Is Shampoo Damaging Your Skin?
Most of us will have a shower every day, so why not reflect on how this affects our skin? We have previously discussed the effect a hot shower can have but what about our shampoo? Since there is typically a plethora of chemicals in our hair products, can these have a damaging effect on our skin?
What is Shampoo For?
It may seem daft to start here since most of us know what shampoo is. However, understanding the history, and role it has in our life, can help us reduce the damage it may cause. The term shampoo entered the English language through India where the Hindi word ‘champoo’ was used to mean press or massage. The word was used to denote cleaning through massaging of the hair and skin.
This is just about exactly what shampoo is. It is used to clean the scalp of pollutants, sebum, sweat and other greasy residues. This could be from lotions, oils or sprays that we use day to day. To create a shampoo that can do this job is pretty easy. However, in our modern world, we expect much more. From treating seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis and general scalp problems, to nourishing our skin – we expect shampoos to do it all.
The Ingredients in Your Shampoo
As we moved away from using soap and began to use shampoos that promise so much more than clean hair. More ingredients were added over time. Modern shampoos as we know them today were first introduced in the 1930s with ‘Drene’ – the first shampoo that used synthetic surfactants instead of soap. Funnily enough, it was actually first used to clean carpets and cars before evolving into the hair shampoo we have today.
Since this useful hair product took its inspiration from cleaning carpets, perhaps it’s worth considering what some of these chemicals could do to your skin. Although most of them are not harmful, your approach to shampoo can relieve some of the pressure you’re putting on your skin.
Our Shampoo Tips
- Don’t Let It Drip – A chemical to watch for is the preservative ‘methylisothiazolinone’ (MI). Some of us suffer from contact irritation due to this chemical. When this preservative drops down to your skin it can cause a reaction. This was a seemingly innocent chemical brought in after parabens were taken out of products. You’re unlikely to find this chemical in your skincare products anymore but it can be found in shampoos. The biggest risk is if you don’t rinse properly. It can drip down into your eyes and may cause eczema-like irritation, redness and flaking. Make sure you rinse properly and to be safe, apply this method to all shampoos.
- Don’t Let It Linger – Be sure to rinse your hands and face thoroughly with water or a soothing cleanser. Any lingering shower gel, soap or shampoo will foam up the precious oil on your skin and rinse it away. This will cause an increase in the PH level and dry skin
- Hair First, Skin After – Start by washing your hair before anything else. Think of the shampoo like grease on a dish, its difficult to get off! Prioritise cleaning your hair and rinsing thoroughly before moving on. Once you have finished rinsing, move to the face and wash with something gentle – make sure this is the last product your skin touches before leaving the shower.
- Time To Tilt – When using your shampoo and conditioner, tilt your head over to the side. This will keep the products residue away from your face, chest and back as you rinse it.
We hope some of our tips give you a hand when you’re next in the shower. By using natural shampoos you can avoid a lot of the issues above. However, if you love your shampoo then just try to apply some of our directions above and you should see improvements in your skin. Furthermore, If you really want to get into the details of shampoo ingredients then there is a great study for you here.
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Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, alumnus UC Berkeley. My doctoral dissertation is about Digital Health and I have published 5 scientific articles in teledermatology and artificial intelligence.