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In a previous article, we noted the exorbitant prices that IHRB charges for its products, including the organic shampoo that Sam Cohen sells at $8.00 per 100 ml. By comparison, a product called Natures Organics sells at Woolworth’s for 41 cents per 100 ml. This article will explore the ingredients. Was Sam Cohen telling the truth when he said that his shampoo is the very best on the market? He also emphatically stated that every other shampoo on the market (except for his) damages the hair and must not be used.

For twenty years, I have worked closely with international suppliers. This means that I know my way about the ‘manufacturing facilities’ and the ‘cultural practices’ and the ‘business protocols’ of Singapore, India, China, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. I have traded with those countries and have been an importer who knows his way around the traps. With such experience, it was easy for me to look into Sam Cohen’s Organic Shampoo, and to obtain legitimate quotations from specialist pharmaceutical and cosmetic laboratories and manufacturers from the trade-hubs of Asia, including India.

IHRB Organic Shampoo which is sold at sky-high prices. For the life of me, I cannot work out what makes it organic, or what is good about it.

Using all the ingredients in Sam’s shampoo, I was given a quote as follows: Not $8.00 per 100 ml, but less than 29 cents per 100 ml. This was in US dollars, so at today’s exchange rate of 90 cents, this makes it 32 cents per 100 ml. We need to add the plastic bottle, and this comes to 38 cents, and add freight, that comes to 44 cents at most, plus GST and it comes to 48 cents. Let’s call it 50 Australian cents per 100 ml. So the 250 ml bottle that Sam sells at $20 contains a grand total of $1.25 of cost. Sure, he would have other costs like his time and effort to manage the order and the shipment.

Keep the following in mind: when asking for a price from a manufacturer, you never accept the first quotation. There is always room for improvement. So this rate that I obtained was the first cab off the rank. I could negotiate by arranging my own shipping, and paying up front to remove any credit risk for the factory and obtain a discount for cash payment (rather than 90 day terms), and I could order in bulk, and I could have the shampoo arrive in large 50 litre containers and just fill the bottles locally to save on the volume of the shipment. You see, round bottles like this take up a lot of space in a shipping container because we are charged on the space, and not only the weight. There would be a lot of air around the bottles, which inflates the volume due to packaging. A smarter thing would be to bottle these locally. Very easy.

So with some negotiations and better buying practices, I could halve the price and come in at a GRAND TOTAL OF 63 cents per bottle. Yet Sam sells it at $20. WOW. How to turn 63 cents into 20 dollars! Not even the Google shares can do that.

I have always maintained that anyone should charge what they like. And I would not have any problems with J. F. Lazartigue (one of the world leaders with exceptional products) or IHRB charging $20 or even $100 per bottle. My issue is not the price! Rather, it is the lies that lead people to presume that they are receiving some quality shampoo from IHRB. My contacts tell me that the IHRB Organic Shampoo is a normal, basic, easy, simple, run-of-the-mill product, with absolutely nothing special about it. It is just a shampoo. It is this that concerns me. He can charge what he likes, but so long as he delivers on his promise. He insisted that this is the best shampoo. Maybe he is right in that some shampoos on the market might contain too much detergent or some harmful acids, but Sam said EVERY shampoo is bad, and his is the only good one. What makes it so good? Let’s us examine the ingredients.

The IHRB shampoo (and all the IHRB products) will be analysed by a scientific laboratory that is accredited by NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities). So far, we know that it contains (according to IHRB): Sodium Laureth Sulphate, Coco Oleamidopropyl Betaine, Cocoamide DEA, Sodium Chloride, Peg-75 Lanolin, Citric Acid, Aloe Vera, Sodium Hydroxy Methol Glycinate, Fragrance. Let us dig deeper into this list.

Sodium Laureth Sulphate

In reviewing its safety, a report by the American College of Toxicology Vol 2 Number 7 1983 says, ‘Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is an anionic surfactant used in cosmetics and industrial chemicals as a cleansing agent. In absorption, metabolism and excretion studies Sodium Lauryl Sulfate had a degenerative effect on the cell membranes because of its protein denaturing properties. High levels of skin penetration may occur at even low use concentration. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate had an LD 50 (Lethal Dose for 50% of the animals tested) of 0.8 to 110 g/kg in rats. A formulation containing 15% caused depression, laboured breathing, diarrhoea and death in 4 out of 20 animals. In acute ocular tests, 10% Sodium Lauryl Sulfate caused corneal damage to the rabbits’ eyes if not irrigated or irrigation was delayed. A Draize test of a product containing 5.1% Sodium Lauryl Sulfate caused mild irritation and products containing 21% were severely irritated with no rinse and mildly irritated when rinsed. Acute animal skin irritation studies of 0.5% to 10% Sodium Lauryl Sulfate cause slight to moderate irritation. Applications of 10% to 30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. Solutions above 20% were highly irritating and dangerous. One percent and 5% Sodium Lauryl Sulfate produced a significant number of comedones when applied to the pinna of albino rabbits… Tests show permanent eye damage in young animals from skin contact in non eye areas. Studies at Georgia Medical College indicated Sodium Lauryl Sulfate kept young eyes from developing properly by possibly denaturing the proteins and not allowing for proper structural formation. This damage was permanent.’

