A woman in a bathtub covered in and blowing soap bubbles

What It Is: We already know that artificial colors are a toxic trigger in cosmetics. This particular variety, however, is doubly dangerous as it’s present not only in makeup, but surprisingly, also in shampoo and conditioner. “Lake” is a term applied to colorants precipitated with metal salts such as aluminum, calcium, barium, or others. Most lake pigments are synthetically produced from coal tar or petroleum and are also referred to as coal tar dyes.

Health Risk: The consumption of coal tar dyes has been shown to contribute to numerous ailments including ADD, ADHD and asthma. Known carcinogens, coal tar dyes have been banned in many countries, and California’s Proposition 65 requires an appropriate cancer warning on items containing them.

How to Avoid It: Be hyper-vigilant, not only in makeup selection but also when choosing hair products. Since many people are unaware these dyes are in shampoo and conditioner, this is a good place to start when checking for dyes in your home presently.  Don’t be fooled by natural looking labels promoting sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners, as these too may contain Red 33. Read the bottom of the label for “hidden ingredients” and make sure the word “lake” is nowhere present.

Alternatives To Try: The Rahua line has options for different types of hair and contains all organic ingredients. This travel set allows you to try different types of shampoo and conditioner and pick the one most suited to your hair type. Bonus: The packaging is T.S.A. approved and will help you get through your holiday travels in non-toxic style.

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