8 Ingredients to Avoid when pick a Shampoo: Take Care of your Hair

Nowadays, sustainability is more present than before in our lives. From being conscious about food waste and fast fashion to thinking in ways to give a second chance to old objects. Going greener is all over the place. And hair products are not the exception this time :) Shampoos sold in the market and in pharmacies have multiple ingredients. Have you ever wondered what are they? Knowing their names can help you avoid damaging your scalp. Read this article to learn all about 8 ingredients to avoid when pick a shampoo: take care of your hair.

Washing your Hair

Why do we wash our hair? Well, the answer is easy. We simply want to clean it after a long day. Our scalp can accumulate bacteria and it may spread all over your hair. That is why shampoo is responsible for removing the dead cells and preventing the development of germs. Cleaning your hair properly will prevent fungi and lice. However, sometimes shampoos can affect our hair in multiple ways such as dryness and frizz.

Have you experience frizz after brushing your hair? Do you lose more hair through the day than before? Does your hair lacks shine? If some of those things is happening to you, then there is an issue with the hair products you are using. There is a high probability that your shampoo contains one of the toxic ingredients found in the list below. It is time to star reading the label of your shampoo! Discover what chemicals are toxic to choose consciously :)

8 Toxic Ingredients in a Shampoo:

1. Sulfates

I have read this word more than ten times in Instagram! Sulfates belong to the family of chemical detergents. What is their job? They create foam in your scalp while your massaging the shampoo into your hair. Almost all hair products contain sulfates. They are usually used to remove dirt from surfaces. Sulfates function through a chemical reaction. After binding with the sebum of your scalp and water, they remove all the waste from your hair but also the natural oils and moisturizers.

The bad things about sulfates are two: the possible damage they can cause and the immediate consequences of them on your hair. Some of the consequences are hair dryness, irritation and frizz. As for the possible damage, sulfates may form carcinogens which may led to kidney damage. Toxic ingredients in shampoo are not easy to identify, that is why we created this guide :)

wet hair

2. Parabens

Parabens are as harmful as sulfates. However, they work differently. They act as preservatives, they prevent bacteria growth in shampoos and cosmetics. Parabens are used to extend the life of products. Some of the things they can cause are scalp irritation and dryness. These parabens can mimic the estrogen hormone by penetrating on your skin.

Be careful when you hear on TV commercials that parabens are good for your hair because they are not. You may not find them like "parabens" on the ingredients list of your shampoo, they are listed with words ending in "paraben" like ethylparaben, butylparaben and methylparaben.

3. Polyethylene Glycols

What chemicals are toxic? This agent enters to the list: it is dangerous for your body. Usually made from petroleum, the polyethylene glycols has bad effects on your hair. It takes out moisture of your hair and stimulates its breaking. What is its function in shampoo? It acts as emulsifier or surfactant. They are added to increase the viscosity of the formula so that shampoos have a creamy texture.

Why are they toxic ingredients in shampoo? They have been linked to numerous cancer, since they derive from petroleum and other byproducts you cannot really know their source. To avoid polyethylene glycols, you can buy solid shampoos that are sustainable and do not contain toxic ingredients :)

4. Fragrances and Colors

There is a big problem with the word "fragrance" since manufacturers are not obliged to declare the ingredients of those fragrances. That is because the term is not regulated by U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When that happens, we don´t know what they used to create them! It is known that fragrances are related to hair loss, asthma, irritation, infertility and more. They are a synonym of toxic ingredients in shampoo :(

What is good to read in the list of ingredients of shampoo is "natural oil". When they are present they will be named such as "mint natural oil". Colors are also present in shampoos to create different versions. They are synthetic and created from petroleum and coal-tar.

dyed hair

5. Alcohol

What chemicals are toxic? Alcohol it is in the list too! It is responsible for leaving your hair dry. There are bad and good alcohols, but when appears on the first ingredients you need to choose another shampoo. The first ingredients are the ones that are most present in the shampoo. A good tip to identify good and bad alcohols is the following :)

If they have the word "prop", they belong to bad alcohols like Isopropryl or propanol. But when they begin with "C" or "S" it means they are good, like Stearyl alcohol.

6. Dimethicone

It belongs to the family of silicones, this ingredients is also part of the toxic ingredients in shampoo. The function of Dimethicone is to grant that greasy texture to your hair, acting as a protection of the exterior layer of your hair. Imagine a cleaning product you use to protect your stainless steel at the kitchen which creates a protective layer that retains garbage. Well, dimethicone acts like that.

It stops residue and dirt from entering into your hair. However, they can cause skin irritation and more negative things. In the long run, this ingredient will dry your hair and block moisture.

7. Triclosan

Are there toxic ingredients in shampoo? Yes, and triclosan is one of them. It is an antibacterial agent, used in cosmetic products as preservative. Triclosan has been prohibited in the USA since 2016 in antibacterial soaps but it continues to be used in deodorants, shampoos and toothpaste. Their damages occur in the immune system.

Some of the consequences of triclosan may be loss of hair, weight loss and skin allergies.

8. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

As soon as we put shampoo on our hair, foam appears on stage. That is how we can see that it is working but which ingredient creates that foam? Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is the one and it is a detergent. SLS may have toxic consequences in our body such as hair dryness and loss of natural oils.

People with dry hair or dyed hair should avoid shampoos that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). It can fade your color! And anyone would like to witness that hahaha. Another consequence of this toxic ingredient can be eyes irritation, affection of your immune system or hair loss.

a woman holding solid shampoo

Now, we have reviewed more than five toxic ingredients in shampoo but what should we use then? Having a shiny, healthy and clean hair is possible with solid shampoos. Find here Cruelty Free Products: Best Beauty and Cosmetics Brands. Let´s find some benefits about them below :)

  • Instead of being made with detergents, they are made with natural alternatives. Some of them are natural oils, conditioners, butters and good cleansers.
  • Solid shampoos save water! You need to use it to scrub the bar on your hair to clean it but it is not made of water as regular shampoos. From their elaboration step, solid shampoos are better than the other ones.
  • Reduce plastic! Shampoo bars do not need plastic containers like regular shampoos do. Besides, it is solid and not liquid :)
  • Solid shampoo bars last longer! You need to let them dry after using them and do not leave them in wet places like the soap dish. It obviously depends on the frequency you wash your hair, but its duration will always be more than liquid shampoos.
  • Easy to transport! You can travel anywhere you want with solid shampoos, store them easily in a small pocket in your suitcase and live your life. Forget about creating strategies so that your liquid shampoo does not spill over your clothes!
  • How to use solid shampoo? First, you should wet your hair. After that, you need to wet the solid shampoo bar so that it is ready to clean your hair :) Now it is time to use it! You have two options: rub the bar on your hand and then apply that product to your hair or directly apply the bar on your scalp. Dividing your hair into sections is a good tip so you make sure every part is clean.
  • Once you completed the steps above you should wet your hair again to remove that shampoo! You should feel your hair clean and shiny :)

Learn here: Healthy Hair: How to Transition to Natural Shampoo?

Taking care of your hair is important. Now that you have learnt which toxic ingredients you should avoid, it is time to make conscious decisions when going to the pharmacy or the supermarket. Spread this information to your friends so that everyone is aware of the possible consequences of toxic ingredients in shampoo.

Find better solutions like solid shampoo bars which will change your life! Toxic ingredients in shampoo are not longer a problem :)

Finally I invite you to check these: Cruelty Free Shampoo: 10 Products that Really Work!

Belen Molina

I am a passionate person about healthy food and the environment. Translator/copywriter.

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