Ingredient of the Week

a Salon Naturals blog

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Among the most commonly used surfactants in mainstream products is a class of chemicals often referred to as SLS.  Unfortunately, these chemicals also pose multiple serious health risks. Sodium lauryl sulfate in particular is an effective stain remover, engine degreaser, car washing soap, detergent, and foaming agent. These industrial applications in heavy cleaning environments are courtesy of the compound’s acidic behavior as it is derived from sulfuric acid. In the thousands of cosmetic products that feature SLS, including oils, lotions, soaps, and toothpastes, it is allegedly used to create a foaming effect.

Aside from the benefit of soap lather, the incorporation of sodium lauryl sulfate into commonly used cosmetic products has produced a number of concerns among conscientious consumers. It is used in the automotive and cleaning industry because it is a potent cleaner. However, its use in cosmetics is appealing to manufacturers primarily because it is inexpensive and readily available.  Companies continue to include this dangerous chemical in their formulations in spite of the many adverse health effects linked to SLS exposure, including allergies, eczema, and general acute skin irritation.

Sodium lauryl sulfate is inherently able to denature critical proteins on the surface of the skin, breaking the vital protective structures that the body forms and endangering deeper skin membranes. Upon complete absorption of SLS into the bloodstream, it can cause similar effects internally.

To avoid allergic reactions or worse, consumers should familiarize themselves with sodium lauryl sulfate and all other chemicals in the SLS family.  Learn more about sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate and many other toxic chemicals frequently found in cosmetics by educating yourself and your family.


June 27, 2011 Posted by | Ingredient of the Week - Yucky! | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy Hair Product Company Claims Hair Care Industry Not Honest About Ingredients

WICHITA, Kan. / As important health and safety distinctions like “natural” hair care product or “organic” shampoo continue to be reduced to meaningless hair care industry buzz words, one healthy hair care product company is fighting back to help create a safer, more informed customer. Salon Naturals, an environmentally and ethically conscious hair care product manufacturer not only puts the ingredients of its shampoos and conditioners on its website, it also explains the ingredients’ effects (both positive and negative), and will send customers to websites that have reviewed the ingredients so they can get third-party information and research. 

The company says honesty and transparency are born out of necessity because there is no mandatory pre-market testing for cosmetics ingredients in the United States. In fact, only one in 10 cosmetic ingredients is even tested for safety, and that’s by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, a group founded by leaders in the cosmetic industry. The Food and Drug Administration has no authority over cosmetics other than labeling requirements, and even then most companies largely ignore regulations and do not properly disclose their ingredients on their labels. The FDA only tests a specific ingredient if someone gets sick or hurt, and even then, the injuries or illnesses need to be fairly catastrophic to prompt a change in policy. This lack of regulation is why terms like “organic” shampoo or “natural” hair care products really don’t mean anything. The term “natural” is completely baseless, and even though the USDA has a branch called the National Organic Program that now regulates the use of the term “organic,” a lot of these regulations aren’t fully enforced yet. Words such as pure, non-toxic, gentle and mild are also undefined. Any product can make these claims.

“People think terms like ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ are strictly regulated by the government or the FDA, but they’re not,” says Lorrie McBee, director of customer education for Salon Naturals. “Most people don’t know the European Union has banned nearly 1,200 ingredients from being used in cosmetics, but the United States has only banned 11. People think they’re getting natural or organic products, but the truth is they have no idea what chemicals they’re coming into contact with every day.”

This is a big problem for people with health conditions, skin sensitivity, allergies, or people who just want to live a healthier lifestyle. One Salon Naturals customer was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a painful medical condition that causes skin irritation and overall chemical sensitivity in the body. The customer didn’t think she’d ever be able to find safe, natural hair products, but she found the Salon Naturals website, saw the hair care product ingredient breakdown, and contacted McBee for more information. Lorrie went as far as to send the customer an MSDS (material safety data sheet) so she could have as much ingredient information as possible.

“We’ll tell you exactly what’s in our products, how each ingredient was harvested or manufactured, where it came from, and how it can affect you,” says McBee. “The information we provide our customers gives them the truth not only about shampoo and conditioner, but all the products they use on their bodies and on their children. When our customers find us, they know they’ve found a resource that is changing the industry.”

