August 27, 2013

Lawsuit Launched as Testing Finds Cancer-Causing Chemical in Nearly 100 Hair Care and Personal Care Products

* Act Now: Tell Dollar General to Stop Sales of Cancer-Causing Bath Products *

August 27, 2013

Testing finds dozens of shampoos, soaps, bubble baths, and other products sold by Walmart, Target, Babies R Us and other national retailers in violation of California law

Oakland, CA-Today, the Center for Environmental Health revealed independent testing finding a cancer-causing chemical in 98 shampoos, soaps, and other personal care products sold by major national retailers. The chemical, cocamide diethanolamine (cocamide DEA), a chemically-modified form of coconut oil used as a thickener or foaming agent in many products, was listed by California as a known carcinogen last year. Products tested with high levels of cocamide DEA include shampoos made by Colgate Palmolive, Colomer, Paul Mitchell, and many others. In addition, products marketed for children and a product falsely labeled as organic were found with the chemical, in violation of California law.

CEH today filed a California lawsuit against four companies that sell products containing cocamide DEA, and the nonprofit has sent legal notices to more than 100 other companies that produce and/or sell cocamide DEA-tainted products that their products violate state law. “Most people believe that products sold in major stores are tested for safety, but consumers need to know that they could be doused with a cancer-causing chemical every time they shower or shampoo,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “We expect companies to take swift action to end this unnecessary risk to our children’s and families’ health.”

In addition to many brand name shampoos and personal care products (see the full list, below), the CEH testing found cocamide DEA in store-brand products purchased at Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Pharmaca, and Kohl’s. A store brand children’s bubble bath from Kmart and a children’s shampoo/conditioner from Babies R Us were also found with cocamide DEA. Falsely labeled organic products from Organic by Africa’s Best also tested for high levels of the cancer-causing chemical; CEH previously won a legal settlement with this company requiring it to end its use of phony organic labels.

CEH has purchased the shampoos and other products containing cocamide DEA at Bay Area locations of major retailers and from online retailers since June, and commissioned an independent lab to determine the total content of the chemical in the products. In many cases, products contain more than 10,000 ppm cocamide DEA, and one shampoo tested at more than 200,000 ppm (20%) cocamide DEA. California listed cocamide DEA in June 2012 as a chemical known to cause cancer based on the assessment by The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which evaluated skin exposure tests on animals.

The Center for Environmental Health has a seventeen-year track record of protecting children and families from harmful chemicals in our air, water, food and in dozens of every day products. CEH also works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices. In 2010, the San Francisco Business Times bestowed its annual “Green Champion” award to CEH for its work to improve health and the environment in the Bay Area and beyond.

UPDATE: Companies with products shown in green have already committed to CEH in writing that they will reformulate their products, without cocamide DEA.





Classic clean shampoo (for all hair types)


Ultimark Products


Medicated Conditioning Shampoo


Lake Consumer Products

Rite Aid

Daily Shampoo

American Crew Classic

American Crew


Olive Oil Shampoo

Organics by Africa’s Best

House of Cheatham


Caprice (Acti-Ceramidas Shampoo)


Colgate-Palmolive Co.


Mane ‘n Tail Shampoo

Straight Arrow

Straight Arrow Products


Climate Control Defrizzing Shampoo


Ouidad Products


TUI (moisturizing sulfate-free shampoo)

Carols Daughter

Carols Daughter Products


Brilliance Shampoo




Kid’s Bubble Bath (Bubble Gum Scent)

Little Ones/Kmart



Clasic Herbal Essence Shampoo (all hair types)


Made by Estilo Y Vanidad, Distributed by Midway Importing


Therapeutic Anti-Dandruff Shampoo


Neutrogena Corporation


Cleanse Hydrating Shampoo


Farouk Systems


Maximum Strength Medicated Dandruff Shampoo




Awapuhi Ginger Shampoo


Vogue International


“Ricitos de Oro” Chamomile Baby Shampoo




Cabellino Shampoo Chile Con Romero


Grandall Dist. Co


Dandruff Shampoo Selenium Sulfide

Image Essentials



Nutress Hair Protein Pack Treatment Shampoo



Glamour Beauty Supply

Treatment Curly Hair Moisturizing Shampoo Keratin and Cupuacu Butter



Glamour Beauty Supply

Luxury Care 3 Plus Frizz Control Shampoo

Luxury Care


Glamour Beauty Supply

Anti Breakage Neutralizing Shampoo Gel

Mega Growth

Strength Of Nature

Glamour Beauty Supply

Tea Tree Special Shampoo

Paul Mitchell

John Paul Mitchell Systems

Glamour Beauty Supply

Plant Extracts & Moroccan Argan oil Dry, Itchy Scalp Shampoo Controls Dandruff

At One With Nature

BioCare Lab

Glamour Beauty Supply

Gentle Cleansing & Conditioning Shampoo Aromatic Natural Essences pH balanced

Calm Cleanse

Johnson Products Co.

