Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Shampoos With Animal Fat

Q: I was wondering what shampoos contain animal fat as an ingredient, and what does animal fat do exactly to one's hair?
A: Animal by-products were used in creating hair care and cosmetic products for centuries. Animal fats in particular have been used as emollients, thickeners and solidifiers for everything from shampoos and conditioners (to give smoothness and shine), lotions and creams (to soften and protect) and lipsticks and waxes (as base ingredients to give form to the products). Animal fats have been used to help repair damaged hair, bind split ends, smooth the cuticle layer of the hair shaft, and moisturize overly-dry hair.
As our society has become more environmentally conscious and more socially aware of the need for humane and ethical treatment of animals, the use of animal ingredients in the creation of cosmetic and hair care products has been vilified. It is no longer socially acceptable to slaughter animals for the benefit of the beauty industry. Fortunately, it is also no longer financially profitable, since scientists have discovered plant-derived and synthetic sources for the ingredients formerly harvested from animals.

There is no way I could possibly give you a listing of what shampoos contain animal fats as ingredients. Given the above mentioned social changes, the number of makers who still use animal by-products is dwindling rapidly. And companies that don't use animal ingredients are not required to specify that their product ingredients are derived from plants, meaning that of those ingredients that could be derived from animal and plant or synthetic sources there is no way to be sure that the product contains animal ingredients. U.S. laws only require that the ingredients be listed and as long as the sources aren't potentially prohibited, they don't have to be specified.
(There is also the fact that if I were to try to list all the animal fat and fat-variant ingredients that could possibly be found in shampoos and conditioners I would use more space than I have available here.)
If you are concerned that a product may contain animal fats and you want to avoid them, I recommend you simply read the product labels. Today, manufacturers are proud to proclaim when their products are animal ingredient free or "animal-friendly" as the phrase goes. You can also look for products by companies that specialize in botanical products. These companies guarantee that their products are created using only plant-derived ingredients.
If you still want more information on animal fats and animal ingredients used in hair care and cosmetic products, I suggest you look at websites for organizations like PETA, Greenpeace, and Vegetarian (especially Vegan) groups.
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