The healthy hair care product company’s website provides consumers with a database of not only the ingredients it uses in its pure shampoos and nutrient-rich conditioners, but also the most controversial and commonly used ingredients in other cosmetics. If an ingredient is not listed on the site, Salon Naturals invites you to contact them and they will research it for you. The company’s core concepts are simple: its products have to perform, be easy to use, and they have to be good for the hair, safe for the body, and respectful of the environment. Jeffery McBee, Salon Naturals founder and CEO, thought the best way to do that was to use non-toxic, gentle ingredients and to adhere to a ground-breaking level of transparency and honesty with his healthy hair care products. 

For more information about Salon Naturals and its ingredient transparency policy, please visit

About Salon Naturals:  Salon Naturals, LLC is a dynamic hair care manufacturer dedicated to bringing safe, healthy, high-performance products to informed consumers and professionals. To that end, the healthy hair care product company has established the most transparent and honest ingredient ethics standard in the industry. Any customer can go to the Salon Naturals website to see a list of every ingredient found in its products, and see the positive and negative effects those ingredients can have. Whether it’s the Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner, Sleek and Shiny Shampoo and Conditioner, or the Curl Defining Shampoo and Conditioner, Salon Naturals strives to create a healthier, more informed consumer.

Jeffery McBee
Phone:  (316) 258-0945

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Geogard Ultra – Preservative

As most conscientious consumers realize, the process endured by safety-minded manufacturers to select an appropriate preservative for their formulations is one fraught with limitations and obstacles.  The job of a preservative is to prevent the growth of microorganisms that would otherwise contaminate the product.   So by their very nature, preservatives must be somewhat destructive in order to successfully perform this job.  Presently, there is no 100% natural or organic preservative that effectively protects a product from contamination for a length of time comparable to what the majority of consumers would consider an acceptable shelf-life expectancy.  There are, however, a wide range of alternatives to conventional parabens and many of these offer substantially fewer health risks than others.

The preservative used by Salon Naturals in its hair care products is recognized by the trade name Geogard Ultra.  This preservative is manufactured by Lonza and presents a multifunctional alternative to more traditional systems through the use of hurdle technology.  Geogard Ultra is the only product of its kind certified by ECOcert for use in natural and organic products.  However, ECOcert standards are not as rigid and their methodology is certainly not as transparent as many other certifying bodies, so this stamp of approval should only be given limited consideration.

The more trustworthy sources of acceptance for Geogard Ultra as a preferable preservation system come from other, more widely recognized bodies whose standards for safety and transparency exceed those of ECOcert.  Specifically, the European Union Cosmetics Directive includes Geogard Ultra on its “Positive List” and can be used in all countries in both rinse-off and leave-in applications.  Considering the extremely stringent standards of the EU Directive, (they banned more than 1,100 chemicals from use in cosmetics while the US has banned only eleven), Europe’s comfort level with the safety data associated with Geogard Ultra is clearly reassuring.

The Japanese Ministry of Health & Welfare have also given their approval for the use of Geogard Ultra in both rinse-off and leave-in applications.  Considering that Japan abides by the most stringent criteria in the world concerning what ingredients can be present in the personal care products sold there, the acceptance of Geogard Ultra as an approved preservative certainly encourages a level of comfort concerning its safety characteristics.

The positive aspects of Geogard Ultra include:

  • Multi-functionality (effective in a wide variety of cosmetic products, including shampoos, lotions and skin creams)
  • Broad spectrum (creates an overall hostile environment for varying types of microbes within a formulation)
  • Globally accepted (beyond Europe and Japan, Geogard is also viewed as safe by the Cosmetic, Toiletry & Fragrance Association in North America as well as regulatory bodies in Latin and South America).
  • Laboratory tests show that Geogard improves skin moisture content
  • Listed as a GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) ingredient
  • Broad compatibility with other widely used cosmetic ingredients
  • Developed without reliance on animal testing
  • Contains no GMO’s

There are, however, opponents to the use of Geogard Ultra as a preservation system for cosmetics and personal care products.  The data used as a basis for these concerns is well-documented and widely accepted as true and reliable.  One of the ingredients used to manufacture Geogard Ultra is sodium benzoate.  This has been a controversial ingredient, especially in the UK, since it was discovered that when used in combination, sodium benzoate and Vitamin C together create a chemical known as Benzene.  Benzene is, without question, carcinogenic.  Furthermore, Benzene fed to mice causes mitochondrial degeneration, which is viewed as one of the primary causes of aging and cell death.  Certainly this information is a legitimate cause for concern if the necessary variables and precise conditions for occurence are overlooked.

