From shampoo and conditioner to hair spray and styling gel, most of us use hair products every day—but do you know what’s actually in them? Unless you’ve made the switch to natural hair care, there are almost surely damaging chemicals hiding in your favourite products.
We want to arm you with the information necessary to make healthier choices for yourself and your family, so in this article, we’ll be sharing five ingredients to avoid in hair products.
Sulphates are cost-effective cleansing agents that are commonly found in shampoos. They’re very effective at dissolving oil and are responsible for a shampoo’s ability to lather.
While sulphates likely don’t pose a significant threat to your health, they are an aggressive chemical that strips your hair and scalp of its natural oils, resulting in dryness. Over time, this stripping effect can weaken your hair, leaving it looking dull and prone to damage, breakage, and split ends.
What to avoid: Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)
Parabens are preservatives commonly used in hair products to prolong their shelf life. Parabens can cause scalp dryness and affect your hormonal balance.
Even more worrying is that studies have found parabens in breast cancer tissue samples. More research is needed to determine if there’s a link between parabens and cancer risk, but to stay on the safe side, opt for paraben-free hair products.
What to avoid: Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Benzylparabe, Butylparaben
3. Synthetic fragrance
The word “fragrance” might seem harmless at first glance, but the reality is that synthetic fragrances can be made of dozens of undisclosed ingredients. Products that include “fragrance” may contain chemicals that irritate the skin, aggravate asthma, or even increase your risk of cancer. Synthetic fragrance also typically contains phthalates, which we discussed above.
Instead, opt for products that use natural essential oils. These oils will appear in the ingredients list as “lavender essential oil” or “orange essential oil,” for example.
What to avoid: Fragrance, Parfum
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in hair products to make them more spreadable. They’re also added to fragrance to make the scent last longer. Despite having a short half-life in tissues, chronic exposure to phthalates has been shown to adversely affect the endocrine system and functioning of multiple organs.
What to avoid: Dimethylphthalate (DMP), Dibutylphthalate (DBP), Diethylphthalate (DEP)
5. Denatured alcohols
Denatured alcohols are typically used in styling products to help formulas dry faster. The problem is that this alcohol wicks moisture from the hair and scalp, literally sucking your hair dry.
While these alcohols are technically safe for use in hair products, they can be extremely drying if applied to your hair too frequently. As such, it’s best to avoid any hair products that have alcohol listed as one of the first ingredients—or just avoid it altogether.
What to avoid: Alcohol Denat, SD Alcohol 3-A, SD Alcohol 30, SD Alcohol 39-B, SD Alcohol 39-C, SD Alcohol 40-B, SD Alcohol 40-C.
Take Inventory of Your Hair Products
Now that you’re aware of what to avoid, it’s time to go through your collection of hair products and toss the ones that contain these ingredients. In switching to more natural hair products, not only will your hair be healthier, but so will your body.
If you’re looking to further support your hair, be sure to check out Hair Divine’s Vegan Hair Growth Supplement for Women.