Coco Oleamidopropyl Betaine

This is a foam enhancer and viscosity builder. No major issues with this product. It comprises 1-Propanaminium, N-carboxymethyl-N,N-dimethyl-3-amino-, N-(mixed coco acyl and 9-octadecenoyl) derivs., hydroxides, and inner salts. (Molecula formula C19H38N2O3) Used for antistatic, cleansing, foam boosting, hair conditioning, skin conditioning, surfactant, viscosity controlling.

Cocoamide DEA

This is Cocoamide Diethanolamine. The Director of the Cancer Prevention Coalition of Los Angeles, Ms Shelley Kramer states on her site, ‘Surfactants or detergents such as certain alcohols, polysorbates, cocoamide diethanolamine (from the coconut plant) and sodium laurel sulfate and laureths… are generally contaminated with high concentrations of the highly volatile dioxane, which is both readily inhaled and absorbed through the skin… The carcinogenicity of dioxane was discovered in 1965 and subsequently confirmed in other studies including by the National Cancer Institute in 1978. On the basis of such evidence, the Consumer Product Safety Commission concluded that “the presence of dioxane, even as a trace contaminant, is a cause of concern.”‘

Others warn thus: ‘Material safety data sheet advises that it is a severe irritant and contact with the eyes and skin must be avoided. Also avoid inhalation as it can irritate the upper respiratory system. May cause liver and kidney damage, asthma and pulmonary disease. Use full protective clothing, goggles, gloves and breathing apparatus.’ The Therapeutic Goods Administrations says that Diethanolamine must not exceed 5%. Unfortunately, IHRB does not tell us the percentage composition, so we will have to check with out labs to see if they have complied with this legal requirement. I do not understand how IHRB can call its shampoo ‘Organic’ when this shampoo contains Sodium Laureth Sulphate and Cocoamide DEA! This baffles me. What on earth does Sam Cohen mean by the cosy and friendly term ‘Organic’? Furthermore, the next ingredient is definitely not an organic chemical.

Sodium Chloride

This is salt (NaCI). It is used to make cheap shampoo look thicker and richer. How can this inorganic product be in a so-called organic shampoo?

Peg-75 Lanolin

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review is an independent organisation based in Washington DC. Its findings say that only up to 25% can be used. However, the IHRB bottle does not stipulate the percentage used, so we do not know if a safe level is used.

Sodium Hydroxy Methol Glycinate

I suspect that this product is not Methol. Rather, it might be Methyl. This is a preservative. No long term studies have been conducted. Preliminary tests show that this product is a skin and eye irritant. I think that it was used in order to move away from the cancer-scare caused by a previous common preservative called paraben.


There are many products on the market that use many harmful chemicals. The IHRB shampoo might not kill anyone. The complaints are these: is it really organic? I doubt it. There are many chemicals in it. I wonder what IHRB means by the term ‘organic’. Is it better than any other general shampoo that we can purchase from established reputable hair-care brands? Not likely. So why is Sam Cohen pretending that his shampoo is part of his amazing hair regrowth program? What is it that makes his shampoo better than every other, as he states most emphatically. What qualities does it possess (or ingredients that it omits) that aid in hair regrowth? Does it just prepare the scalp so that the Minoxidil can get through? If IHRB cannot prove that the shampoo is better than what is on the market, why is Sam Cohen insisting (in the contract) that his clients must use his product at $20 per bottle, which is astronomically expensive compared with other reputable brands?

There is something unethical about telling someone that they can grow their hair if they use his special formulations, when in effect, Sam Cohen’s special formulations are not special at all. And on top of this, it seems to be a grand money spinner for him. I do not mind someone making heaps of money when they deliver on their promise. However, I object when they mislead people. It borders on unethical behaviour, turning into theft.

If you would like to conduct your own research, you can start with some of these databases:

The US Department of Health and Human Services

Department of Chemistry at the University of Utah

Consumer Product Information Database

United States National Library of Medicine

Toxicology Data Network

European Commission Enterprise and Industry database

The science of shampoo formulation

If you would like to get right into the scientific aspects of making shampoo, I found this paper informative. It was written by Shoaib Arif of the Pilot Chemical Company. The 19-page document is called ‘Hair Shampoos: The science & art of formulation.’

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