Fortunately, the combination of sodium benzoate with vitamin C is a mandatory condition for the creation of the carcinogenic environment linked to Benzene.  Sodium Benzoate on its own (not combined with Vitamin C) is in no way considered carcinogenic.  In fact extremely large amounts of Sodium Benzoate would need to be ingested in order to produce even slight toxic consequences for the body.  In studies where mice have been fed a substantial diet of sodium benzoate, the data clearly indicate that their life expectancies were not shortened, nor was any notable health affect present at all.

Careful consideration of this data, combined with an understanding of the currently imperfect nature of preservatives is the driving force behind Salon Naturals’ decision to rely on Geogard Ultra as the preservative in all formulations.  Since ideal and perfect are not options at this time, ensuring the preservatives utilize the “most beneficial” and “least potential for harm” approach possible is the current best-case scenario.  For today, Geogard Ultra meets those criteria better than any other option identified in the industry’s marketplace.  It is not perfect or ideal and it’s frustrating to have no choice but to include a “flawed” substance in an otherwise beautiful combination of ingredients.  Unfortunately, that is reality as it exists today.  Hopefully, tomorrow the world will wake up to headline news announcing a 100% natural, organic, risk-free preservative that works like a charm.  Wouldn’t that be great?

To review Lonza’s product information sheet on Geogard Ultra, click here.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Ingredient of the Week - Yummy! | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why are Parabens Still in Use?

Parabens have been used as a microbial preservative since the early 1920’s.  For many years, they have been strongly suspected as having the potential to create health problems, yet they are more commonly used in today’s manufacturing world than ever before.  It is estimated that tens of thousands of cosmetic, personal care products, foods and pharmaceuticals contain this toxic ingredient. 

There are several different names by which parabens can be identified.  The most common start with propyl, butyl, methy, ethyl, or iso and in most cases, all of these end with “paraben.”  However, new INCI names for ingredients are often created when public concern for a commonly used ingredient name grows to a level that affects buying habits.  With this in mind, always conduct a search for unfamiliar ingredients at to ensure their safety.

Researchers from England recently discovered the presence of parabens in eighteen of twenty samples of breast tumors tested.  Furthermore, these same tests strongly indicate that the origin could, with a reasonable degree of certainty, be traced to absorption into the body through a topically applied product.

For many years, the scientific community dismissed the possible link between parabens and breast cancer.  This theory was widely considered to be the self-induced worry of irrational and paranoid minds.  Yet in 1998, it was firmly and conclusively established that parabens create estrogenic-type activities in not only mice and rats in a lab setting, but also in human breast cancer cells.   The importance of this discovery is that the vast majority of breast cancers respond to estrogen.  Suddenly, scientists began giving more serious consideration to the link between parabens and breast cancer in women.

These types of discoveries have led to significant and potentially lifesaving conclusions.  Even prior to these scientific realizations, it was known that parabens were easily absorbed by the body.  However, the assumption was made that they were slowly eliminated from the system through the urine.  The discovery of intact parabens in tumor tissue has completely altered how these chemicals must be viewed.  Scientists now realize that parabens are not only absorbed when present in products applied topically, but they have the potential to accumulate in breast tissue in particular.

It is also notable that consumption of foods containing parabens poses less risk to the health of the body than the use of products intended for the skin.  Parabens contained in food are degraded and lose their most harmful characteristics during the digestive process.

Common defenses for the use of parabens in personal care products always include the fact that parabens make up only a very small percentage of any given formulation.  While on the surface, this truth may seem to dilute the argument against parabens, it ignores several important considerations.  Even twelve years after these important scientific discoveries, a very high percentage of common personal care products contain one or more parabens.  The average woman uses no fewer than a dozen products on a daily basis.  The presence of this cumulative usage has the potential to bring exposure levels far beyond any that could be considered benign or meaningless. 

Cosmetics and personal care products require the inclusion of preservatives in their formulas to protect against the growth of bacteria, which in itself would create significant health risks.  While there are a handful of products that are preservative free or use only natural preservative systems, these typically require refrigeration and still have only a very short shelf-life.  That noted, manufacturers have a wide range of options in selecting the preservatives used in their products.  The evidence against parabens is overwhelming and consumers should insist on products that use other, less toxic preservatives in their formulations.

