Toxin Obsession: Celebrities & Shampoo

This week I thought you all might enjoy a reprint of a humorous post from Better Health. Dr. Rob Lamberts explores the curious obsession that some Hollywood celebrities have with “toxins.” Sometimes laughter is the best medicine:


Somehow the medical community has missed a very important news Item.  In her website (dang, I was going to go for that domain), movie star Gwyneth Paltrow weighed in on a very frightening medical subject.


“A couple of years ago, I was asked to give a quote for a book concerning environmental toxins and their effects on our children.

“While I was reading up on the subject, I was seized with fear about what the research said. Foetuses, infants and toddlers are basically unable to metabolise toxins the way that adults are and we are constantly filling our environments with chemicals that may or may not be safe.

“The research is troubling; the incidence of diseases in children such as asthma, cancer and autism have shot up exponentially and many children we all know and love have been diagnosed with developmental issues like ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder].”

Apparently, she went on to point the finger at shampoo as a potential major problem in our society and raised a possible link between shampoo and childhood cancers.  Now, I am not sure how one can use shampoo on the head of a foetus (or a fetus, for that matter), but we have to tip our hat to celebrities for bringing such associations to the forefront.

So I did a bit of science myself to assess the voracity of her claims.  I too was seized with fear when I noted the following:

  • All of the kids in my practice who have ADHD have used shampoo.
  • All of the kids with cancer have also used shampoo.
  • I used shampoo as a kid (but not as a fetus), and I have ADHD.
  • The projection is that 100% of the people now using shampoo will die.


This really backs up my misgivings about shampoo.  I have always wondered at the claims these so-called hair-care products make so boldly.  Here are some examples of lies spread by the shampoo industry:

Clarifying shampoo – What are they claiming with this?  Is there such thing as unclear hair?  Do some people look as though they have a giant blob of hair-like substance on their head instead of many separate hairs?  Does  clarifying shampoo make each individual hair once again visible on these people?

pH Balanced – What is pH imbalance?  Is it when the pH sometimes is so acidic that it burns your hair off?  That would be terrifying if true.


Volumizing shampoo – I was not aware volumizing was a word (nor was my spell-check).  This means that the shampoo volumes things.  How can you volume something?  Does each hair get a separate volume, or does the hair suddenly get very loud.  Personally, I am afraid to open the bottles of these shampoos for fear of going deaf.


Shampoo for stressed hair - I have never thought about the emotional state of my hair.  I was not aware that it worries about things.  Perhaps it worries about being volumized or burned by non-pH balanced shampoos.  Perhaps it worries about being put on a foetus.  Does this type of shampoo contain a hair version of valium?
Vitalizing shampoo – At least vitalizing is actually a word, but would you really want vitalized hair?  My dictionary defines this as “giving life and energy to.”  Hair is dead, as we all know.  Does this “hair resurrection” cause your hair to scream every time it is brushed or cut?  Does it move about on your head independently?  What if it decides it wants to become a mullet?? Thank you, but I prefer my hair dead.


Self-adjusting shampoo – Instead of the hair having independent action, this type of shampoo seems to have an intelligence of its own.  How would it self-adjust?  Does it have a computer chip embedded in it or does it somehow have sentience?  How do we know if it will adjust in a way we want?  It could adjust to pH imbalance or de-volumization, couldn’t it?  What if this self-adjusting shampoo, which clearly has some degree of autonomy, gets ideas and causes other shampoos to break the shackles we humans put on it and forms a shampoo revolution?  An even scarier thought is if a self-adjusting shampoo comes in contact with vitalized hair!  What will happen then?  Will they fight, or will they conspire against the shampooee?

Baby shampoo – What is the life-cycle of a shampoo?  How do they find these baby shampoos and why would they steal them from their parents?  This is probably what is causing the shampoos to become self-adjusting.  I will say, shampoos do seem to multiply in our bathroom.  We probably have 16 bottles of different kinds of shampoo in our shower right now.  I just recently noticed some baby shampoo, but I thought my wife had just bought it.  I see now that we should not let the bottles touch each other if we want to have room in our shower to bathe.