Glamour Beauty Supply

Hair Polisher Shampoo with “Sparkle Lites”


Fantasia Industries

Glamour Beauty Supply

African Essence Neutralizing Shampoo Plus Proteins and Conditioners

African Essence

Universal Beauty Products

Glamour Beauty Supply

VIA Natural Style Moisturizing Shampoo


Universal Beauty Products

Glamour Beauty Supply

Fair Trade Honey Shampoo




Sunflower & Coconut Detangling Conditioning Shampoo

Crème Of Nature

Colomer USA


Medicated Shampoo Slednium Sulfide Dandruff Shampoo




Salon Shampoo (for Extra-Dry Hair)


Advantage Research Laboratories

Lynas Beauty Depot

Shea Butter Shampoo


M&M Products Company

Lynas Beauty Depot

Conditioning Shampoo

Luster’s Pink Brand

Luster’s Product

Lynas Beauty Depot

Coconut Oil Formula Conditioning Shampoo


E.T. Browne Drug Co.

Lynas Beauty Depot

Neutralizing Shampoo (With DL Panthenol)


AFAM Concept

Lynas Beauty Depot

Extra Moisturizing Hand Wash

Dermasil/Rise International Group LLC

Rise International Group

99 Cent Only Stores

Moisturizing Shampoo with Panthenol (Placenta & Vitamin E)

La Bella

Newhall Laboratories, Inc.

99 Cent Only Stores

Despicable Me Hand Wash (tickled pink rose bonbon)

Delon Laboratories

Delon Laboratories

99 Cent Only Stores

Tingling Gro Shampoo with Flaking Control

Doo Gro

Nature’s Protein

Sally Beauty Company

KeraCare Anti-Dandruff Moisturizing Shampoo


Avalon Industries, Inc.


Dandruff Moisturizing Shampoo


Alberto Culver USA

Sally Beauty Company

Mixed Berry Anti-Bacterial Foaming Hand Soap

Simple Pleasures

Tri-Cosatal Design


Vanilla Rose Bubble Bath

Simple Pleasures

Paula Scaletta Licensed to Tri-Coastal Design


berry burst shower gel

scentsations by bodysource

Made Especially for Kohl’s Department Store


Lemon Handwash Gift Set

Brompton and Langley



French Lavender Hand and Body Wash Gift Set

Amelie’s Garden



Moroccanoil Extra Volume Shampoo



Blooming Beauty

Julius Caesar Redreshing Citrus Scent Concentrated Shower Gel

Zirch Warrior Collection

TPR Holdings LLC


I love Vanilla & Ice Cream Bubble Bath and Shower Gel

I love…

I love cosmetics limited


Coconut Lime Handsoap

Pure Passion

Biolab International Inc.


Lalaloopsy Cotton Candy Bubble Bath


Added Extras


Super Minty Soapy Suds Body wash + Bubbling Bath




Olive & Shea Mositurizing Shower Wash Vanilla Spice

Tree Hut

Naterra International


Organic Cleanse Deep Cleansing Shampoo with Oatmeal Protein

Design Essentials

McBride Research Laboratories

JC Penny

Moisturizing Shampoo for all hair types

Body Time

Body Time

Body Time

Lemon Kitchen Hand Soap

Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s

All Natural moisturizing Shower Gel Yuzu


ShiKai Products


2 in1 Shampoo and Conditioner

Toys R Us

Toys R Us

Babies R Us

Body Wash ylang ylang & ginger




avocado oil moisturizing shower gel

Australian Organics

Kent Cosmetics

TJ Maxx

Lemon Balm White Musk Hand Wash

D&H Australia

Dickens & Hawthorne Australia

TJ Maxx

Eucalyptus Aloe Hand Soap



TJ Maxx

Honey B Crème Handwash

Scottish Fine Soaps

Scottish Fine Soaps Company

TJ Maxx

Enriched wtith Argan oil Restorative Shampoo

Beauty Products Mgoador

Chic Cosmetic Ind.

TJ Maxx

White Nectarine & Pear Cleansing Hand Wash


Grace Cole Co.

TJ Maxx

Lavender Conditioning Handwash

Brown & Harris England

HotHouse Partnerships LTD

TJ Maxx

English Rose Moisturizing Hand Wash

A & S

Asquith & Somerset

TJ Maxx

Best Face Forward Daily Foaming Cleanser Passionfruit + Green Tea

Formula 10.0.6

Aspire Brands


Triple Action Bath, Shower, & Hair Wash Revitalizing Rosemary Mint

c. Booth simple. Natural. Trusted.

