In a recent study by the Environmental Working Group, researchers found that the majority of hair dye products, conditioners and shampoos posed serious health risks. Things to avoid include phthalates, parabens, coal tar and sodium lauryl sulfate.
Due to labeling loopholes, many "natural" and "organic" personal-care products in the United States contain hazardous chemicals, some of which, at high exposures, have been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, damage to nervous and reproductive systems and liver damage in lab animals.
According to "Skin Deep," a 2004 study and ranking of 7,500 cosmetic products published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 100 percent of shampoos tested contained ingredients that have not been assessed for safety by either the Cosmetic Industry Review panel (an industry body) or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is charged with regulating cosmetic ingredients.
*93 percent of shampoos possibly contain harmful impurities linked to cancer or other health problems.
This July, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported finding the metabolized forms of dibutyl phthalates, used in nail polish and synthetic fragrance, in every person tested in their national "body burden" study.
For example, a study from the University of Minnesota, published in the May 2005 Environmental Health Perspectives, found a connection between phthalates and genital abnormalities in baby boys.
To reduce exposures to phthalates, steer clear of shampoos and conditioners listing "fragrance" as an ingredient.
Coal tar appears in many hair dyes and strong dandruff and psoriasis shampoos, but the FDA failed to ban it even though studies have linked it to cancer in lab animals.
John Masters of John Masters Organics, a New York City hair
stylist for 30 years, says that he shuns the use of coal tars in his hair dyes for his own safety and the safety of his clients and staff.
In response to the EU ruling, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is urging American companies to sign its Compact for Safe Cosmetics pledge to stop using dangerous chemicals.
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