Clairol Herbal Essences used to be known for their racy-yet-humorous commercials of women lathering up in the shower, ending with the line “A Totally Organic Experience.” The brand, owned by parent company Procter & Gamble, has since abandoned this tagline (we can only imagine that people began to question the so-called organic-ness of the product).
Herbal Essences is now marketed largely to girls and young women, employing intense fragrances, bright packaging and shampoo and conditioner names like “none of your frizzness” and “drama clean.”
With a name like Herbal Essences one might think that these products contain natural ingredients, but the brand uses fragrance, sodium laureth sulfate and other chemicals linked to cancer and reproductive problems in its body wash, shampoo and conditioner.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics recommends avoiding products with fragrance as an ingredient whenever possible (go for unscented products or those perfumed with only essential oils). Companies are not required to list on product labels any of the chemicals in a fragrance mixture. That means that there could be hundreds of unlabeled neurotoxins, allergens and phthalates — chemicals that have been linked to reproductive harm, early puberty in girls and testicular cancer — in fragranced products like Herbal Essences.
Sodium laureth sulfate is another ingredient to watch out for because it's often contaminated with a carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane. We found this chemical in a previous formulation of Herbal Essences.
Please tell P&G, makers of Herbal Essences, that you want full disclosure — not ingredients linked to cancer and reproductive harm — in your shampoo!