I love LUSH cosmetics - or at least I love the way it looks. The smells that waft out the door and down the sidewalk are way to strong for me to actually go inside, so I'll just enjoy the above photo.
LUSH cosmetics prides themselves on using all organic, natural ingredients in their products which, as a consumer and as a healthy living cheerleader, would make me think this is a fine and dandy product to both use and recommend. Many of their products actually are - with their risk factor rated as low by the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Cosmetic Database. When a friend recently asked me what I thought of the products, I decided I should look a little further into what goes into this highly perfumed, super lathering soaps and shampoos.
What I found was sulfates. So I wrote them a letter asking why, as an organic branded company, they would choose to continue using sulfates. This is the response I received:
At this time, all of our shampoos do contain sulfates, with the exception of our No Drought dry shampoo. I apologize for any disappointment that this has caused!
We choose to use SLS and sulfates because they have a long history of safe use, and feel like they are extremely effective lathering agents. This helps our products work better, and makes them the most economical as well, because a little bit goes a longer way, making products last longer.
We definitely understand that which ingredients people choose to use or avoid is their choice, and this is one of the reasons that we do our best to be as transparent as we can when it comes to product labeling. We list our products' ingredients on our website, in our shops, and in the LUSH Times newspaper. This way, our customers can make educated decisions about our products.
I personally wish that LUSH would offer an alternative to sulfates in at least one or two shampoos, but at this time, nothing has been created. I will keep campaigning for it though, and I will be sure to forward your feedback along to our product team.
Thank you again for having written in. We always really appreciate hearing feedback about our products, and the LUSH experience as a whole, as it helps us do the best we can.
I can't really explain to you what "a history of safe use" means. Does it mean no one had died from it? Likely. That no one has had a horrible allergic reaction? Probably not.
Check out how the EWG rates the product:
As long as people continue having unique allergies, there would never be a product that is completely hypo-allergenic to everyone. However, would you want to use a product, with suggested daily use, that has a high allergy and immunotoxicity risk?
I get that sodium laurel sulfate and sulfates are fun to have in soaps and shampoos (and tooth paste, dish soap, garage floor cleaner...) but are they essential for actually cleaning? Not really. I have been using a 100% sulfate and SLS free shampoo for two years and I have to say my hair is pretty clean after I wash it.
SLS has been associated with everything from neuro-degeneration, eczema, hair loss and has to the potential to react with other chemicals to become carcinogenic. It is a super strong detergent that may have its place in cleaning garage floors - but my hair? Sodium lauryl sulfate is a skin and eye irritant reported by the International Journal of Toxicology in 1983 to denature proteins on the skin's surface leading to cell membrane degeneration. This could thereby contribute to high levels of penetration of this chemical along with anything else it's hanging out with.
There are other ways to get a great lather in soaps and shampoos without using SLS and sulfates. Loads of herbs have saponin qualities and I love my soap nuts.
There are, of course, LOADS of products that are far more risky to your health than the mostly wholesome products found at LUSH. It's just that if I am going to spend the money for natural products I expect them to be really natural and not carry any kind of risk - moderate or otherwise. It can be tricky to do the right thing when there is so much conflicting information. Just be wise. Read the ingredient labels before any brand claims and then you decide if a product works for you.
I bet you want to know what shampoo I use... this one of course and I only wash every 8 or 9 days. Whoops... secret's out.
Question of the Day: Are you concerned with sulfates in your shampoo? How do you get your hair truly clean?