Freeman Beauty Labs/ pH Beauty Labs


Advanced Volume Shampoo with Expansion Technology

Nick Chavez

Perfect Plus


Bubble Bath Calm One with lemon balm

Calm All

The Soap & Glory Cosmetics


Lemon Basil Shea Butter Hand Soap

Michel Design Works

Michel Design Works

Bristol Farms

Philip B. Peppermint & Avocado Volumizing and Clarifying Shampoo

Phillip B.

Phillip B Inc.


Lemon Verbena Hand Wash Gel

Accessory Zone

Accessory Zone


Mango Body Wash


The Boots Company


Citrus Blush Shower Gel


Boots Retail


White Tea and Ginger Neutralizing Shampoo

Ampro/Pro Styl/ Neutra Foam

Ampro Industries


Lychee Flower Hand And Body Wash



Nordstrom Rack

Zinc Shampoo


Person & Covey Inc.

Bubble Bath Sweet Water



burlington coat factory

Skinny Girl Shower Gel Margarita

Skinny Girl

Lotta Luv

burlington coat factory

Peppermint Bubble Bath

Elegant Home Design

Elegant Home Design

burlington coat factory

Apothecary Lemon Verbana Bath and Shower Gel


International Design Associates

burlington coat factory

French Lavender Cleansing Hand Wash

Baylis & Harding England

Baylis & Harding PLC

burlington coat factory

American Crew Classic Daily Shampoo

American Crew

American Crew

Saks Fifth Avenue

Herb Hand Soap


Daiso Industries


Hair Plump Volumizing Shampoo

Big & Bold

Fisk Industries

Beauty Parlor

Blondes Lemon flower Shampoo


ARTec Systems Group

Beauty Parlor

Rejuvi Shower Cream


Rejuvi Laboratory Inc.

The Revitalizer Body Wash (Cucumber + Grapefruit)


Portico Home + Spa

Colour Protecting Caviar Shampoo

Kelly Van Gogh

Kelly Van Gogh LLC

Walnut Body Scrub

Banzai Living Inc

Banzai Living Inc


Clear Lemon & Mint Body Soap

Aroma Resort



Bath/Shower Gelee with Green Tea and Aloe

Dr. Michelle Copeland

Dr. Michelle Copeland Skin Care

Lavender Shower Gel with cucumber, arnica, and aloe vera

elizabeth W san francisco

E Wightnan & Co

Tags: featured legal action

Move over Instagram, viral challenges now live on TikTok. The latest? The #PurpleShampooChallenge. Now, don’t worry, you don’t have to be a VSCO girl or an E-girl to participate. All you need is your phone, purple shampoo (Clairol Professional’s Shimmer Lights, specifically), and the odd need to feel like wasting a good ol’ bottle of it on your hair.

For the past few days, teens have been posting videos of themselves using excessive amounts of purple shampoo on dry hair. It’s unclear why, but with a few scrolls down the #PurpleShampooChallenge — which thas 3.8M views on the app, while #PurpleShampoo has 59.9M views — it seems that some think when applied to dry hair it will turn their hair icy blonde once washed, while others think it will turn their hair purple.

Now, we hate to break it to them, but it really does neither — unless you already have icy blonde hair, that is. Because purple shampoo, also known as toning shampoo, is designed to keep undertones at bay and help remove brassiness. This means if you’re not blonde, there’s no point in trying this challenge. And if you are, the purple shampoo will work, but the transformation isn’t as exciting as purple hair. Instead, your mane will look a truer blonde or platinum. Sure, it’s still TikTok worthy but the excessive application isn’t. Because even though Clairol’s Shimmering Light purple shampoo might only be $10 at your local Target or Walmart, being mindful of your waste is priceless.


Clairol Professional Shimmer Lights Shampoo

$10 Shop Now

Now, if you’re looking for other purple shampoos because you want to start taking care of your hair, we’ve rounded up a few below. Yes, including one made specifically for brown and darker hair!):


L’Oreal Paris Hair Care EverPure Sulfate Free Brass Toning Purple Shampoo

$7 Shop NowAmazon

Joico Color Balance Purple Shampoo

$9 Shop NowUlta

Not Your Mother’s Blonde Moment Treatment Shampoo

$8 Shop NowDermstore

R+Co SUNSET BLVD Blonde Shampoo

$29 Shop NowDermstore

Sachajuan Silver Shampoo

$28 Shop NowUlta

Living Proof Color Care Whipped Glaze-Dark

$29 Shop Now

Need a break from red and blue? Let’s come together to talk purple. Purple shampoo, that is — which, if you’re someone who dyes their hair blond, could be the miracle product you’ve been waiting for.

