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Shampoo is evil [Sep. 20th, 2005|01:01 pm]
Today's daft label analysis in the G2 features shampoo. For those unfamiliar with the Label Watch section, it basically looks at the ingredients list on the back of various everyday items and goes "oooh that sounds like a nasty chemical name, it must be bad for you".

First on the list is sodium laureth sulfate (or sodium dodecyl sulphate/SDS as it is known everywhere else except ingredient lists).

"SLS is a cheap foaming agent used in shampoos and other toiletries, including toothpaste."

Unsurprising, considering it is a detergent and detergents are useful things to have in a product that is supposed to clean something.

"There have been persistent claims that it is carcinogenic, particularly after it was the subject of an unattributed email alert in the late 1990s."

Hahahahahaha. Yes and people from Nigeria really do want to give us 10 MILLION DOLLARS, clicking the unsubscribe link in spam will result in us getting fewer junk emails and attachments from random people really will contain pictures of naked amoebas.

"But SLS has repeatedly been passed as safe by a number of health agencies around the world. The WHO considers it an "unlikely carcinogen". "

Aaaaah, but it might be. They didn't deny it so it must be true, right?

"The US Environmental Protection Agency says it's been shown that SLS produces skin and eye irritation in concentrations above 5%. (Labelling laws do not require the concentration to be specified.)""

We bet you didn't know that. So (cue sinister music), does shampoo have more than 5% SDS in it? Does it cause eye and skin irritation? This calls for a scientific test, so we made one up. Here's the protocol.

1. Put shampoo on hand (DO NOT DILUTE).
2. Use hand to put shampoo in eye.
3. Note how irritating it is on a scale of 1 to 10.
4. Let us know how your favourite brand of shampoo scored.*
5. It is probably a good idea to rinse the shampoo out of your eye at some point.

* We claim no responsibility for any pointing and laughing that might result from admitting you intentionally put shampoo in your eye.

From: (Anonymous)
2005-09-20 02:20 pm (UTC)


I tested J&J's "No More Tears Formula Shampoo" and can report no irritation , from now on I'm going to wash my eyes every day with it. Best thing is, the bottle can be gripped with ease, meaning you can still keep one hand on the steering wheel when doing the experiment.

- sickboyedd
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2005-09-22 01:50 pm (UTC)

it looks like a sensible idea

To be fair to the guardian, this piece is actually quite sensible.
It's easily accessible and explains the facts to its audience without excessive dumbing down.
It explains where there have been safety concerns and why these are not concerns for these chemicals being used in shampoos and at least it cites the bodies who have published the research referenced so the eager reader could search for more info.
This will probably contribute (in a little way) to public understanding of science and reduce the scares and the knee-jerk fear of 'chemicals' that many people have.

All in all, I reckon you're being a bit unfair and over-the-top here.

tom p
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2005-09-22 03:25 pm (UTC)

Re: it looks like a sensible idea

Did they mention it has been linked with causing hair loss? I agree that the column is good, in some ways I think the amoebas critique was more about the vague scientific press releases that various government bodies come out with, along with the whole unattributed email thing.

All the scares about chemicals are, in my opinion, justified considering the amount of long term research that goes into identifying possible undesirable effects before they go into the market. The paranoia that's around comes as much from us all being used as guinea pigs as from a lack of understanding of the scientific principles.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: amoebic_vodka
2005-09-25 01:06 pm (UTC)

Re: it looks like a sensible idea

We're going to sulk as we know if we have to explain a joke that means it isn't funny. Sob.

tom p - last time we checked, spam didn't qualify as a peer reviewed scientific publication. We do realise, however, that most of the time the column refers to more reputable sources.

It does go down the path of suggesting that something might be dangerous because you can't prove a negative result. If a study does not show a risk, then there's always the possibility that a bigger or more longer term study would find something. Therefore, bodies that look at safety will use terms like "unlikely carcinogen" rather than "no risk whatsoever".

Adding "[l]abelling laws do not require the concentration to be specified" to the end is completely unnecessary and suggestive that the manufacturers are hiding something. Most people know from personal experience shampoo is an irritant (and it gets diluted then rinsed off normally anyway).

We'll shut up now. We've irritated you all enough for one day.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)