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It’s Your Shampoo! Why Haircare Products May Be at the Root of All Your Skincare Problems

Its your Shampoo! Why haircare products may be at the root of all your skincare problems

When it comes to analyzing skin rashes, I often start at the top.

More specifically, with my patients’ shampoo.

We don’t pay much attention to it, but the hairy truth is the products we lather into our mane don’t stay there! They wash down our entire body leaving a trail of soapy residue in their wake.

Consider this: A team from the UC San Diego, led by microbiologist Pieter Dorrestein, conducted a remarkable series of studies using mass spectrometry (a form of high-tech scanning) to examine the types and numbers of bacteria and other organisms living on the skin. To keep from contaminating their results, the two subjects (one man, one woman) avoiding washing and applying skincare and cosmetics of any kind for three days.

When the team conducted the analysis, the largest single source of the molecules found on the skin was not skin cells, nor was it bacteria, fungus or viruses. The single largest source of the molecules found on the skin surface was residue from beauty and cleansing products.

Another study was intended to discover what human skin might have looked like before the development of contemporary lifestyles. Before daily showering and washing, basically.  They studied populations that didn’t follow industrialized lifestyles. In this case, they collected skin samples from people who belonged to remote tribes in Brazil and Tanzania. And when they analyzed the samples using a mass spectrometer, they found that these tribespeople had a wider range of bacteria living on them.

You might think great!

I don’t want all those bugs on me- but unless you have been living in a bunker, you know the latest research in most areas of medicine tell us we need all our creepy crawlies living on and in us and removing them has likely resulted in disease.

What studies like this are beginning to reveal is that our contemporary lifestyle has profoundly changed the skin’s chemical makeup.

So, what does this have to do with shampoo?

As I said above, shampoo goes everywhere — our face, neck, trunk and even our lower legs and according to Dr. Dorrestein’s study, it can stay there for days!

Shampoos by type and fragrance have exploded in the last decades.  The sheer number of ingredients in shampoo, from various fragrances, thickeners, anti-static ingredients, sunscreen, botanicals and so-on, usually ranges in the 30-40 range.  Also, the detergents in shampoo are usually quite powerful considering they need to remove the oil from your scalp.

This issue with shampoo is it does not just wash your scalp, rather, it rinses off down your face, back and neck. In Dermatology, a rash on sides of the neck is usually blamed on your shampoo until proven otherwise.  The scalp itself is more resistant to irritation from shampoos but many a “sensitive scalp” – that is a scalp that feels constantly itchy but has no visible rash – is usually caused by over-shampooing.

Another area that shampoos attack are the eyelids. When I see a patient with persistent, recurrent irritation on the eyelids, (sometimes it is just the corners of the eyelids), I tell them it’s likely their shampoo.  To which most people look at me like I am crazy.

So, what to do?

Most Dermatologists suggest a less-is-more approach when it comes to skincare.  Shampoos are a tough category for this as 99% of them are fragranced and have numerous frivolous ingredients. For fragrance-free options, please check my list at:

Thanks for reading. Feel free to send questions—

Author- Beyond Soap: The Real Truth about what you are doing to your skin and how to fix it for a Beautiful, Healthy glow

You can follow Dr. Skotnicki on twitter @drskotnicki (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week).

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