The Dark Side of Commercial Shampoo and Skin Care Products

by Rose Sergeant

Is Commercial Hair And Skin Care Worth The Price?

I'm not talking the pounds and pence, I mean the environmental and health costs.

A multi billlion pound industry, commercial hair and skin care products come at a price people do not appreciate or think about.


Understanding the Environmental Hazards

The beauty and personal care industry is a multi-billion dollar market, but at what cost to our environment? Chemical-laden shampoos and skin care products have become a staple in our daily routine, but the truth about the impact these products have on the environment is often overlooked. 

From manufacturing to waste treatment, commercial shampoos and skin care products can cause harm to wildlife, water systems, air pollution, and more. In this article, we’ll delve into the dangers of commercial shampoo and skin care products and their impact on the environment.


The Manufacturing Process: 

Uncovering the Environmental Cost of Commercial Hair and Skin Care Production 

The production of commercial shampoo, hair and skin care products involves the extensive use of potentially harmful chemicals and large amounts of energy and water. These production processes can lead to air and water pollution, as well as soil contamination.

As an example, the production of synthetic fragrances, which are commonly used in personal care products, releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, contributing to air pollution. 

Additionally, the production process can also consume large amounts of water, leading to water scarcity, depletion of precious water resources and an increased strain on water and sewage treatment plants which in turn use more chemicals to process the chemicals present in the water. A vicious, toxic circle.

Furthermore, the disposal of waste generated during the production process can also harm the environment, as toxic chemicals can leach into soil and water systems as well as causing significant air pollution through the release of  VOCs and airborne chemicals.

It is possible to make a difference, regardless of however small one person's actions may seem, it is the collective effect that will change things.

In order to reduce the environmental impact of shampoo and skin care production, it is important to choose products made with natural and organic ingredients, produced by companies that prioritise environmental sustainability. By doing so, it simply reduces the amount of commercial products needing to be produced and so lowers commercial production pollution.

Additionally, supporting companies that use renewable energy and water-saving practices in their production processes can help reduce the environmental impact of these products.


The Impact of Shampoo and Skin Care Products on Wildlife 

How Shampoo and Skin Care Products are Harming Our Wildlife and Ecosystems

Commercial shampoos and skin care products often contain toxic chemicals that can harm wildlife and their ecosystems. For example, many of these products contain microplastics, which are small plastic particles that are too small to be filtered out by wastewater treatment plants. 

These microplastics can enter the food chain and harm wildlife, as well as damage the health of aquatic ecosystems. Microplastics have been found in oceans, lakes, and rivers, and can harm fish, birds, and other wildlife that ingest them or become entangled in them.

Additionally, toxic chemicals in personal care products can also harm wildlife directly, such as affecting their reproductive abilities or simply by causing death. 

Many shampoos and skin care products contain phthalates, which are a group of chemicals known as endocrine disruptors. These are chemicals that can interfere with the normal functioning of hormones in animals and humans. This can lead to reproductive problems, developmental problems, and even death. 

Similarly, many shampoos and skin care products contain parabens, which can mimic the hormone oestrogen and cause problems for aquatic wildlife and other animals.

Paraben contamination does not just pose a risk for animals. Oestrogen contamination of water systems is now a growing problem that has health risks to humans, specifically causing hormone imbalances. 

As parabens mimic oestrogen, they too can have negative side effects for human populations. The continued build up of commercial hair and skin care products in the water systems through washing and rinsing is an increasing problem. That is not to mention the absorption of these chemicals through the skin every time they are used.

Furthermore, these chemicals pose a risk to the health of entire ecosystems by altering the balance of populations of aquatic species for example.

To reduce the impact of shampoo and skin care products on wildlife and their ecosystems, it is important to choose products that are free of microplastics and harmful chemicals. Additionally, properly disposing of personal care products, such as by recycling or properly disposing of containers, can help reduce the amount of waste that enters the environment and harms wildlife and the ecosystem.


The Impact of Shampoo and Skin Care Products on Water Systems 

How Chemical-Laden Products are Polluting Our Water Supply 

Commercial shampoos and skin care products can also have a negative impact on water systems, as toxic chemicals can leach into waterways and contaminate water sources. For example, many shampoos and skin care products contain sulphates, which are harsh cleaning agents that can cause water pollution. 

These sulphates can interfere with the natural processes of water systems and harm aquatic wildlife. Additionally, water treatment plants may not be equipped to remove all of the toxic chemicals present in personal care products, leading to contaminated water supplies.

The use of commercial personal care products can increase the amount of waste in water systems, which can harm aquatic ecosystems and it doesn’t just have to be purely chemicals.

 For example, the plastic containers of commercial personal care products can end up in waterways and oceans, where they can harm wildlife and contribute to plastic pollution. Similarly, these containers can also release toxic chemicals into the environment when they are not properly disposed of, leading to contamination of water supplies.

The Impact of Shampoo and Skin Care Products on Air Pollution 

Chemical-Laden Products and Their Contribution to Air Pollution 

Commercial shampoos and skin care products contribute to air pollution through the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during the production process and through the use of fragrances in these products.

While people may think of the production process starting with the manufacture of the actual product, it actually begins a lot earlier. The commercial hair and skin care companies may manufacture the products, but they buy in the chemical ingredients. 

Each one of these chemicals is individually manufactured on an enormous scale by chemical companies. The manufacturing processes for these chemicals are often a lot more damaging for the environment than the actual end product. 

The production of synthetic fragrances often releases VOCs into the air, contributing to air pollution and potentially causing respiratory problems in those who are exposed. Similarly, the use of fragrances in personal care products can also contribute to air pollution, as these fragrances can off-gas into the environment as they slowly evaporate if left exposed with the lid off the container.

The transportation of personal care products contributes to air pollution, as the shipping of these products from manufacturing facilities to retail stores releases emissions into the atmosphere from transport vehicles.. This adds to global warming and climate change, as well as local air pollution in areas near transportation routes.

The last point can be argued, as virtually every product, unless it is produced and sold in the same location, has to be transported and is subject to the same transport pollution problem.


The Dangers of Commercial Waste Disposal

How Improper Disposal of Personal Care Products is Harming Our Planet

Commercial waste disposal is a growing problem that poses a significant threat to the environment. Shampoo and skin care products, in particular, generate a significant amount of waste due to their widespread use and disposable packaging. If not properly disposed of, these products can release harmful chemicals and pollutants into the environment.

One major concern is the improper disposal of plastic packaging from personal care products. Plastic can take hundreds of years to degrade in landfills, leading to long-term environmental damage. In addition, plastic waste can end up in the ocean, where it poses a threat to marine life and ecosystems.

Another concern is the release of harmful chemicals from personal care products into the environment. When these products are disposed of incorrectly, the chemicals they contain can leach into waterways and harm aquatic ecosystems. These chemicals can also pollute groundwater and contaminate water sources, posing a risk to both wildlife and human health.

Chemical shampoos and skin care products are typically processed at a waste treatment facility, where they are subject to various processes depending on the facility and regulations in place. 

The following is a general overview of the typical process for dealing with chemical shampoo waste:


  • Collection: The first step in the process is to collect the waste, which can be done through a variety of means such as palleted waste collection pickup for transport to the waste treatment facility. It is important to ensure that the waste is properly packaged and secured to prevent the accidental release of harmful chemicals into the environment during transportation.
  • Storage: Once collected, the waste is transported to a chemical waste treatment facility, where it is stored and then processed. Products are stored and processed based on their chemical contents and the treatment process required.
  • Treatment: At the treatment facility, the waste is subjected to various processes depending on the specific chemicals and ingredients it contains. Some common methods include:
  • Incineration: Chemical shampoos can be burned to reduce their volume and destroy harmful chemicals. However, this method can result in the release of harmful pollutants into the air.
  • Chemical treatment: The waste can be treated with chemicals to neutralise harmful substances and prepare it for disposal.
  • Landfilling: The waste can be disposed of in a landfill, where it is buried and covered with soil. This method can result in the release of harmful chemicals into the environment, particularly if the waste is not properly contained.
  • Disposal: Once the chemical waste has been treated, it is either recycled or disposed of in a landfill. In some cases, the chemical waste may be processed further or go through more treatments to reduce its environmental impact.

It is important to bear in mind that this disposal process is a commercial one and as such, the companies providing the waste service are a profit based business. The charge for the service.

This means that in order to keep costs down, the manufacturers and distributors of these commercial hair and skin care products will generally only pay for the bare minimum procedures to dispose of their waste products.

This usually results in the chemical waste not being disposed of in the best ecological manner as processes which may further neutralise or better dispose of the chemicals cost more and will be avoided.

To address the dangers of commercial waste disposal, it is important to properly dispose of waste and support companies that prioritise sustainability and environmentally conscious disposal methods. This includes choosing personal care products with eco-friendly packaging and advocating for better waste management practices in our communities.


The Benefits of Organic Hair and Skin Care Products for Sustainability and Crops

By contrast, here are several reasons to choose organic hair and skin care products.

Organic hair and skin care products are made with ingredients that are grown and produced without the use of harmful chemicals, pesticides, or synthetic fertilisers. This not only has numerous benefits for human health and the environment, but also supports sustainable and eco-friendly agricultural practices.

  1. Crop Rotation: Organic farming practices, such as crop rotation, help to maintain soil fertility and reduce the risk of pest and disease outbreaks. This helps to protect the health of the crops and the surrounding ecosystem, and promotes long-term sustainability.
  2. Local Manufacturing: Many organic hair and skin care products are manufactured locally, reducing the carbon footprint associated with transportation and supporting local economies. This not only helps to reduce the environmental impact of the products, but also provides an economic boost to the local community.
  3. Ecological Production Processes: Organic farming and manufacturing processes are designed to be as eco-friendly as possible, using renewable energy sources and minimising waste. This helps to reduce the overall environmental impact of the products and supports sustainable practices.
  4. Support for Organic Agriculture: By choosing organic hair and skin care products, consumers are supporting the growth and production of organic crops, which are grown and processed without harmful chemicals or synthetic fertilisers. This not only helps to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, but also supports farmers and their communities.


Conclusion: Why Chemical Shampoo Is Bad For The Environment

Commercial shampoos and skin care products can have far-reaching and damaging effects on the environment, especially long term, from the manufacturing process all the way through to the end waste treatment. 

Choosing natural and organic products, made with environmentally friendly ingredients and packaging, means we can help protect our planet and ensure a healthier future for the generations to come. 

It's also important to be mindful of our own personal consumption and disposal of these products to help reduce their impact on the environment. 

Every individual choice counts, and by making simple changes to our own daily routines, we can play a role in creating a sustainable future and a healthier environment.