Another Blog by Dr. Kathy:

shutterstock_102113260This weeks topic is tear free shampoo and what exactly does that term mean in regards to the shampoo used for babies and children. Questions such as “how is a tear free shampoo made?”, “what’s in it that makes it tear free?”, and how is it different than regular shampoo?”, will be addressed. But first, I apologize  for all the long, unpronounceable chemical names, but sometimes there are no substitutes for the correct word and we want to be accurate. Most all shampoos, including those that are tear free, are generally made by combining a surfactant with aco-surfactant in water to form a thick, viscous liquid. A surfactant is a shortened form of “surface-active agent”, and is a chemical substance, either synthetic or naturally derived, that stabilizes mixtures of oil and water by reducing the surface tension at the interface between the oil and water molecules. Because water and oil do not dissolve in each other a surfactant has to be added to the mixture to keep it from separating into layers. Other essential ingredients include salt, which is used to adjust the viscosity, a preservative, either sythetic or naturally derived, and fragrance. Additional ingredients are added to maximize one or more of the following qualities: Easy rinsing, pleasing foam, feels thick and creamy, low toxicity, good biodegradability, no damage to hair, minimal skin and/or eye irritation. Today, lets look at just one of these qualities: “minimal eye irritation” or “tear free” shampoo. What could be more delicate than a baby’s hair and skin? The eyes. Babies do not have normal tear secretions to protect their eyes from irritants. So, of course a shampoo for children and babies should contain no harsh detergents to irritate sensitive eyes or skin. Shampoo for infants and young children is formulated so that it is less irritating and usually less prone to produce a stinging or burning sensation if it were to get in the eyes. How is this accomplished? A shampoo formulation will contain one or more of the following strategies: 1) Dilution: the shampoo will be diluted down with water to be less “strong” than regular shampoo. In this case, if the product runs off the already wet top of the head, the further water dilution will help to prevent eye irritation. 2) Adjusting the pH: The pH will be adjusted up on the pH scale to an area termed by the shampoo formulation industry as the “non-stress” tears area. This is approximately 7 on the pH scale, which may be higher than that of shampoos which are pH adjusted for specific skin or hair effects, and lower than that of shampoo made of soap. 3) The use of gentle of surfactants: which, alone or in combination, are less irritating than those used in other regular or adult shampoos: Use of nonionic surfactants in the form of polyethoxylated synthetic or naturally derived glycolipids, and/or polyethoxsylated synthetic or naturally derived monoglycerides, which counteract the eye sting of other surfactants without producing the anesthetizing effect of alkyl polyethoxylates or alkyl phenol polyethoxylates. Shampoos generally contain suites of surfactants that act synergistically–each has its own role, but they also work in concert to improve the overall formulation. Polyethoxylated surfactants play a number of roles in a shampoo system. For example, sodium laurylglucoside promotes mild cleansing, whereas hydroxypropylsulfonate provides smoothing and soothing properties to the formulation. Alkanolamides (a category of surfactants)—and an example of one you might see listed on a label is cocamide MEA– another type of gentle nonionic surfactant that provides foam stabilization and viscosity-building properties. 4) Use of eye anesthetizing agents: synthetic alkyl polyethoxylates and/or alkyl phenol polyethoxylates are added to anesthetize the eye so that the sting of the shampoo ingredients is not felt. These alkyl ingredients actually can temporarily numb the eye and worse. They are used in pesticide products to anesthetize insects and they can penetrate the skin and cause organ toxicity in people. So when you see these ingredients listed on the label, you know that the shampoo is an acidic, lower pH formula with inexpensive, harsh, eye burning, stinging ingredients. The dangerous, almost cruel part of this is since the infant’s or child’s eyes are temporarily slightly numbed, they don’t feel or react to any negative effect this shampoo ingredient could be having on the child’s eyes and body. TruKid uses the third choice above, for reducing eye burning or stinging. Silly Shampoo contains naturally derived mild and gentle surfactants from vegetable and fruit sources. These ingredients make for a shampoo that is significantly less irritating to the eyes than other shampoos, while keeping with the commitment to make a safe, natural product without harsh, synthetic or anesthetizing chemicals. Silly Shampoo does a lot more than being gentle on the eyes. When I tried it, my hair was shiny without being oily, very manageable, soft and healthy looking. So, I hope you enjoyed learning about tears and shampoo. As you probably know more and more companies are striving to create safer more gentle formulas. TruKid is right among them. Hope you all had a great weekend. Until next time, Dr. Kathy