Available without a prescription, Sulfur 8 medicated shampoo is a treatment for dandruff and dry scalp. Sulfur 8 claims to leave hair soft and manageable, while producing a thick, rich lather for thorough cleansing. The ingredients in Sulfur 8 are triclosan (0.2 percent), water, TEA-lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, lauramide DEA, cocoamphoacetate, fragrance, disodium EDTA, sodium chloride, Yellow 6, and Blue 1. However, some of these ingredients may have hazardous side effects.
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The active ingredient in Sulfur 8 is triclosan. Found in many personal care products for its antibacterial properties, triclosan is a chlorophenol, which is a class of chemical suspected of causing cancer in humans. While long considered harmless, triclosan has come under greater scrutiny due to changing science. According to an April 2010 Washington Post article, the Food and Drug Administration has adopted a new stance on triclosan after reviewing scientific studies that indicate triclosan may disrupt the endocrine system and produce bacteria resistant to antibiotics. One particular danger of triclosan is that it may combine with the chlorine in tap water to form chloroform gas and other harmful compounds.
The triethanolamine salt of lauryl sulfate, TEA-lauryl sulfate is included in Sulfur 8 shampoo to act as a surfactant or cleansing agent. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review expert panel evaluated the safety of TEA-lauryl sulfate and found it to be suitable for use in shampoo and other products provided the concentration levels were maintained within a suitable range, most often cited as 35 to 40 percent in an aqueous solution.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium laureth sulfate is the alcohol form of its cousin, sodium lauryl sulfate. You can find both in many personal care products due to their foaming and cleansing properties, not to mention their inexpensive cost. While considered safer and less of an eye and skin irritant than sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate still has its share of detractors, with an ongoing debate continuing to rage regarding its long-term effects.
Included as another foaming agent, lauramide DEA is a mixture of ethanolamides of lauric acid. Like many chemical ingredients, lauramide DEA has seen its share of controversy, with scientific studies arguing both for its use and its prohibition. Several studies, including the 1999 RTECS National Toxicology Program Technical Report Series, have linked lauramide DEA to tumor formation in lab animals.
Derived from coconut oil, cocoamphoacetate is found in many shampoos, soaps and cosmetics. According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel, cocoamphoacetate is safe when used according to the product's indicated concentration levels.