So you see, while Miss Paltrow’s fears about shampoo are clearly far short of the whole story, at least they bring attention to this frightening situation.  Shampoo manufacturers are clearly in cahoots and have eyes on world domination.  The condemnation of this celebrity’s claims by “scientists” are clearly a smoke-screen to keep us from noticing the obvious plans for the destruction of humanity.

No more shampoo for me!

Gotta go now.  It’s time for my colon cleanse.

Posted in: Humor, Science and the Media

Leave a Comment (35) ↓

35 thoughts on “Toxin Obsession: Celebrities & Shampoo

  1. Versus says:

    OMG! Thanks to Val and Gwyneth (BFF!) for sounding the alarm on this one! I checked the shower and was shocked to find that my shampoo “brings your color treated hair to life.” Yikes — I agree with the post — dead hair is better. However, I was relieved to learn that my husband’s shampoo is “pro-vitamin.” Wouldn’t want anti-vitamin shampoo any where near me.

  2. Jules says:

    Heh–there are people who swear left and right and up and down that you don’t actually need shampoo. Most of these folks will either use baking soda or vinegar, but a few really hard-core no-pooers just go with plain water. Supposedly your hair goes through a few weeks of stringiness and some greasiness, and then afterwards it somehow manages to stay clean on its own or something like that…

  3. LovleAnjel says:

    After freedom from shampoo, your hair will form self-governing colonies called ‘dreadlocks’, which increase in size and multiply over time.

  4. Mojo says:

    Most of these folks will either use baking soda or vinegar, but a few really hard-core no-pooers just go with plain water.

    Surely those are chock-full of chemicals?

    But don’t worry: a Google search for “chemical free shampoo” finds plenty of hits…

  5. Geek Goddess says:

    Medusa hair!!

  6. hatch_xanadu says:

    Haha, this made my morning, VJ. :)

  7. daniel says:

    About a month ago a story made the rounds of the mainstream media of how shampoo had cancer in it.

    Well, not literally, but lots of consumer shampoos — even Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Shampoo — had FORMALDEHYDE in it, and it wasn’t listed on the ingredients!

    I can try to dig it up if you guys want, but google should probably find it.

  8. qetzal says:

    I remember some time ago that many shampoos touted nucleic acids as one of their key ingredients. Do they still do that?

    Everyone knows that GMOs are evil bad abominations that will escape into the environment and kill us all. Obviously, the evil Big Personal Care (a subsidiary of Big Pharma, Inc.) is trying to genetically modify our hair! Now I’m worried I might have mutant transgenic hair that will destroy the ecosystem and end up starring in some horrible movie on Sci/Fi.


  9. megancatgirl says:

    Shampoo is even more dangerous when mixed with that scary chemical, dihydrogen monoxide. Some types could get in your eyes and sting a little! I also hear that it’s not too pleasant if you swallow shampoo.

  10. Traveler says:

    I’m switching to homeopathic shampoo.

  11. Michelle B says:

    This post made me laugh so hard that I am in pain.

  12. daedalus2u says:

    Actually shampooing is completely unnatural. People living in the “wild” never shampooed their hair.

    There is what is called the hygiene hypothesis that posits that the absence of some protective factor experienced by people living in the rural undeveloped world is protective against the diseases and disorders of modern living.

    My hypothesis is that one of the protective factors is the bacteria that I am doing research on, the autotrophic ammonia oxidizing bacteria. I have found that they live long term on the scalp (years) and they generate NO in response to externally applied ammonia, non-thermal sweating and thermal sweating. I have instrumental measures of naturally produced NO from these bacteria coincident with a physiological function known to be mediated by NO in vivo (human).

    I think it was the advent of conditioning shampoo that has lead to the current epidemic of obesity. I think that one of the physiological roles for hair is to provide a niche for these bacteria so that they can produce NO/NOx from the ammonia in sweat. Interestingly, the rate limiting enzyme for androgen synthesis is inhibited by NO, so low NO causes high androgen levels which stimulates growth of hair. I think this is a normal feedback mechanism to regulate NO/NOx levels.

  13. Fredeliot2 says:

    There was one report of a slight correlation between the use of shampoo containing pyrethrins by pregnant women and autism. While further study would be required to confirm this, it does have more plausibility than vaccines. However it would be a bit player compared to genetic factors. In any case pregnant woman should avoid lice.

  14. Noadi says:

    I happen to be one of those people who don’t use shampoo unless I my hair gets really dirty. Not for any fear of “toxins” just that I have very long hair and shampoo strips all the natural oil form my hair leaving it a dry mess. Shampoo is soap and soap likes to dissolve oils, that’s a good thing it you want oils dissolved completely and not so good if your hair is 3.5 feet long and you want to keep it that way.

    To the guys reading this you might not understand unless you’ve ever grown your hair out but long hair is high maintenance. That sort of thing leads to a lot of “hair woo” which is of course a subset of “beauty woo”.

  15. Zetetic says:

    Many of the products (beyond shampoo) used in hair salons have all sorts of nasty chemicals in them, particularly hair dyes. Is Ms. Paltrow a “true” blonde?

  16. daedalus2u says:

    I don’t shampoo my hair unless it is dirty enough to really need it too. Once you understand the protective effects mediated through the hygiene hypothesis, what constitutes being “really dirty” changes a lot.

  17. LOL! This was a great post, Val!

    I do remember that maybe a decade ago, an email got circulated about the TERRIBLE DANGERZ of using any shampoo with the KNOWN CARCINOGEN and BRANE DAMAGEING chemical, sodium laureth sulfate!!! OH the horror!!! This being my woo days still, I ran to the store and searched high and low for a shampoo without sodium laureth sulfate in it!!!

    Um. They all have sodium laureth sulfate.

    Clear example of an internet prank, and I fell for it gorgeously. ;)

  18. David Gorski says:

    I don’t shampoo my hair unless it is dirty enough to really need it too. Once you understand the protective effects mediated through the hygiene hypothesis, what constitutes being “really dirty” changes a lot.

    Remind me not to look you up if I’m ever in your neck of the woods. Or at least to wear a respirator. :-)

  19. daedalus2u says:

    The only kind of “dirt” that can cause disease is dirt that contains pathogens. If the dirt contains no pathogens, or if the pathogens are not present in sufficient quantities to constitute an infectious dose, then exposure to that dirt cannot cause any disease.

    The number of bacteria that constitute an “infectious dose” depends on other bacteria that are present. To become “infectious”, the bacteria must be present in sufficient quantity for quorum sensing to activate virulence factors. Many commensal bacteria inhibit quorum sensing via a variety of mechanisms. My favorite mechanism is via production of NO/NOx which specifically inhibits biofilm formation for Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus (and many other bacteria).

    I thought that at SBM we had moved beyond the miasmatic theory of disease ;).

  20. There’s still the miasmatic theory of stinkiness, tho’. ;D

  21. khan says:

    In all fairness, ‘baby shampoo’ (J&J?) was originally introduced because it did not make baby’s eyes sting.
    When I read about people not washing their hair because it’s ‘unnatural’, I wonder if they wipe their butts.

  22. Canucklehead says:

    Daedelus2u said : “I think it was the advent of conditioning shampoo that has lead to the current epidemic of obesity” following on from that it would appear that bald people should be fat and people who have suffered from Alopcia universalis or totalis would be obese as they have no hair to hide their NO producing bacterium?
    Bit of an ‘out there’ theory I think……

  23. AppealToAuthority says:

    While equally amused by ‘celebrity’ alarm about toxins, I am also one who has found (by experiment) that washing my hair with water most of the time works better than regular shampooing. It works for it looking good, smelling good, having less dandruff.

    I wash it with shampoo every couple of months, or if I’m sick.

    Really, it works. Kahn, perkysceptic etc: your individual belief that it can’t work does not mean it doesn’t.

    OTOH, I live in a place with clean air. When I visit a city with dirty air, I do need to wash my hair with shampoo to keep it clean. Then I have to put up with increased dandruff, messy hair, aggravated psoriasis etc.

    Scepticism is good; but under the guise of scepticism, many people who are trying to defend science end up looking silly when they expose their own irrational beliefs about science.

  24. Dash says:

    Another non-shampooer here! I totally agree about the ridiculousness of many chemical scares, but I do the bicarb and vinegar thing because of excema. I haven’t used soap in about 5 years either, but no-one’s complained yet :)

  25. daedalus2u says:

    Appeal, my guess is that the usual source of the water you rinse your hair with is natural ground water. Virtually all natural sources of water have the bacteria I am working with. Many municipal supples do also, particularly those that disinfect with chloramine.

  26. worknfool says:

    Currently going thru all sorts of diagnostics and treatments for a multitude of chemical exposures at my place of employment, principally solvents and heavy metals. One of these happens to be cadmium, which I worked with daily for about a year.

    While attempting to discern what was more specifically responsible for my kidney, respiratory and skin problems I eventually had a hair sample taken for the cadmium exposure, in addition to blood and urine sampling. While reading up on the purposes of the testing I discovered that cadmium is also found in many medicated shampoos that are touted for psoriasis. What gives, heavy metals for flake control?

    As for the smartest actor in the room, I’m sure that she washes her priceless locks in nothing but Venusian ice melt since the oxidizer used to sanitize the plebeian water supply is derived from the chemicals used to gas troops in the trenches of WW I.

    O.T. but why do people persist in listening to actors as if they were some sort of academic font and authority. Most of them seem lucky to have escaped high school. Next thing ya know they’ll all start thinkin’ that politicians magically become intelligent the day that they are elected.

    My absolute favorites though are the celebs that shill the wrinkle spackle and fat acids that melt pounds while you eat chocolate or sleep. My significant other smokes and thinks it perfectly sensible to buy buckets of animal fat to schmeer over her prematurely desiccating countenance rather than quit inhaling toxic fumes.

  27. Um, AppealToAuthority, I don’t believe I expressed any belief about whether washing one’s hair with no shampoo doesn’t work.

    I was, however, teasing blog-bud daedalus2u, who probably recognized my comment for the good-natured ribbing that it was intended to be. :)

  28. Dr. Rob says:

    Um… You guys are taking this WAY to seriously. I am not really anti-shampoo. I just thought it would be a good way to make fun of a celebrity and the dumb things a lot of them say.

  29. AppealToAuthority says:

    Perky: sorry. My mistake. I shoud’ve read more closely. Just a tad sensitive from people who leap from me telling them I don’t use shampoo often, to them telling me I must stink (despite not having met me).

    My bad. Particularly as I was critiquing logic errors.

    (Retires with red ears)

  30. zed says:

    I love Daedalus’ wacky NO rants.

    I have to wash my hair every day with dandruff shampoo or i’d be flaking all over everything, I also try to keep my hair short so it’s easier to control, no harmful effects from this that i can see…;.)

  31. AppealToAuthority says:

    Dr Bob: Sorry for following the discussion off-topic. I do find it alarming, though, how easily many who are in favour of evidence-based science show ourselves to be otherwise when our guard is down. Given ‘dumb celebrity says shampoo is dangerous’, there as many who say ‘yeah, I use shampoo and my brother got cancer – burn the shampoo-makers’ as there are saying ‘people who don’t use shampoo are smelly retards’.

    When people don’t believe a particular explanation for an observed phenomenon, they are quite likely to deny the observation, not just the explanation. Non-scientific fringe dwellers are likely to do this in obvious ways, which are easy (for us) to discount. But those engaged as scientists or science writers are likely to do it in more subtle ways. This probably contributes to the bias we see in medical science.

    daedalus2u: I admit to not understanding your line of research. But if it’s any help — no, our water here is not groundwater. Dams fed from natural catchments; plus occasional direct rainwater. I have no theory as why washing only with water works for me (and not for others); I only have the observation that it does.

  32. daedalus2u says:

    Ground water has the bacteria I am working with too, as to many treated water systems.

    The more severely the water is treated and disinfected the less likely there are to be the bacteria I am working with in it. Distilled water won’t, highly purified water won’t. Autoclaved water won’t. They are more resistant to chlorine than are coliforms and are not a target organisms so there is usually no monitoring of them.

  33. Anthro says:

    Just a little nitpick: Ms. Paltrow lives in England and they spell it foetus there. As to her views on shampoo, well, she dropped out of the first year of college to pursue acting, so I don’t think she’s an authority on much of anything (except acting perhaps)–although I do like a lot of her movies!

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