Finding safe hair & skin products

I recently went to a new hairdresser and learned a lot.  I've had the same salon for the past 8 years, and although it's been a good relationship, I was tempted by a "deal watch" sponsored by our local newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  Usually a cut and color will be about $120 and there was a coupon for $42 to a salon in a community farther away, that even included a brow wax.  Probably more than most of you guys want to know.  Anyway, the hairdresser was talking about using pH balanced products on your hair and he mentioned that you could use pH test strips to find them.  What that means is that they are not strong alkaline.  Livestrong has a pretty short basic article on why you need pH balanced shampoos.  It has to do with what happens to the cuticle in your hair.

I love a good science experiment, so I found pH strips on Amazon.  They were a lot easier to find there than in the local drug stores.  Then I lined up some of my current hair products and tested them.  The strips show numbers and colors that will appear from numbers 1-14 with the lower numbers being acidic and the higher numbers alkaline.  The hair dresser said that if you have a high alkaline product, it's probably good for cleaning your floors but not your hair.  Most of them I tested on hair products looked about the same- pretty pH balanced.  I tested a blemish toner which I knew was salicylic acid just to make sure the strips really worked and you can see the colors do change when it's too acidic.

pH strips used to test popular hair products

acidic products show up with a pink at the end of the strip
There's a website, Goodguide that rates products that you can use as a general reference, however I've heard that it's best to still look for a few bad chemicals on products.  Have you seen the youtube video about 80,000 chemicals?  It will scare you into taking a closer look at what you put on your body.
 This is a wallet card from the Environmental Working Group's skin deep website you can use to avoid the bigger violators.  Consider it a short list that will steer you from the extremely damaging stuff like oxybenzone and triclosan.  At skin deep, the lower the number, the safer the product.  I put in the bag balm I use on my hands and feet all winter and was happy to see it rates a number 1.  You can get lost on their website just reading all the information available about products.  Be sure to find something in your house that you think is really bad, just for fun so you can see all the toxic ingredients and what they do to you. That should give you nightmares for awhile.  So how will this information change the way you shop?


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