young Beau’s as well. Until 2014, Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo had Quaternium-15 in it. You guessed it – Quaternium-15 releases formaldehyde in shampoo and other products they designed for babies. Years of public outcry finally caused Johnson & Johnson to reformulate their baby shampoo.

J&J Removing Formaldehyde in Shampoo
J&J removes formaldehyde-causing ingredients in their shampoo.
Image Source: NYTimes.com

Shampoo needs a preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria. Big manufacturers don’t care that Quaternium-15 and DMDM Hydantoin produce formaldehyde; they care that they are very cheap and give their products a shelf life of over a year. These manufacturers know they can put pretty pictures on the products and make commercials with happy kids and pets, and that most people won’t look any further.

“No more tears!” Not quite.

Better Ways

There are better ways for manufacturers to preserve shampoo rather, than putting formaldehyde in their products. They can use a low-risk food-grade preservative like potassium sorbate, which has the same toxicity level as table salt. Even better, they can use vitamin e (tocopherol).

Some manufacturers don’t even require a preservative. For your pooch, try the totally natural Woof Wild Dog Shampoo Bar. Hand made by Maggie Hanus at A Wild Soap Bar, this shampoo bar has organic oils, aloe, oats, clay, sea salt, essential oils, yucca root and horsemint. It will leave your dog’s coat soft, shiny, and smelling great.

For moms and dads looking for a safe shampoo, we recommend any products from Acure Organics.

For baby’s bath time, try Hugo Natural’s Chamomile Vanilla Shampoo and Wash, followed by Badger’s Chamomile & Calendula Baby Oil, which contains nothing but certified organic essential oils.

What other ingredients are you worried about in your body care products? Let us know.

Here’s the Lowdown on Dry Shampoos

Us humans can get especially particular about how we wash, trim, curl, dry, or style our hair.

And it makes sense! Our hair can say a lot about our personality.

Dog

When it comes to hair care, many of us include shampooing and conditioning our manes as part of our daily routine. What we’re discovering, however, is that this might not be the healthiest for our hair.

All About Sebum

Our skin and scalp have tiny little glands all over them that secrete oil, or sebum, called sebaceous glands.

We secrete sebum for all kinds of cool reasons — and we started forming sebaceous glands during fetal development, as a means of protecting and nourishing our skin.  Sebum also helps to provide our skin with vitamin E.

The Greasy Hair Conundrum

Because our bodies naturally produce this oil, you might find that, after a day or so, your hair looks or feels slightly more oily.

Which, for a lot of us, might feel gross. In reality, it’s our body trying to maintain it’s natural, healthy ecosystem.

So keeping your hair squeaky clean and washing it on a daily basis not only prevents your hair from getting the natural oils that it needs, but also triggers overproduction of sebum.

So how can you help keep your hair’s natural oils and maintain a fresh appearance?

The Miracle of Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoos are all over the place these days, and they’ve especially grown in popularity in the last few years. But they’ve been around for centuries — the first mention of dry shampoo was around the 15th century in Asia, where the style-savvy were using clay powder in their hair.

Dry shampoos are great, because they help to control the production of oil, but don’t trigger the scalp’s overproduction of sebum, like washing it can.

So your hair looks fresh AND you get to skip a day of washing and drying!

There are a ton of products out there to choose from, but if you’re looking for a dry shampoo that’s going to be good for you AND the environment, here are a few tips:

  • Check the label! Avoid any sulfates, parabens, phthalates, or petroleum.
  • Make sure the packaging is biodegradable, like Acure’s dry shampoo, which we love!
  • Look for nourishing ingredients like argan and CoQ10 — the dry shampoo will help manage oily hair, but will replenish with good oils, too!

Do you use a dry shampoo? What tips do you have for using this in your hair care routine?