Sunday, January 23, 2011


(In which our heroine admits her culpability regarding her ethics)

Those of you who know me - and my views on make-up, cosmetics and the whole so-called beauty industry - may be surprised at this post.

But as hair washing is not about changing, aka improving your appearance, but is basic hygiene and cleanliness, I don't feel a twinge of guilt in choosing this as a topic.

Of course, the shampoos I look for are not remotely basic.

Let's go through the check list. Here are our criteria, by which I mean mine:

▪ is not tested on animals, at any stage in the manufacture, and that includes ingredients sourced from elsewhere, ie the original raw materials
▪ does not contain any animal products, ie I don't want to wash my hair in dead animals
▪ is preferably vegan, vegetarian at the very least
▪ doesn't contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulphate (SLES)
▪ in fact preferably does not contain any artificial detergents, synthetic perfumes, any petrochemical product ... you get the idea
▪ oh, and some organic bits in there would be cool too
▪ and it should be an ethical company
▪ and if all of that isn't enough, cheap would be good. Unlikely though given the above list.

Sadly in life we all have to compromise. Even me.

Some years ago, visiting the UK, I bought some shampoo made by a company named Original Source. I was somewhat surprised to discover the same shampoo on sale here in Morrisons in Gibraltar. It was vegan and not tested on animals and all the rest. It wasn't badly priced. It did have far too many chemicals in though - I wonder if it did originally? Can't remember. It smelled nice, and left me with soft fluffy hair. And then Morries stopped selling it. Although they intermittently sold the body/hair wash stuff for men (why are men different? huh?) and shower gel for women.

Either way, I had dropped one. When I examined the container, not only was it definitely oozing SLS/SLES but it was also now owned by PZ Cussons (as of 2002/3). As soon as a really good individual company gets taken over by a multi-national - you might as well kiss its arse goodbye. You are no longer supporting an ethical moral company that was set up with decent principles, you are just funding yet another global pharmaceutical animal-testing crap company. (Useful link) And one that got into supplying evaporated milk and milk powder to Nigeria. Remember all the fuss about Nestlé? And how about PZ Cussons closing the UK Nottingham factory in 2005 to relocate operations to Thailand? Great for the local economy in the UK huh?

[Slight digression here. Who was not brought up with Imperial Leather soap? I tell you, we had the stuff overflowing in the house. Bars of it everywhere. The Cussons story is fascinating, so more of that later. Suffice to say PZ, a Greek company took Cussons over in 1975.]

So luckily I have had to find other shampoos. First up a Neem one that was a shampoo conditioner in one. Very good. Except I tended to use conditioner with it anyway. House of Mistry or something.

Have I yet mentioned the infallible law that always states shampoo runs out well before conditioner? My good friend Otter pointed that one out. Didn't help that I had just finished three different shampoos by the pesky OS/PZC company when Morries stopped stocking it and I had three half containers of conditioner left for now non-existent matching shampoo.

Well the Neem one ran out, eventually. Lasted ages and most good too. Didn't even realise it was for hair and scalp conditions whatever they are.

So the latest one is - if you have got this far - Desert Essence. First up, it isn't cheap. I don't consider £6.99 cheap when the OS stuff was less than three quid. But it does tick virtually every other single box on the list. Even if it smells like a cross between floor and furniture polish. That is unkind of me, suspect it is the antiseptic nature of tea tree oil. Possibly. And suitably disguised when I pile on yet more of the never-ending OS conditioners that I still haven't finished.

Oh and the real plus? It leaves my long, brown, wavy, scruffy hair looking fluffy and clean. Not lank and dismal like some shampoos. Not that I am vain or anything, or even care about my appearance particularly. Oh no. Not me. Perhaps I will pay more and shower less .......

Post script

Some friends have made a couple of suggestions ..

So thanks to Jill for suggesting baking powder - there is lots on the internet at a quick search for anyone who wants to know more about using that, and to Vicky for her link to ecohamster which is an interesting site that I haven't seen before. Cheers both of you.

1 comment:

Vicky said...

Hi Kate,
Not sure what you think about this, but it sounds good :)