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11 beauty products that may be ruining the planet

July 12, 2010, 12:22 p.m.
Woman lathers up with a sudsy shampoo

Photo: An Optional Holiday/Flickr

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Sudsy shampoos and soaps

Where there are bubbles, there's usually sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), two harsh surfactants that are known eye and skin irritants. SLES is the gentler of the pair, but it is often contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a probable human carcinogen, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When this chemical swirls down your drain, it enters the waterway and can build up in marine life. Buy bottles labeled “sulfate-free.” You won’t get the same bubbling action, but your hair will get clean — guaranteed.