MommyBaby

The health implications of Shampooing your Children

Alright, no shampooers.  It’s time to discuss one of the most important aspects of being no-shampoo: your children’s health.  As one of the original no shampooers, my children have never used shampoo.  From their birth and the first bath in the hospital, we watched as parents inflicted shampoo on their new born infants.  I was shocked to say the least, but I knew that just as their parents used shampoo without thinking, so unthinkingly they applied the same chemicals to their children.

Of course, we’ve published articles that up until now, Johnson’s baby shampoo contained formaldehyde, a known toxin.  This was only removed recently, but the shampoo still contains other chemicals, and studies about these are scarce.

I’ll round up what we do know about Shampoo infants and children in this article.

Phthalate levels in infants who use shampoo

This study shows that infants who used cosmetics such as shampoo, lotions, and powder, all had measurable levels of phthalates.  The more products that were used, the higher the measurable levels were detected.  Furthermore, the association is strongest in the youngest infants.

Phthalates are

“synthetic, man-made chemicals of increasing public importance because of potential toxic effects to the developing endocrine and reproductive systems.

  • Recent data suggest that some phthalates can adversely affect human male reproductive function.
  • Phthalates are known developmental and reproductive toxicants.
  • Human studies support adverse effects of phthalates on male reproductive function.
  • Phthalates are associated with sperm DNA damage in male adults and has widespread effects on endocrine and reproductive systems.
  • Phthalate exposure through breast milk is associated with abnormal reproductive hormone levels in 3-month-old infants, “suggesting that early human exposures may have an adverse impact on endocrine homeostasis.”
  • Phthalate concentrations are higher in young children.

The short story here is that phthalates are bio-active, which means they have an effect on the body.  More-so on the infant body.

According to the study, 54% of the infants used shampoo.  And in conclusion, the authors of the study “recommend limiting amount of infant care products used and not to apply lotions or powders unless indicated for a medical reason.”

Exposure to chemicals

According to the Environmental Working Group:

Children are not little adults. Pound for pound, kids are exposed to more contaminants in air, water, food, and personal care products than adults. Immature organ systems are often less capable of fending off chemical assaults. Subtle damage to developing bodies may lead to disease later in life. Parents can make healthy choices by using fewer personal care products for their children. (source)

The Big Picture

Generally speaking, the idea is that children are particularly susceptible to chemicals in the environment.  As such, a parent should limit exposure to these chemicals because early exposure is much more serious than exposure as an adult.  Avoid shampoos, avoid lotions, avoid any cosmetics.

So How Can You Clean your Kid’s Hair

The short answer is that you shouldn’t need to ‘clean’ a child’s hair.  Rinsing is sufficient, especially if the infant has never used shampoo. Shampoo creates a cycle which strips the head of oil, spurring the scalp to produce more oil, which in turn creates an oily head.

If you must clean the head, for example after using an olive oil cleanse, then you can use ample amount so baking soda, which is a weak saponifier (it turns oil into soap).  You can rinse with a vinegar and water mix.  Most children who have never shampooed (including my own) will not ever enjoy shampooing, so this will be difficult, but you can explain what is going on, offer a reward, and most will accept it.

Good Luck!  And remember, your children will thank you for it.

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