Once a month my husband and I end up in a giant grocery store…together…buying the heavy big bulk items we cannot carry on our usual walk to the shops. We have different shopping styles. Without kids, I take my time, compare prices and read labels. He likes to peruse the roasted chicken counter and the discounted clothing bin. (He loves finding odd coloured t-shirts that have been marked down multiple times until they are $2.00)
This past weekend we found ourselves implementing our ‘see you in the kitty litter isle in 10 minutes’ plan. When we met up he put a bottle of dandruff – 2 in 1 shampoo in the cart.
“That stuff is awful,” I said. (Actually, I used a more colourful vocabulary) “You don’t have dandruff and never have!” I said taking it out of the cart.
“That’s why I don’t,” he said, “its preventative.” Back in the cart it went.
“Trust me, it’s horrible” I plucked it out again.
<ATTENTION customers…there’s a fight brewing in the kitty litter isle>
“O.k. why is it so horrible?” He asked putting it back.
“Well…harmful chemicals…I read scary things,” I vaguely replied as I removed the bottle.
“Be specific…I’m not convinced.” This time he wedged it between the groceries.
“Aggh…I can’t remember the specifics! I’ll have to do some research,” I grumbled.
“You do that,” he grumbled back pushing the cart containing dandruff shampoo to the checkout.
What I should have told him is that popular dandruff shampoos contain a toxic ingredient – coal tar. That is the black liquid distilled from coal and it has a long history linked to cancer (miners, chimney sweeps etc.) Lathering up with coal tar extract is not the only problem. The environmental impact from coal mining continues for years polluting ground water even after mines are closed.
The brand my husband bought contains zinc pyrithione. Zinc in this form is problematic even though it is supposed to degrade quickly in water. An interesting study conducted by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in 2004 found that 3 millilitres of dandruff shampoo containing 0.08% zinc pyrithione killed half the fish added 24 hours later to a 1000 litre tank (within four days). 1% of the added zinc was still detected in the water – 80 days later.
Another ingredient to watch out for is selenium disulphide. It has long-term environmental effects and considered very toxic to aquatic life.
If you are looking for healthier alternatives look for tea tree oil shampoos found in health food stores. Another option is to add a few drops of tea tree oil to a capful of your regular shampoo. If you want to use ingredients from your kitchen, vinegar or apple cider vinegar mixed with warm water can soak into your scalp before shampooing as another natural suggestion.
I have not tried any of the homemade treatments but I am looking for a tea tree shampoo to replace the shampoo my husband liked. He is willing to stop buying the 2 in 1 stuff but he informed me there is no way he will smell like fish and chips…even for “preventative” measures.