April 8, 2010 Posted by | Ingredient of the Week - Yucky! | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis)

Aloe vera has been recognized as a power nutrient for more than 4000 years.  Aloe is a herb that is a member of the Lily family and shares a close resemblance to the cactus.  It contains more than 75 nutrients, which include 19 of the 20 amino acids required by the human body for good health.  Eight of these aminos are not produced by the body – aloe contains all but one of these.  Among the other most prevalent nutrients are:

  • Two different hormones which assist with healing wounds and reducing inflammation, along with stimulating the growth of new, healthier cells.
  • A cellulose based substance called Lignin, which assists Aloe in penetrating the skin.  This allows the soothing properties of the plant to reach damaged skin areas and strip toxic materials that may be restricting blood flow. 
  • The Salicylic Acid found in Aloe Vera serves as a pain killer that boasts anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  The four steroids found in the plant also have anti-inflammtory, antiseptic and analgesic properties. 
  • Aloe Vera contains nine different vitamins:  A, C & E serve as antioxidants & neutralise free radicals; B1, 3, 5, 6 promote amino acid metabolism
  • This miracle plant also contains numerous minerals, including calcium copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, sodium and zinc.  It is also currently the only known source for vitamin B12.

The list above is by no means, exhaustive, but it should provide a broad overview of the myriad of health benefits found in the Aloe Vera plant.

Aloe Vera is manufactured and marketed through numerous methods – some of which can undermine its potency and effectiveness.  These plants are not considered “mature” until they are four years old.  Before selecting a product made with Aloe Vera, it is important to educate yourself on the manufacturer’s policies regarding when the plant is harvested.  Also inquire as to whether or not the plant is derived from organic sources.  Unquestionably, this will impact the potency and to what degree the benefits are effective.

If you have stayed with me through the “History of Aloe Vera,” let’s move on to the specific benefits of this amazing plant to both the hair and the skin.  First of all, hair care cannot be considered separately from skin care. Obviously, one of the requirements for beautiful, vibrant, and strong, resilient  hair is a healthy scalp.  There are five widely recognized types of Aloe Vera.  Aloe Barbadensis is the most often used for health purposes and it is this species that we use as the foundational ingredient (instead of water) in all of our hair care formulations.  It is the synergistic quality of Aloe that is responsible for the numerous benefits of the plant to improved health, skin, hair and overall wellbeing.

Aloe vera benefits the scalp in numerous ways.  Firstly, it heals injured tissues and is an excellent remedy for abrasions, cuts, eczema and other conditions.  It encourages the skin to produce increased collagen and discourage the formulation of fine lines.  It is easily absorbed into the skin – even more easily than water.  Aloe Vera is equally beneficial for the hair.  It aids in thickening the hair cuticle and has been used for centuries as a hair conditioner.  Recent research studies even suggest that regular use of Aloe Vera on the hair can diminish hair loss, while it stimulates the growth of new hair.  Finally, it serves as an excellent treatment for scalp conditions such as irritation and redness. 

Today’s scientists refer to Aloe Vera as a diverse mixture of antioxidants, antibiotics, cell stimulators, scar inhibitors, anti-inflammatories, astringents, and pain inhibitors.  Clearly this nutritional jackpot serves as an excellent addition to your internal health, as well as exceptional support for strong, healthy hair and skin.

New and exciting benefits through the use of Aloe Vera are constantly being discovered as researchers delve deeper into this amazing plant.  The aloe vera used in our products is certified organic and processed according to stringent standards that allow it to maintain its full potency and effectiveness.  Substituting Aloe Vera as the primary base in our shampoos and conditioners instead of water is firmly supported by research in the medical and wellness communities.  Furthermore, older, more established cultures embrace the daily use of this herb so completely that we are inspired by their testimonies as to its effectiveness.  We hope you will research further this beauty and wellness miracle provided by nature for our use and incorporate it not only into your hair care routine, but into your wellness-based lifestyle also.  Visit to learn more about Aloe Vera and our use of this natural powerhouse.  If you have any questions or comments, please share – we love learning for our readers’ own uses and experiences.

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Ingredient of the Week - Yummy! | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment