Dangers of Chemicals in Most Shampoos
Have you ever tried reading the list of ingredients on your shampoo bottle? Even worse, have you ever tried reading it out loud? Most of the ingredients seem like a foreign language that even international news correspondents with multiple degrees would struggle with. What’s really scary is researching these ingredients. Not only are they hard to pronounce; they are also very hard to swallow. We have done the dirty work for you and compiled a short list of the most dangerous chemicals in popular name brand shampoos and what makes them so bad for you.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
Derived from coconut oil, these are the magical ingredients that make your shampoo all bubbly and sudsy. The bubble factor is how you know your hair is truly clean, right? How could this possibly be bad? The derivation process involves separating lauric acid from coconut oil and treating it with sulfuric acid. Lab tests caused animals to experience depression, difficulty breathing, severe skin irritation and corrosion, eye damage, diarrhea, and death. Studies also show they can cause damage and malformation to human eyes, skin and immune systems. Most recently, despite being so widely used, these ingredients have been found to form carcinogens when reacting with other chemicals present. These chemicals, due to the bad rep they have garnered, are often “neutralized” and disguised as diethanolamine (DEA), monoethanolamine (MEA), and triethanolamine (TEA). Even shampoos labeled as “natural” can legally contain these and similar ingredients.
Methylparaben, Propylparaben and Formaldehyde
While parabens have not directly been linked to cancer or cancer-causing agents, they have been found to disrupt certain hormone activity. This results in hair loss. They can also be extreme irritants to the skin and scalp, creating the “need” for an additional hair product to “fix” your dry skin problem. Then there’s formaldehyde. Yes, you read that right. The same chemical used in the embalming process is often found in your shampoo. Not only does it cause hair loss but it also causes throat, nose and blood cancers. In 2011 the U.S. National Toxicology Program listed formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.
Sodium Chloride and Polyethylene Glycol
While thickening agents may sound like useful chemicals, looking at what they really are may quickly change your mind. Sodium chloride is nothing more than table salt and can severely strip and dry your hair of its natural moisture. This causes dry scalp, brittle hair, and hair loss. Polyoxyethylene glycol, or PEG/polyoxyethylene glycol, also washes out your hair’s natural, essential oils required for healthy shine and growth. This ingredient is also sometimes listed as polyoxyethylene.
There are actually many shampoo ingredients that cause more damage to your hair than anything good. We have listed the top three to avoid but please do be on the lookout for the others, which include propylene glycol (antifreeze); silicone, dimethicone, and siloxane (sealants); and synthetic color, fragrance and perfumes. All of these chemicals can cause dry skin, brittle hair, and hair loss. Your best bet is to look for a truly natural shampoo with ingredients you can pronounce without learning another language.
So, What’s Your Alternative?
There are companies that care about the environment and the health of their customers. You can buy chemical free shampoo (yes, I know, water is a chemical). When we say chemical free shampoo, what is meant is one that is as close to natural ingredients as possible and uses ingredients that come from things like coconut oil and olive oil, etc.
For a list of Natural Shampoos, click here.