8 Ingredients to Avoid in Your Shampoo and Conditioner

“Going green” has become a priority among many. This might mean making a conscious effort to use reusable bags or swapping beauty and cleaning products for all-natural or organic choices. If you’ve been looking to clean up your lifestyle, a simple way to help the environment and maintain good personal health is through your hair care products. Year after year, hair care companies continue to put chemicals and toxic ingredients in their products; the words “parabens” and “formaldehyde” might ring a bell… These components not only leave lasting damage to the environment, but they can cause severe damage to your hair and scalp. If your scalp is damaged, you could face dry, brittle, and heavy tresses.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of eight dangerous (and unfortunately common) ingredients to look out for the next time you look to buy shampoo or conditioner.

1. Sulfates

You’ve probably heard of the term “sulfates.” The chemical detergent causes your shampoo to foam as you massage it into your hair, and more than 90% of hair care products contain them. Once rinsed, the sulfates strip your hair and scalp of their natural oils, moisturizers, and color, leaving dryness, flaking, and irritation behind. The main concern for sulfates, however, is their potential to form carcinogens that can ultimately lead to kidney damage and hormone disruption.

The next time you shop, look on the label for Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)—these are the main sulfates to avoid.

2. Parabens

Parabens are another extremely popular and harmful additive. These can be found in many name-brand shampoos and conditioners and mainly act as a preservative to prolong shelf life. Also known as xenoestrogens, parabens can disrupt your natural hormone balance, cause skin irritation, affect reproductive health, and cause neurotoxicity.

Unfortunately, you won’t see an ingredients list that lists the word “parabens” on it. Instead, you’ll need to look out for words ending with “paraben”—for example, butylparaben, ethylparaben, and methylparaben.

3. Polyethylene Glycols

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a thickening agent, often made from petroleum and a list of byproducts known for stripping the hair of moisture and causing breakage. PEG has been classified as a developmental toxicant; this means it can damage or disrupt human development. It has also been linked to numerous types of cancer.

4. Triclosan

Another preservative on this list is an antibacterial agent called Triclosan. Banned from being used in antibacterial soaps, this carcinogen can be found in shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste, and more. The ingredient shows signs of being an endocrine disruptor, which can have the same damaging effects as the aforementioned xenoestrogens. The chemical can lead to infertility, fetal harm, immune system issues, weight loss or gain, depression, uncontrolled cellular reproduction, and cancer.

8 Ingredients to Avoid in Your Shampoo and Conditioner

5. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a well-known carcinogen, yet it can be found in so many shampoos and conditioners. This dangerous preservative can be absorbed through your scalp as well as seep from the packaging and into the air over time. This additive can cause toxicity, affect or cause asthma, and has been linked to cancer.

When checking the label on your product, look for quaternium-15.

6. Synthetic Fragrances and Colors

Fragrances and colors are terrible in every way. Not only are these components unnecessary, but they are also harmful to your skin and can cause several health issues. The word “fragrance” is a loophole manufacturers use to avoid listing chemicals and whatever else was used to create the fragrance. Ultimately, there’s no way of knowing what all you’re getting in the product. The danger is that most of the chemicals used to create fragrances can lead to infertility, irritation, hair loss, asthma, and cancer.

Synthetic colors are also a danger when found in your shampoo and conditioner. Color is derived from petroleum and coal-tar. These two things are known to cause a range of health issues. When checking the label, look for the terms FD&C or D&C combined with a number.

7. Dimethicone

Dimethicone is a form of silicone with two attached methyl groups that gives your hair a soft and smooth feel. However, this ingredient will only dry out your hair in the long run, cause build-up at your roots, and irritate or burn your scalp. The build-up on your scalp will block out moisture, stop the nutrient flow to your hair, and create an abundance of residue and dirt that can clog your pores.

8. Retinyl Palmitate

Retinyl palmitate is known to cause a list of skin issues, including peeling, scaling, itching, burning, and redness. This harmful ingredient has also been linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and toxicity.

There’s No Care Like a Professional’s Care.

While avoiding these ingredients can help you achieve healthier hair, you should see a hair care specialist regularly. At Genesis, our cosmetologists and master barbers are given thorough in-class instruction and extensive real-world training, so you can feel confident knowing you’re in good hands. Contact us today to schedule a hair care appointment with one of our professionals!

For tips on caring for your hair during the cold winter season, read our blog How to Take Better Care of Your Hair this Winter.

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