How many times have you read the ingredients of your hair shampoo and conditioner? If you haven’t, it’s high time you started. You’ll be shocked to know that there are over a dozen toxic ingredients used in shampoos and conditioners, even those labeled as “All-natural”. Chemicals are bad for your hair. And since the scalp absorbs nutrients and the chemicals from these hair-care products, it should not come as a surprise that shampoos and conditioners have been linked to cancer and other diseases. It’s, therefore, advisable that you buy shampoos and conditioners that will nourish your scalp with nutrients, not chemicals. These are some of the toxic ingredients in shampoos and conditioners that you should avoid.


Parabens are more common in skincare products although they can also be used in hair products. Propylparaben and methylparaben prevent bacteria and promote hair growth.

Parabens are xenoestrogens, which means they mimic the hormone estrogen found in our bodies. Scientists have linked parabens to breast cancer, although there isn’t enough evidence to prove this fact. Regardless, this should be worrisome, and it would be best to avoid products containing parabens.


Sulfates come in different forms with the worst culprits being sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate. They are used in shampoos and conditioners due to their detergent-like properties, that is, foaming. The Journal of the American College of Toxicology published a study that showed sulfates can cause eczema, brittleness, rashes on the scalp, and damage to the immune system. To make matters worse, this toxic ingredient will strip your hair of essential oils that are required for healthy hair growth and smooth hair.


Silicones in shampoos and conditioners are responsible for making your hair appear shiny and smooth. What you didn’t know is that silicone coats your scalp too, clogging the pores. This causes your hair to dry from the inside out. The major offender is Dimethicone, a product that leaves your scalp and skin extremely dry and irritated. The plastic-like barrier it forms on the outside traps bacteria, impurities and sebum, which are detrimental to hair health. Silicones are biodegradable and can also irritate the eyes.


Fragrance is what attracts us to certain shampoos and conditioners. It’s one of the highlights of marketing campaigns by brand manufacturers. The problem is, fragrances can cause allergic reactions and exacerbate asthma symptoms. Fragrances can include multiple ingredients concocted together, which, unfortunately, FDA doesn’t regulate. This makes it difficult to know the exact ingredient that’s included in the fragrance used in your hair products.

Potassium Sorbate

This chemical is a preservative present in most shampoos and conditioners and it causes toxicity to your skin and some organs.

Polyethylene Glycols (PEG)

PEG is a petroleum-based compound widely used as softeners, thickeners, solvents, and moisture-carriers. Most manufacturers use PEGs to moisturize hair products and enhance skin penetration, which increases the effectiveness of their products. While the product containing the PEG may penetrate your skin more easily, so do the chemicals that are used to create the PEGs such as ethylene oxide.

Synthetic Colors

Almost all shampoos and conditioners contain artificial colors and dyes. These are chemical additives that also make the hair products look more appealing to the eye. The colors and dyes are made of synthetic chemicals that may expose your skin to various conditions. Look out for names such as D&C Red 27 or FD&C Blue 1.


Triclosan is another chemical compound they use as a preservative in most beauty products. It’s an antibacterial agent whose effects can be detrimental to your health. Studies have shown that triclosan is an endocrine disruptor which may interfere with critical hormone functions. As a result, this chemical poses a great danger to our brains, immune system, and reproductive system. Among other things, triclosan interrupts the normal functioning of the thyroid and regulation of both estrogen and testosterone. This can lead to a series of health issues such as obesity, cancer, poor sperm quality, and early puberty.


Most beauty products dry quickly due to a certain type of alcohol such as isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol, or denatured alcohol. The alcohol is what makes skincare products feel weightless on the skin and have that quick-drying effect. The bad side of these types of alcohol is that they can aggravate your skin, causing dryness, irritation, and strip your hair of moisture. This leaves your hair frizzy and prone to damage.

Retinyl Palmitate

This is a form of vitamin A and a gentler version of retinol. These chemicals are present in high concentrations in order to be effective. Retinyl palmitate can increase the development of skin tumors and lesions and considered as a possible carcinogen. Harmless Shampoos and Conditioners Natural skincare and hair products should be your top priority for healthy skin, scalp, and hair. Always look out for the ingredients listed above and find alternative shampoos and conditioners that use natural, non-toxic ingredients.

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