Scalp dermatitis - the chemical influence

Most of the personal care products and cosmetics in supermarkets and even high-end department stores contain toxic ingredients that can harm your health. You may think it's not that important, since you're only putting them on your skin, but remember that your skin is your largest organ -- and also the thinnest. Less than 1/10th of an inch separates your body from potential toxins. A cumilative effect of toxins is likely to be one of the causes behind scalp dermatitis.

Worse yet, your skin is highly permeable. Just about anything you put on your skin will end up in your bloodstream, and will be distributed throughout your body.

The old saying "don't put anything on your body that you wouldn't eat if you had to ..." rings truer than ever.

In many ways putting chemicals on your skin or scalp may actually be worse than eating them. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down and flush it out of your body. However, when you put these chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind, going directly to your delicate organs.

Once these chemicals find their way into your body, they tend to accumulate over time because you typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down. When you add up daily exposure over the course of a lifetime, this adds up to an untold amount of chemical exposures.

The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database is an excellent resource for finding and evaluating healthful personal care products. You can also search for your current favorite brands to get an idea of how toxic they may or may not be. If you think your favorite lip gloss or eye shadow is "safe" because it doesn't list lead or arsenic on the ingredients label, think again. A new report revealed that virtually every cosmetic product tested contained a potentially dangerous or proven toxic heavy metal. This is a serious concern for those who have scalp dermatitis and who was their hair in SLS/paraben shampoos (the cheap ones in supermarkets). Getting into the habit of reading labels is a good start to finding hidden culprits. .

Or, if you prefer, you can even make your own personal care products using simple all-natural ingredients that many of you may already have in your home.

Here are a few of my recommendations to lower the chemical load:

  • All-natural moisturizers -- Pure emu oil is a great alternative to facial- and body moisturizers and lotions, as is pure coconut oil. It's a fantastic moisturizer and a potent source of the beneficial fat lauric acid.
  • All-natural acne fighter -- Rubbing just a drop of oregano oil on a breakout can speed up the healing and prevent unsightly scarring without resorting to harsh commercial acne medication (remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterward).
  • All-natural deodorant -- I advise avoiding ALL antiperspirants. Common soap and water works fine. If you still need further help then try a pinch of baking soda mixed into water as an effective all-day deodorant.

Finally, if you're perusing your local health food store for some safe, natural cosmetic or personal care options, here are my top guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Look for the genuine USDA Organic Seal.
  • Look for products that are fragrance-free. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds -- even thousands -- of chemicals, and fragrances are a major cause of allergic reactions.
  • Pay attention to the order in which the ingredients are listed. Manufacturers are required to list ingredients in descending order by volume, meaning the first few ingredients are the most prominent. If calendula extract is the last ingredient in a long list, your calendula body wash isn't very natural.
  • Stick to the basics. Do you really need 20 products to prepare for your day? Simplify your life and rescue your bank account.
  • Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic, since chemicals can leach out of plastics and into the contents. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a serious concern; make sure any plastic container is BPA free.
  • Look for products that are made by companies that are earth-friendly, animal-friendly and green.

Heavy Metals Common in Makeup

In the report "Heavy Metal Hazard: The Health Risks of Hidden Heavy Metals in Face Makeup," Environmental Defence tested 49 different face makeup items, including five foundations, four concealers, four powders, five blushes or bronzers, seven mascaras, two eye liners, 14 eye shadows, and eight lipsticks or glosses. Their testing revealed serious heavy metal contamination in virtually all of the products:

  • 96 percent contained lead
  • 90 percent contained beryllium
  • 61 percent contained thallium
  • 51 percent contained cadmium
  • 20 percent contained arsenic

Further, each product contained an average of two of the four metals of highest concern (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury), which are designated as toxic in Canada because of proven health concerns. Most of the products also contained an average of four of the eight metals tested (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, beryllium, thallium, selenium).

Despite the widespread contamination, and the fact that all the metals but nickel are banned as intentional ingredients in Canadian cosmetics, not one of the products listed the heavy metals on the label.According to the Montreal Gazette:

“None of the products tested contained mercury, but lead was detected in 96 percent of the products, arsenic in 20 percent and cadmium in 51 percent. Nickel was found in all the products tested, beryllium in 90 percent, thallium in 61 percent and selenium in 14 percent.”

According to the report, over time heavy metals can build up in your body leading to a number of health problems, including:


Reproductive and developmental disorders

Neurological problems

Memory loss

Mood swings

Nerve, joint and muscle disorders

Cardiovascular, skeletal, blood, immune system, kidney and renal problems


Vomiting and nausea

Lung damage

Contact & scalp dermatitis

Brittle hair and hair loss

What impact a contaminated cosmetic will have on you, personally, is virtually impossible to pinpoint, however, because it depends on a number of factors, including your other exposures to heavy metals, how much is ingested and how much contaminant is in the product.