If you’ve ever tried to lighten your hair at home — or caught sight of your reflection halfway through a double-process treatment — you’re familiar with the dull, one-dimensional yellow that remains after bleaching. It’s not an especially natural or flattering shade, which is why a good colorist will then apply highlights, lowlights and toner. (Side note: This is also why your salon visit takes four hours and costs a small fortune.)

Unfortunately, dyed hair likes to slowly creep back toward that brassy yellow over time. That’s where purple shampoo, which is kind of a “toner lite,” comes in.

What is purple shampoo?

The product goes on, you guessed it, purple — a bold, somewhat-alarming violet that will stain your bathtub if it dries — but rinses out clear. For about five minutes in between, that pigment works to neutralize those brassy shades with its magical, opposite-end-of-the-color-wheel powers, explained hairstylist Susan Monahan of Warren-Tricomi Salon.

And get this: It works. While an over-the-counter product can’t replicate the nuanced work of a skilled colorist, it can help keep that blond shade bright for months, helping you stretch out the time between salon visits.

Getty Images stock

“It’s great for cutting the brassiness in blond hair, especially in city areas where there tend to be a lot of mineral and rust buildup in water,” celebrity colorist Ryan Pearl of Cutler Soho salon told TODAY.

It can also help neutralize yellows or gold to make blond shades appear brighter, added Victoria Hunter of Whittemore House Salon.

But it’s not just for blondes. It can also be used to touch up highlights, keep trendy pastels looking crisp or give grays (natural or otherwise) those chic blue undertones.

So, what’s the catch? Well, there is the aforementioned tub staining, so be sure to clean up quickly. Plus, “covering an entire head of hair in the shower with a stain is tricky,” Monahan explained to TODAY. “Most people don’t add enough shampoo to really coat every hair.”

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And it is possible to go overboard. Pearl recommended using it just once a week, maximum. You can use one of our favorite drugstore shampoos on the other days.

With that, here as some purple shampoos to try. Let us know how it goes!

The best purple shampoos

1. Matrix Total Results So Silver Shampoo

Reviewers on Ulta raved, “I bought this product to take out the brassiness of my colored hair. Normally dark brown roots but I have balayage to basically platinum blonde and HELLO. I could tell the difference in my hair in ONE wash. This shampoo is amazing. I’ve used it twice so far this week (I only wash my hair about 3 times a week anyways) and it really does the job. Follow the directions on the back tho, lather it in your hair and LEAVE IT IN (it says max 5 minutes so I would keep it in the max). If you do not leave a purple shampoo in your hair and let it do it’s job then you will not see results! Would buy it again for sure!”

2. Drybar ‘Blonde Ale’ Brightening Shampoo

As one reviewer put it, “After using 10 different purple shampoos this one is by far the best. Removes brass in ONE wash. I like to leave it in my hair while I shower to tone out even more! Lathers extremely well, smells great, and does not completely dry out your hair. A little goes a long way with its deep pigment!”

3. Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo And Conditioner

One Amazon reviewer wrote, “I can’t live without this. I dye my hair myself after a disastrous trip to a salon left me with fried hair that started falling out and a blustery burn on my head. I have a lot of natural red in my dark blonde hair and dye it light blonde every 4-6 weeks. It turns bright red, and this saves the day every time! I also love the smell of it.

4. Joico Color Balance Purple Shampoo

Ulta reviewers have given this 4.4 stars and over 800 glowing reviews. “I use this shampoo with the conditioner every other shower and it truly takes the brassy tones out of my blonde hair. The exact reason I bought it! It leaves my hair soft and shiny and keeps tangles out which is very difficult for my fine hair, definitely going to purchase again.”

5. Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Shampoo

“Smells nice and keeps my hair a great shade of blonde! I have ash blonde highlights and this shampoo helps to keep the colour looking fresh. I don’t find the smell too strong compared to other purple shampoos. I also find it a better consistency as some purple shampoos are too runny. I would definitely recommend this product,” wrote one Sephora reviewer.

The best purple conditioner

1. Davines Alchemic Conditioner Silver

This is Monahan’s go-to conditioner for blonde hair, which gives a similar effect as a purple shampoo.

For more hair recommendations, check out:

  • 10 affordable hair dryers celebrity hairstylists swear by
  • Why blue shampoo could be a miracle product for brunettes
  • The 7 best hair care products from the People and TODAY Beauty Awards

To discover more deals, shopping tips and budget-friendly product recommendations, and subscribe to our Stuff We Love newsletter!

Shimmer lights shampoo cvs

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