10 Ingredients You Don’t Want To Find In Your Shampoo

Written by , BA (Media & Communication) Niharika Nayak BA (Media & Communication) linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years

You might not be aware of it, but your shampoo might contain ingredients that are harmful to the environment as well as you. One of the most common ingredients being, sulfates. If you are unsure about which problematic ingredients should be avoided, we have a list of ten ingredients to look out for. Although these ingredients are commonly found in most drugstore-bought shampoos, if you do a quick ingredient scan before you buy the shampoo, you’ll have the right product. So here are ten ingredients that you should not find in your shampoo:

1. Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
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So what exactly are sulfates? Sulfates work through a chemical reaction and are potent detergents. They bind with the naturally occurring sebum present on your scalp and with water. So once you rinse your shampoo, the sulfates carry all the excess oil and other residues with them. However, they can also cause your hair to get damaged, dry, and make it brittle. Sulfates can also increase frizz.

2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
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This form of sulfate creates a kind of lathering foam that people tend to love. However, it can also compromise the follicles when it’s left on the scalp. It has plenty of other toxic effects on your body as well. If you are someone who colors your hair often, it’s best to avoid SLS. This is also the case for those who have dry or brittle hair. SLS can cause your color to fade and strip your hair strands off its natural oils.

3. Parabens

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Parabens can be super harmful and are used in cosmetics and shampoos as a preservative. They are used in order to prevent bacteria from growing in the products. Parabens are dangerous because they can mimic estrogen. An excess of estrogen has been linked to an increased growth of breast cancer cells (1).

4. Sodium Chloride

Sodium Chloride
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If you’re wondering what salt is doing on this list, then don’t fret! Salt is added to shampoos and conditioners in order to thicken their consistency. If you are someone who has a sensitive scalp, then sodium chloride can make it even worse. It can make your scalp feel itchy and dry, which will eventually lead to you suffering from hair thinning.

5. Formaldehyde

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Formaldehyde is known for being a carcinogenic ingredient and can be absorbed through the skin. The reason why some manufacturers add this to products is that it acts as a preservative. Although it’s rarer to find products that contain this ingredient these days, you should make sure you keep a lookout for it (2).

6. Alcohol

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Any product that contains alcohol will have a drying effect on your hair. Hence, it is better to avoid products that contain alcohol. There are certain alcohols like Stearyl Alcohol and Cetearyl alcohol that aren’t as harmful for dry hair. In fact, these types can help your hair retain its moisture. The ones that you should avoid are propanol and Isopropyl alcohol.

7. Synthetic Fragrances And Colors

Synthetic Fragrances And Colors
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It’s best to avoid purchasing any products that contain synthetic dyes and fragrances. They can lead to irritation of the scalp as well as the skin. This will, in turn, lead to hair loss. Some studies have linked the ingredients present in these synthetic dyes and fragrances to leading to problems like asthma and even fertility and reproductive issues. Since these colors come from coal or tar sources and even petroleum, they are quite dangerous.

8. Dimethicone

Image: IStock

Dimethicone is a silicone commonly found in tons of hair products. It can contribute to a buildup of product on your hair and leave it heavy and greasy. This product is used in hair care because it forms a layer over your hair follicle and protects it from getting damaged by external sources. It is also a commonly used ingredient in hair serum for this reason. However, overuse can stop nutrients and moisture from getting absorbed into your scalp and collect residue and dirt. This, in turn, will clog the pores on your scalp and lead to you suffering from skin irritation.

9. Triclosan

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The ingredient triclosan was once banned in antibacterial soaps. However, it is still allowed to be added to deodorants, shampoos, and toothpaste. Triclosan is a chemical antibacterial agent and is known to cause disruptions in hormones. It can later lead to cancer and even affect the development of the fetus in the womb (3).

10. Polyethylene Glycols (PEG)

Polyethylene Glycols (PEG)
Image: IStock

PEG is a common thickening agent that is derived from petroleum. Unfortunately, it is also contaminated with byproducts. While there hasn’t been enough research that can give a conclusive answer as to whether PEGs in themselves are toxic ingredients, the byproducts of PEGs are pretty harmful for the body.

Keeping all of these ingredients in mind, we’re sure you’ll be able to buy suitable shampoos and hair care products for your scalp. This isn’t to say that all chemical ingredients are harmful, but it’s better to know about some of the more harmful ones. Let us know if any o

f the ingredients on this list surprised you in the comment section below!

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Niharika Nayak

Niharika NayakBA (Media & Communication)

Niharika has a passion for all things art, music, and travel and has over 4 years of experience in writing for social media. During her spare time, she likes experimenting in the kitchen, playing video games, and hanging out with stray animals.

Read full bio of Niharika Nayak