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Does Shampoo Damage the Eyes? what is the Molecular Mechanism?

Shampoos are known to sting your eye and cause irritation upon contact. Some companies manufacture “Tear-free” shampoo that claims not to hurt the eye. But are they telling the truth?

It’s hard to believe these claims without experiencing them. There are many incidents of people losing their eyesight upon contact with shampoo.

But why does shampoo or any soap hurt your eye? What are the chemical constituents that irritate the eye? What is the molecular mechanism behind it?

How to choose the right shampoo that will not hurt your eyes? How to recover from eye irritation after contact?

This article will address these questions and give you a clear look.

What is the Molecular Mechanism of Shampoo Irritating Your Eyes?

At some point in our life, we all have got eye stings from shampoo. It is a very unpleasant experience. You cannot open your eyes, and it hurts so much.

But why does it happen?

To answer the question, you need to understand the anatomy of the eye. We humans, just like any other vertebrates, need eyes for vision.

The outer surface of the eye is not dry. If it were dry, our eyelids would scratch the retina every time we blink. That is why to reduce the friction and any harm, you will notice that your eye is wet.

But why is it wet?

The fluid that makes your eye wet is called lacrimal fluid. This fluid keeps our eyes wet and clean from dust and harmful substances.

The pH of this fluid is 7, which is neutral. But what is pH?

It is a numerical method of measuring the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. The shampoo contains a surfactant called SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE.

This ingredient is very harsh, and it determines the harshness of the shampoo. It can create the shampoo to be acidic. Although, it depends on how diluted it is.

But this is not the sole reason for eye irritation.

The shampoo has a lot of detergents, opacifiers, fragrances, and other things that the harshness depends on. In a nutshell, the harshness of the shampoo depends on the concentration of the surfactants and other ingredients.

So, what is the molecular mechanism?

As I already told you, the pH of the fluid that covers the eye is 7, which is neutral. The eye is irritated by a slight change in pH. Now, the pH of shampoo varies from 3.5 to 9.0, depending on the product.

Most high-quality shampoo is slightly acidic. Except for the “Tear-less” shampoo(which we will get to later in this article), none has a neutral pH similar to the lacrimal fluid.

When shampoo comes in contact with the eyes, the pH changes to acidic or alkaline depending on the product. Then your eyes start to have chemical reactions which irritate them.

shampoo in eye still hurts

How to Get Shampoo off Your Eyes?

Look, we all are careful while shampooing our hair to get it to our eyes. But, let’s be honest, no matter how conscious you are, sometimes it happens.

So, follow the steps to get the shampoo out of your eyes quickly.

01. Don’t Panic –When shampoo gets in our eyes, we feel burning. This burning sensation can stimulate your nerves and cause you to panic. It’s crucial to stay calm because if you don’t calm down, you might worsen the situation. Try breathing slowly, inhale for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds. Repeat this process until you calm down.

02. Don’t Rub Your Eyes – No matter what you do, never rub your eyes if you have shampoo. The burning sensation of shampoo comes from SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE. It is a foaming and cleaning agent. If you start rubbing your eyes continuously, you will exaggerate the foaming process, making everything worse. Rubbing your eyes in this situation will give a completely opposite outcome.

03. Keep Your Eyes Closed – Keeping your eyes closed is essential to stop more exposure to shampoo. Keep your eyelids closed till you are ready to rinse the shampoo out with water.

04. Rinse the Shampoo with Cold Water – The most critical part of this process is getting the shampoo out of your eyes. It’s imperative to note that using warm water can cause your irritation to increase in magnitude. So, use cold water in your eyes gently to rinse out the shampoo thoroughly.

05. Try to Cry – If the shampoo still doesn’t get out of your eyes, you can try crying. Crying is a lifesaver if rinsing with water doesn’t work at all. When you cry, the lacrimal fluid comes out along with the remaining shampoo.

Why Does “Tear-Free” Shampoo Doesn’t Irritate Your Eyes?

Companies nowadays come up with a solution to the eye-irritating shampoo problem. They made “Tear-Free” shampoo.

Now, you might ask, what is it? The tear-Free shampoo claims to be gentle with your eyes. As you already know by now that shampoo is not neutral.

So when it comes into contact with the eyes, it shifts the eye’s pH and irritates them. The pH of the shampoo is determined by the concentration of the detergents used in the shampoo.

So, shampoo manufacturers devised a solution by diluting those ingredients more to reduce their acidity or alkalinity.

This formula is beneficial for infants. Adults are careful, but infants are not, and they are the most likely to get stung by shampoo in their eyes.

Using “Tear-Free” shampoos is a game-changer. Adults or infants, everyone should use it if they can’t control shampoo getting into their eyes.

Why does shampoo make your eyes sting

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can shampoo permanently damage my eyes?

A. NO! Shampoo will not damage your eyes permanently. Shampoo uses SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE as its detergent. It causes minor irritation. It is not as concentrated as soap to cause any permanent damage.

Q. Does soap burn my eyes more than shampoo?

A. YES! Soap burns more than shampoo. Because soap is highly Alkaline in nature. Soap is a more harsh detergent than shampoo. Soap is not as diluted as shampoo. The pH of soap ranges from 9-10, which is highly alkaline.

Q. Why does some “Tear-Free” shampoo doesn’t work?

A. Companies use long-chain surfactants such as SODIUM TRIDECETH SULFATE to make “Tear-Free” shampoo. But it is costly to make it. Some cheap companies use regular SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE and label it as “Tear-Free” for marketing.

To Sum it Up

If you often get shampoo in your eyes, be careful while washing your hair with shampoo. Still, if you are stung by shampoo, follow the above procedures to get it off.

If you want to skip the hassle, buy “Tear-Free” shampoo.

But be careful; many companies use the term “Tear-Free” just for marketing. Use shampoo from reputed brands to avoid it.

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