What makes a shampoo tearless is an important fact that every groomer should know and comprehend. There is much science behind tearless shampoo products and it is my goal to simplify it down to the very basics so that it is easy for you to repeat it back to your staff and clientele, if needed.
Barbara Bird, a leader in our industry, wrote a blog on this very subject. Her analysis is dead on and very scientific!
Now I’m the type of girl that loves science but I also need to be able to explain it to my staff and my clients concisely. When faced with a situation of shampoo in the eyes, a simple definition, with analogies, work really well for me. So this may not be the most scientific way of looking at it but it’s the easiest way for me to understand it and repeat back to others.
Reduction of Two Main Components in Tearless Shampoo
There are two main ingredients in tearless shampoos that make these products ‘more safe’ to use on the face then other products:
- Less Salt
- Less or No Harsh detergents
Salt makes a product lather and bubble more which gives good foaming and sudsing action. The less salt, the less lather which is better for washing around the eyes. The more a product has bubbles, the easier it is to splash in the eyes. Simple, right?
Shampoo manufacturers use different ingredients to make up their own recipe for detergents. Detergents are the main acting ingredient for cleaning pets. The super dumbed down version is that detergents come in 2 forms – harsh and soft. Depending on the ingredients used, harsher ones clean the pet really well (degreasers are an example) but are not recommended around the face since those super dirt busters don’t react well with eyes. Softer ingredients in the detergents may not be as great at deep cleaning but also are safer on the face. Still with me?
Getting Shampoo in the Pet’s Eye
Can a Tearless Shampoo still cause damage to the eye?
Yes. Although, using a Tearless Shampoo, you should still be cautious when washing around the face and eyes. Will it be as harmful as other products not deemed as Tearless? No – other products can be more dangerous when getting into the eyes, but a foreign substance in the eye is still a foreign substance. When diluted properly though, it will be less harmful to the pet. Here’s a good analogy to understand this better:
The swimming pool theory
A swimming pool contains chlorine. Chlorine is a very strong, very harsh chemical that could do some major damage to our skin, eyes, internal organs, etc. However, it is diluted down enough to still do its job of clearing the pool of toxins while not effecting our bodies. But we all have experienced opening our eyes underwater and the results are red, burning, itching eyes. The more you rub them, the worse they get.
Same thing can happen to the dog with a natural, tearless product. If the tearless product is dilutable please do so! Just as the swimming pool theory applies, so too does it work if you are pouring concentrated products on the face. It needs to be diluted for it to work.
Natural vs Chemical Shampoos – is there a difference?
If your product is of the chemical kind (you can tell by reading the label), chemical based shampoos have synthetic detergents which can in fact result in chemical burns when accidentally entering the pet’s eye.
If a product is truly natural, there are no chemicals in the product, therefore, a chemical burn cannot occur. HOWEVER, you can still have some complications of the eye and a vet bill on your hand. The vet may deem it ‘chemical burn’ based on the dye test they perform but actually, it is an irritant and not chemical, made worse by the pet’s need to itch it thus causing an abrasion.
In reality, this is just semantics – a damaged eye due to product is still the culprit and both the vet and client will say ‘chemical burn’ regardless if there are no chemicals in the products you use.
The Dreaded Eye Ulcers and Vet Bills
Most of us have experience at one time…the call from the client or the vet stating that there was a chemical burn which resulted in an eye ulcer, that happened in the pet’s eye due to shampoo. This may be true depending on the product you used, but there can be other factors as well:
Some tap water has contaminants in it which can be harmful to your pet’s eyes. If you feel like eye irritation is happening too frequently in your salon, without reason that you can explain, contact your area officials to see if they can do a test on your water. Purified water is the best solution, however, let’s be real – we’re not buying bottled water to wash pets!
Mixing Bottles, Pumps and Hoses
All three can host a bunch of bacteria, contaminants and other germs that build up over time with water. Foreign bodies that have accumulated in these items can get in the eye and cause irritation. We have even seen mixing bottles filled with bleach not being thoroughly flushed out before putting more shampoo in. Bleach in eyes is bad.
Water Pressure and Forced Air Dryers
Other issues that can cause eye ulcers or issues can be from the water pressure in your tubs and from forced air dryers working on faces. Both can use great force (and heat) to cause problems. Although not related to tearless products, it is important to note that issues can occur with these tools as well.
We are all in this business because we love caring for (and making beautiful) other people’s pets. We want to do what is best to keep the pet’s safe in our care. A Tearless Shampoo, when used correctly, is the safest solution for working on the faces of the pet’s you service. Knowing why this product is tearless, understanding the true nature of ‘chemical burns’ and being able to confidently explain it to your clients, when needed, will go a long way in showing your expertise in your field. As with anything though, proper training of staff in application as well as maintaining your tools and equipment, will further keep the dog’s eyes safe. And isn’t that what it is really all about?
If you have any further questions about tearless shampoo or have any stories that can help others, please feel free to share in the comments below.
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