At its simplest, taking a shower is about getting clean.
Maybe we’re washing up after hitting the gym. Maybe we’re using our shower to wake up and freshen up for the day. Maybe we’re showering to settle in for the evening.
Whatever the reason we’re taking a shower, it’s ideal to step out of the shower cleaner and fresher than when you stepped in.
What’s become more and more apparent over the years is that many shampoos contain ingredients that can do more harm than good. Viewed another way, we’re not leaving the shower as clean as we thought we would be.
You may have heard of chemicals like parabens and formaldehydes. The effects range from environmental damage, like microbeads that end up in the oceans, to personal health effects, like chemicals lingering on our skin, causing dryness and discomfort.
Though the wrong shampoo could damage your hair and your scalp, leaving you with dry, brittle, and heavy hair, you don’t have to settle for the wrong shampoo.
Whether you’re looking to go green, are concerned about your own health, or both, you have the power in your hands to pick a better shampoo.
We’re revealing the 8 all-too-common ingredients to avoid when selecting your next shampoo and conditioner.
1. Synthetic Fragrances and Colors
We’ll start with the most alluring one. While these added smells and colors can make your hair care experience seem more luxurious, this is a particularly problematic addition. Apart from being totally unnecessary, they are also difficult to regulate.
Under the fragrance loophole, manufacturers don’t necessarily need to list the chemicals used to make the smell. Given that chemicals associated with making fragrances can lead to hair loss, irritation, asthma, and more, it’s a risky choice. Can you know for sure that these chemicals aren’t harmful or bothersome to you personally? It’s hard to say.
Synthetic colors may also be a danger, as they are derived from petroleum and coal-tar, two substances known to cause health issues.
When checking the ingredient list, pay attention to the terms FD&C or D&C with a number.
It’s common for shampoos and skin care products to have formaldehyde-releasing compounds as they act as a preservative. This can prevent the growth of microorganisms. Unfortunately, formaldehyde is a well-known carcinogen. Over extended use, it can be absorbed into the scalp and seep into the air.
One commonly listed to look out for is quaternium-15.
3. Retinyl Palmitate
Added frequently as an antioxidant, retinyl palmitate has unfortunately been connected to a number of skin issues. These include peeling, scaling, itching, redness, and burning. Over a longer period of time, it has also been linked to cancer and reproductive problems.
This is one of the most common culprits, as more than 90% of hair care products contain them. Sulfates help to cause your shampoo to foam as you work it into your tresses. There, it cleanses your hair and scalp of natural oils, moisture, and color. As a result, some people may experience irritation and dryness. Beyond that, sulfates can potentially form carcinogens leading to hormone disruption and kidney damage.
Keep an eye on the label for:
- Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Similarly popular to sulfates, parabens help to preserve shampoos and conditioners. Known as xenoestrogens, they have the negative side effect of potentially disrupting your natural hormone balance, causing skin irritation, affecting reproductive health, and more.
As parabens is a general term, you won’t find it clearly listed in a list of ingredients. Instead, look out for words like:
6. Polyethylene Glycols
Included as a thickening agent to improve the textures of shampoos, polyethylene glycol (PEG) is often made from petroleum and has some harmful side effects. PEG can strip the hair of moisture and cause breakage. On a larger scale, PEG is considered a developmental toxicant, meaning it can damage or disrupt human development.
Already banned from use in soap, triclosan is a preservative and an antibacterial agent that has similar damaging effects to xenoestrogens. It’s still found in shampoos, though, and as an endocrine disruptor, it can lead to a host of problems. These include infertility, fetal harm, immune system issues, along with weight loss or gain, depression, uncontrolled cellular reproduction, and even cancer.
Added to make your hair feel soft and smooth, dimethicone is a form of silicone that leads to a number of problems with continued use. From dry hair and build-up at the roots to an irritated scalp, dimethicone build-up stops the flow of nutrients to your hair. Avoid shampoos that have it included in their list of ingredients.