Going SLS-free

As I take my health into my own hands, I have recently added another crusade: SLS (and SLES), known as sodium laurel sulfate (and sodium laureth (laurel ether) sulfate).

SLS is an inexpensive surfactant, foaming agent, and degreaser – commonly used in cleansers of all kinds, including shampoo and liquid soap (and shower gel). It is also a known skin irritant. Some say it is absorbed into your body and affects hormone levels. Scare-mongers say it causes cancer, but I couldn’t find any supporting evidence of this. I’m mainly doing this because I am obviously sensitive to this ingredient, as I get skin irritation from any products that contain it.

Having finicky skin is why I make my own soap and lotion. It’s why I wash every new article of clothing before I wear it. It’s why I don’t wear foundation makeup. It’s why I’m very careful about what products I do use on my body, and aim for as-close-to-natural-as-possible.

Well, add SLS to the banned list. I have for years been less than thrilled with commercial shampoos but continued to use them. With a head of long, fine, stick-straight hair it is necessary to wash my hair on a daily basis lest I look like I was bobbing for apples in a deep fryer. Thing is, I’ve also been plagued with an itchy scalp; not dandruff, just itchy.  In addition, shampoo strips my hair down to straw which I then have to remedy with copious amounts of conditioner – many of which weigh my hair down. I constantly struggle with split ends, frizzy fly-aways, and breakage.

With lots of research and a bit of experimenting, I have successfully ditched shampoo altogether, in favor of “shampoo soap” and an occasional ACV (apple cider vinegar) rinse.

The results? Total relief of itching, and no grease head. Less frizzies. Absolutely no weighed-down or coated hair. It’s easy to comb out, less prone to static electricity, and I am noticing less breakage and hair loss (based on how much I clean from my hairbrush).  The cherry topping to this happy hair sundae: nobody notices that I’m no longer using shampoo, because my hair is still clean and fresh.

So, what about this “shampoo soap” I mentioned? Well, I’m using one that I made, which is darned close to the regular soap I make, but it is readily availabe from websites that specialize in natural products. I’ve got several recipe tweaks lined up to try, but really – regular (handmade) soap works just fine. Keep in mind that I don’t color or chemically treat my hair, so it’s 100% natural to begin with. Soap has a higher pH level than your skin/hair, and that can strip out some fake coloring so tread with care if you are trying to cover grey. (Blond is a bleach, not a colorant, so there shouldn’t be any problems if you lighten your hair.)

To balance the pH level and smooth the hair shafts, I use a weak ACV rinse a couple days a week. Right now, I don’t even scent it but I do plan on doing a rosemary infusion (rosemary oils is fabulous for your hair and scalp). Even without the ACV rinse, my hair is smoother and easy to comb. It’s squeaky-clean from the shower but not tangled; this took a little getting used to, as I was so accustomed to that snot-slick feel of commercial conditioner, but now that I”m used to it I can’t imagine going back to that gross coating.

Honestly, I’m thrilled with the results. Dumping the itchy scalp and taking a simpler approach to hair care has been a roaring success for me. Now to convert the rest of the house…

About wonkydonkey

You want random? You got it. Mostly knitting and gardening, with some home improvements, pets, baking, family, and the occasional bad joke thrown in for good measure.
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