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Tuesday
Dec132011

Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose

Q.  What do you think of sodium carboxymethylcellulose? The MSDS says it can be a skin and eye irritant. Is this a no go in a shampoo?

-Charlotte via Facebook

A. Sodium carboxymethylcellulose is the sodium salt of carboxymethyl cellulose, aka, cellulose gum. It is a synthetic deriviative of cellulose (wood pulp.)  It's used as a thickener and stabilizer in cosmetics and foods.  It does not appear to be a carcinogen, xenoestrogen, neurotoxin, or developmental toxin based on current available, albeit limited, safety data. It can trigger allergies in certain prone individuals, and at full strength will irritate skin or eyes.  If the powder is inhaled in large quantities it can cause lung irritation, as any powder would. 

Due to the manufacturing process of this ingredient, trace to moderate amounts amounts of sodium glycolate can be present in the finished ingredient. (Source) Sodium glycolate, when used in a leave on product like a makeup, can cause skin cell damage when exposed to UV light.  (Source) However, used in a rinse-off product, diluted highly, as would be in a shampoo, as long as you didn't have a personal allergy to it, I would consider this to be a minimal risk ingredient. 

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