Quantcast

5 Toxic Ingredients in Shampoos and Conditioners You Should Avoid

Health + Wellness

Many Americans are working to reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals and toxic ingredients. Few industries have faced more criticism for their ingredients than the cosmetics industry and lately, it seems that more and more brands are releasing organic or all-natural personal care lines.

Few industries have faced more criticism for their ingredients than the cosmetics industry.

Shampoos and conditioners, in particular, contain a lot of toxic ingredients. Some health-conscious consumers have taken to making their own haircare products, but others still prefer to use ready-made, expert-developed shampoos and conditioners. If this is you, rest assured that you have plenty of options. You don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune, either. A quick glance at a product’s ingredient list can tell you a lot about its safety.

Here are five toxic ingredients you’ll want to be sure to avoid when picking out a shampoo or conditioner:

1. Sulfates

You’ve probably heard of sulfates by now; pretty much every natural hair care brand states proudly on its packaging that a product is sulfate-free. But what are sulfates and why should you avoid them?

The main thing to keep in mind when thinking about sulfates is that they are chemical detergents. That in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it means that sulfates are extremely effective at removing dirt and oil … in fact, they’re a little too effective. Sulfates are harsh on the hair and scalp, so they can strip away that natural moisture that keeps your hair shiny and soft.

On a deeper level, they may carry some hormone-disrupting agents along with them. According to Natural Society, many sulfates contain traces of dioxane, a known carcinogen. Dioxane is also thought to disrupt kidney function.

2. Parabens

Parabens are another widely hated group of chemicals that you’ve probably been told to avoid in your beauty and personal care products. Parabens are xenoestrogens, which means that they have a similar composition to hormones found in the human body. Xenoestrogens are thought to disrupt hormones and could even pose a cancer risk.

Real Simple even noted that British scientists found evidence of parabens in samples of breast cancer tissue. Though this doesn’t necessarily mean the parabens caused the cancer, most natural-minded folks try to avoid parabens completely.

3. Fragrance

Fragrances are bad, bad, bad. If the fragrance in your product comes from a natural essential oil, it will say so on the packaging. If all the manufacturers have chosen to tell you about the ingredient is that it’s a “fragrance,” that’s generally bad news.

The term “fragrance” allows manufacturers to opt out of including a list of the ingredients used to create that fragrance, as the term is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. So really, if “fragrance” is listed on an ingredient list, there’s no telling what’s in there. Natural Society even notes that there are more than 3,100 chemicals used by the fragrance industry to concoct these suspicious-sounding additions to your shampoos and conditioners.

4. Triclosan

Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that’s often added to personal care products as a preservative. Dr. Ben Kim notes that we still don’t have enough conclusive evidence to say for sure whether or not triclosan is safe for use, but there have certainly been some warning signs to the contrary.

Triclosan is thought to be an endocrine disruptor, which means it can be harmful in the same fashion as xenoestrogens. It’s also been linked to immune system problems, weight loss and uncontrolled cellular reproduction, according to Dr. Kim.

5. Polyethylene Glycol

Polyethylene glycol or PEG, is also thought to interfere with the body. According to Natural Society, the state of California has classified the chemical as a “developmental toxicant,” which means that it may interfere with human development. It’s also known to be contaminated by the aforementioned cancer-causer dioxane.

If you’re looking for shampoos and conditioners that are made with safe, reliable, natural ingredients, you have lots of options at your fingertips. And if you’re feeling more adventurous, of course, you could always try making your own homemade hair care products.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Buyer Beware: You Might Be Eating Food From Cans Lined With Toxic BPA

5 Common Houseplants That Clean the Air for a Healthier Home

Want to Buy Non-Toxic Products? Look for One of These Five Labels

Exclusive Interview: Pro Surfer Cyrus Sutton Develops Sunblock Safe for People and the Planet

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less