Choosing a Shampoo

There’s concern nowadays about the products that we apply onto our skin.  This is because the ingredients in skincare products do actually penetrate the skin and then enter the blood stream. Some ingredients are totally safe while some can adversely affect our health, maybe not immediately but slowly over the years and after hundreds of applications.

Choosing a Shampoo

Choosing a Shampoo

I was looking at shampoos when I realized that it’s not easy to be a discerning buyer of safe products, especially when I am always in a hurry.  It takes time to learn about the ingredients of the products that are used daily.   Personally, when in doubt, I usually consult the EWG Skindeep website.  The EWG Skindeep categorizes its ratings as follows: 0 – 2 (low hazard); 3 – 6 (moderate hazard); 7 – 10 (high hazard).

Choosing a Shampoo

Ratings alone is not enough as there are usually more than 10 different ingredients inside a skincare product.  So, even if an ingredient is rated 4, if the quantity used is negligible, then I think we shouldn’t be alarmed.  But how do we know which are the key ingredients in a product since the exact measurement is not stated on the label?

Product labels usually conform to the labelling requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act, the Fair Packaging and Labelling (FP&L) Act, and the regulations published by the Food and Drug Administration, which among others state:

  • All cosmetics marketed in the United States, whether they are manufactured in the US or are imported from abroad, must comply with the labelling requirements to protect consumers from unsafe or deceptively labelled or packaged products. The requirements can be read here :
  • The implementation of the said laws are to ensure that packages and their labels provide consumers with accurate information about the quantity of contents and facilitate value comparisons and also to protect consumers from adulterated or misbranded products
  • Shampoo is considered as cosmetic product as defined in section 201(i) of the FD&C Act which states that a cosmetic is a product, except soap, intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering the appearance
  • The raw materials used as ingredients of cosmetic products are by law also cosmetics
  • The ingredients must be declared in descending order of predominance

According to Narelle Chenery, Director of Research & Development of OneGroup, in order to determine the main ingredients of a cosmetic product, the ingredients listed can be divided into 3 parts : about 90-95% of the ingredients are in the first part, 5-8% in the second part and 1-3% in the last part.  So, if there are 12 ingredients in a product, then 90-95% of the product consists of the first 4 ingredients.

So, how to rate a shampoo?  Let’s take 2 shampoo brands that caught my fancy – a Baby Shampoo and Himalaya Herbals Anti-Dandruff Shampoo.

Let’s check out the Baby Shampoo list of ingredients (ratings are shown in brackets):


Deionized water (0), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (3), Cocamidopropyl Betaine (4), Sodium Lauroamphoacetate (0),

PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate (4), Glycerin (0), Fragrance (8),


Decyl Glucoside (0), Polyquaternium-10 (0), Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract (0), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (1), PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate (3), PEG-150 Distearate (3), Panthenol (1)


Methylchloroisothiazolinone (5), Methylisothiazolinone (5), Citric Acid (2), Sodium Chloride (0), Citronellol (5), Alpha-isomethyl Ionone (5), Hexamethylindanopyran (1)

If I only take into consideration the first part of the ingredients, then the average rating would be 2.7 – not bad, right? The second group average rating is 1.14 and the last group is 3.28.

Now, let’s check out Himalaya Herbals’ Anti-Dandruff Shampoo.

Himalaya Shampoo

The ingredients are listed out in 2 groups (Key Ingredients and Other Ingredients) which is unusual.  I don’t know whether the products are labelled differently in the US.  According to its website, the key ingredients are sourced from farms that practices sustainable farming. Sustainable farms produce crops and raise animals without relying on toxic chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified seeds, or practices that degrade soil, water, or other natural resources.

By growing a variety of plants and using techniques such as crop rotation, conservation tillage, and pasture-based livestock husbandry, sustainable farms protect biodiversity and foster the development and maintenance of healthy ecosystemsDoesn’t that make us feel good?

The key ingredients of the Himalaya Herbal’s Anti-Dandruff Shampoo are :

Grape (Vitis Vinifera Fruit Extract) (0), Chickpea (Cicer Arietinum Seed Extract) (0), Gotu kola (Centella Asiatica Extract) (0), Holy basil (Ocimum Tenuiflorum Extract) (0), Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract) (0), Black mustard (Brassica Nigra Seed Extract) (0), Cajuput (Melealeuca Leucadendron Cajaput Oil) (1).

 Other ingredients :

Water (0), Decyl Glucoside (0), Lauryl Glucoside (0), Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (1), Glycol Distearate (1), Citric Acid (2), Perfume (8), Polyquarternium-7 (3), Climbazole (0), Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride (1), Potassium Sorbate (3), Sodium Benzoate (3), Methylchloroisothiazolinone (5), Methylisothiazolinone (5), Disodium EDTA (0)

I hope the ingredients are declared in descending order of predominance, which means that the least used is really Disodium EDTA.  If so, then the average rating of the key ingredients is 0.14 while rating for the other ingredients is 2.13.  It seems that Himalaya Herbals is the better choice.  But the baby shampoo which has water/aqua as the most used ingredient and followed by Sodium Laureth Sulfate (most brands of baby shampoos also have more or less the same ingredients) is not too far behind.

In the end, it’s really up to us.  We choose what we prefer based on our personal criteria such as price, brand, popularity, etc.  Whatever our choice may be, let’s try to be an informed buyer.

Choosing a Shampoo

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